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Nigerian agro-tech startup, ThriveAgric, wins Visa Everywhere Initiative

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Nigerian agro-tech startup, ThriveAgric, was on Friday, crowned winner of the Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI), a global open innovation program and competition for startups and fintech companies, carting home the $100,000 prize at stake.

The startup which champions technology to transform the payments landscape for smallholder farmers, won the handsome prize at the global finale of the VEI held in Qatar amidst the FIFA World Cup 2022.

The final was preceded by a year-long competition that saw more than 4,000 fintech entrepreneurs across the world compete in regional editions before advancing to the final stage.

According to Andrew Torre, the Regional President for Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) of VEI, the applicants entered the competition with “innovative payment and commerce solutions to solve the payment challenges of tomorrow.”

“A new fintech generation is transforming the way consumers and businesses make payments, making it easier for more people to access and move money when they need it ” Torre said.

“We congratulate ThriveAgric and all the winners in this year’s competition, and we look forward to continue partnering with fintechs to solve the payments challenges of tomorrow,” he added while making the presentation to the winners.

Co-founder of ThriveAgric, Ayo Arikawe, in his response, said:

“The hard work we’ve put into ThriveAgric will ensure that technology is leveraged to empower farmers across the country.

“To not only win the CEMEA regional VEI competition but also pitch at the final here in Qatar gives me great confidence in our ability to scale our solutions and continue to enrich farmers’ lives.”

Apart from ThriveAgric, other winners in the competition include Zeti, a fintech enabling pay per use financing of sustainable transport, which took second place while Huli, a platform that connects patients, doctors and other healthcare services, won the audience favourite award.

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IFC to support 100 women-led startups through She Wins Africa

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The International Financial Corporation (IFC) has selected 100 women-led startup owners to support through the She Wins Africa program, an initiative led by the IFC aimed at accelerating access to capital for female-led startups across Africa.

The selected women, according to the IFC, a member of the World Bank group, will “participate in comprehensive interventions that will strengthen their companies’ investment readiness, including advice and mentorship, and provide access to potential investors, industry leaders, and peers through matchmaking and pitching opportunities across Africa.”

“The initiative is a part of IFC’s broader commitment to promote gender equality and empower women entrepreneurs in emerging markets,” Nathalie Akon Gabala, Director of Gender and Economic Inclusion at IFC, said in a statement.

She added that the 100 participants announced on Wednesday were drawn from almost 3,000 applicants comprised of women entrepreneurs across Africa in sectors ranging from ag-tech, climate-tech, e-commerce, ed-tech, health-tech and fintech etc.

“Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of female entrepreneurs globally, with approximately 26% of female adults involved in entrepreneurial activity. However according to a 2021 World Bank report, women founders in Africa receive only about three percent of start-up finance,” she noted.

“In addition to the investment-readiness program for the 100 selected participants, She Wins Africa will roll out other initiatives, including a bootcamp to help lead 200 pre-seed women-led startups into acceleration phase

“An initiative to open up acceleration support for an additional 200 women-led startups in areas where such support is not easily available; and
a program to create a coalition of funds, venture capital firms and gender-lens investors to improve access to finance for women and their businesses across Africa.

IFC’s She Wins Africa empowers women entrepreneurs through coaching, training, and financing, accelerating their growth and investment readiness throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

“It’s time for investors to step up and fund women. A strong entrepreneurship ecosystem benefits us all,” she said.

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IFC partners Ethiopia’s Zemen Bank to strengthen trade financing

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The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has partnered with the Zemen Bank of Ethiopia to strengthen trade financing in the country.

The deal, according to Ato Dereje, CEO of Zemen Bank, sees IFC welcoming Zemen Bank as the newest member of its Global Trade Finance Program (GTFP) and provides the bank with a trade finance facility to support Ethiopian exports and imports.

Zemen Bank has been taking different impactful initiatives since its establishment, such as this one, aimed at facilitating the financing of vital trade in goods and fostering the establishment of new trading alliances for Ethiopia,” Dereje said.

“Concurrently, the program will significantly boost trade finance for numerous import-export enterprises, particularly during periods of global economic volatility.”

The bank CEO further noted that IFC’s $30 million trade finance facility guarantee will help strengthen Zemen Bank’s trade finance operations and assist in developing new trade partnerships for businesses in Ethiopia.

Madalo Minofu, IFC Country Manager for Ethiopia who also spoke at the signing ceremony, said IFC’s trade financing is also part of its $1 billion Africa Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program (ATRI), which is supporting Africa’s regional trade development and helping to reduce the continent’s reliance on imports.

“Increasing access to trade finance is critical to boosting trade in Africa. Our partnership with Zemen Bank through IFC’s Global Trade Finance program will contribute to strengthening Ethiopia’s ability to finance essential trade of goods and open the door to new trading partnerships for the country,” he said.

“IFC is committed to supporting Ethiopia’s private sector growth, which is focused on strengthening agribusiness value chains, supporting the growth of manufacturing, and increasing access to digital connectivity,” he added.

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