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Africa Fintech Foundry To Boost Innovation And ‘Techpreneurs’ With 2021 ‘Accelerator’ Programme

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Africa’s foremost innovation hub, the Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), has opened up its registration portal for the 2021 Accelerator program.

The initiative, which is being executed in partnership with Access Bank Plc, seeks to fast-track the growth of the best start-ups operating within the African technology ecosystem. The ‘Accelerator’ programme will fast track and assist the selected start-ups to navigate issues such as start-up pricing and competitiveness, creating endearing customer experiences, support and retention, hiring and people management, scaling for growth and product development cycle fundamentals amongst others.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative, the Head of the Africa Fintech Foundry, Daniel Awe, said, “Research has shown that 90% of start-ups fail due to various reasons such as lack of funding, being in the wrong market, a lack of research, misaligned partnerships, ineffective marketing, and poor competitive positioning to name a few.  90% is a high percentage rate of failure. This indicates that many things need to go right for a business to succeed. Enabling start-ups to grow, scale and remain relevant in the tech space is where we play a major role as AFF.”

“Since its establishment, the Africa Fintech Foundry has progressively demonstrated leadership in the areas of innovation, financial technology, and entrepreneurship. We recognize the vast array of talent possessed by Africans and the wider global players and the immense potential that our technological start-ups have.

Hence, through the Accelerator programme, we will be providing cohorts with mentorship and clinic hours from leading entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts. They will also get access to funding, unrivaled business insights, access to markets, and networking opportunities with our partners at various stages of the program,” he said.

The AFF Accelerator programme will span 12 weeks, with formal and informal mentorship from established founders, investors, and pioneers across various industries.

Ade Bajomo, Access Bank’s Executive Director for Information Technology and Operations, highlighted the need for increased corporate investment in tech-focused capacity building initiatives.  He said “Technology can serve as the catalyst for solving many of the problems faced across various industries. We also believe that it holds the potential to resolve social and economic challenges faced across the African continent.  Therefore, as Africa’s gateway to the world, we have partnered with the continent’s leading accelerator, the Africa Fintech Foundry, to create a platform that will nurture the brightest minds, providing them the needed resources to develop and scale their projects, to the benefit of all.

Start-ups to be considered for admission into the programme include those that: have a tech-enabled solution; offer a unique solution or unique application in a regional setting; have a cross-functional team with a deep understanding of the market – which includes technical lead(s) and founder(s) that are fully committed to the business; have a defensible position (IP; network effects; domain or region expertise); have been in operations for at least 6 months, amongst others.

Interested participants can visit www.africafintechfoundry.com for more information. Those who meet the required criteria will be required to fill an online application. Entry deadline has been disclosed as Saturday, 31 January 2020.

BIG STORY

ECOMOF 2024: UBA Affirms Pledge To Stimulate African Economic Expansion Through Strategic Supports For Mining And Oil Sectors

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Africa’s Global Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to spearhead economic growth across the continent through targeted policies aimed at maximizing the benefits derived from the mining and oil sectors.

To this end, the bank is poised to collaborate with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) towards implementing strategic initiatives that will not only attract investment but also foster sustainable development into the mining and oil sectors.

The Chief Executive Officer, UBA Africa, Abiola Bawuah, who spoke at the just concluded 4th ECOWAS Mining and Petroleum Forum (ECOMOF 2024) which was held at the Palais des Congrès in Cotonou, Benin Republic, said the bank recognises the pivotal role of the mining and oil sectors in shaping the economic landscape of African nations, and is strategically positioning itself to be at the forefront of this transformation.

“At UBA, we recognize the pivotal role that the mining and oil sectors play in shaping the economic landscape of ECOWAS member states and so, this ECOMOF 2024 Conference has provided us with a strategic platform to reaffirm our commitment to fostering economic growth in the region,” she noted.

According to her, by formulating and advocating investor-friendly policies by the sovereigns and financial intermediation and supports provided by UBA, the mining sector would be catalysed and transformed into robust economic pillars contributing substantially to the country’s Gross Domestic Products.

“We believe that through collaborative efforts and sound financial strategies, we can propel the mining and oil industries towards sustainable development, unlocking their full potential for the benefit of the entire region,” she added.

The ECOMOF 2024 conference with the theme “Geo-extractive Resources and Technologies: Pooling Strategies to Create Added Value in West Africa,” saw a large gathering of key players and stakeholders in the mining and petroleum sectors who gathered to brainstorm on the need to transform the mining and oil sectors into economic pillars by formulating attractive policies for investors, essential for the sectors’ substantial contribution to the development of ECOWAS member states.

As a leading African financial institution with presence in 20 African countries, UBA has consistently played a crucial role in driving such discourse around economic growth and supporting major continental development projects.

The Head of Corporate and Energy Bank at UBA, Ebele Ogbue, who was also a panelist during the session, highlighted the pivotal role of National Oil and Gas Companies in advancing the development of the oil and gas industry’s value chain.

He emphasised the significance of good corporate governance in ensuring the sustainable growth of National Oil and Gas Companies and underscored the need for robust collaborations among ECOWAS countries, just as he highlighted the importance of fostering strong regional ties to drive collective prosperity in the oil and gas sector.

He also emphasised how the UBA Group remains dedicated to providing strategic financial solutions that empower National Oil and Gas Companies to navigate the complexities of the industry and drive sustainable development.

