Catalyst Fund Companies

 

2018

 

SUMMARY

Atikus is a financial inclusion company that helps financial institutions in developing countries better identify, quantify, and mitigate their operational and credit risk. Atikus' solutions combine data analytics, digital platforms, and risk transference, seeking to transform the way they acquire, analyze, and adopt credit clients. By maximizing their financial and operational capacity, Atikus can help financial institutions reach more clients and improve economic opportunities for low-income individuals. With its social objectives in mind, Atikus' interventions have a specific focus on supporting micro-enterprises and SMEs owned and operated by women, youth, and rural/agricultural individuals.

Company Overview

CEO: Kate Woska
Website: www.atik.us
Founded: 2013
Market: Rwanda
Product: SaaS solutions & credit insurance
Sponsor: Gray Ghost Ventures

Over the next six months, Atikus will receive $75,000 USD in grant capital and receive mentoring from its Catalyst Fund sponsor, Gray Ghost Ventures, as part of the first cohort. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.


THE Problem and Solution

Approximately 60% of MSMEs are un(der)served today, and the current supply of available capital falls dramatically short of the additional $2.3 trillion global demand for MSME credit. While this segment represents a major share of private sector growth and employment opportunities in developing and emerging economies, a number of market barriers restrict capital flows to many creditworthy MSMEs. These barriers often include balance sheet limitations, operational efficiencies, and lack of robust and/or reliable market- and client-level data. Leveraging proven tools such as technology, data analytics, and risk transference in a combined fashion, Atikus can address many of the areas currently limiting financial inclusion for MSMEs, reduce investment constraints, and facilitates growth in a safe, controlled way.

Atikus’ technology platform, LoanSkout, streamlines processes, collects data, and distributes high value risk transference solutions (namely, Atikus’ one-of-a-kind credit insurance offering) to achieve impact for its clients. At its core, LoanSkout is a beginning-to-end credit administration application that facilitates new client identification and outreach, credit applications and approvals, and post-disbursement due diligence. LoanSkout helps financial institutions better understand and engage with their MSME clients, thereby decreasing their risk and proving that MSMEs can be the key to both portfolio growth and performance. To power LoanSkout’s new client outreach functionality, Atikus works with organizations that serve and strengthen the MSME community (i.e. financial literacy training providers). Well-supported MSMEs make better borrowers, which increases the segment’s attractiveness to financial service providers. Bridging the supply/demand divide and fostering a community based on a shared client segment will unlock the economic potential of the underserved – one loan, one business, and one entrepreneur at a time.

The Innovation

  • Atikus increases the market for credit, accelerating financial institutions’ portfolio growth while managing their risks.
  • It is a catalyst for financial institutions to hedge risk, better leverage existing assets,
  • and scale operations to serve more clients.
  • Its comprehensive credit insurance helps financial institutions smartly and safely grow their credit portfolios without proportionally increasing risk.
  • Digital credit administration reduces financial institutions’ credit-related costs,
  • improves their processes by eliminating paper-based activities and duplicative
  • processes, and provides enhanced data analytics.
  • More targeted client acquisition tool helps financial institutions identify and engage with qualified client leads, generated via partners screened by Atikus.

The Value Proposition

  • Atikus' inter-linked solution minimizes risks for financial institutions, enhances their operational efficiency and outreach.
  • Collects institutional and client level data across supply and demand-side activities to improve the value proposition for MSME clients.
  • By increasing the financial & operational efficiency of financial institutions, Atikus expands the amount of available capital to qualified MSMEs in developing and emerging markets.

THE LEARNING AGENDA

We see a strong fit with Atikus' service offering and the Catalyst Fund's objective to accelerate early-stage inclusive fintech innovators. We believe Atikus will provide an excellent learning opportunity in understanding:

  • 10x Better Value Proposition: Do the efficiency/expediency improvements via IT offer a path to greater profitability and/or stability leading to improved portfolio performance?
  • Ecosystem & partnerships: How do fintech startups choose and build partnerships with financial institutions? 

Awards / Recognition

  • Atikus won Village Capital’s FinTech program in Kenya in 2015
  • Atikus was a finalist in 2015 in the HiiL’s SME Development Challenge and was selected to participate in Seedstars
  • Atikus won the Audience Choice Award at NYU’s $200K Challenge in 2014
  • Atikus has been written about by Forbes, Accion’s Center for Financial Inclusion, CNBC, Crain’s New York Business, and ELLE Magazine

 
 

SUMMARY

Destacame is an alternative credit scoring platform that uses data such as bill payment histories for basic services, to assess individual payment capacity and creditworthiness. Founded in 2014 in Chile, Destacame has pilots with nine financial institutions, has partnered with five utility companies, and has already amassed over 17,000 registered users.

Company Overview

CEO: Sebastián Ugarte
Website: www.destacame.cl
Founded: 2014
Market: Chile & Mexico
Product: Alternative Credit Scoring Platform
Sponsor: Accion Venture Lab

Over the next six months, Destacame will receive $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, Accion Venture Lab as part of the first cohort. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.



THE Problem and Solution

In Chile, Mexico, and throughout Latin America, many individuals do not have any reported information about their payment behavior and, for those that do, credit scoring is principally negative. Destacame solves this problem by aggregating and analyzing data from multiple existing sources of data, mainly utilities payment transactions, as well as geographic and socioeconomic information. It synthesizes the information and generates a score that an individual can use at their disposal. With users’ consent, Destacame can sell these scores to financial institutions (FI), who are looking for better, faster, and cheaper ways to extend credit and other financial products to the largely credit-invisible population in Latin America. 

The Innovation

  • Destacame aggregates and analyzes data from multiple sources, principally utilities payment transactions, as well as geographic and socioeconomic information. It synthesizes the information and generates a score that an individual can use at their disposal.

  • Destacame provides insight into 12 months of utilities payment history and basic customer ID verification (name, address, e-mail, phone number). “Credit Bureau of One:” individuals can actively manage their financial footprint and be empowered to take an active role in their credit report. By validating a credit scoring model that incorporates positive payment information, Destacame will help reshape the credit scoring and lending sectors in Latin America.

The Value Proposition

  • The first chance for consumers to include positive payment history on their credit reports and actively manage their credit history.
  • An opportunity to reach more consumers who have a high Destacame score but have no formal credit history or a negative-only credit history.
  • Destacame reduces the cost and time burden of a detailed risk analysis & Know Your Client on a new applicant.

