Apply for FINNOVATION Fellowship Program for Impact Entrepreneurs!

Deadline: 15 July 2018

The FINNOVATION Lab has announced the FINNOVATION Fellowship Program for impact entrepreneurs.

The Fellowship is a nine month incubator and fellowship program to support impact entrepreneurs who:

  • Are hungry to understand the context and causes behind some of the world’s most pressing problems
  • Are passionate about leveraging an entrepreneurial idea to make a big social or environmental impact
  • Are eager to develop innovative business models to solve problems in new ways
  • Are committed to growing into their potential as a leader
  • Need a runway of support to get their enterprise launched


  • INCUBATION: A dedicated desk at the state-of-the art space at FINNOVATION Lab and Impact Hub MSP collaboration workspace, located on the top floor of the FINNEGANS House in downtown Minneapolis.
  • FUNDING: Every fellow will receive a full time living stipend of $50,000, plus a $3,000 healthcare stipend, to offset living expenses and set-up costs for the nine month Fellowship.
  • MENTORSHIP: Each Fellow will have access to a network of mentors – a combination of experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts drawn from FINNOVATION Lab’s skills-based volunteering initiatives with local corporations and university partnerships.
  • CURRICULUM: Fellows will participate in one or two curated curriculum days each week and have a range of tools and resources at their fingertips to guide their learning journey and business model development.

Eligibility Criteria

  • If applicant  have  a  good  idea  and  are  at  least  18  years  of  age,  applicant  are  eligible  to    Applicants  can  be  of  any  educational  background,  and  there  is  no  citizenship  requirement.
  • They are looking for leaders who are having bold ideas and the skills to execute. Applicants are:
    • Audacious enough to think applicant can solve an intractable problem, but humble enough to listen to feedback and test their idea
    • Willing to fail in order to learn, but resilient enough to try again
    • Applicants to the FINNOVATION Fellowship are individuals who have identified a particular social problem that they feel passionate about addressing and have developed (at the very least) a hypothesis (or “idea”) for a potential enterprise. This enterprise must have a long term plan for financial sustainability and social impact. And Fellows must be prepared to be ready to launch their enterprise at or before graduation from the program.
    • Enterprise ideas can be for-profit companies, or they can be non-profit organizations that have an earned revenue component. Social impact may be in education, health, environment, hunger, poverty-alleviation, or elsewhere, as long as applicant can make a case for that is it a “force for good.”
    • The application is open to social entrepreneurs, community leaders, recent graduates, current professionals or changemakers working on any social issue, who have an innovative idea for solving a social problem.

How to Apply

Applications must be submitted online via given website.

For more information, please visit FINNOVATION.

African startups have raised a total $168.6 million in the first half of 2018 (4x jump vs same period in 2017)


This is turning out to be a great year for African startups seeking funding.

Halfway through the year, with 118 deals completed, startup funding on the continent has reached $168.6 millionsurpassing last year’s total of $167.7 million, according to a report by WeeTracker. The total funding is also nearly a four-fold increase on the $47.2 million raised in the first half of 2017.

Fintech remains the most attractive sector as investors continue to bet on the promise of startups focused on making payments and banking easier in Africa.Fintech also accounts for four of the 10 largest deals completed this year, receiving $95 million in funding—more than half of total amount raised on the continent. In the two largest deal Cellulant, a digital payments solutions company which operates in 11 African countries, raise $47.5 million in its Series C round while Branch, an online micro-lending platform, has raised $20 million. Even though Nigeria was the biggest funding destination for volume of deals with 29 completed, Kenya accounted for the most funds raised with $82.8 millionnearly three times the total of funding received by Nigerian startups.

As different reports on startup funding in Africa are released annually, the total amounts differ based on methodology. Last year, Disrupt Africa’s pegged total startup funding at $195 million while Partech Ventures annual funding report—which includes startups that have a primary market in Africa whether or not they are headquartered or incorporated on the continent—showed that $560 million was raised last year. For its part, while it tracks companies incorporated in Africa and companies incorporated elsewhere but have their primary focus on Africa, WeeTracker does not include major private equity deals in fields like manufacturing in its reports, says Nayantara Jha, the managing editor.

