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Flutterwave Denies Shutdown Of Payment Platform Over #EndSARS

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Flutterwave Denies Shutdown Of Payment Platform Over #EndSARS, SiliconNigeria

Following reports on social media that the Central Bank of Nigeria had blocked the accounts of payment tech company, Flutterwave, the firm has insisted that its channels have been up and running and have not in any way been disrupted.

The company, in a statement issued last night, said contrary to news going round on social media as well as some traditional news media reports, its merchant payouts and collections channels have been working seamlessly.

On Tuesday, social media platforms were agog with news that the company’s account had been blocked because of contributions towards the medical care and legal fees of #EndSARS protesters who had been shot, wounded or arrested across the country.

There were also reports that the chairman of board of the company, Mr Tunde Lemo, a former CBN deputy governor, had directed the suspension of the fintech’s payment platform.

Flutterwave, in a statement issued yesterday, said: “Our attention has been drawn to false claims by Thisday, Nairametrics and Arise TV which have been erroneously attributed to our Board Chairman, Tunde Lemo.

“Contrary to these reports, such interview never happened. Our payment platforms are up and running efficiently, as usual. Merchant payouts and collections are running seamlessly. Our consumer product, Barter by Flutterwave, is also completely and smoothly operational. We are overwhelmed by the love and support Flutterwave has received over the last few days as we continue to simplify payments for endless possibilities for you and for the world.”

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Start-ups/Fintech

CcHUB & iHub Unveils Startups in Women In Business Cohort 2

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CcHUB & iHub Unveils Startups in Women In Business Cohort 2, SiliconNigeria
  • 15 women-led businesses from Nigeria and Kenya to participate in the 6-month programme

Co-creation Hub (CcHUB) and iHub, the leading technology innovation centre in Africa have launched Cohort 2 of the Women In Business programme.

This isfollowing the success and impact of the first cohort of the Women in Business programme, which supported technology entrepreneurs in Kenya and opened up to women-led businesses as a whole how these women can better leverage technology to scale their solutions in the African market. The programme will support businesses in Nigeria, in addition to Kenya.

The programme kicked off with a virtual workshop on Thursday, October 1, and Friday, October 2, 2020, to share with the startups the programme’s mechanics and expectations during the 6-month period of the programme.

 The programme will enhance how women-led businesses leverage technology to better serve their market, build the capacity of women-led businesses to secure capital, catalyze the expansion efforts of women-led businesses in the African market, build the capacity of female entrepreneurs to attract, develop and retain quality talent and create access to market opportunities

One key aspect of our programmes is connecting startups to experts in particular sectors/fields. This cohort’s programme will feature a women-centric industry expert network from the technology sector and other relevant fields as guest expert/facilitator at monthly meetings, industry advisor that will be attached to a specific startup, and Industry advisor accessible via flexible office hours.

These businesses will be able to benefit in the following ways; They will be able to use technology to achieve a strategically differentiated business that speaks to the heart of customer needs, An ability to speak investor language and leverage sound financial understanding of your business to secure capital and partnerships, support to expand your business across multiple geographical markets, knowledge of how to attract, develop, and retain a strong team; as well as access to a robust network of investors, corporate executives, and software developers to help scale your business.

These are the startups selected into the 2020 cohort 2 are Afrofinity, Fichaya, Happy Coffee, HerVest, Inuka Kenya, Keypetbooks, Lucy and partners (Nig) Ltd, Marble Stitches, Maximum Cleaning Hub, The butty Box, Ndovu.OnehealthNg, Semsey, WHISPA, ZUMI

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Catalyst Fund, Mastercard Foundation, MEST, Launch $4.3m Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator in Ghana

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Catalyst Fund Mastercard Foundation MEST launch $4.3m Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator in Ghana, SiliconNigeria

 Catalyst Fund, managed by BFA Global, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), today announced the Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator, a program aimed at scaling digital commerce companies in Ghana to support the digitization of micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in the country.

The two-year program will improve the livelihoods and financial resilience of MSEs in Ghana, that have been impacted by COVID-19, by enabling access to digital commerce platforms and access to market.  

The accelerator will select and scale six digital commerce and innovative companies that can enable informal MSEs to reap the benefits of digital commerce, leveraging Catalyst Fund’s existing proven model to combine: 

Catalyst Fund Mastercard Foundation MEST launch $4.3m Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator in Ghana, SiliconNigeria
  • flexible grant capital of up to US$120,000 per company; 
  • deep, bespoke, expert-led venture acceleration support;
  • portfolio meet-ups and curated cohort-based workshop sessions with local expertise and operational support by MEST;  
  • a commitment to sharing best practices, toolkits, learnings, and insights with the digital commerce sector;
  • connections with Catalyst Fund’s growing global Circle of Investors (65+) and Circle of Corporate Innovators; and
  • ecosystem acceleration to create a more enabling investment and business environment in which digital commerce companies can prosper.