THE LEARNING AGENDA

We see a strong fit with Destacame's service offering and the Catalyst Fund's objective to accelerate early-stage inclusive fintech innovators, and we think Destacame is an excellent launching point for Catalyst Fund's work. We also see a rich learning opportunity with Destacame in:

  • 10x Better Value Proposition: Using new digital datasets to develop cheaper financial products in comparison to traditional products, and making these digital financial services more accessible to underbanked populations.
  • Limiting Factors: Better understanding the kind of value that increases the ability of a company like Destacame to get traction with traditional banks and utility companies as partners.
  • Facility Lessons: Identifying the best approaches that a facility like Catalyst Fund can undertake to support Destacame in achieving its goals and reaching its strategic milestones.


Awards / Recognition

  • Destacame was a BBVA Open Talent Latin America 2015 Special Financial Inclusion Award winner.
  • The company also won the Chilean Avonni award for innovation and the Digital Bank Latin America competition in November 2015.
  • A winner at the Innotribe Startup Challenge for Latin America.

Interesting Links

Destacame's Yo Pago (I Pay) Campaign

 Destacame.cl one pager

Destacame.cl one pager

 
 

SUMMARY

ESCALA is a higher-education savings program for lower and middle-income families in Colombia. ESCALA combines a savings program with support services, arranged through ESCALA partners, to increase access to higher education for low and middle-income families in Colombia and Latin America. Their ultimate goal is to generate upward social mobility and reduce the income inequality gap in Colombia and Latin America.

Company Overview

CEO: Jonathan Duarte
Website: escalaeducacion.com
Founded: 2012
Market: Colombia
Product: Higher Education Savings Program
Sponsor: Quona Capital

About Escala Educacion (in Spanish)

Over the next six months, ESCALA will receive $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, Quona Capital as part of the first cohort. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.



THE Problem and Solution

Public universities in Colombia are overwhelmed by demand and private ones are out of reach due to their high cost and limited availability of financing options for fees and living expenses. More than half (70%) of college freshmen drop out due to financial concerns. ESCALA has developed 2 products that help families save for their children’s education or their own higher education, coupled with career counseling.

The Innovation

  • ESCALA is a platform that seeks to generate greater access to higher education for families in Colombia by providing a pre-paid tuition service with a long-term instalment payment plan
  • The company has 2 products
    • ESCALA Futuro - designed for employees of companies who want to save for their children’s education &
    • ESCALA Progresa - designed for employees of companies who want to save for their own education
  • Companies pledge matching contributions to complement their employees’ savings
  • Career counselling is offered for children and personal finance & higher education counselling for the parents

The Value Proposition

  • Savings plans for higher education with additional economic value-added benefits.
  • Matching contributions are directly deductible for income tax purposes and companies retain their employees for a longer period
  • Clients get tuition discounts from select institutions
  • Services delivered in a manner that engenders confidence and client trust

THE LEARNING AGENDA

We see a strong fit with Escala's service offering and the Catalyst Fund's objective to accelerate early-stage inclusive fintech innovators. Escala will provide an excellent opportunity to learn about:

  • 10x Better Value Propositions: How can a more flexible and accessible savings product increase access to higher education for low income families? How can ESCALA push regulators and banks to simplify Know Your Customer (KYC) processes and lower the bar of entry for these customers?
  • Limiting Factors: How can ESCALA engender sufficient trust from customers through a user centric process adapted to low-income customers and incentivize them to save with traditional banks?


Awards / Recognition

  • ESCALA won Concurso Ventures
  • They also participated in the Harvard Innovation Lab, Venture Incubation Program 2013 - 2014
  • They were part of the Babson Residents in Center for Entrepreneurship 2012

 
 

SUMMARY

PayGo Energy is a metering solution and distribution system that enables customers to access clean and efficient fuel at a low price. 

PayGo Energy provides smart metering technology that eliminates upfront fuel costs, enables customers to access modern fuels on a pay-as-you-go basis and allows them to monitor their fuel usage through a smart metering system. 

Company Overview

CEO: Nick Quintong
Website: www.paygoenergy.org
Founded: 2015
Market: Kenya
Product: LPG energy
Sponsor: Accion Venture Lab

Over the next six months, PayGo Energy will receive $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, Accion Venture Lab as part of the first cohort. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.


THE Problem and Solution

Globally, 2.9 billion people do not have access to a reliable supply of modern cooking fuel. Low-income urban households regularly pay a large proportion of their household income (~$0.50/day) to purchase small quantities of fuel for cooking, heating, and lighting. The major barriers to adopting LPG as the primary cooking source for low-income households include the high upfront cost of purchasing a gas cookstove, making a deposit on a gas cylinder, and the large amount of money required to refill an empty gas cylinder. PayGo Energy solves the root causes for reliance on dirty fuels by removing key cost and supply barriers to modern energy.

 

The Innovation

  • PayGo Energy provides an alternative solution to dirty fuels like charcoal and kerosene by removing high upfront cost of purchasing gas stoves and gas supplies.
  • The PayGo smart meter technology (SMT) couples to any LPG cylinder, enabling micro-asset financing and pay-as-you-go functionality that align with BoP customers’ variable income streams.
  • The PayGo system provides energy security by embedding data analytics to detect low customer gas levels. The smart meter replaces an invasive manual pay-as-you-go solution.
  • The business model is based on added margin on gas sales. In Kenya alone, the total addressable market of the 6M early adopter users of urban biomass and kerosene, represents $315M USD (Dalberg, LPG Kenya Market Assessment, 2013).

The Value Proposition

  • Lower upfront costs of purchasing gas cook stoves and ability to make regular micro-payments.
  • A flexible payment structure using mobile money in which customers can purchase credit via their mobile wallet and PayGo dispenses gas accordingly.
  • PayGo SMT that detects when customer is running low on gas and arranges delivery based on customer’s schedule.

THE LEARNING AGENDA

PayGo is strongly aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda and core mission. Their challenges as we know them could help answer the following questions and provide learning for the industry around: 

  • 10x Better Value Proposition: How to provide LPG energy to BoP customers in a more affordable way? How to improve the customer experience with the product and boost engagement with a PayGo model
  • Limiting Factors: How can PayGo engender sufficient trust in their brand and the payment system? How can their value propositions work around expensive data or inconvenient electricity?


Awards / Recognition

  • PayGo Energy won Village Capital Hardware Africa 2015 competition, leading the next generation of hardware solutions in Africa.
  • PayGo also won the D-Prize grant competition.

Interesting Links

 PayGo Energy One-Pager

PayGo Energy One-Pager

 
 

SUMMARY

WorldCover is a peer-to-peer lending platform providing insurance to low-income farmers worldwide. Natural disasters affect billions of people who lack insurance, causing under investment in productive activities and business. WorldCover’s insurance platform protects farmers from natural disasters. Their products are tailored to poor smallholders in regions vulnerable to drought.

