Twenty African companies have been selected by the Centre of Financial Inclusion for the 2021 Inclusive Fintech 50 (IF50).

Sponsored by Visa, MetLife Foundation, and Jersey Overseas Aid & Comic Relief, with support from Accion and IFC, IF50 recognizes 50 fintech startups that are leading the way in helping low-income customers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participation in the competition provides startups with visibility and credibility among investors, as well as media and partnership exposure. Nineteen winners from the 2019 cohort have since raised a collective $182.5 million in investment.

The 50 fintech companies were selected from 377 applicants, representing 77 countries, with Sub-Saharan Africa representing 44 percent of all candidates. The winning startups represent a range of product offerings, from credit solutions to payments providers and fintech infrastructure.

Meet the 2021 cohorts from Sub-Saharan Africa

  1. ChapChap Africa

Headquartered in Uganda, ChapChap helps MSMEs access financial services in minutes at very competitive prices and eliminates stringent KYC requirements, lowering barriers to entry.

ChapChap partners with telecoms, utilities, and financial companies to offer payment aggregation services to MSMEs in Uganda to extend financial services to underserved people in the communities where these MSMEs operate, while also helping MSMEs digitally track their business performance and access data‑driven unsecured credit through their financial partners.

2. Curacel

Curacel is an insurtech infrastructure company that helps insurers and partners in Africa and other emerging markets increase the reach and functionality of insurance through cloud‑based tools and APIs, while also providing funding to healthcare providers against the amount of their unsettled claims.

Based in Lagos, Curacel is currently powering claims management for 2000+ hospitals and 15+ insurance companies in 3 African markets — Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana.

Curacel’s flagship product, is an AI‑powered platform that enables insurers to automate claims seamlessly and track fraud, waste, and abuse.

3. FedaPay SAS

FedaPay is a payment gateway that integrates both mobile and bank card payment solutions, making online services accessible to millions of users, especially the unbanked, in Africa.

FedaPay’s simple and secure online and offline payment solutions to businesses include Fedapay for online payment aggregation; myFEDA, a wallet linked to the one‑click issuance of virtual and physical bank cards; and my‑USSD which allows companies to accept electronic payments without an internet connection.

It serves approximately 1,000 active and verified merchants, generating over two million transactions every month in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Togo.

4. Flash

Based in Democratic Republic of Congo, Flash provides remittances, payments, and other value‑added services, such as merchant payments, mobile money, and a prepaid card, to approximately 2 million customers via its FlashApp and POS network.

Its ecosystem generates ~USD 500M in annual gross transaction value. Remittances are driven by its market‑leading Western Union and MoneyGram franchises.

Flash recently expanded into Ivory Coast, forging a strategic partnership covering 100K POS and powering the largest super dealer network for the leading mobile money operator, further extending its presence in Africa.

5. Future Link Technologies (FLT)

Future Link Technologies (FLT) leverages the relevance and outreach of SACCOs to improve the financial resilience of low and medium‑income earners in Eastern Africa through reliable, secure, and affordable digital channels.

Through its Banking as a Service (BaaS) platform — Core Banking, multi‑channel payment gateway, managed network, and server infrastructure, FLT enables 1.2 million B2C subscribers to grow personal savings, access affordable credit, and make payments in the most convenient and affordable way.

FLT also enables its 300 B2B SACCOs to acquire new customers, mobilize savings, and offer community‑responsive financial services at 10% of the ordinary monthly infrastructural costs.

6. Fynixwave Limited

Fynixwave Limited is a software company that offers a digital financial solution to enable very small enterprises, saving groups, investment clubs, and agricultural cooperatives to manage and monitor their savings, investments, loan portfolio, repayment process, transparency, and security.

Currently, Fynixwave has a total of 900 beneficiaries who have access to a digital financial record using the fynixsave platform in Uganda, with 90% being women. They aim to digitize over 500,000 beneficiaries by 2025.

7. Gluwa

Gluwa is a borderless financial platform that offers a non‑custodial crypto wallet and exchange, high‑yield, interest‑bearing accounts, and a public blockchain called Creditcoin.

Creditcoin is a permission‑less blockchain that facilitates borderless credit lending and investment network matching and records loan transactions between microfinance lenders, borrowers in developing markets, and global crypto investors.

Based in Nigeria, Gluwa believes everyone should have access to quality currencies, credit, and financial freedom and is committed to building a future of financial inclusion, in which every person can be their own bank.

8. Lami

Kenya's Lami offers an end‑to‑end digital insurance platform and API that empowers companies across sectors to offer simple, comprehensive, and affordable insurance products through a seamless digital experience.

Its API allows underwriters to connect with consumer‑facing companies that can provide embedded insurance as a value add for their customers. Across Africa, insurance penetration rates remain extremely low, leaving many vulnerable to financial stress due to unforeseen events.

Lami’s aim is to play a central role in providing a safety net for Africa’s population, using technology to deliver flexible insurance products. Lami hopes to reach 50 million customers by 2025 and underwrite over $1 billion in gross written premiums through its API.

9. Leaf Global Fintech

Leaf Global Fintech leverages blockchain technology to create an economic identity that customers can use to establish themselves in a new country.

Nearly 2 billion people around the world are unbanked and lack access to formal financial services. For refugees, migrants, and cross‑border traders, this is particularly challenging because they have no safe or reliable way to bring their money across borders or an affordable way to send and receive money.

Currently, Leaf operates in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

10. MobiCash Ltd

Based in Zimbabwe and Rwanda, MobiCash is a mobile banking and payments platform, offering financial services that can be accessed with mobile devices or simply via fingerprint biometrics.

