Pezesha, a peer-to-peer micro-lending Marketplace that connects lenders with high quality, underserved, low-income borrowers, won the Best Catapulter Award at the end of the CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa 2020 boot camp.
The award was announced and presented to Pezesha by Franz Fayot, Minister of the Economy and Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs. Beating 12 other Fintech finalists from Africa, Hilda Moraa’s final pitch, in front of a prominent jury, focused on “purposeful financing”, helping to tackle the US$19 billion financing gap for SMEs in Kenya.
“Financial inclusion has to be meaningful, equal, contextual, purposeful and inclusive to those excluded and underserved”, said Hilda Moraa, listed as one of the top 30 innovators in Africa in 2018 by Quartz Africa. An entrepreneur by nature, Hilda Moraa Morara started Pezesha after successfully exiting her first company, WezaTele.
CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa is a week-long boot camp on the theme of financial inclusion. The boot camp is organised and delivered by the LHoFT Foundation and supported by the Ministry of Foreign & European Affairs, Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs, the European Investment Bank (EIB) alongside many key strategic partners from the finance and microfinance industry.
Building on local expertise and aligned with the sustainability goals of Luxembourg’s finance centre, CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa aims to help Fintech companies with the goal of improving financial inclusion across the African continent. Critically, the boot camp serves to build bridges for business between Africa and Europe.
After one week of intensive workshops, mentoring, training and networking, the participating Fintechs of the programme were celebrated by a full house of the Luxembourg financial services and Fintech ecosystem at a very special Fintech Friday, LHoFT’s popular monthly meetup. Minister Franz Fayot reminded the audience of our capacity to use our skills and experiences to do good, and announced the sponsorship of a special edition of the Catapult boot camp to be held at the World Expo in Dubai in 2021.
“Luxembourg is a global hotspot for innovation in the financial sector, including the microfinance sector. Our distinct ecosystem, which includes the public and private sector, as well as actors from the civil society, facilitates the exchange of expertise and experience. I’m glad to see that fintech, which leverage the potential of digitalisation, have become active parts of this ecosystem. Progress would not happen as fast without the innovative solutions developed by dynamic fintech startups, which allow the financially excluded to finally lend, insure, save, and transfer money.” he added.
For the 2020 edition of Catapult: Inclusion Africa, 13 Fintech startups were selected from 243 applications from 36 different countries. The programme was sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign & European Affairs, Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs and the European Investment Bank (EIB) and supported by key strategic partners such as ADA (Appui au Développement Autonome), InFine.lu, University of Luxembourg, LuxFlag, Innpact, MicroInsurance Network, KAP Innovation in Frontier Markets, LMDF (Luxembourg Microfinance and Development Fund), SPTF (Social Performance Task Force), the UN University Center for Policy Research, Compellio, Dupont Jensen, F6S, Grosbusch, Delta Cafe, Agence Deuux.
The CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa boot camp covered a range of topics, including business model mapping, scaling strategies, peer due diligence processes, sales strategies, business plan presentation, operational and risk management, funding and capital raising as well as social impact.
The boot camp culminated with a final pitch session and networking event, gathering the Luxembourg Microfinance, Financial Services and Fintech Community at the LHoFT’s Fintech Friday on 6th March. The 13 companies delivered their final pitches, leveraging the input they had received from the programme partners, experts and mentors over the course of the week-long boot camp.
The jury, composed of Mrs Laura Foschi, Executive Director at ADA, Mr Thomas Lammar, Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign & European Affairs, Mr Benjamin Deransart, Founder of KAP Innovation in Frontier, Mrs Hilda Damas Kasembe, Risk and Compliance Officer at PayPal EMEA, and Mr Nasir Zubairi, CEO of the LHoFT, listened to passionate pitches from all the finalists and declared Mrs Hilda Moraa Morara as “Best Catapulter”. Mrs Morara received US$3300( €3,000) prize money, free membership at the LHoFT, and, thanks to the ADA, an entry, a stand and full accommodation to attend the “Assises de la Coopération Luxembourgeoise” in May 2020.
Mr Nasir Zubairi, CEO of the LHoFT Foundation, commented: “I feel energised and inspired. The pitches from the participants were some of the best I have seen over the years. The programme brought together 13 incredible and impressive entrepreneurs all committed to delivering real impact. Their solutions are excellent and I am sure many will go on to achieve great things; hopefully the Catapult: Inclusion Africa will be a memorable contributor to their success. We are thankful for the commitment of the Luxembourg community who helped make this programme a success. I am extremely grateful to all our sponsors and partners.”