Company Overview

CEO: Christopher Sheehan
Website: www.worldcovr.com
Founded: 2015
Market: Ghana / US
Product: Peer to peer insurance platform and index insurance
Sponsor: Omidyar Network

Over the next six months, WorldCover will receive $25,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, Omidyar Network as part of the first cohort. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.



THE Problem and Solution

Farmers across the globe face the challenge of accessing affordable insurance to protect against natural disasters. WorldCover addresses this problem by creating an investment marketplace offering diversified returns to investors and direct social impact by funding insurance against weather risks. WorldCover offers a simple, affordable product customized to farmers’ needs and encourages investors to “sell” insurance and earn a return. WorldCover uses remote sensing to monitor weather risks and trigger payments.
 

The Innovation

  • WorldCover connects farmers and investors through a peer-to-peer investment platform. The investors are able to “sell insurance”, earn a return and also have a social impact. Investors can earn a portion of premiums paid by the customers and their funds are used for payouts if a drought occurs.
  • Weather is remotely monitored so that insurance payouts can be triggered automatically, eliminating fraud and costly claims. The transparent risk model increases farmers’ trust in the product.
  • WorldCover leverages partnerships to acquire customers on both ends: institutions, online marketing and financial advisors for investors and channel partners, input suppliers and mobile operators to acquire farmers.

The Value Proposition

  • An affordable and simple product for farmers to insure against weather risks.
  • Investors gain diversified returns while making a social impact.
  • The transparent risk model limits downside risk and provides returns.

THE LEARNING AGENDA

We see a strong fit with WorldCover's service offering and the Catalyst Fund's objective to accelerate early-stage inclusive fintech innovators, and we think WorldCover will provide a rich learning opportunity about:

  • 10x Better Value Proposition: How can WorldCover product boost engagement and leverage digital channels (mobile) to be more effective and cost-efficient?
  • Limiting Factors: How can WorldCover engender sufficient trust and tap social networks/mental habits to create more value to consumers?


Awards / Recognition


 
 

SUMMARY

Comunidad 4Uno (C4Uno) is an online platform that distributes tailored and market-based financial products to low income and financially excluded domestic workers.

The company aims to be the largest and most reliable financial product distribution channel for the low income population in Mexico by 2020.

Company Overview

CEO: Miguel Duhalt
Website: 4uno.org
Founded: 2015
Market: Mexico
Product: Online Human Resources Platform
Sponsor: Accion Venture Lab

Over the next six months, C4Uno will receive $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, Accion Venture Lab. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.



THE Problem and Solution

There are 3 million domestic workers in Mexico that currently lack any kind of formal financial service. C4Uno would give them access to affordable insurance, savings and credit products through a one-stop shop. 

The service is currently offered to the employers of domestic workers. It leverages an innovative distribution channel: reaching financially-excluded employees via financially-included employers.

 

The Innovation

  • The Online Human Resources system allows employers to pay electronically, offer payroll loan, savings plan, insurance and medical assistance to their workers.

  • The firm offers a set of curated existing financial products by establishing partnerships with selected financial service providers and delivers them through an online distribution platform that leverages a relationship between financially-included and financially-excluded people.

  • Revenue stream comes from a fixed online annual subscription fee, transaction fees and fees for opening pension accounts.

     

The Value Proposition

  • Employers provide a holistic set of financial services to their workers, for less than $50 per year.
  • Domestic workers benefit from customized and automated financial products and building credit history.
  • Employers gain access to insights into their workers financial behavior and are protected in case of legal disputes over salary disbursements.

THE LEARNING AGENDA

C4Uno is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda and core mission. Their challenges as we know them could help answer the questions within the learning pillars of:

  • Limiting Factors:  How can C4Uno overcome behavioral barriers in a cash-heavy society to encourage uptake for both customers (employers and employees)?
  • Ecosystem & partnerships: What is the value proposition for financial providers to work with C4Uno? What are incentives and deal breakers in the partnerships? How can C4Uno ensure they continuously provide value for their end-customers and financial partners as they scale?

 
 

Update October, 2017: Grafica is now Flowigo

Grafica was a company of Catalyst Fund in 2016. Now, Grafica’s founder Yoann Berno will serve as the CEO of Flowigo.

Flowigo digitalizes African business to power their growth. In 4 weeks, Flowigo analyzes internal business requirements, recommend the right service providers, integrate, configure and deploy. Businesses can rely on a modular network to scale.

Visit www.flowigo.com to learn more. 


SUMMARY

Grafica is a modular software-as-a-service solution for solar distributors.

Grafica offers an affordable and scalable cloud-based platform that integrates with the best service providers in the market (Internet of Things, CRM, Inventory Management, Data Analytics, Credit Scoring) to meet the needs of companies as they grow.

grafica logo.png

Company Overview

CEO: Yoann Berno
Website: grafica.io

Founded: 2015
Market: Kenya
Product: Modular SaaS Solution for solar distributors
Sponsor: Quona Capital

Over the next six months, Grafica will receive $100,000 in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, Quona Capital. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.



THE Problem and Solution

Off-grid solar products are a proven solution to tackle energy poverty, yet scaling up their distribution requires complex IT infrastructure. There are three major limitations:

  • Building up a scalable software backend is very costly
  • Consolidating data from different sources is complex
  • Designing it with the future needs in mind is.. impossible

Grafica offers an affordable and scalable cloud-based software suite that solves those problems. It is rolling out the platform with solar distributors in East and West Africa and quickly expanding to the rest of the continent.

The Innovation

  • Brings to the fast-growing off-grid solar sector the concept of modularity in IT infrastructure. Solar distributors can pick and choose from a series of software modules to optimize their sales, streamline their operations, improve communication, and boost reporting.
  • Offers an open platform that integrates with a growing list of external service providers (Hardware manufacturers, IoT providers, Payment Gateways, SMS Gateways).
  • Responds to the core needs of rapid data collection and transformation into actionable analytics.

The Value Proposition

  • Distributors can significantly lower their IT spending and allocate their money to scale up their operations.
  • The firm provides a flexible platform that connects nearly any application or system by leveraging APIs to quickly and securely share data.
  • Native data analytics dashboards help distributors learn from the field and optimize their processes.

THE LEARNING AGENDA

Grafica is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda and core mission. Their challenges as we know them could help answer the questions within the learning pillars of:

  • 10x better value propositions: What is the role of Machine Learning to support distributors and lenders decisions?
  • Ecosystem & partnerships: What IT partnerships could Grafica build to better serve the market? What are the incentives for distributors to partner with Grafica?