The MobiCash platform unlocks opportunities to define and integrate Value Added Services like agent banking, cross‑border money‑remittances, merchant acceptance and payments processing, social grants, bulk payments, e‑commerce, micro‑insurance, e‑tickets, airtime, tax collections, and more.

The platform also allows for proximity P2P, online, and remote transaction authentication mechanisms. MobiCash now serves thousands of users in Africa where several businesses already use its platform to dispense, collect, and accept payments.

The winners of this year’s Inclusive Fintech 50 have stepped forward during COVID-19 to responsibly serve a growing set of underserved consumers and MSMEs. Today, these tech-enabled, specialist firms foster financial wellness and resilience in a uniquely challenging operating context. They are beacons of inspiration for stakeholders and an emergent set of entrepreneurs looking to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Jared Miller, CEO, Accial Capital and a judge of this year's competition

11. Nibox

Nibox is an ecosystem of financial products that are cohesively interlinked and made available along with the necessary tools to provide all‑inclusive access to Nigerians to help them grow into fully integrated financial users.

Nibox is building a multi‑channel solution based on a self‑service payment kiosk called nibox kiosk. The solution is envisioned to be the only fully digital tool for cash acquiring that's present on the market and will allow users to make cash and card payments for over 3,000 local services.

Whether banked or unbanked, customers can store their financial value securely on the Nibox wallet, while making fast p2p transfers, earning cash back, paying bills, and more.

12. Okapi Finance

The Okapi platform creates a financial ecosystem that provides safe, accessible and affordable financial services for everyone.

In this ecosystem, Okapi aims to help government institutions, companies, small traders, and private individuals to pay salaries, transfer payments, and increase accessibility to digital credit. Okapi aims to reach over 100 million users in Africa and 25 million in the Democratic Republic of Congo within the next 10 years.

13. Payper

Currently operating only in South Africa, Payper’s platform enables token‑based digital payments and prioritizes accessibility, giving all people, especially low‑income communities, new opportunities to participate in the economy.

From a single account, users can store and transact multiple forms of value represented as tokens such as cash, loyalty points, or utility tokens. Payper makes payments available Anytime, Anywhere, and with Anything. Payper is unlocking potential by enhancing the way society exchanges value.

14. Pngme

Pngme provides mission‑critical data infrastructure and machine learning models for the next generation of financial services looking to connect with previously unbanked customers.

Pngme provides developer‑friendly data infrastructure, out‑of‑the‑box machine learning models, insights, and data science tools. Pngme's platform gives institutions in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria the building blocks to create innovative financial products and personalized user experiences.

15. Proto

Proto is the leader for inclusive chatbots and multilingual contact centre automation in emerging financial service markets in Africa and Asia. Proto chatbots are deployed by central banks and financial institutions for consumer engagement and protection from Ghana to the Philippines.

Following the global financial inclusion initiative, there are large volumes of first‑time consumers in need of support in their local language and via SMS and messaging apps.

Proto's Natural Language Processing technology gathers massive data from national financial ecosystems and advances machine understanding of local languages, such as Kinyarwanda, Twi, and Tagalog.

16. SASA Solutions

SASA’s core product is a plug‑and‑play agri‑solution that provides end‑to‑end infrastructure that empowers agri‑organizations with CRM, communication tools, and an ability to financially transact with smallholder farmers.

SASA's channels range from offline‑first apps to sophisticated USSD, WhatsApp, and SMS journeys. SASA has impacted thousands of farmers in Africa and Central America through digitalization by providing them with access to information, inputs, markets, and financial products, collectively improving yields and productivity.

17. Solaris Offgrid

Solaris's flagship fintech software PaygOps enables credit to be provided to the bottom of the pyramid for essential products like solar home systems, agri‑inputs, cookstoves, and water pumps. This system allows end‑customers to pay incrementally via mobile money under a PAYGO model.

PaygOps provides the software infrastructure to manage the contracts, payments, and related communication for the local retailers of such products. Solaris' affordable modular, and interoperable solution connects energy and payment methods (Pay‑as‑you‑go, mobile money) to a suite of enterprise applications that allows the smooth management of financing and field operations while providing key financial data and metrics to investors.

18. Thrive Agric

Thrive Agric provides microloans to Nigerian farmers and a channel to sell produce to large buyers like Flour mills. Thrive, as they are sometimes called, makes farmers more efficient by providing seamless access to financing, agricultural best practices and a premium market for their products.

The Nigerian agritech company has served over 200,000 farmers across Nigeria, raising over 4 million poultry and aggregating, marketing, and selling over 230,000 metric tons of cereal produce.

19. Tugende

Tugende is tackling the credit gap for small businesses in Africa by enabling informal entrepreneurs to: 1) own income‑generating assets, 2) build a verifiable digital credit profile, and 3) earn future growth opportunities through the Tugende digital platform.

This platform includes discounts, smartphones, e‑commerce opportunities, and on‑demand credit lines. Starting with motorcycle taxis in Uganda and Kenya, Tugende has financed over 52,000 clients with industry‑leading portfolio quality.

Tugende is growing into new geographies and asset product lines including boat engines for fishermen and fridges for retail shops.

20. VPD Technology

VPD Money is a No‑Limit Pan‑African digital financial service, unifying wallet, bank account, remittance, and AI‑powered savings experiences at cheaper or no cost for businesses and individuals.

VPD Money will be utilizing a high level of assurance (LoA 4) of KYC to onboard users, thereby offering a cross‑border financial identity to individuals and businesses that allows them to carry out lifestyle financial activities (send and receive funds, carry out payment functions, cashback, lifestyle services, and more) in their comfort zones. This will include access to multi‑currency.

Read: How the Inclusive Fintech 50 works