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Mastercard names 9 Africa projects for $9-million fund

The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity (FRP) has announced that nine companies from seven countries will receive more than US$9 million to support projects that expand financial inclusion in rural Africa.



2017/2018 Rolling Competition: Phase #1 Selected Companies


Company Description

Primary Project Country FRP Support
(in US$)
Equity Bank Congo Agency Banking Project

ProCredit Bank Congo SA plans to contribute to the expansion and

revolutionary transformation of financial services inclusion by replication of an agency banking model throughout DRC. ProCredit Bank Congo SA will leverage technology (e.g., mobile banking), roll out new highly researched financial products and services, and develop a high level of customer service and emotional bonds with customers.


It also will develop unique business models (e.g., agency branchless banking) to revolutionize and deepen financial access to unbanked and under-banked populations in DRC, especially in rural areas where the majority of the population resides.

Democratic Republic of Congo 1,500,641
Apollo Agriculture Remote Sensing and Machine Learning for Smallholder Finance at Scale

Apollo offers a customized package of farm inputs and advice on credit to rural farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers receive the package at planting and repay slowly until harvest, when loans are due. Apollo’s digital approach enables low costs and rapid scaling. Apollo acquires and enrolls customers digitally; credit-rates them automatically using high-resolution satellite imagery and behavioural, psychometric, and agronomic data; collects repayments using mobile money; and trains farmers on best practices via automated voice calls (“IVR”).


Apollo’s low-cost, low-touch model has the potential to scale-up rapidly to increase the incomes of millions of smallholders.

Kenya 1,085,000
Dodore Kenya Limited Agri-wallet

Agri-wallet, developed by Dodore, is a savings scheme to enable farmers to save for farm inputs and increase their agriculture production and income.

Agri-wallet includes two unique and innovative savings features: (1) automatic contributions, and (2) restricted spending.


Agri-wallet offers farmers a solution to problems such as lack of savings, mixing of personal and business funds, slow payments from buyers and diversion of funds, and lack of credit access. Agri-wallet uses technological innovations similar to blockchain, combined with social value chain integration and business process innovations like micro-transactions and lean production, to reduce complexity and process

costs. Agri-wallet has the potential to transform the rural financial landscape as it fundamentally changes how smallholders save and borrow for farm inputs, pertinent for their farming activities.


Kenya 1,000,000
Easy Solar Limited Innovative Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) Financing Adapted to the BoP Market in Sierra Leone

Easy Solar has an innovative solution to finance previously un-bankable customers. The company uses the sale of an entry-level solar lamp on a rent-to-own payment plan to build customer relations and density. The lamp repayment history allows for credit scoring and deep customer knowledge before selling higher value solar and other life-changing products on terms affordable to “bottom of the pyramid” customers.


Easy Solar’s tiered PAYG financing solution, backed by credit scoring-based on customer data to make its products accessible to “bottom of the pyramid” (BoP) customers, is very innovative in Sierra Leone. It allows the company to get to know its customers (and vice versa) and create customer density, thus making solar home systems and other products accessible and affordable to remote and low-income households and micro-enterprises.


Sierra Leone 588,474
FutureLink Technologies Limited MSACCO ScaleUp: Leveraging the Relevance and Outreach of SACCOs to Minimize the Cost and Accelerate the Adoption and Usage of Digital Financial Services Channels in Rural Communities

FutureLink Technologies is scaling up the adoption and usage of MSACCO. MSACCO is a mobile banking switch that enables thousands of members of SACCOs to transact with their respective SACCO accounts and to deposit and withdraw check account balances and mini-statements through their phones and ATMs.

The project aims to boost financial inclusion by improving access, transparency, and convenience to SACCO members, and extending “bank-like” financial services channels to underserved farmer communities across Uganda. Additionally, it will extend the most cost-effective financial services channel to the target population.

Uganda 700,000
SolarNow Services Limited Modern Off-grid Farmer Financing (MOFF)

SolarNow has seen a strong demand for agri-related financing after selling more than 160 solar water pumps in Uganda. To meet this demand and reduce the financial barrier for farmers to invest in agricultural products, SolarNow has fully tailored a flexible pay-plan scheduled to the seasonal cash flows of farmers. For agricultural appliances, flexible down payments and installments will be defined based on production and cash flow records of farmers.

SolarNow aims to offer innovative payment plans tailored to seasonality, launched through its existing in-house finance vehicle and embedded in rural areas through the presence of its branch network.

Uganda 739,454



2017/2018 Rolling Competition: Phase #2 Selected Companies


Company Description

Primary Project Country FRP Support
(in US$)
Farmerline Limited


399 Services: Information and Innovative Finance for Improved Input Distribution

Farmerline leverages innovative mobile technology to extend access to financial services, information, and high-quality input directly to farmers resulting in increased yields and incomes. Farmers will need to dial the USSD code “399” on any of the top mobile networks in Ghana to access the service. Farmerline presents the farmers with an opportunity to receive genuine and affordable agri-inputs through credit or savings (lay-away), financial literacy content, climate-smart agricultural tips and weather forecasts, as well as weekly updates on market prices.

Ghana 692,000
Microcred Energy Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) and Digital Finance to Reach Off-grid Farmers in Mali

To offer financial inclusion to off-grid customers in Mali, Microcred will provide PAYG energy. PAYG energy will offer clients a first leasing experience, based on energetic savings realized thanks to the solar product. Then, once they become owners of their solar product, they will become eligible for a digital loan with Microcred Mali. This project will help farmers improve their daily lives by accessing a quality solar product. An optional tablet may be included in the pack to offer rural farmers a way to access key data (weather, the retail price of their products, names of potential buyers, or where to buy their seeds) to help them improve their productivity and revenue. The digital loan will be able to develop their agricultural activities.


Mali 900,000
Stewards Globe Integrating Credit and Marketing in the Supply Chain for Smallholder Financial Inclusion

The financial solution is an integrated supply chain financing model that incorporates input microcredit and insurance with an assured offtake market supported by a “common” mobile platform connecting farmers to financing and buyers. Stewards Globe Limited, along with Good Fellow Finance, Mayfair Insurance, and Export Trading Limited, intends to implement a well-organized supply chain finance to reach underserved yet economically active smallholder farmers. The objective is to improve the access of rural farmers to the formal credit system and increase farmer productivity and income while offering credit, technical capacity-building extension services, financial literacy, and linkages to agricultural markets in a cost-effective and sustainable manner using producer groups.


Zambia 1,800,200





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Africa News

Africa gets broadband boost



ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.

Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.

Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.

ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.

At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”

Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.


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Africa News

Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world



Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.

Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.

AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.

The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.

‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”

The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.

‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.

The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”

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