 

 
 

SUMMARY

Harvesting is enabling financial inclusion for farmers by providing actionable insights to financial institutions via its software-as-a service (SaaS) solution. Harvesting processes massive amount of global data sets, such as weather, satellite, agronomic data, and applies machine learning algorithms to help reduce risks for crop insurance and lending companies.

Harvesting aims to be the Agriculture Intelligence Engine, which will help bring speed, accuracy and transparency across the agricultural value chain, accelerating the development of fair financial products and services for farmers worldwide.

Company Overview

CEO: Ruchit Garg
Website: www.harvesting.co
Founded: 2016
Market: India and Africa
Product: Agricultural data analytics software
Sponsor: Omidyar Network

Over the next six months, Harvesting will receive $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, Omidyar Network. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.



THE Problem and Solution

475 million farmers feed the majority of the population around the world. These farmers have poor or no access to financial instruments like crop insurance or loans. Their livelihood is highly dependent on farm income. They also have no access to data that would enable them to farm more efficiently.

Harvesting enables farmers in emerging markets to be financially included by providing agricultural data intelligence to banks and governments.

Being able to access actionable insights on the fingertips enables financial institutions to provide financial services to the remotest farmers in the world, increasing access to financial tools such as loans & insurance and helps bring down the cost of financing by reducing risks.

 

The Innovation

  • Leverage global agroclimatic data intelligence and satellite imagery to understand and reduce business risks
  • Utilize machine learning techniques to process a large amount of global remote sensing data to estimate crop risks and forecast trends, such as crop yield estimates and pest infestations, for the benefit of actors in the agribusiness industry (crop insurance, fertilizer and seed companies)
  • Provide stakeholders in the agricultural value chain with global intelligence services, including real-time insights and interactive and intuitive dashboards

The Value Proposition

  • Drive accuracy, speed, efficiency and transparency in the global trillion US dollar agriculture industry
  • Enable fairer markets for underwriters and banks
  • Expand access to affordable financial services to millions of farmers worldwide
  • Subscription based online decision support system for diverse actors in the agricultural value chain

THE LEARNING AGENDA

Harvesting is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda. Their challenges as we know them could help answer the following questions within the learning pillar of:

  • 10x Better Value Propositions: How can Harvesting partner with financial service providers to make crop insurance more accessible to farmers?
  • Limiting Factors: How can Harvesting align its tech solution and data to the needs of financial service providers to drive efficiency and increase adoption of crop insurance and agri-loans?


Awards / Recognition

  • Harvesting won the Global Grant Challenge Award 2016 at Singularity University for the most innovative solution to address global food security.
  • Harvesting was shortlisted by IBM Watson & XPRIZE to participate in a multi-year Artificial Intelligence (AI) competition between worldwide teams tackling global grand challenges. Harvesting was present at the first AI Summit for Good hosted by ITU and AI XPRIZE.
  • Harvesting is a scholarship award recipient from Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology, an agriculture technology incubator in Salinas, California

 
 
 
 

SUMMARY

PayLatr is a recurring micro-credit mobile platform offering interest-free monthly credits to low-income households in India to easily pay for retail transactions without cash, credit cards or other pre-paid means.

On average, a middle-income household in India spends about 7,000 – 9,000 rupees at any neighborhood store. More than 95 percent of transactions are in cash because most stores do not accept cards and/or users do not have credit cards. Often, households experience cash crunch issues by using up most of their cash for grocery shopping. PayLatr offers monthly credit to improve their household cash flow by providing recurring monthly credit lines at various merchants, via mobile money.

Company Overview

CEO: Rohit Bhatia
Website: www.paylatr.com
Founded: 2016
Market: India
Product: Micro-credit mobile payments platform
Sponsor: Gray Ghost Ventures

Over the next six months, PayLatr will receive $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, Gray Ghost Ventures. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.


THE Problem and Solution

Mid-income households in India with monthly incomes of around USD 800-1000, typically run out cash at the end of month and therefore have to cut down on purchases. This situations repeats itself every month but housewives who are responsible for the household have no way to easily access credit, despite their willingness to settle as soon as the next salary is received. Today the only solution for the housewives is to get a credit card, but housewives are unlikely to be eligible for it.

PayLatr solves the housewives problem by offering credit to them exclusively for purchases of daily needs like groceries, milk, vegetables and fruits. Housewives can join PayLatr with one referral and an Aadhaar Card for basic documentation. Housewives can utilize the credit received to shop at the neighborhood stores they most frequent. For example, vegetable and fruit marts and Kirana (a small neighborhood retail store in India. Users (Housewives) and Merchants (Daily Needs Stores) transact cashlessly via the PayLatr platform, thereby eliminating cash, or credit cards or e-wallets. Merchants are charged a percentage commission on sales. Users pay the credit availed to them by PayLatr between the first and third of the upcoming month after which their credit limit is replenished. 

Thus PayLatr provides housewives seamless access to monthly recurring credit and enables them to better manage their home cash-flow. Their purchasing power is enhanced and they do not need to cut down on the shopping for their daily needs. 

PayLatr merchants benefit from the sales and from new customers shopping with the PayLatr credit. Also, old customers shop more due to their enhanced purchasing power during month end. Merchants are also pleased with the home-delivery use-case because they no longer have to collect cash from the customer, who now pays using PayLatr. 

 

The Innovation

  • PayLatr uses a credit risk model and credit scoring algorithms to determine user’s opening credit limit.

  • Leverages Aadhar API verification (one user per household) and other checks (one referral) for basic users' identity verification.

  • Revenue streams include transaction fees as a percentage of total purchase from merchants, analytics platform rental fee for merchants, and convenience fee for offering users a credit collection service at their homes.

  • Credit payments can be made online or collected in cash at home, but there are incentives to repay digitally.  If users pay credit online, they may be able to increase their credit limit.

The Value Proposition

  • PayLatr offers incentives for both users and small merchants to go cashless.
  • Households have access to hassle-free credit lines to improve home cash flow and are thus able to purchase more necessary goods, without the need for an e-wallet.
  • Merchants are able to understand and attract more customers, offering low-cost credit without credit/debit cards.
  • Improved user experience thanks to faster checkout and cashless transactions.

 


THE LEARNING AGENDA

PayLatr is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda and core mission. Their challenges, as we know them, could help answer such questions within the learning pillars of:

  • 10x better value propositions:  How can PayLatr digital credit lines be better than traditional offerings and reach more people?
  • Limiting factors: How can PayLatr value proposition engender sufficient trust with merchants and users?  What barriers need to be overcome in the Indian market?

