Investors

Lessons About Leveraging Inclusive Fintech for Impact

Photo Credits- PayGo Energy

Photo Credits- PayGo Energy

After three years working to accelerate 25 early-stage inclusive fintech startups in emerging markets, we reflect on what we learned and bring to you an evaluation of Catalyst Fund. Since we started, we continuously learned from our successes and mistakes, and refined our approach to be the best accelerator partner to fintech companies. This report highlights the program's successes and shortcomings, while providing actionable insights into what works and what doesn’t to spur fintech innovation that reaches underserved communities.

Whether you’re an investor, a donor, a startup or another accelerator program, you will find valuable lessons and a data-driven approach that can help us all better support entrepreneurs around the world.

Meet the Five Startups Shaping the Future of Inclusive Fintech in Emerging Markets

Through Innovations in e-Commerce, Blockchain, Mobile Money Integrations, and Agrifintech

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At Catalyst Fund, we have been working with a wide range of startup companies to bring much-needed essential financial products and services to improve the lives of people on low incomes. We are proud to announce the five latest “inclusive fintech” companies to join Catalyst Fund: BancoMare, Hover, Leaf, payAgri, and Sokowatch. These startups are tackling enormous challenges to bring more accessible, affordable, and appropriate financial services to the 1.7 billion underbanked customers in Africa, India, Brazil, and Southeast Asia.

There has been progress in financial inclusion over the past 5 years, with 515 million people gaining access to a bank or mobile money account, bringing the percent of adults globally with bank to 69 percent. However, too few people on low incomes actually use financial services, and we are yet to see the variety of products that can truly improve the financial health of these customers. We invested in these startups because their solutions can accelerate financial inclusion by: 1) overcoming infrastructure barriers currently limiting mobile money innovation; 2) facilitating partnerships among ecosystem players such as digitizing data for financial service provision; and 3) bringing tailored products to the most vulnerable people through advanced technology.

Read more about these companies here

Risky business: how to de-risk your fintech startup before it’s too late

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Co-written by Elizabeth Davidson

Early identification of key risks can help fintech startups invest in the business support they need early on before a risk takes down the business. These risks can scare off investors, who want to ensure that entrepreneurs understand the key challenges they face. Instead of waiting for entrepreneurs to identify key risks, early stage investors can work with startups to tackle these risks before or in conjunction with their investment.

Catalyst Fund has taken just this approach. By working with our entrepreneurs to identify risks, we can tailor technical assistance to solve these risks so that investors are more confident in the future success of the business.

Our Risk Framework as a Focusing Device

Our Risk Framework as a Focusing Device

Taking an honest look at their own key risks can be difficult for entrepreneurs, who may be too deep in the weeds to step back and look at the bigger picture. This is why the Catalyst Fund developed a risk diagnostic to help startup leaders get a better grasp on their challenges, and understand those within or outside of their control. The tool offers a checklist of possible mitigation strategies for the entrepreneur. Read more here.

Timing isn’t quite right for SaaS startups in Africa

Source: Alrami.info

Source: Alrami.info

Let me tell you how I failed to build a scalable SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) startup in Africa.

Remember the hockey-stick growth chart? This is what an entrepreneur signs up for and what investors want to see.

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But let’s face it, hockey-sticks are not part of the reality in Africa… not yet. So why are software-as-a-service startups not taking off? Three reasons:

  1. 1. Businesses are competing for the investor dollar, not for superior tech

  2. 2. Economies of scale can only work at scale

  3. 3. Scaling across the continent is harder than it sounds

Read more here