Top five peer-selected startups will split $150,000 in grant funding from MetLife Foundation
Dubai, UAE; August 06, 2020: Village Capital today announced the twelve early-stage fintech startups selected to take part in Finance Forward MENA 2020. An accelerator, Finance Forward MENA will provide the startups with five weeks of online and in-person training focused on improving their business models and making their financial health solutions available to those who need them most in the current economic climate.
Each startup selected for the accelerator will work closely with mentors, potential clients and partners, as well as investors they need to scale their impact, using tools developed to help their self-evaluation, such as Village Capital’s Abaca. The top five peer-selected companies will be eligible to share $150,000 USD in grant funding from MetLife Foundation.
Four UAE based startups have been selected for the programme. These include Buyback Bazaar Technology, Datacultr Fintech Limited, Distichain and HubPay.
“While there has been considerable improvement in global financial inclusion over the last decade, there is still work to do in all regions, especially in MENA,” said Alicia Sornson, Manager of Programs & Partnerships in MENA at Village Capital. “I am incredibly excited to work with the twelve startups selected for this program that are developing products to help low-income individuals, families and small businesses manage their day-to-day finances as well as build short-and long-term savings and wealth.”
Finance Forward MENA 2020 is a part of a multi-year global coalition led by founding partners MetLife Foundation and PayPal to support entrepreneurs building tech-enabled solutions to challenges around financial health.
The program received applications from entrepreneurs operating across the region, with selected companies coming from Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, the UAE and Turkey. They are helping unbanked people gain access to formal financial services, creating digital identities for refugees and migrant workers, providing access to employment for youth and women, helping small business owners access affordable credit and offering opportunities for underserved people to earn, save and invest for the future.
The cohort was selected with guidance from the Finance Forward MENA Advisory Board, as well as local partner Beyond Capital.
“The financial health challenges created by COVID-19 for individuals and small businesses are significant,” said Dirk Ostijn, Head of EMEA, MetLife. “Times of crisis can spur great innovation, and the Finance Forward entrepreneurs are working with energy and optimism as they seek solutions for these challenges.”
The twelve startups in the cohort that are improving financial health in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) are:
1. Bilforon (Jordan) is a marketplace application that connects customers with home-cooks who make and sell food from their houses.
2. Buyback Bazaar Technology (UAE) is an online portal that facilitates emergency access to cash in exchange for personal items, which users can ‘buyback’ within a specified period.
3. Datacultr Fintech Limited (UAE) is a platform that allows lending institutions to use smartphones as collateral for loans to new-to-credit customers while allowing devices to remain in the users’ possession.
4. Distichain (UAE) is an e-commerce and e-procurement platform that facilitates open trade between companies, regardless of geography or size, by partnering with banks to evaluate transaction risk in real-time.
5. PayMint (Egypt) is a financial services platform for small businesses, providing services including payroll, cashless payment, insurance, lending, and money transfers to small businesses and their employees.
6. E-Bursum (Turkey) is an education financing platform that guides students through the process by connecting them to scholarship, crowdfunding, and educational loan options while helping them avoid taking on unnecessary debt.
7. HubPay (UAE) is a digital wallet for the remittance community which aims to lower the cost of remittances while creating a digital wallet that fosters financial inclusion.
8. Khazna Tech (Egypt) is a salary-backed loan product that allows users to receive the earned part of their salary at any time throughout the month.
9. Markit (Lebanon) is an on-demand grocery delivery service, allowing small and medium-sized grocers to offer their inventory and delivery services to customers through an online platform.
10. Valify Solutions (Egypt) enables those in rural areas to access formal financial services through digital identification services.
11. We-Settle (Tunisia) is a cloud-based solution for businesses to easily create, monitor, and collect invoices.
12. WorqCompany (Turkey) is a one-stop-shop for small businesses, providing high quality vendors and partners for key business services such as human resources, accounting and office space.