 

 

 
 
 
 

SUMMARY

Smile Identity intends to be the best KYC (Know your Customer) software biometric solution for mobile app developers that require scalable, flexible and user-friendly customer authentication to protect identity and prevent fraud.

Company Overview

CEO: Mark Straub
Website: www.smileidentity.com
Founded: 2016
Market: Africa
Product: KYC Software Biometric Solution
Sponsor: 500 Startups

Over the next six months, Smile Identity will receive $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, 500 Startups. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.


THE Problem and Solution

The fear of false identity has become a barrier to the development process for a majority of countries worldwide. To solve this issue, Smile Identity built a 3D selfie technology as an authentication tool called SmartSelfie for financial service providers in emerging markets. Smile Identity allows users to take selfies of themselves to log in their users accounts and verify any transaction. This facial recognition tool is looking to augment password and digital finger print verification methods. 

The Innovation

  • 3D selfie technology that recognizes users' faces for KYC and protection purposes in lieu of fingerprints or passwords
  • Allows for multi-modal biometric recognition
  • Optimized processing between device versus cloud based on user’s phone capabilities and bandwidth limitations, key in low bandwidth environments
  • Developed Mobile SDKs to enable developers and banks to integrate seamlessly within their apps
  • API Calls for instant on-demand biometric authentications from any smartphone
  • Dynamic policy controls to allow developers to match level of accuracy required to level of risk at hand

The Value Proposition

  • Use 3D selfie technology as an innovative authentication tool for financial services companies
  • Allow financial services to build trust with customers by protecting their identity
  • Offer an easy and affordable method for end users to protect their identity and verify transactions

 


THE LEARNING AGENDA

Smile Identity is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda and core mission. Their challenges as we know them could help answer such questions within the learning pillars of:

  • 10x better value propositions: How can Smile Identity help financial service providers make decisions faster while boosting customization for the users?
  • Limiting factors: How can Smile Identity engender sufficient trust with:
    1. low-income customers?
    2.  between customers and FSPs so that customers are not limited to one-size-fits-all solutions and can access financial products that are better tailored to their needs?

 
 

SUMMARY

Abalobi is a social enterprise based in South Africa with global applicability, which is building equitable, sustainable and climate-smart small-scale fisheries, powered by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). These "ICT4Fisheries" enable inclusive, human rights-based and integrated fisheries governance “from hook to cook,” empowering previously excluded fishers and communities.

Abalobi services include a fully traceable marketplace for seafood with a "story," fisher-to-fisher mentoring, system-hosting, digital financial inclusion services, data-driven and transdisciplinary science, Safety-at-Sea, Climate Change adaptation, capacity building and partnership driven support program. Uptake of the technology happens through the co-design process, and a grassroots but global advocacy movement by fishers using Abalobi. They want to develop sustainable fisheries using transformative processes, innovative technology, value chain upgrading, supported by a traditional fishers’ knowledge base.

Company Overview

CEO: Serge Raemaekers
Website: www.abalobi.info
Founded: 2016
Market: South Africa
Product: Fisheries management and value chain mobile applications
Sponsor: Quona Capital

Over the next six months, Abalobi will receive up to $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, Quona Capital. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.



THE Problem and Solution

The 50 million small-scale fishers globally, face two main challenges: 1) inability to sell their products at a fair market price due to disempowering and limiting distribution channels, and 2) limited access to financial services due to “thin-file” credit profiles, which are the result of operating in a cash and informal loan economy. Abalobi, as a fisher-driven mobile app suite, offers a traceable solution to fishers and other stakeholders in the fisheries’ value chain. It gives fishers the ability to harness the power of mobile technology and data in order to set fair selling prices via a marketplace and access a verified, digital income stream.

This solution has paved the way to co-develop simple and relevant financial services such as loans, savings and insurance for fishers, securing their livelihoods and families. Abalobi is currently operating along the western and southern coastline of South Africa, and will soon scale to other coastal areas in Africa and the Indian Ocean.

The Innovation

  • Offers an integrated catch management system for small-scale fisheries as a one-stop shop.
  • App suite consists of five inter-connected apps, which cover a full spectrum of stakeholders in the small-scale fisheries sector (fishermen, cooperatives, regulatory, restaurants, eaters).
  • Stakeholders, including fishermen themselves, co-design solutions and co-research based on input and real-life contexts.
  • Fishermen are able to set market price for their selling items and have access to formal financial services by showing digital footprint.

The Value Proposition

  • The smartphone app logs data on fish catches and related expenses, thereby accurately calculating and recording income. 
  • Fishermen can leverage the marketplace to securely trade with buyers.  
  • The app gives fishermen the data needed to empower themselves and be able to show financial service providers that they are appropriate consumers of financial products.  
  • Abalobi promotes sustainable and inclusive fishery ecosystems.

THE LEARNING AGENDA

Abalobi is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda. Their challenges as we know them could help answer the following questions within the learning pillar of:

  • Limiting Factors: How can Abalobi overcome behavioral barriers, such as trust and illiteracy, to encourage uptake among fishermen and usage of the app?
  • Ecosystems & Partnerships: How can community-embedded fintech companies, like Abalobi, successfully offer codesigned financial services in complex ecosystems (for fishers via cooperatives)?


Interesting Links

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SUMMARY

Asaak is a mobile technology and data science company that is focused on providing microloans to small- and medium-sized businesses in Uganda. Asaak deploys an automated technology and data platform that powers both direct and partnership-based lending.

Asaak provides collateral-backed loans to small- and medium-sized businesses in Africa, bridging the $130B credit gap that currently exists. Their mission is to close the credit gap in emerging markets through a mobile technology-enabled marketplace while creating a new asset class for global investors.  Asaak started with a single lending product for farmers and has now quickly moved into government contractors, real estate, agriculture, energy access, and women entrepreneurship funding programs.

Company Overview

CEO: Kaivan Sattar
Website: www.asaak.co
Founded: 2016
Market: Uganda
Product: Mobile credit for SMEs
Sponsor: 500 Startups

Over the next six months, Asaak will receive up to $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, 500 Startups. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.


THE Problem and Solution

African small business owners struggle with accessing capital to fuel their businesses’ growth as loans are prohibitively small, representing a $130B credit gap. Africa’s only fully collateralized mobile fintech lender and Uganda’s first digital lender, Asaak offers African entrepreneurs and farmers access to quick, mobile-based credit. They provide SMEs with credit sizes tailored to their unique needs. Their mission is to close the credit gap in emerging markets through a mobile technology-enabled marketplace while creating a new asset class for global investors.

