5 Kenyan firms among 50 global Fintech inclusive and innovative companies

Five Kenyan Fintech companies have been named among 50 innovative and inclusive fintech companies in the world for 2019.

The winners, who were announced on the inclusive fintech 50 website were grouped in five categories; credit, insurance, payments & remittances, savings & PFM and infrastructure. 400 fintechs from 72 countries applied for the annual inclusive fintech competition.

The 13 judges consisting of founders, investors and advocates were looking for early-stage fintechs who have provided the depth required by investors with the aim of creating visibility for the winning fintechs to help them find the right partners to scale.

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Kenyan fintechs that are in this year’s list include:

1. Apollo Agriculture (credit)

Blending machine learning, remote sensing and mobile money, Apollo Agriculture helps small scale farmers access finance, farm products while providing customized advice to achieve efficiency and scalability. Apollo assesses farmer credit risk and customizes products to a farmer’s specific location using satellite data, soil data, farmer behavior and crop yield models.

Apollo’s approach reduces the cost and complexity of lending to small-scale farmers, and allowed Apollo to grow their customer base five times in 2018. Approved customers receive a mobile voucher to their feature phones, which they redeem at their nearby agro-dealer for a customized bundle of inputs on credit.

2.  Pezesha (credit)

Pezesha is a digital financial marketplace that brings together lenders, borrowers, investors and financial advisors to a peer to peer platform. The company’s credit scoring product Patascore provides credit info for micro traders with barely enough credit history.

Its competitive lending structure ensures transparent, affordable interest rates, while its positive and negative credit data has reduced portfolios’ non-performing loans by up to 20 percent. To date, Pezesha has connected 100,000+ low-income Kenyans to lenders.

3. Tulaa (credit)

Tulaa provides smallholder farmers with quality agricultural inputs on credit and brokers the sale of their crop at harvest time. Launched in 2017, we use mobile technology and artificial intelligence to smartly connect farmers, input suppliers, and buyers in a digital marketplace.

Through a credit score that relies on alternative data such as satellite imagery and mobile money records, Tulaa has reduced the loan decision process to minutes. Its customers were previously invisible to financial lenders, with 71 percent of its borrowers reporting no access to input financing prior to Tulaa. This year Tulaa expects to sell inputs on credit to 4,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya and broker produce sales for at least 2,000 farmers.

4. ACRE Africa (Insurance)

ACRE Africa links smallholder farmers in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania to crop, livestock and index insurance products to protect against unpredictable weather. It has acquired a large customer base by using an offline platform where piecemeal premiums collection and claims are rooted in scratch cards and mobile money.

Through alternative data like GPS trails, mobile account activity and crop specialization, ACRE Africa can render more smallholder farmers eligible for coverage. As of 2018, over 1,700,000 farmers had cumulatively insured over USD $181 million worth of assets against a variety of weather risks underwritten by six different insurers.

5. Pula (Insurance)

Pula bundles affordable area-yield index insurance with tailored advice for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia.  Using remote-sensing and satellite images, Pula underwrites agricultural supplies like seeds and fertilizer against environmental irregularities; this is complemented by an adaptive SMS messaging advisory platform that tailors messages with a high degree of specificity and timeliness.

In 2018, Pula facilitated coverage for over 800,000 smallholder farmers, with the average customer owning less than one acre.

Inclusive innovative Fintech winners

Four other fintechs listed are headquartered in other countries but have operations in Kenya;

Mosabi (US)

Mosabi drives behavior change in entrepreneurs in India, Kenya, Mexico, Senegal and Sierra Leone through mobile e-learning, incentives and calls-to-action; data harvested through this process is then funneled to financial institutions as a new basis for credit scoring.

Inclusivity Solutions (South Africa)

Inclusivity Solutions designs, builds, and operates digital insurance solutions on top of the rails of mobile network operators, banks, microfinance institutions and other distribution partners in Cotê d’Ivoire, Kenya and Rwanda.

Awamo (Germany)

Awamo software-as-a-service product awamo® 360, is operational in Kenya and Uganda, with Tanzania being in a pilot phase. The suite of tools includes automated accounting, loan portfolio reporting, eKYCs, interest calculation, permissioning, and workflow management.

Kwara (Germany)

Kwara is a digital banking platform for lenders such as credit unions or savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) in Kenya. As part of a contract with Kenya’s leading credit reference bureau, Kwara is on-boarding 1,400 of the bureau’s existing cooperative financial institution clients, enabling 2 billion positive credit profile updates.