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Village Capital’s Accelerator Programme Seeking Agriculture-Focused Startups in East Africa

Village Capital, in partnership with MasterCard Foundation and Duncan Goldie-Scot, has announced the launch of its accelerator program, Village Capital FinTech for Agriculture: East Africa 2015.

The program will select 12 start-up firms for business development training. The aim is to unlock innovations that increase access to financial services for smallholder farmers. At the end of the program, the two start-ups ranked highest by other entrepreneurs in the program will each receive US $50,000 to help scale their businesses and impact.

The initial 12 enterprises will be chosen on the basis of how their ideas can increase incomes for smallholder farmers by improving their access to financial services.

Typically, smallholder farmers in East Africa cannot participate in the mainstream economy because they lack access to financial services as a result of their location, their lack of financial literacy, and other barriers.

In order to address this situation, Village Capital FinTech for Agriculture plans to meet this need by supporting the best local early-stage ventures increasing financial inclusion in the East African agriculture industry, benefiting smallholder farmers, investors, communities, and entrepreneurs in the region.

Village Capital will provide selected ventures with intensive business development training, mentorship from local business leaders and investors, and face-to-face interaction with potential customers. The program aims to create 200 jobs over the next two years in East Africa, with an estimated 60 per cent of jobs going to individuals living below the poverty line. Graduating enterprises are also expected to increase revenue growth by 4.5 times and distribute goods and/or services to 200,000 customers (with a primary target of smallholder farmers) within that time period.

Ross Baird, Executive Director, Village Capital, highlighted the significance of this program saying: “Village Capital connects the best early-stage entrepreneurs to real customer needs across the world, and smallholder farmers in East Africa need access to quality financial services. Together with The MasterCard Foundation, we are addressing this problem by training local start-ups to scale their impact to benefit local farmers.”

Village Capital FinTech for Agriculture: East Africa 2015 is especially interested in ventures that solve problems in agriculture, or for which smallholders or agribusinesses represent part or all of their customer base.

Applications can be submitted via this link and will be accepted through February 25, 2015. The selected applicants will be announced at the end of March 2015.

The best submissions will be innovations that improve access to payments, financial security, accounting, cash management, credit, loans, cash advances, or other financial services for smallholder farmers or agribusinesses; first-to-market innovations in the agricultural sector; Ventures that increase access to financial services in agriculture, or for which smallholders or agribusinesses represent part or all of their customer base and technologies that formalize informal markets, increase the efficiency of the agricultural supply chain, improve business that serve smallholder farmers, and/or build wealth for smallholder farmers, low-wealth households or individuals.

The winning submissions will also need to be innovations that provide affordable extensions of credit, loans, cash advances or other financial services to financially underserved households, smallholder farmers or businesses in the agricultural value chain and technologies that extend traditional financial services (savings, credit, loans, insurance) to financially underserved households, individuals or businesses in alternative ways.

Village Capital sources, trains, and invests in early-stage ventures solving major social problems through profitable business solutions. It connects investors face-to-face with the best entrepreneurs in agriculture, energy, education, health and financial inclusion.

MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with over US $9 billion in assets which through collaboration with partner organizations in 49 countries is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard

Finally, Scot is a founding director of several FinTech companies in East Africa, including Musoni, the first 100 per cent mobile-only/cashless micro-finance institution in Kenya. Musoni runs its operations in Kenya and is expanding across East Africa.

Source: CIO East Africa

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