The Innovation

  •  No other company provides access to large, collateralized loans via mobile in SSA (collateral is foregone for smallholder farmers).

  • Mobile tech stack verifies collateral and disburses money in hours.

  • Leverages human-enabled tech to assess creditworthiness and engender trust with new clients.

The Value Proposition

  • The only African fintech that fully collateralizes its loans, which drastically lowers their risks.

  • Loans are backed by assets like real estate or heavy machinery; legal team inspects and verifies authenticity of property via integration with government.

  • Unlike microfinance institutions, Asaak gives loans larger than $300, which is a huge unmet need.

  • Uses mobile tech (Android and SMS-based apps) to onboard borrowers and disburse money quickly.


THE LEARNING AGENDA

Asaak is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda. Their challenges as we know them could help answer the following questions within the learning pillar of:

  • 10x Better Value Propositions: How can inclusive fintech companies leverage RPA to optimize internal processes?
  • Limiting Factors: What is the best balance between human and digital touchpoints to improve customer engagement? How does this differ for collateralized inclusive fintech players?


 
 

SUMMARY

MobiLife is Africa’s first 100% 'built for mobile' life insurance, using the power of smartphones to bring effective insurance solutions to low-income consumers.

Company Overview

CEO: Frank Schutte
Website: www.mobi.co.za
Founded: 2015
Market: South Africa
Product: Mobile life insurance
Sponsor: Omidyar Network

Over the next six months, MobiLife will receive up to $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, Omidyar Network. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.



THE Problem and Solution

At 27 percent, South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. This has contributed to the exclusion of many people from access to banking and insurance products. While South Africa has a well-established life insurance industry, customer outcomes are often poor and disproportionately affect low-income households with expensive acquisition costs, low claims pay-out ratios and high policy lapse rates. Only in 2016, the industry sold 7.1 million risk policies but also cancelled over 6 million policies.

MobiLife believes that no family should go hungry due to the loss of a breadwinner.

MobiLife is Africa’s first 100 percent “built-for-mobile” life insurance, using the power of smartphones to bring effective insurance solutions to low-income consumers. The company has innovated to deliver FoodSuranceTM, which pays a weekly grocery voucher for up to 5 years after the passing of a breadwinner. FoodSurance keeps food on the table when a breadwinner no longer can.  Uniquely, MobiLife products allow customers to skip premiums whenever they need to, with the guarantee that the policy will never be canceled.

 

The Innovation

  • Operates on cloud-based technology for easy deployment into any territory.
  • Offers FoodSurance product which allows client’s family members to receive weekly grocery voucher for up to 5 years after the main account holder passed away.
  • Provides Never-Lapse product which is a funeral policy lapse; it allows customers to skip premium payment whenever they want to. 
  • Offers digital direct interactions with customers via chatbot integration.

The Value Proposition

  • Provides accessible, flexible and simple life insurance products to the low and middle income market.
  • Offers a range of innovative insurance products entirely via smartphones.
  • Platform accessible on any mobile device, from anywhere, at anytime.
  • Processes all policy and underwriting on mobile devices from end to end.

THE LEARNING AGENDA

MobiLife is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda. Their challenges as we know them could help answer the following questions within the learning pillar of:

  • 10x Better Value Propositions: How can inclusive insurtech best leverage Artificial Intelligence to support customers remotely and effectively (i.e. to automate customer service), thereby further reducing overhead costs?
  • Ecosystems & Partnerships: How can inclusive insurtech best leverage partnerships to successfully build off of existing brands, customer bases, and distribution channels?


 
 

SUMMARY

Rukula was born out of the need to include the excluded. Rukula (loosely translated from Sinhala to mean a ‘small support’) offers small loans for household consumer durables and electronic items to financially excluded communities in Sri Lanka to enhance their quality of life.

Company Overview

CEO: Reeza Zarook
Website: www.rukula.lk
Founded: 2014
Market: Sri Lanka
Product: Households goods credit provider
Sponsor: Gray Ghost Ventures

Over the next six months, Rukula will receive up to $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor Gray Ghost Ventures. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.


THE Problem and Solution

To put it simply, being poor is expensive.

Rukula was created to offer credit to overlooked populations in an easy, transparent and safe manner. Rukula’s network of nationwide retailers provides people with access to credit for the purchase of low-value household durables and electronic items. Using a proprietary credit scoring algorithm which calculates a “family-stability” score as a proxy for the likelihood of repayment as the basis for customer screening, customers of these retailers can walk out of the store with their new product within 15 minutes of handing over their documentation. This also allows small and medium-sized merchants to gain customers that otherwise could not have made a purchase. Rukula only provides credit on items that are essential to improving a customer’s day-to-day lives.

 

The Innovation

  • Revenue streams consist of two main sales channels: direct customers via merchant network and group sales via employees of partner institutions.

  • Offers low income customers credit (Rs.3,000 – 30,000 or US$20 – 200) to purchase household goods including rice cookers, irons, phones, etc.

  • Allows instant registration and takes 30 mins for loan approval. Loan repayments can be made via USSD menu using eZCash or at Dialog agents.

  • Works with a network of SME retailers to enhance their technical usage.

The Value Proposition

  • Sells warrantied products on credit to qualifying customers in a transparent, accessible and efficient manner through mobile.
  • Provides flexible loan payment plans with no late payment fees or interest for low income customers without the hassle of guarantors.
  • Give credit on a fixed fee to encourage repayment, no late payment / penalty fees.


THE LEARNING AGENDA

Rukula is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda. Their challenges as we know them could help answer the following questions within the learning pillar of:

  • 10x Better Value Propositions: How can AI help micro-lending fintechs improve their credit scoring, especially to better predict churn or late payments?
  • How can inclusive fintech companies leverage Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to speed up backend processes?


 
 

SUMMARY

ToGarantido digitally provides access to high quality and affordable insurance products from different insurers to serve the immediate needs of the low-income customers.

Company Overview

CEO: Felipe Cunha
Website: www.togarantido.com.br
Founded: 2016
Market: Brazil
Product: Micro-insurance platform
Sponsor: Accion Venture Lab

Over the next six months, ToGarantido will receive up to $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive the mentoring of its Catalyst Fund sponsor, Accion Venture Lab. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.



THE Problem and Solution

Emerging market customers are often under-protected and have little to no access to traditional insurance distribution channels. Moreover, tragedies such as death of a family member and loss of employment disproportionately affect low-income households that can easily fall back down to the bottom of the pyramid due to financial instability.

ToGarantido was built to solve this issue by providing digital access to high-quality and affordable insurance products from four different insurers to serve the immediate needs of the low-income customers.