With active involvement in major continental development projects and a strong presence across Africa, UBA is positioned as the financial institution of choice for the event. The bank’s commitment to the growth of the mining and petroleum industry in the sub-region is not only evident in its support for ECOMOF but also reflects its dedication to overall African economic development.

United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees’ group wide and serving over 35 million customers globally.

Operating in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge technology.

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BIG STORY

Money Laundering Via Cryptocurrency Drops By $9bn — Chainalysis Report

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In 2023, there was a 29% decrease in the amount of money laundered through cryptocurrency exchanges, as per a Chainalysis research.

According to the data, which was received on Thursday, there was a $9.3 billion decline in those illicit funds from $31.5 billion in 2022 to $22.2 billion in 2023.

The blockchain research platform observed that the decline might be explained by a general decline in the volume of cryptocurrency transactions, both legal and illegal.

Chainalysis observed that over the past five years, monies transmitted from unlawful addresses have primarily ended up at centralised exchanges, at a rather consistent pace.

“Over time, the role of illicit services has shrunk, while the share of illicit funds going to DeFi protocols has grown.

“We attribute this primarily to the overall growth of DeFi generally during the period, but must also note that DeFi’s inherent transparency generally makes it a poor choice for obfuscating the movement of funds,” it said.

The firm indicated that the 2023 trend closely resembled 2022 regarding the breakdown of service types used for money laundering.

However, it added that there was a slight decrease in the share of illicit funds directed to illicit service types, accompanied by an increase in funds moving towards gambling services and bridge protocols.

“If we zoom in to look at how specific types of crypto criminals laundered money, we can see that there was a significant change in some areas. Most notably, we saw a huge increase in the volume of funds sent to cross-chain bridges from addresses associated with stolen funds.

“We also observed a substantial increase in funds sent from ransomware to gambling platforms, and in funds sent to bridges from ransomware wallets,” it added.

Further, Chainalysis said 109 exchange deposit addresses received over $10m worth of illicit cryptocurrency each, and collectively, they received $3.4bn in illicit cryptocurrency in 2023.

“While that still represents significant concentration, in 2022, only 40 addresses received over $10m in illicit crypto, for a collective total of just under $2.0bn.

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BIG STORY

Three Teams Emerge Winners In HabariPay’s Take-On-Squad Hackathon 1.0 For University Undergraduates

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After days of intense collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving, three teams – Team Within, Team X, and Team Storepoint – emerged winners in the inaugural Take-on-Squad Hackathon 1.0 coding event held at the state-of-the-art GTCO Training Complex, Tayo’s Plaza, Abeokuta, Ogun State, from January 18th to 20th, 2024.

Team Storepoint, represented by Haruna Faruk and Ladipo Samuel from the University of Lagos, secured third position and a prize of N1 million. Their winning solution, Storepoint, facilitates quick access to an online marketplace for local shops and small businesses within 5 minutes, using Squad’s API to streamline the payment process. Team X, consisting of Muktar Jimoh Yusuf, Rasheed Taiwo Mudasiru, and Mukhtar Abdulfatai from the Federal University of Technology, Minna, claimed the second prize, earning a prize of N1.5 million. Their solution leverages advanced AI and machine learning algorithms to revolutionise bundled payments. The coveted first place was awarded to Team Within, comprising Inuoluwadunsimi Daniel Ola-oladeinde, Atayero Ayomide Samuel, and Hamzat Victor Oluwabori, students of Obafemi Awolowo University. They received a prize of N2.5 million for their innovative solution focused on streamlining school departmental payments and contributions.

Each team was selected based on the following criteria: real-world applicability, technical creativity, user experience, and teamwork. Eduofon Japhet, the Managing Director of HabariPay Ltd, expressed her delight with the calibre of solutions showcased during the event. She remarked, “The level of innovation demonstrated by each team is truly impressive, and we eagerly anticipate witnessing these solutions materialise in the future.”

In recognition of their outstanding achievements, Team Within, Team X, and Team Storepoint, along with other standout talents from the hackathon, will be enrolled in the Squad Hackademy – an initiative aimed to empower the participants with comprehensive learning resources, mentorship, and unparalleled job opportunities, fostering a community of innovation and excellence.

 

  • About HabariPay

HabariPay Ltd is the fintech subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc, providing best-in-class payment solutions to help businesses in Africa grow and thrive.

Licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), HabariPay’s solutions include Squad, a complete payment tool to make in-person and online payments simpler, HabariPay Storefront, an e-commerce website to sell products and services, Value-Added Services to help merchants access cost-effective and flexible airtime and data bundles to run their businesses, as well as a switching infrastructure that enables tech-focused businesses to optimise cost and make transactions more efficient.

HapariPay recently received Mastercard’s Award For Accelerating Digital Acceptance in Africa and was awarded “Innovative Mobile Payment Solution” for its SquadPOS product by TIA.

 

  • About Squad

Squad is a complete payments solution that is reliable, secure, and affordable, making receiving in-person and online payments simple and convenient. Our goal is to support SMEs, micro merchants, large corporations and other fintechs (Tech Stars) with the tools they need to thrive in an evolving digital economy and expand beyond their current market reach.

Thousands of merchants currently leverage Squad’s payment solutions for their daily business operations. Squad’s current products and service offerings include SquadPOS, Squad Payment Links, Squad Virtual Accounts, USSD, and E-Commerce Storefront.

Find out more at www.squadco.com.

 

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