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In a bid to unlock potentials in the financial technology ecosystem and position Nigeria as the melting point for innovation and advancement in the African continent, the Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), an Access Bank initiative, has committed to providing $10,000 funding for the most innovative startup at its upcoming “Disrupt 2019; Digital Gold Rush” conference.
Speaking to journalists at the AFF head office in Lagos, Olusegun Adeniyi, head, Africa Fintech Foundry, said that the initiative which is focused on creating opportunities for innovators in eduTech, healthTech, FinTech, AgriTech, RegTech and others, by providing incubation support to startups, will give a $10,000 prize to the best innovator at its AFF startup challenge during the conference on May 16, 2019.
Adeniyi said that 20 startups had attended the AFF Startup Challenge that was held on May 3, 2019 while five startups were shortlisted.
He said that the five startups representing fields in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Robotics and Blockchain technology, were shortlisted for a demo that will take place during the ”Disrupt 2019 Conference”.
”AFF leverages on its extensive partner networks and relationships to offer startup cohorts access to markets, customers, funding, educational and mentorship opportunities.
”Successful startups are exposed to a plethora of networking opportunities to meet venture capital firms, angel investors, corporates and other qualified investors,” he said.
”Startup cohorts from the AFF continue to receive on-going support post Demo-Day, as well networking opportunities with the extensive AFF partner network.”
”Startups also receive formal and informal referrals, voluntary quarterly check-ins and invitations to mentor current cohorts in the accelerator programme, and most importantly, continued access to funding,” Adeniyi said.
Stakeholders have lauded the initiative saying that the AFF provides a test bed to showcase best practices for African-led Fintech solutions, as the growth of technology startups in Africa is very instrumental to the survival of the continent on a larger scale.
Adeolu Bajomo, executive director, Information Technology (IT) and operations, Access Bank, said that through the ”Disrupt 2019 Conference”, the bank wants to position Nigeria as a melting point for innovation in Africa.
Bajomo said that the conference was to build awareness around AFF and position Access Bank as the most innovative African bank.
He said that the programme would provide a platform for strategic partnership and collaboration between Access Bank and investors, experts, regulators, innovators and technology companies to create a new era of technological disruption in the banking industry.
According to him, collaboration between technology start-ups and large corporates is essential to foster innovation in Africa.
”This kind of relationship is extremely beneficial to all parties within the ecosystem. In the long run, this helps corporates enter and create new markets, while start-ups are able to develop feasible and scalable products,” Bajomo said.
As financial solution providers continue to face stiffer competition globally from Fintech startups and emerging technologies such as blockchain, crytocurrency and crowdfunding that are disrupting the traditional mode of payment and business models, experts say it has become necessary to invest in the sector and build capacity by supporting startups.