Powered by AI, ToGarantido’s chatbot-automated platform innovates on the traditional approach to insurance sales in Brazil and sets a new standard for the insurance market in Latin America. The company has successfully secured a network of more than 1,000 active clients and is continuing to grow its customer base.

The Innovation

  • Uses data to assess the potential risk of client and provides data to insurance companies to design tailor-made digital insurance products for low-income customers.

  • Provides automated customer service via chatbot to improve ways of collecting client data and reduce the costs of setting up a call center.

  • Uses chatbot video to digitize health declarations, recognize then insurance policy buyers and manage claims digitally.

  • Integrates easily with new technologies including IoT, Machine Learning, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence using a modular API.

The Value Proposition

  • Provides end-to-end digital offer of insurance products.
  • Enables insurance companies to reach underserved customers.
  • Expands basic insurance products access to unattended low-income segments.
  • Uses big data processing tools to better match users’ needs to products.
  • Manages and curates relationship with customers digitally.

 


THE LEARNING AGENDA

ToGarantido is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda. Their challenges as we know them could help answer the following questions within the learning pillar of:

  • 10x Better Value Propositions: How can ToGarantido best leverage ML and AI to improve their value proposition? How can they use chatbots for optimal engagement with the customer and overcome issues of trust?
  • Ecosystems & Partnerships: How can ToGarantido and insurance companies work together on an optimal product design for low-income customers?


Awards / Recognition

  • Awarded as the Most Promising Startup at Munich Re Acceleration Program


 
 

SUMMARY

According to GSMA Intelligence, there will be 3.3B smartphones and 1B mobile money accounts in emerging markets by 2020. In 2016, mobile money gross payment volume totaled US$269B with a 72 percent compound annual growth rate. A developer offering a fintech or other solution built on mobile money rails often takes 6 - 18 months to integrate a single mobile money service with their app. Hover offers a technology solution that reduces the time to one hour for all mobile money services.

Hover’s proprietary and patent-pending technology enables developers to build on mobile money even when APIs need for payment integration does not exist. It is the only company focused on the intersection of mobile apps and mobile money, globally. Hover’s tech could be used as a lightweight version of the internet that could bring the next billion people online.

Company Overview

CEO: Ben Lyon
Website: usehover.com
Founded: 2018
Market: Global
Product: Payment infrastructure (Android SDK)
Sponsor: 500 Startups

Over the next six months, Hover will receive $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive mentoring from its Catalyst Fund sponsor investor, 500 Startups. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.



THE Problem and Solution

There are over 200 mobile money providers globally, but only a handful of these providers give developers the tools they need to integrate mobile money into their applications. As a result, integrating with mobile money is a slow, difficult process, often lasting 6 - 18 months for a single provider in a single market. Hover changes that. Instead of integrating with mobile money providers directly, Hover gives Android developers the ability to control USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), the communication channel of choice for mobile money services. This enables developers to build applications on top of mobile money quickly, reducing months of waiting to a single afternoon and opening a closed industry to global disruption.

The Innovation

  • The software development kit (SDK) leverages Android accessibility services to relegate USSD mobile money providers’ interfaces to an invisible transport layer in the back-end of Android applications.
  • Hover’s technology bypasses the need to integrate with providers’ servers, enabling developers to go live without external dependencies.
  • Accommodates hundreds of device- and version-specific edge cases, posing a significant barrier to entry for competition.
  • Offers bulk pricing and high-value licensing for enterprises such as aggregators, banks and mobile operators.

The Value Proposition

  • Makes USSD-based services more affordable to illiterate and innumerate segments by enabling end-users to interact with financial and informational services via graphical user interfaces.
  • Enables end-users to access basic services without mobile data or a Wi-Fi connection by leveraging USSD as a transport layer over 2G.

THE LEARNING AGENDA

Hover is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda. Their challenges as we know them could help answer the following questions within the learning pillars of:

  • How can inclusive fintech companies improve USSD-based services with a more seamless experience for end-users?  
  • How can inclusive fintech companies leverage Hover’s technology to offer value-adding services to rural and illiterate populations?  


 
 

SUMMARY

Leaf was founded with the mission of helping refugees safely store and transfer assets across borders using blockchain technology. Leaf is an integrated financial services provider whose mobile platform enables the conversion of physical to digital currency through blockchain technology. Refugees deposit cash at a mobile money agent in their home country and then send that money into a Leaf account. The company stores the transaction on the blockchain and converts the deposit into a stable currency for safekeeping. While in transit, refugees can check their balance on the public ledger. Leaf’s solution also allows friends and family members abroad to contribute into the refugee’s account. Once the refugee is in a place of safety, they can convert their assets into the new local currency or use the balance as collateral on a microloan. The platform does not require a smartphone.

Company Overview

CEO: Nat Robinson
Website: leafglobalfintech.com
Founded: 2017
Market: Rwanda, DRC, Burundi
Product: Virtual banking platform
Sponsor: Accion Venture Lab

Over the next six months, Leaf will receive $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive mentoring from its Catalyst Fund sponsoring investor, Accion Venture Lab. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.


THE Problem and Solution

The UN has designated 65 million people as refugees with an additional 100 million living in a state of social, economic and political crisis. Most affected areas lack the adequate banking infrastructure to move cash into digital currency or meet the needs of refugees. When forced to flee, many refugees are unable to get to a bank or money transfer location to pick up funds for their journey, thus limiting them to whatever cash they have on hand.

Leaf operates as a virtual bank for refugees, allowing customers to safely store assets over time and transport them across borders for minimal fees. Leaf can provide financial security even when a refugee does not know where they are going or how long it will take to get there. By converting mobile money into stable investments over a blockchain platform (backed by USD), Leaf operates profitably while extending services currently unavailable to refugees. The refugee is spared from the risk of violence, theft and currency devaluation associated with carrying cash while in flight. Friends and family abroad can also deposit into the refugee’s account, thus creating a cross-border connection to a community during a turbulent period. Leaf takes advantage of the 6 to 18 months refugee resettlement cycle by using that time to invest customers’ savings in order to turn a profit. Leaf can offer services at a much cheaper rate than current offerings because of the unique features of blockchain technology.

The Innovation

  • Uses Stellar’s blockchain technology to convert mobile money to virtual currency and store deposits at a locked value.
  • Works with developers behind a variety of cryptocurrencies designed around the virtue of stability rather than capital accumulation.
  • Provides secure transactions using a voice and facial recognition biometrics system to manage customer identity.
  • Completely eliminates the risks of carrying cash across borders including violence, theft and natural disasters for refugees.
  • Partners with banks, mobile money providers, and MNOs to offer secure asset transport across borders.
  • Platform supports SMS interface and multiple languages (Swahili and French).

