Village Capital, with support from MetLife Foundation and PayPal, have announced that Distichain and Markit were selected by peer entrepreneurs to receive equity-free investment as a part of Finance Forward MENA 2020. An investment-readiness program, Finance Forward MENA 2020 is part of Finance Forward, a multi-year global coalition to support entrepreneurs on four continents who are building tech-enabled solutions to place-based challenges around financial health.
“We congratulate the winners who, like their peers, are striving to put peoples’ lives and businesses on stronger financial footing in one of the most unequal regions in the world,” said Alicia Sornson, Manager of Programs & Partnerships in MENA at Village Capital. “Now more than ever, their solutions are needed to help address challenges which have only intensified due to the pandemic. The region’s entrepreneurs are well-qualified and highly motivated to achieve impact and we will be following their progress with great interest.”
The participants were selected with guidance from the Finance Forward MENA Advisory Board and the program was executed with local partners Beyond Capital, Impact Hub Istanbul and EFG-EV Fintech.
Distichain and Markit were selected for investment by a group of peer entrepreneurs on the final day of Finance Forward MENA 2020, a five-week-long virtual venture development program managed by Village Capital in collaboration with MetLife Foundation and PayPal. The 11 entrepreneurs in the program evaluated each other through an investor lens, using eight specific investment criteria that leverage Village Capital’s Abaca Pathway. Distichain and Markit were ranked “most investment ready.” The two companies are focused on the following:
- Distichain (UAE) is an e-commerce and e-procurement platform that facilitates open trade between companies, regardless of geography or size, by partnering with banks to evaluate transaction risk in real-time.
- Markit (Lebanon) is an on-demand grocery delivery service, allowing small and medium-sized grocers to offer their inventory and delivery services to customers through an online platform.
“By bringing together a group of emerging fintechs through Finance Forward, we are able to elevate organisations that are at the forefront of financial health in MENA,” said Ossman Charabati, SVP, Head of Employee Benefits EMEA and Head of Levant at MetLife, and Advisory Board member for Finance Forward. “MetLife Foundation and MetLife congratulate Distichain and Markit for developing powerful new business models that will help ensure lower-income people and small businesses benefit from the financial sector in the region.”
Three additional companies, Datacultr Fintech Limited, HubPay and Buyback Bazaar Technology, who ranked 3-5 in the peer review process, will receive $20,000 in grant funding from Metlife Foundation:
- Datacultr Fintech Limited (UAE) is a platform that allows lending institutions to use smartphones as collateral for loans to new-to-credit customers while allowing devices to remain in the users’ possession.
- HubPay (UAE) is a digital wallet for the remittance community which aims to lower the cost of remittances while creating a digital wallet that fosters financial inclusion.
- Buyback Bazaar Technology (UAE) is an online portal that facilitates emergency access to cash in exchange for personal items, which users can ‘buyback’ within a specified period.
The remaining companies in the Finance Forward MENA 2020 cohort were:
- PayMint (Egypt) is a financial services platform for small businesses, providing services including payroll, cashless payment, insurance, lending, and money transfers to small businesses and their employees.
- E-Bursum (Turkey) is an education financing platform that guides students through the process by connecting them to scholarship, crowdfunding, and educational loan options while helping them avoid taking on unnecessary debt.
- Khazna Tech (Egypt) is a salary-backed loan product that allows users to receive the earned part of their salary at any time throughout the month.
- Valify Solutions (Egypt) enables those in rural areas to access formal financial services through digital identification services.
- We-Settle (Tunisia) is a cloud-based solution for businesses to easily create, monitor, and collect invoices.
- WorqCompany (Turkey) is a one-stop-shop for small businesses, providing high-quality vendors and partners for key business services such as human resources, accounting and office space.