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R5m for fintech start-ups

A high-speed pitching event at AlphaCode last week saw five black-owned South African financial technology (fintech) startups walk away with R1-million each in funding.

In a addition, a surprise R1-million was allocated to Heritage Capital Partners by Royal Bafokeng Holdings.

The event is an initiative of  Merrill Lynch South Africa, which seeks to identify and reward high potential South African entrepreneurs to catalyse the development of fintech, and AlphaCode, a Rand Merchant Investments club for fintech entrepreneurs.

Top honours were awarded to five of the eleven black-owned fintech businesses pitching at the event. These five become AlphaCode platinum members, which entitles them to office space and one year of incubation.

The winning fintech startups were:

·         E-factor, an online marketplace that allows small and medium sized businesses to sell their invoices so that they can obtain payment within 24 hours

·         Imafin, established in 2013, a specialist payment and commercial credit firm driven by innovation on traditional payments models.

·         Invoiceworx, an online platform that enables SMEs to save time and money when applying for credit from financial institutions.

·         Stokfella, which offers a digital platform for stokvels to manage their day to day affairs with ease.

During the event, the eleven contestants had just five minutes to pitch their businesses, with a couple of minutes set aside for questions. Judges included Dominique Collett, senior investment Eeecutive at Rand Merchant Investments, Richard Gush, CEO of Merrill Lynch South Africa, Albertina Kekana, CEO of Royal Bafokeng Holding,s and Sonja Sebotsa, principle partner at Identity Partners.

Collett said she was extremely impressed by the energy and calibre of all the contestants: “The winning businesses were selected because of their ability to meet our judging criteria which included their pricing and revenue-generating models and how delivery and implementation would occur.”

Said Gush, “South Africa has the potential to become a fintech centre of excellence as it has an incredibly advanced financial services infrastructure. This provides an empowering context for emerging fintech entrepreneurs and financial technology innovators to develop solutions that meet the needs of different communities, many of whom have previously had little access to safe and reliable financial services.”

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