On Thursday, 27th of May, Bram van den Bosch, CEO & Co-Founder of Emata, a Ugandan fintech that gives farmers access to digital and affordable financial products, won the Best Catapulter Award at the end of the CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa 2021 digital bootcamp.
The award was announced at the end of CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa’s digital pitching ceremony, which was kicked off by an opening address from Kosta Peric, Deputy Director for the Financial Services for the Poor initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Besting 13 other fintech finalists who joined the programme, Bram van den Bosch’s final pitch, which was delivered in front of a jury, focused on making farmer financing right; tackling a huge paradox in Africa where agriculture accounts for 80% of employment and 30% of GDP but only 3% of lending.
“Access to formal and affordable financial services is crucial for farmers to prosper, and we think Emata solves this in a sustainable and innovative way that ultimately strengthens the entire ecosystem,” comments Bram van den Bosch. “Catapult and the LHoFT has offered us a platform to meet, discuss with and learn from great founders and investors. We look forward to putting this into action as we scale up in Uganda and beyond.”
The runner-up of CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa was Mosabi, a Sierra Leone-based fintech and edtech hybrid which unlocks financial opportunities through innovative learning. The second runner-up was Nokwary Technologies, a Ghanaian startup developing voice-based interfaces for financial services, with the aim to facilitate financial inclusion of the technologically illiterate.
Building on the 2018 and 2020 editions, but also on local expertise and aligned with the sustainability goals of Luxembourg’s finance centre, CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa 2021 aimed to help fintech companies with the goal of improving financial inclusion across the African continent. Critically, the bootcamp served to build bridges for business between Africa and Europe and helped the fintechs connect with an international set of investors and Venture Capitalists.
For the 2021 edition of CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa, 14 Fintech startups were selected from 163 applications from 29 different countries. The online 10 days bootcamp was organised and delivered by the LHoFT Foundation, sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign & European Affairs – Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs, and supported by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion as well as key strategic partners such ADA, InFine, the European Investment Bank, the University of Luxembourg, CGAP, KPMG Luxembourg, Compellio, MoBerries, SocGen Luxembourg, Luxembourg For Finance, the Social Performance Task Force, the Luxembourg Africa Investment Association, Contextual Solutions, ACRC, F6S and many others.
Focusing this year on investment readiness, the 14 ventures were supported by investors operating in Africa such as Bamboo Partners, TLG Capital, ZedCrest Capital, Rising Tide Africa, Outlierz, Angaza Capital, Anza Capital, Baobab Group, Beyond Capital, Advans, CRE VC, DRK Foundation, AfricInvest, Triodos Capital, Sherpa Africa Partners, and others.
The CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa bootcamp covered a range of topics, including business model mapping, investment readiness, funding and capital raising, social impact, scaling strategy, building teams, operational management, and pitch development.
The bootcamp culminated with an online final pitch session gathering all the partners and supporters of the programme, an audience of 100 spectators, where the 14 companies delivered their final pitches, leveraging the input they had received from the programme partners, experts and mentors over the course of the 10 days bootcamp.
The jury, composed of Laura Foschi, Executive Director at ADA; Thomas Lammar, Secrétaire de Légation at Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Luxembourg, Saad Sheikh, Principal Investments at TLG Capital, Robin Newnham, Head of Policy Analysis and Capacity Building at Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), Benjamin Fernandes, Founder and CEO of NALA, and Nasir Zubairi, CEO of the LHoFT, listened to passionate pitches from all the finalists and declared Bram van den Bosch, CEO & Co-Founder of Emata, as “Best 2021 Catapulter”.
Emata received €5,000 LHoFT prize money, and, thanks to the ADA, a free entry and accommodation to attend the upcoming “African MicroFinance Week” in October 2021. All the 14 Fintech participating in the bootcamp received a one-year free membership at the LHoFT.
“Luxembourg is a centre of excellence for inclusive finance. Our distinct ecosystem, which includes the Fintech innovations promoted by the LHoFT, aims at jointly creating impact through innovation,” comments Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy and Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs. “I’m glad to see that once more, and even digitally, Catapult: Inclusion Africa was able to benefit an excellent cohort of fintechs working in and for financial inclusion in Africa. While we have witnessed excellent solutions for payments, insurance, e-education, pensions and more, this year’s winner, Emata illustrates that modern and inclusive fintech models can also foster digitalisation in the agriculture sector.”
Nasir Zubairi, CEO of the LHoFT Foundation, added: “The Catapult: Inclusion Africa programme brought together 14 impressive entrepreneurs all committed to deliver real impact. I feel energised and inspired, their solutions are excellent and I am sure many will go on to achieve great things. Emata was a beacon amongst all the impressive pitches. We are immensely grateful for the commitment of the Luxembourg and international community who helped make this programme a success. It would not be possible without all our sponsors and partners, thank you all.”