Startups that have a primary market in Africa whether or not they are headquartered or incorporated on the continent—showed that $560 million was raised last year. For its part, while it tracks companies incorporated in Africa and companies incorporated elsewhere but have their primary focus on Africa, WeeTracker does not include major private equity deals in fields like manufacturing in its reports, says Nayantara Jha, the managing editor

This article was first posted on Quartz Africa




Fintech Vs Agritech What Should Investors Hurdle Toward in Nigeria? (Part II)


This article is a continuation of a series, you can check out the first post here

In the last few years, African start-ups have successfully raised capital from angel investors both within and outside the continent. In 2015 about a $185M was raised in total, with Fintech bagging about 29.6% of this funding which is about $49.7M, while Agritechs raised about $50k in funding. Reported investments in Start-ups in Nigeria have increased to $49M in 2015 compared to $16M in 2014. Interestingly, Nigeria, which had the highest investment focus (about $109.3M), accounted for 29% of the total investments in African start-ups. In 2016, 146 African start-ups raised $129.1M with about 24% equalling $31.4M going to the Fintech sector according to Disrupt Africa’s tech Start-ups Funding Report.



Fintechs have been by far the most funded start-ups since tracking began. In 2017 a third of all the funding to the Nigerian tech ecosystem went to Fintechs and this proportion has remained stable in the last three years, so it is safe to say that Fintech is worth a third of the entire tech ecosystem. Investments in Fintech in Nigeria and other parts of Africa have moved from about $198M in 2014, to $800M currently. Though global investments in Fintech were put at $19B in 2015, indications have shown that investors are increasingly attracted to the industry’s potential to tap into Africa’s huge unserved/underserved population. KPMG states that investment in Nigerian Fintech over the last two years exceeded the $200M mark with $195M being invested in 2017 alone. Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa were the top three recipients of Fintech investments in Africa over the last two years. This is even as start-ups are increasingly accounting for a significant portion of Fintech investments, accounting for 30 per cent of the total funding raised by African tech businesses in 2015. KPMG observed that Venture Capitalist/Angel investors were early-stage investors in Fintech businesses in Nigeria in line with global trends. It, however, said Nigerian banks, which had previously invested in Fintech start-ups such as Interswitch and Valucard are now predominantly consumers.  In the Tech start-up funding report for 2017 released by Disrupt Africa Fintech was the most attractive sector for investors. The high investment in Fintech start-ups is really something noteworthy because banking penetration is low. In 2014, the number of bank accounts relative to population was 34% in Africa.

For the past two years, the total investment in Agritech in Africa has amounted to $19M. With nearly one billion people in Africa active as smallholder farmers, it comes as no surprise that entrepreneurs and investors alike are starting to tap into the Agritech space. This space is charting out a decidedly upward trajectory, with funding into this sector growing 203 per cent in 2017. Agritech start-ups across the continent raised a combined total of US$13.2M in funding last year, the fourth largest of any sector. This was up 203 per cent on 2016 figures, which had in turn been an increase of 8,660 per cent on the pitiful of US$50K raised by Agritech start-ups in 2015. Agritech is hot right now internationally, and Africa is no exception. Investment tends to be Marco economically stable, people have to eat, and there are a number of acquirers perusing the space lately looking for opportunities.

This level of investment is confirmation that Agritech has become a key sector of interest not just for venture capital investors, but also for impact investors, individuals, family offices, institutions, and strategic players. Some high-profile investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which invested across biological inputs and alternative proteins, Google, actress Demi Moore, actor Jared Leto, Stanford University, and the University of Texas Investment Management Company. The corporate venture arms of big agribusiness also stepped up their participation in 2015 with Monsanto and Syngenta leading the way.


Piggy Bank raises $1.1M in seed funding.

Piggy Bank raises $1.1M in seed funding.
Piggy Bank raises $1.1M in seed funding. closed $1.1M in seed funding and announced a new product — Smart Target, which offers a more secure and higher return option for Esusu or Ajo group savings clubs common across West Africa.

The financing was led with a $1 million commitment from LeadPath Nigeria, with Village Capital and Ventures Platform contributing $50,000 each.

Founded in 2016, by   Somto Ifezue, Odunayo Eweniyi and Joshua Chibueze, offers online savings plans — primarily to low and middle income Nigerians — for deposits of small amounts on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis. There are no upfront fees. Savers earn interest rates of between 6 to 10 percent, depending on the type and duration of investment.

Users need an account with one of’s bank partners to use the products. The startup generates returns for small-scale savers (primarily) through investment in Nigerian government securities, such as bonds and treasury bills. itself generates revenue through asset management and from the float its balances generate at partner banks.

The startup looks to grow clients across younger Nigerians and the country’s informal saving groups.

