Four start-ups win Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant

01 Dec 2016
Financial Nigeria


DFS Lab said it awarded over $400,000 to Malako of Uganda, Credit Fix of Pakistan, Yooz of India, and SERV’D of India.

Bill Gates, Co-Founder, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Digital Financial Services Lab – a fintech incubator that is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – has awarded early-stage funding to four winners of its inaugural boot camp for entrepreneurs and start-ups, according to a statement released on Wednesday.

DFS Lab said it awarded over $400,000 to Malako of Uganda, Credit Fix of Pakistan, Yooz of India, and SERV’D of India, all of which are on the cutting edge of growing digital economies in emerging markets.

“Digital financial services have the power to transform developing country economies, profitably and at scale”, said Jake Kendall, the Director of DFS Lab. “We are searching for breakthrough ideas with the potential to bring low income households from the cash economy into the digital financial realm and give them tools to improve their lives.”

Malako provides flexible, affordable credit lines for utility payments and larger payments such as school fees, salaries, and rent. Yooz provides free international remittance transfers of any value at preferential exchange rates, while Credit Fix is a platform that helps low income consumers build credit scores in order to secure loans for revenue-generating assets such as auto-rickshaws and taxis.

SERV'D provides a platform that registers and documents the informal household workforce – maids, cooks, drivers, etc – in order to create a legitimate legal work and wage history that enables them to access financial products.

As part of its programme this year, DFS Lab invited 20 promising entrepreneurs from 10 countries, who are working to include the least served communities in the growth of digital economies of developing countries. Participants presented their solutions to DFS Lab’s board of experts at a 7-day boot camp in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

DFS Lab said participants stood the chance to benefit from hands-on advice, mentorship and strategic counsel from industry stalwarts, as well as the opportunity to be awarded a share of over $2million of total investment and a further six months of intensive mentorship.

“The entrepreneurs were a very diverse and talented group from all over the world,” Kendall said. “Their different skills, perspectives and levels of experience produced valuable insights and led to dynamic, highly productive collaborations. We are very proud to be able to play a part in helping them reach their full potential.”

DFS Lab is an early-stage incubator helps entrepreneurs develop fintech businesses in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The Lab is an initiative of Caribou Digital, a US-based advisory firm, and it is funded by a $4.8 million three year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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