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Nigerian startup Seamfix plans expansion into five African countries

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Nigerian digital identity startup, Seamfix, has concluded plans to expand its operations into five African countries, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia and Uganda, after securing $4.5 million investment funding.

Co-founder and CEO of the platform, Chimezie Emewulu, who made the announcement in a statement, the plans are parts of the long term ambition of the startup to take its operations to the wider African market.

“By leveraging technology to make digital identity easy, Seamfix helps thousands of businesses around the world offer better services to millions of end customers,” Emewulu said.

“From financial participation and efficiency in government services to public health and job creation, digital ID and verification systems are a fundamental driver of economic growth on the continent, and Seamfix has been at the forefront of delivering cutting-edge end-to-end digital ID and credentials solutions for connecting businesses and individuals to the disparate identity databases in Africa and across the world,” he added.

Seamfix which was founded in 2007 by the duo of Emewulu and Chibuzor Onwurah, provides identity management, data capture and process automation solutions for large businesses and government agencies across the world.

The company has been consistent in delivering a wide range of solutions for organisations such as Veremark, Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), MTN, Glo, Airtel 9 Mobile, United Bank for Africa, Interswitch, and Union Bank, enabling them and their customers globally to seamlessly create, verify and access trusted digital identities and services.

Delving into the history of the startup, Emewulu said Seamfix was focused on building custom products that digitised the workflow of organisations.

It wasn’t until 2010 that it pivoted to building identity management solutions.

“A client project, which involved building a university ID impersonation solution, made us realise the identity problem on the continent,” said Emewulu.

“Digital identity remains an issue in Africa, with over 542 million people without identity cards. This means digital ID and verification systems are crucial to unlocking significant economic value across Africa’s growing and increasingly digital societies.

“A recent report suggests that African countries that implement effective digital ID systems can boost their GDP by up to 13 per cent.

“Our goal is to provide a central hub for identity management in Africa to power trade within the region and with Africans. Using it, governments, corporate organisations, and individuals can verify the identities of entities it transacts with.

“Seamfix’s key achievements include the successful development of a digital solution enabling widespread access to National Identification Numbers (NINs) for more than 100 million Nigerians, while it has also helped Nigerian telecommunications services providers to register and verify a database of over 200 million Subscriber Identification Modules (SIMs) to comply with Nigerian Communications Commissions regulations.

“We currently work with major telcos across Africa on SIM registration, verification and linkage to national identities. Thousands of fintechs and SMEs rely on Seamfix’s verification APIs for KYC checks during customer onboarding and employee background checks,” Emewulu added.

Emewulu said the capital would be used to scale the technology infrastructure that underpins Seamfix’s solutions, improve data flow crucial for continental trade and integration, and kickstart the expansion of its digital ID and credential services into five new African countries.

“The new funding represents our first institutional investment and it will enable us to expand our services to Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia and Uganda,” he said.

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Mastercard Foundation expands EdTech Fellowship to Egypt

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The Mastercard Foundation has extended its EdTech Fellowship Egypt following earlier programmes in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

The EdTech Fellowship, which was launched in 2019, is an entrepreneurship acceleration programme that supports promising African ed-tech ventures.

According to the tech giant, the Fellowship provides critical business, financial, and educational support to help ed-tech companies scale, achieve sustainability, and increase impact.

“The fellowship has already supported dozens of companies in countries like Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya, and has now expanded to Egypt in partnership with EdVentures, the investment arm of Nahdet Misr Group and a leading ed-tech venture capital firm in the MENA region,” Mastercard said while announcing the launch.

“Twelve startups have been chosen for the initial eight-month programme, comprising specialised training, mentorship, workshops, networking, and access to courses.

“Each startup will receive $60,000 in equity-free funding. Over the next three years, the fellowship will support a total of 36 ed-tech startups, driving positive change in the education sector,” it said.

The inaugural Mastercard Foundation EdTech Fellowship cohort are 5 Quarters, a dental student learning application; Armstrong, an interactive STEM e-learning platform; Business بالعربي, an Arabic self-development and business skills podcast.

Others are Career 180, a career development and job placement solutions for youth; Deaf Gain, consulting services for the deaf and hard of hearing; and Fednee, a platform for networking, career development, mentoring, and collaboration.

The cohort is completed by iSchool, which is teaching AI and coding for kids ages 6-17; Mharet Tefl: a speech therapy programme for children; Nafham by Tayro, an online learning application; OTO Courses, an online one-on-one English and other courses; Science Street, which promotes science literacy; and Bayt Alkhyata, which fosters social development for women and their communities.

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Ecobank Group launches $50,000 Fintech Challenge

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Pan-African financial services company, Ecobank Group, has opened applications for its 2024 Fintech Challenge with a whopping $50,000 prize money up for grabs.

The annual competition which is in its 7th edition, invites early-stage and mature fintech startups to partner with Ecobank, with the winner taking home the princely sum and a chance of scaling their solutions across Ecobank’s extensive network spanning 35 African countries.

Jeremy Awori, Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank Group who made the announcement in a statement on Tuesday, said the Ecobank Fintech Challenge provides a unique opportunity for Fintech entrepreneurs to address their challenges by not only offering financial rewards but by also providing Ecobank’s expertise in diversified markets operations and the right solutions to scale across its pan-African footprint and international presence such as France.

“Building partnerships with fintechs is a catalyst for driving financial inclusion in Africa. At Ecobank, we prioritize fintechs in our Growth, Transformation, and Returns strategy “, said Awori.

“We have enhanced this new edition of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge to continue to provide fintech entrepreneurs with a premier platform to showcase groundbreaking solutions, while creating unparalleled opportunities for growth and expansion across 35 markets in Africa,” he added.

The Ecobank Group CEO noted that despite the fintech eruption in the African continent, a McKinsey report reveals that fintech start-ups in Africa are still facing several challenges such as reaching scale, navigating an uncertain regulatory environment, or managing scarcity of funding.

“Last year’s competition attracted 1,490 entries of real quality, which underscores the significance of this pan-African challenge.

“Successful applicants reaching the Grand Finale and Awards Ceremony in October 2024 will have the chance to join the highly coveted Ecobank Fintech Fellowship programme, with the overall winner receiving a cash prize of US$50,000.

“Ecobank Fintech Fellows will gain access to numerous opportunities through collaboration with Ecobank and its partners, potentially including:

“Other multinational product rollout include an opportunity to integrate their solutions with Ecobank, opening doors to potential product launches within Ecobank’s expansive 35-country Pan-Africannetwork.

“Selected fintechs may become Pan-African service partners within the Bank’s ecosystem while Fellows will receive exclusive access to Ecobank’s cutting-edge APIs, enabling them to test and develop their products for the Pan-African market.”

The Ecobank Fintech Challenge is designed in partnership with international advisory firm, Konfidants, and is supported by various partners.

Applications for the 7th Ecobank Fintech Challenge are now open to fintechs and developers from across Africa, as well as global Africa-centered fintechs.

Interested parties can find out more about the competition and submit their applications through the official website: EcobankFintechChallenge.com.

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