“The market that we are trying to serve is largely the millennial market, though we do not exclude anyone,” said Eweniyi, the company’s chief operating officer. The venture also looks to meet a demand in Nigeria for accessible investment options, citing a survey they conducted indicating that as a top priority for people with discretionary income.

“Piggybank offers savings, but our vision is not just savings, but to become a holistic platform — a financial warehouse — where other financial providers can plug in their services for PiggyBank users,” said Eweniyi. She cited banks, investment houses, insurance, and pension funds as possible partners.

The company currently has 53,000 registered users — 60 percent of whom are Nigerian Millennials — who have saved in excess of $5M since 2016, according to a release.

Joshua Chibueze, Co-Founder and CMO of Piggybank says, “Today’s announcement allows us to expand and capitalise on the many opportunities that the market presents us with. Our growth so far has been stimulated almost entirely by peer-to-peer advocacy and our investment in the highest quality customer service, so we know the market is there, and the product has been built, modified, tested and ratified by users. With this fundraiser, we can invest significantly in our people and products, as we build a digital financial warehouse accessible to millions of Africans whose savings woes we want to put firmly behind them.”

In addition to securing its seed funding of $1.1 million, has recently acquired a micro-financing license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which provides the relevant regulatory cover, allowing them independence from partnering with banks.

Win up to 50,000USD in Visa everywhere initiative in Sub Sahara Africa



Visa’s Everywhere Initiative is a global open innovation program tapping into startup communities to drive regional business objectives, curate the startup ecosystem for Visa clients and accelerate bigger and bolder ideas, enriching consumer experience.

Wherever you want to be, Visa’s Everywhere Initiative helps you get there. Coming to Sub Sahara Africa for the first time, Visa’s Everywhere Initiative offers participants a chance to win up 50,000USD and a chance to have a support development program with Visa business or partnership with Visa’s partners.

The focus areas are on

  • Innovations that move away from cash on delivery culture for ecommerce Africa by leveraging on Visa Developer APIs to either: Enable smaller merchants to accept payments in-store digitally OR Provide a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive eCommerce and reduce cash on delivery. Apply 
  • Innovations that help  improve cash flow and receive payments by using Visa’s APIs to leverage mass reach partner platforms like Facebook to help businesses operating in fast-paced consumer centric environments. Apply
  • Innovations leverage technology to provide services that are functional for illiterate customers to provide them with secure transaction experiences that build and enhance their confidence in the banking system. Apply

3 winners of 25 000 USD each. Each Company selected as a Brief Winner will be awarded 25,000 USD. If Visa determines in its sole discretion that a Brief Winner has created a standout solution, Visa may provide further investment and mentoring support to that Brief Winner, subject to the parties agreeing a suitable development program and additional terms for the investment.

Application ends May 18 2018.

Flutterwave hits $2billion in transaction and increased banking partners

It’s been a pacesetting year for Flutterwave, as expected, the company has grown in leaps and bound.

Over the period the company has grown by 900% in transaction volume; from $200m a year ago to $2billion and from 6 banking partner to 45 across Africa. This is a massive growth year for the company.

Earlier in the year, the company allowed merchants to recieve payment from international cards and paypal, however some merchants were fraudulent (according to sources) and were later restricted and automated acceptance stopped and process reviewed.

It’s also interesting to know that Flutterwave powered ALAT and GTBank MarketHub given that these products were owned by banks.


Year 2018; The year of Fintech in Nigeria

Fintech, for the uninitiated, is financial technology sector; These are startups using technology to provide financial service to customers through various products.

Financial Infrastructure

If there is anything terribly needed in Africa, it is a platform that makes moving money across Africa easy, and the most popular startup in that sector currently is Flutterwave, co-founded by Andela co-founder; Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and other banking veterans. This has made it possible for more Fintech startups to leverage its infrastructure to build products it might not be well positioned to build or execute. By doing this, entrepreneurs and businesses are able to go to the market with their innovative product without getting slowed down by lack of financial infrastructure in Africa. Flutterwave has processed over $1.2b in transaction since it’s launch.

Merchant Commerce

Paystack, the darling of developers has seen tremendous growth in the volume of transactions and the number of merchants on its platform. Back in July, Paystack shared that it processed a billion naira in transactions within the month, and just this December, the number was N2.7b, almost 3 folds just under 6 months and a total of 7,700 merchants on the platform. These were simply transaction done by merchants (excluding transfer); read e-commerce.