The first expansion of Catalyst Fund beyond its flagship Inclusive Fintech program will officially launch via a virtual event and company pitch showcase on November 4th (registration here).

All participating companies in the pitch will be selected by an expert Investment Advisory Committee. Selection is informed by market research conducted to identify the barriers and opportunities for expanding inclusive digital commerce in Ghana. Initial research findings will be released at the official launch event on November 4th

Speakers at the launch will include: 

  • Alex Bram of Hubtel; 
  • Lexi Novitske of Acuity Venture Partners; 
  • Albert Biga of Zoobashop; 
  • Kweku Fleming of MEST Scale; 
  • Jane del Ser of BFA Global; and more.

The event will conclude with a pitch showcase from four leading digital commerce companies across Ghana, which will  be held at the MEST Accra Incubator. 

“We’re thrilled to announce the first Catalyst Fund expansion program, which builds on lessons learned on supporting inclusive fintech companies in emerging markets over the last five years. Through the Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator, we aim to impact informal MSEs in Ghana who, particularly in light of the COVID-19 crisis, lack access to a financial safety net and find their livelihoods impacted when physical commerce suffers. Along with support and deep local expertise from the Mastercard Foundation and MEST, we aim to enable companies who are already tackling distinct problems in the digital commerce space to better reach informal MSEs so they can leverage digital rails to improve their financial resilience for the future,” said Catalyst Fund Managing Director Maelis Carraro.

Country partner MEST brings deep market knowledge, leveraging 12+ years of training and incubating tech entrepreneurs on the ground in Ghana. 

“The opportunity to partner with an experienced organization like Catalyst Fund with support from the Mastercard Foundation, is in equal parts exciting and aligned with MEST’s scale strategy in Ghana, and beyond. Historically, MEST has focused on early-stage startup support and creation through our training program, seed fund, and incubator programs. The Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator provides an opportunity to work with Catalyst Fund to support scale-stage ventures which are strategically seeking to better reach and serve informal MSEs, leveraging our local knowledge, networks, and expertise,” said MEST Strategic Director Greg Coussa.    

US$4.3 million commitment to support the financial resilience of MSEs 

Surveys conducted by BFA Global and by Ghana Statistical Service found that MSEs in particular are suffering as a result of the pandemic. A BFA Global survey of low- and middle-income individuals found that 44% of self-employed people had lost their jobs or could not find work. A recent tracker from the Ghana Statistical Service found that microenterprises are faring worse than large and small enterprises; among businesses that are open, 92.2% of microenterprises report decreased sales (compared to 89% of small and medium enterprises, and 45% of large enterprises), noting that sales have fallen 60.9% relative to last April. 

“Micro and small enterprises are the bedrock of Ghana’s economy. They are also the most impacted by COVID-19, putting livelihoods and economic gains made over the years at risk. Accelerating access to markets through digitization and e-commerce platforms provides MSEs the opportunity not only to scale, but to strengthen their resilience at the other side of the pandemic,” said Nathalie Akon Gabala, Regional Head for Western, Central and Northern Africa, at the Mastercard Foundation.

In a parallel effort to accelerate the expansion of the digital commerce ecosystem and increase coordination, Catalyst Fund will be building an open database of digital commerce companies operating in Ghana. Companies who wish to express interest in being considered for the accelerator may also choose to be included in the database. All interested companies should complete the form found here

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Visa Invests In Payment Processor, GPS

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Visa Invests In Payment Processor GPS, SiliconNigeria

Visa has invested in Global Processing Services, the payment processor behind a host of challenger bank startups, including Revolut and Starling.

UK growth private equity firm, Dunedin, joined Visa in the round, which will be used by GPS to extend its geographical reach.

GPS successfully expanded into the Apac region last year, delivering payments services for Xinja, the second Australian neobank to be made an authorised deposit-taking institution, and WeLab Bank, the first homegrown virtual bank in Hong Kong.

Having been selected as one of the preferred issuer processors for Visa’s Apac Fintech Fastrack programme, GPS has worked with the card scheme to deliver a next generation showcase for the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Kevin Jacques, vice president, Visa Ventures, comments: “GPS is an example of how we continue to invest in, and partner with, companies that provide valuable capabilities to the ecosystem and have potential to advance the payments industry. The business has a strong balance sheet, engaging leadership and growth across key regions, and we believe it will continue to be an important enabler for payments processing.” The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

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