The Value Proposition

  • Offers a safe and convenient asset transfer solution across borders for refugees leveraging blockchain technology.
  • Provides an affordable payment solution to refugees crossing multiple countries.
  • Provides an identity management system for refugees.
  • Blockchain technologies enable Leaf to provide a system that works across various countries, banks and financial platforms.

THE LEARNING AGENDA

Leaf is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda. Their challenges could help answer the following questions within the learning pillars of:

  • How can inclusive fintech companies best integrate with mobile money platforms using blockchain technology?
  • How can inclusive fintech companies optimize for customer trust via blockchain technology?


interesting links

 
 

SUMMARY

PayAgri is an agri-fintech startup that brings together key players in the Indian agriculture value chain to facilitate trade and funding flows to promote inclusive growth. PayAgri’s primary platform, Agri Value Engine (AVE), connects farmers and buyers by removing inefficiencies in the value chain, such as middlemen, cash-based transactions and misinformation. PayAgri seeks to create opportunities for farmers to build assets by generating verifiable and traceable data, which helps lenders make informed lending decisions.

Company Overview

Chief Performance Officer: Rajkumar KVM
Website: payagri.com
Founded: 2016
Market: India
Product: Agri Value Engine (AVE) Platform
Sponsor: Gray Ghost Ventures

Over the next six months, PayAgri will receive $100,000 USD in grant capital and receive mentoring from its Catalyst Fund sponsor investor, Gray Ghost Ventures. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.


THE Problem and Solution

In developed countries where farming is known as a viable and profitable business, the farmers enjoy low-cost cultivation, easy access to finance at appropriate cost, higher yield and better prices due to large-scale farming. Data capturing and usage of technologies are also possible due to size of the farms and cashless transactions. But in India and also in most of the developing countries, the land holdings are small and marginal sizes lead to a plethora of challenges that keep the farmers from enjoying the benefits of large-scale farming.

In order to bring the benefits of large-scale farming to Indian farmers, it is imperative to aggregate the farmers and integrate them with all the stakeholders in the agricultural value chain with the help of technology. PayAgri’s tech-enabled solution facilitates cashless transactions and capturing of real-time data about the farmers that can be used by banks/financial institutions, insurance companies and institutional buyers to make informed decisions and work directly with the farmers.
 

The Innovation

  • The platform connects farmers to institutional buyers/banks bypassing the middlemen. Institutional buyers can place orders through the AVE portal, receive financing from a local non-bank financial institution to purchase large orders. Farmers get paid directly for the produce without delays.
  • Collects data for thin or no file farmers to build a credit scorecard and facilitate access to financial services. A pre-populated application form (e-KYC) helps lenders assess farmers’ credit-worthiness and speed up disbursements.
  • Banks leverage PayAgri’s data on farmers’ cash flows and other data to offer accounts receivables financing and working capital loans.
  • The app provides updates on crop pricing and other information and generates weekly crop progress for farmers. This weekly crop progress reports can be used by bankers as a post-disbursement monitoring tool, by insurance companies to validate the factual crop data and also by the institutional buyers to do procurement planning.

The Value Proposition

  • Optimizes returns and creates value for all the stakeholders in the agriculture value chain by leveraging technology and agriculture expertise, keeping farmers’ interest first.
  • Creates opportunities for farmers to access working capital and build a credit history.

THE LEARNING AGENDA

PayAgri is aligned with the Catalyst Fund learning agenda. They could help answer the learning agenda questions of:

  • How can fintech companies overcome infrastructure barriers to optimize the agricultural value chain for farmers to access financial services?
  • What data can fintech companies use to determine farmer credit-worthiness in India, in areas with limited network and mobile money infrastructure?


 
 

SUMMARY

Sokowatch was founded with the goal of creating the largest e-commerce network of goods and services for informal retailers across emerging markets. Informal retailers in Africa face huge challenges around product availability, access to capital and data management. While focusing on the opportunity to reach the 10 million plus informal retailers across African cities selling over $175B of consumer goods every year, Sokowatch helps retailers solve these challenges by offering free on-demand delivery of products through a digitized ordering platform and subsequent access to credit based on order history.

Company Overview

CEO: Daniel Yu
Website: https://sokowatch.com/
Founded: 2016
Market: Kenya & Tanzania
Product: Logistics delivery solution with credit line
Sponsor: Quona Capital

Over the next six months, Sokowatch will receive $75,000 USD in grant capital and receive mentoring from its Catalyst Fund sponsoring investor, Quona Capital. The company will also work with BFA to identify specific advisory engagements towards strategic milestones and a growth trajectory.



THE Problem and Solution

In African cities alone, there are more than 10 million informal shops selling over $175B worth of goods every year. Despite their importance to local economies, these shops run out of stock of routine products due to the lack of direct distribution and working capital financing. Sokowatch’s mission is to address the needs of these shops by improving availability of everyday goods.

Sokowatch is an e-commerce platform that helps informal stores in emerging markets keep products in stock and access credit to grow their businesses. Sokowatch does this by allowing shopkeepers to order products at any time via SMS or mobile app for free same-day delivery to their stores. Based on ordering data, Sokowatch then automatically calculates and extends credit to stores to allow them to increase their purchase sizes and grow their businesses. Sokowatch currently supplies over 3000 stores across Kenya and Tanzania with annualized revenues of over $1.8M.
 

The Innovation

  • Offers on-demand ordering for store inventory and free delivery under two hours to a network of informal SME retailers in East Africa.
  • Sources products directly from large fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturers - receiving bulk orders on consignment.
  • Allows retailers to browse images and prices for products and agents to track current orders via an app, which is available offline.
  • Toll-free SMS can be used to request price list of goods.
  • Lends forward to the shops, based on their order and payments history, to purchase goods on in-kind credit.
  • Offers a bundle credit product with smartphone financing and product.

The Value Proposition

  • Offers on-demand ordering and free delivery for small to medium retailers’ store inventory.
  • Offers low cost credit lines to retailers for a flat fee of 2 percent (mark-up on order) and a five days payback period in-kind (on orders and delivery).
  • Strong in-person relationships with a network of merchants and access to alternative data (orders, payment history).

THE LEARNING AGENDA

Sokowatch is aligned with the CF learning agenda and could help answer the following questions within the Catalyst Fund’s learning agenda:

  • How can inclusive fintech companies develop customized credit lines and advertisements based on customer data?
  • How can inclusive Fintech companies leverage machine learning for predictive e-commerce and financing?