As big e-commerce players struggle in Nigeria, it’s good to see smaller players growing in transaction with the help of Fintech Startups in Nigeria. Other Fintech Startups: Amplify, SimplePay, CashEnvoy,

Offline Payment

In the sexiness of online payment, e-commerce, and infrastructure, we generally fail to realize the importance and significance of offline payment which according to our estimate is still more than 95% of payment transaction in the country. These areas are unsexy but bigger (at moment) than online payments. The Startups leading the way in this key area are CashEnvoy and Paga. With CashEnvoy’s Paypad, they are able to make online transactions possible for merchant in shops, delivery agents for logistic companies and “human ATMs” in remote locations. If you have ever been to an area in remote Nigeria where finding the closest ATM to you will take a 2hrs car trip, you most likely will appreciate the value of these “Human ATMs” and the values provided by this ATM service providers. Paga, on the other hand, is the king of offline transactions in Nigeria, from payment collection, bank withdrawall, and transfer.


2017 saw huge increase in transaction and startups in this subsector in Nigeria. Leading the pack is Paylater, a startup that allows you to borrow money in minutes from mobile apps and receive it in your bank account. These products are amazing in that you do not need paper work as required by the bank to be able to get the money you need quickly. Though, they mostly come with higher interest but who cares about high interest when you need money here and now? Other startups in this area are; Kiakia, Lidya, Aella Credit, RenMoney

Personal Finance and Savings

Every human one way or the other needs a way to preserve their money, make more on it and buy their dream products. This usually comes in a way of saving up your earnings or getting loan to make the dream come true. is the leader in this space with almost a billion in deposit. CowryWise, OsusuMobile, REΛCH and SusuAI.

Analyst View

As these startups becomes ubiquituos this year, we will see traditional banks pay attention in the way of either partnering, or starting their own subsidiary or launching product to take on any of this subsector. As other sources of revenue; Federal and State government, Bond, T-bills, Forex and oil becomes volatile and unpredictable they will be looking at other avenues to make money and beat their last year revenue. We have also entered election season, a lot of money will move out of the banking system onto the hands of political players (in “Ghana must go” bags) etc.

As we cross our fingers and follow the growth in the system, we can be sure of amazing things in this new year., Nigerian Startup to Shake the mainstream in 2018

I have been following PiggyBank since their launch in 2016, and to see them grow aggressively over 2017 is amazing! Reading through the co-founder’s article on medium gave an impressive look into the steady execution and future of the company. I must say, it’s an impressive journey of how a Nigerian startup can be gritty, execution-minded and be awesome!

Product viabilities

Everyone in the world is aware of the need to save, and particularly in Nigeria(maybe Africa), we have Esusu culture of regularly saving money daily, weekly and monthly; most times jointly. I personally participated in joint-saving while in high school and running a small business. If there is any challenge to scale from that model, it’s the fact that, some people default after they have collected the fund contributed by everyone.

With PiggyBank, you are able to safe, put a SafeLock on it, and be sure to get your money when the time comes, say 3months time. The pain you get from the emergence of easy access (e-banking) to your money is the fact that, you can pull out your savings too quickly and as such, not be able to get the value of saving for a significant period.

(By William Iven, Unsplash)

The Accelerators

Till date, PiggyBank has participated in 3 accelerators; Village Capital, PitchDrive and BlackBox, all in 2017. When you look at the pattern of execution, you will see a coordinated, ambitious and lean(viral) approach to how they execute their strategies. I want to believe that their participation in the accelerators shaped greatly, the way they execute.

When you run a startup, getting a helping-hand in thinking through and executing your strategy has a value that can never be underestimated.

The Market

According to the last banking report, there are about 97.57m bank account holders in Nigeria, this is the Total Addressable Market (TAM) for the startup and given that we can assume a 25% Servicable Addressable Market (SAM) from the lot. Remember not all Nigerians with banking account will be ready to save money YET in a startup. This will change over time as their acquisition of a microfinance license could insure customer deposit as well, giving customers more confidence.

The Execution

In 2017, the startup grew 30,000% from 21m savings to close to 1 billion naira just within 12 months? That’s super impressive. According to the CEO, 30% of the money is in SafeLock, meaning customers have a pre-determined time for withdrawal and as a business, they can do investment with the money and make more.

The Future

This year 2018, we see PiggyBank breaking new ground and growing savings by at least 500%. With the acquisition of a microfinance, they will be able to hold money for longer, open a standalone bank account for customers and be able to introduce new products that will push them to the mainstream.

On the funding side, we predict (going by the pattern of startups in Nigeria) a $1.2m series a funding before the end of the year.