The 2023 edition of the Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI), a global open innovation competition that invites startups to showcase and pitch their innovative solutions to solve tomorrow’s payment and commerce challenges, is now open for applications for contestants from Kenya.
The announcement follows Visa’s recent commitment made during last year’s Jamhuri Day Tech Innovation Summit attended by President William Ruto, where the organization outlined a five-year plan to digitally enable small businesses in Kenya.
(TOP: Ayo Arikawe – middle – the co-founder of Thrive Agric alongside Andrew Torre, – right – the Regional President for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa at Visa and Otto Williams, the Senior VP and Head of Product, Partnerships, and Digital Solutions for CEMEA at Visa during last year’s VEI finals).
In addition to monetary prizes, VEI winners gain access and exposure to Visa’s vast network of partners in the banking, merchant, VC, and government sectors. The winners also benefit from receiving recognition from one of the world’s most trusted and valuable brands.
This year’s VEI in Kenya will see an in-person competition on July 6, 2023, from which the winner will proceed to the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) finals, which will be livestreamed on July 27, 2023, on TechCrunch. The winner of the CEMEA regional final will proceed to the global finale, to be held on September 19, 2023, at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.
The VEI Kenya edition will see a total of $40,000 in prize money distributed among the different categories. This includes $20,000 for the overall winner, $10,000 for the audience favorite and a newly introduced $10,000 Impact prize, which goes to the organisation whose solution has a positive social impact on the communities it operates in. Examples of social impact include initiatives that boost financial inclusion, promote sustainability, or safeguard the environment.
“The Visa Everywhere Initiative is a platform that empowers fintechs and entrepreneurs to showcase the most ground-breaking, impactful solutions in the world of payments and commerce,” said Eva Ngigi-Sarwari, Visa Country Manager for Kenya. “Through their technology-driven, innovative solutions, fintechs have the potential to offer broad social benefits – particularly when it comes to providing financial services to those who have traditionally been underserved. At Visa, we believe access to the digital economy drives equitable, inclusive growth, and VEI is an important means of supporting the innovators playing a leading role in this space. We intend to work closely with the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Digital Economy as well as the Central Bank of Kenya during this VEI edition to support the innovation ecosystem in Kenya”.
Since its launch in 2015 VEI has helped over 12,000 startups from across 100 countries, to collectively raise more than $16 Billion in funding. Last year, VEI awarded more than $530,000 in prize money over the course of the competition, which saw over 4,000 startups participate from five regions. Nigeria’s ThriveAgric took home the Global grand prize of $100,000 and an additional $20,000 Visa Direct prize.
VEI Kenya edition is seeking innovative and ambitious entrepreneurs who are uplifting communities by solving payment and commerce challenges faced by businesses of all sizes and sectors, including the following:
- Urban mobility
- Gig Economy
And/ OR (M)SME solutions that solve for:
- Access to finance
- Access to new customers/markets
- MSME Business services not limited to inventory management, payroll processing, customer relationship management
This year’s prizes
- VEI Kenya Winner: $20,000
- VEI Kenya Audience Favorite: $10,000
- VEI Kenya Social Impact Award: $10,000
- VEI CEMEA Regionals 1st place: $20,000
- VEI CEMEA Regionals Audience Favorite: $10,000
- VEI CEMEA Regionals Risk Winner: $25,000
The application deadline for VEI Kenya is May 14, 2023.