The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation, have announced the finalists of the 2018 edition of the Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion. The competition, which awards a total of $200,000 in prizes, was established in 2015 to discover Africa’s most promising and innovative early-stage start-ups that promote and advance financial inclusion on the continent.
The selected companies are Apollo Agriculture (Kenya), Bidhaa Sasa (Kenya), FarmDrive (Kenya), Farmerline (Ghana), LanteOTC (South Africa), MaTontine (Senegal), OZE (Ghana), RecyclePoints (Nigeria), Tulaa (Kenya) and Wala (South Africa).
“We are pleased to welcome the 2018 finalists into the MIT Zambezi family”, said Georgina Campbell Flatter, the Executive Director of the MIT Legatum Center. “They represent some of the world’s most innovative change agents.”
“The finalists demonstrated strong leadership and innovation in the way they are solving financial inclusion challenges”, said Ali Diallo, the Global Programs Manager of the MIT Legatum Center. “We also want to thank the hundreds of great startups that applied to this competition and shared with us their inspiring ventures, visions, and insights for advancing financial inclusion. We hope to keep them all engaged through our upcoming initiatives”.
The finalists will join leaders from the MIT and African tech ecosystems on August 28th and 29th at the 2018 MIT Open Mic Africa Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. The two-day event will include a VIP reception followed by the award ceremony at Strathmore University where the Grand Prize Winner will be awarded $100,000 (Kshs 10 million). Two runners-up will each receive $30,000 while the seven remaining finalists will each receive $5,000 in cash prizes. Additionally, the Legatum Center will award $5,000 to an African entrepreneur who demonstrated great leadership qualities to unify Africa’s tech ecosystem. All finalists will participate in cohort-building and mentoring activities with MIT leaders and Zambezi alumni companies during the event.
The winners will be invited to attend the Zambezi boot camp during the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) gala on the MIT campus in Boston on November 5th-9th, 2018. They also will be fast-tracked to the IIC global grand prize with up to $1 million available in funding for the winner. The IIC event is part of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and, along with the MIT Legatum Center’s initiatives, exemplifies MIT’s global commitment to the future of work.
Past Zambezi finalists have included Kifiya, PlusPeople, MFS Africa, Tugende, Chamasoft, Nomanini, FirstAccess , AgriLife, MChanga and mJara. The Grand Prize Winner, Umati Capital received funding from Accion Venture Lab, Blue Haven Initiative, and Lundin Foundation.
The Zambezi Prize and the Open Mic Africa tour are pillars of the Legatum Center’s Africa Strategy – a global vision to leverage MIT’s ecosystem to improve lives through principled entrepreneurial leadership. The Legatum Center’s Africa strategy is also a core component of the MIT-Africa initiative which encompasses the Institute’s global priority for collaboration with the continent.
The Legatum Center was founded on the belief that entrepreneurs and their market-driven solutions are critical to tackling the world’s greatest challenges and driving global prosperity. Based at MIT Sloan School of Management, the Center leverages expertise and research across campus to equip future leaders with the skills, values, and critical thinking they need to succeed as entrepreneurial change agents. The Center’s capstone initiative is the Legatum Fellowship Program which provides aspiring entrepreneurs with a world-class education and substantial tuition support.