The winners of the AlphaCode incubator programme. Photo: Supplied

DURBAN - Rand Merchant Investment Holding (RMI), through their fintech division AlphaCode has awarded entrepreneurial packages valued at R16 million to eight of South Africa’s most promising financial services startups. 

The entrepreneurial packages comprise of R1 million in grant funding and R1 million in support. The support includes mentorship, monthly expert-led sessions, exclusive office space in Sandton as well as marketing, legal and other business support services. The winning fintech entrepreneurs will also have access to the broader RMI network.

The AlphaCode Incubate initiative which is in partnership with Merrill Lynch South Africa and Royal Bafokeng Holdings, selects South African financial services entrepreneurs with extraordinary ideas and businesses that could have an impact on the financial services industry. 

Over 200 startups applied to participate in the AlphaCode programme. Of these, sixteen made it to final pitch evening and from there eight recipients were selected.

The programme has disbursed R13 million in funding to 15 black-owned financial services businesses since it began three years ago.

Dominique Collett head of AlphaCode and a RMI senior investments executive said, "Some have experienced exponential growth and we have been amazed at the level of traction they have received locally and internationally". 

Collett added they want to identify, partner and grow the future of financial services in South Africa. 

Julie Benadie, regional executive of Operations and Corporate Affairs at Merrill Lynch explained: “We believe in supporting disruptive ideas so that creative fintech solutions will emerge to address the challenges that South Africa faces. We want South Africa to become a fintech centre of excellence with its already advanced financial services infrastructure.

The AlphaCode Incubate programme deals with everyday challenges that financial services startups face. All participants are in the early stages of their businesses. The businesses are under two years old and at least 51% owned by black South Africans.

Here is a look at the eight startup winners:

Name Description Founders
Akiba Digital A gamified mobile app making
it easier and more rewarding
to set, manage and meet savings
goals.
Tebogo Mokwena and
Kamogelo Kekana
ISpani Group Provides access for insurers into
traditionally under insured communities
through prepaid vouchers and
USSD sold by a network of
spaza shop vendors
Prince Nwadeyi,
Khathazile Moroe,
Patrick Machekera
and Louis Buys
Jamii De-risks tenant rent default through
offering tenants incentive-based discounts
on food and transport and bolt-on
retrenchment cover.
Adrian Taylor,
Marc Maasdorp and
Bartek Dutkowski
Nisa Finance An invoice financing platform that enables
financiers to issue invoice-backed loans to
SMEs quickly and affordably by fully-automating
the application and invoice verification
through ERP system integration
Thando Hlongwane,
Tekane Ledimo and
Sinqobile Mashalaba
Pago A low cost mobile micro payments
platform for the informal sector to enable
an inclusive economy by digitising
remittances through the use of blockchain
technology.
Philip Mngadi and
Noel Lynch
Propsa A mobile savings wallet for low-income
earning South Africans that makes it
easy to save small amounts infrequently
using prepaid vouchers.
Dhanyal Davidson and
Carl Ngwenya

SELFsure
Enables millennials to significantly reduce
car insurance premiums by self-insuring
part of the risk via peer to peer lending.
Proud Chitumba,
Amos Mugova and
Tshepiso Shamane

Yalu
A self-service credit life insurance
platform which replaces a customer’s
current policy with a more affordable,
simpler and rewarding policy
Nkazi Sokhulu,
Tlalane Ntuli,
Steve Goeieman and
Life Mhlanga

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