Catalyst Fund raises $15m from JP Morgan and UK Aid for emerging market fintechs
Catalyst Fund, a Boston-based accelerator for early-stage technology start-ups, has raised $15 million with its long-term backer JP Morgan and UK Aid to back 30 fintech start-ups founded across South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, India and Mexico over the next three years.
The US and UK-backed accelerator offers mentorship and non-equity funding to fintechs tackling financial inclusion in emerging markets. With fresh funding, ten fintech start-ups from across all five countries will be selected each year to take part in the fund’s programme.
The announcement came alongside this week’s UK-Africa Investment Summit, which was hosted by the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“The UK-Africa Investment Summit will create more partnerships that will boost investment, jobs and growth to benefit both people and businesses across Africa and the UK,” UK Minister for Africa Andrew Stephenson said this week.
Since being founded in 2016, Catalyst Fund has backed 25 fintech startups which now collectively serve more than 1.2 million customers globally. It is managed and backed by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and global technology consulting firm BFA.
“We’re offering grants of up to $100,000 to early-stage companies, plus venture building support […] and really […] putting these companies on a path to product market fit,” Catalyst Fund director Maelis Carraro tells TechCrunch.
The further funding will help “to deepen [the fund’s] local footprints and ecosystem development role” in its key market areas across Africa, South Asia and Latin America, Carraro notes in a company statement.
The fund’s first cohort of fintechs include Kenya-based mobile savings and credit platform ‘Kwara’, India-based digital credit platform for farmers ‘Farmart’, Nigeria-based savings and investment tool for young people ‘Cowrywise’, and South Africa-based savings and credit service for female-owned subsistence enterprises ‘Spoon’.
Catalyst Fund’s investor network and advisory committee will act as a resource for the start-ups. They include Accion – a global nonprofit driving financial inclusion – and 500 start-ups. Additions to its network following the new funding will include India’s Yes Bank and the University of Cambridge.