Rand Merchant Investment Holding (RMI), through AlphaCode, has awarded entrepreneurial packages valued at R16 million to eight of South Africa’s most promising financial services startups.
All businesses are less than two years old and at least 51% owned by black South Africans.
Each business will receive a package valued at up to R2 million including R1 million in grant funding and R1 million in support services.
This includes mentorship, monthly expert-led sessions, exclusive office space in Sandton, marketing, legal and other business support services as well as access to like-minded entrepreneurs, RMI’s extensive network of thought leaders, potential clients and capital.
The AlphaCode Incubate initiative, in partnership with Merrill Lynch South Africa and Royal Bafokeng Holdings, identifies South African financial services entrepreneurs with ‘extraordinary ideas’ and businesses that could impact the financial services industry.
More than 200 startups applied to participate. Of these, twelve made it to the final pitch evening and eight recipients were selected.
The Incubate programme has disbursed R21 million in funding to 23 black-owned financial services businesses since it began four years ago. “We have seen a notable improvement in the quality of applications year on year. This is indicative that AlphaCode is making an impact in the maturing of the fintech ecosystem,” said Dominique Collett, head of AlphaCode.
“The intention behind AlphaCode’s Explore, Incubate and Accelerate programmes is for RMI to discover the next OUTsurance or Discovery; we want to identify, partner and grow the future of financial services in South Africa. In fact, two of the participants this evening came through our Explore programme.”
During the event, contestants had just three minutes to pitch their businesses, with a couple of minutes set aside for questions from a top panel of judges.
These included Barry Swartzberg, co-founder of Discovery and CEO of Vitality; Danie Mathee, CEO of OUTsurance; Mary Vilakazi, COO of Firstrand, Katlego Kobue, iKatlego has a accountnvestment manager at Royal Bafokeng Holdings; Raymond Ndlovu, investments executive at Remgro and Dominique Collett.
The following eight businesses received packages:
Mari: A digitised layby platform which allows for digital payments and savings. Customers should be able to make a layby purchase without incurring the cost of travelling to and from the store to make payments. Mari also allows people to create credit scores for themselves through an already existing payment structure without a bank account.
Spoon Money: A group-based micro-working capital finance platform for female informal traders. Despite being banked, informal traders in townships have almost no access to credit to support their businesses. Thus, their opportunity to create sustainable, and more predictable, incomes from their businesses is compromised.
IsiDuli: Credit product for the development of backyard rental stock in townships. There is a lack of access to development finance for property owners in townships and very little affordable rental stock for consumers.
Oyi Medical Card: Payments technology integrated into prepaid card for restricted medical spend only. The majority of South Africans cannot afford medical-aid and do not always have cash readily available to pay for unexpected medical expenses. Oyi is a prepaid card solution to help those who would otherwise not be able to access the medical care that they should be able to afford.
Budjie: Budgie is a free interactive application, that facilitates and assists spending based on a user’s created budget. From alleviating financial stress, to boosting financial freedom and control. Budgie will change the way people live their lives through better financial habits.
okGo.live: On demand vehicle insurance specifically targeted at out of warranty vehicle owners. 70% of cars on SA roads are not insured because it’s not affordable. OkGO.live gives access to people who are locked out of the market by reducing accident repair costs by +50%, reducing fraud claims by 75% and making customers self-service to lower premiums, while providing added value to customers through vehicle data analytics to prevent mechanical failures and more.
Olova: Olova offers a single payment platform for public transport systems. The lack of integration and interoperability between public transport systems is problematic and this what Olova aims to fix.
GetVanced: Income advancing platform based on employee’s earned income. Millions of low-income workers live from one pay day to the next and are financially stressed. The most pressing everyday issue for South Africans is managing cash flow and the biggest issue is timing mismatches between income and expenses because they lack a savings buffer. GetVanced seeks to solve the issue of income timing by paying out employee advances based on income earned to date.