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UAE-based firm, Global Ventures launches $85 million fintech fund with state-own banks in Egypt

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In Egypt, three state-own banks, Banque Misr, the National Bank of Egypt, and Banque du Caire have teamed up with UAE-based MENA VC firm Global Ventures to launch the USD 85 mn Nclude fund.

According to a statement this morning from Global Ventures. Other investors include state-owned e-Finance and the Egyptian Banks Company, according to a separate statement from e-Finance. The fund will focus on fintech and digital payments solutions and has already made investments in start-ups including Khazna, Paymob, Mozare3 and Lucky.

Legislative and regulatory changes in Egypt over the last two years have paved the way for a surge in fintech investments and a change in the way the country’s largely unbanked citizens do business, industry players say.

Banque Misr will act as an anchor investor in the programme, with The National Bank of Egypt (NBEGPT.UL) and Banque du Caire (BQDC.CA) as strategic investors, said the statement by Global Ventures, which focuses on the Middle East and Africa.

eFinance Investment Group, a state-controlled payments firm, and Egyptian Banks Co, the operator of a payment led by the central bank, will also participate. The fund, called Nclude by Global Ventures, hopes to attract additional participation from regional and international investors, it added.

The statement quoted Egyptian central bank governor Tarek Amer as saying the fund’s establishment was “a crucial step to transform Egypt into a regional centre for the fintech industry in the Arab World and Africa.”

The fund has already made preliminary investments in four companies, it said.

These are Khazna, a financial app that provides products to underserved consumers; Lucky, which offers instalments, cashback rewards and credit to consumers; Mozare3, which provides small farmers with input financing, markets and technical support; and Paymob, a digital payment provider.

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Kenya’s agri-tech startup Pula raises $20m funding for farmers’ insurance

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Kenyan agri-tech and insurance startup, Pula, has announced raising $20 million Series B funding round which will be used to help thousands of smallholder farmers in emerging markets gain access to insurance against floods, droughts, and other climate-related events.

The funding round, according to the company’s co-founder and CEO, Rose Goslinga, was led by BlueOrchard, a global impact investment manager and member of the Schroders Group, via its InsuResilience strategy, while fundraising also came from IFC and the Private Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

“Partnering with this group of like-minded investors to boost the growth of Pula globally is a very exciting milestone in driving our triple 100 vision, through which we intend to bring insurance to 100 million smallholder farmers,” Goslinga said.

“What started nine years ago as an unconventional idea that many deemed un-scalable is now a proven solution that has solved real needs for millions of smallholder farmers across 22 countries.

“What sets Pula apart is the innovative business model, leveraging artificial intelligence, on the ground data collection mechanisms, mobile-based registration systems, remote sensing, and end-to-end automation tools.”

Co-founder of the startup which was launched in 2015, Thomas Njeru, said “Pula designs and delivers innovative agricultural insurance and digital products to help smallholder farmers endure climate risks, improve their farming practices and bolster their incomes over time.”

“Since its inception, Pula has partnered with over 70 insurance, 20 reinsurance companies, and 100 distribution partners across the globe to deliver their innovative insurance solutions,” Njeru stated.

“This has also helped develop the capacity of local insurance and reinsurance players to understand and underwrite agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers.

“Currently, Pula’s main markets span across Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and expanding our presence in Asia and Latin America. These markets are managed from Switzerland and coordinated from the Kenya service centre,” he added.

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Africa’s largest tech hub AfriLabs welcomes 16 new additions

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The largest network technology hub in Africa, AfriLabs, has announced the admission of 16 new hubs into its fold, thereby expanding its network to 478 hubs across 260 cities in 53 African nations.

The Director of Community at AfriLabs, Mayssa Mrabet, who made the announcement on Friday, the new intakes were carefully selected and considered worthy out of thousands that applied.

“We’re thrilled to extend a warm welcome to our 16 newest members joining the vibrant AfriLabs innovation and technology family,” said Mrabet.

“The addition has now taken the number of tech-hubs on AfriLabs to 478. From North Africa, we welcome REDSTART TUNISIA, ILEY’COM, Impact Partner, Future Islands, and EgyptInnovate.

“From West Africa, we have has added COUVEUSE PAPRICAI, EarlyFounders Labs, ACity Technology & Entrepreneurship Foundation, ZEBOX West Africa and OnlineHubNG.

“From East Africa, AfriLabs has added C4DLab-Computing for Development Lab, Agri Frontier Growth Hub, and JASIRI.

“Finally, from South Africa, Silulo Foundation, UWC Future-Innovation Lab, and Entrepreneurial Planning Institute – DigBiz Network, have joined hands with AfriLabs.

“AfriLabs is a network organisation that is committed to driving innovation and entrepreneurship on the continent by bringing together technology hubs, startups, investors, and other key stakeholders in the ecosystem,” he said in a statement.

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