Over the past four months, the LaunchLab, a network of university campus-based business incubators, in partnership with Nedbank, one of the largest banks in South Africa, ran an entrepreneurial challenge across partner university campuses in the Western Cape to unleash innovation in the banking industry.
The challenge, which formed part of the LaunchLab’s Breakthrough Innovation Platform, officially kicked off with a Briefing Workshop which was held on 16 August 2016 at the Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab. Here participants had an opportunity to engage with the LaunchLab and Nedbank teams, as well as to connect with other aspiring Fintech entrepreneurs. Attending this workshop also helped participants to better understand the Challenge, stimulated their thinking and provided clarity about the value of their ideas.
More than 50 aspiring and practicing entrepreneurs and enthusiasts from the Fintech, Big Data, ICT and Financial Services industries attended the workshop. These industries have seen a great deal of disruption due to new technologies and changing banking behaviour in Africa.
Nedbank has identified the need to tap into these breakthrough innovations to find new ways of using mobile technology to further promote financial inclusion, enhance client experiences using connected devices and find innovative methods to on-board and activate new clients. Nedbank’s partnership with the LaunchLab enables access to these disruptive innovations.
The LaunchLab provides a link to a unique community of campus-based entrepreneurs as well as an environment where start-ups can test new technologies and business models without the usual corporate restrictions.
Philip Marais, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the LaunchLab comments: “This Fintech and Big Data Challenge gave entrepreneurs the opportunity to not only win incubation support for their Fintech solutions but to also gain access to the exciting market that Nedbank can provide. The LaunchLab facilitates the relationship between the start-ups and our corporate partners to ensure a win-win scenario for both parties.”
Ideas were either pitched at participating campuses or submitted online. The LaunchLab received a large number of sign-ups and pitch submissions, which were narrowed down to nine finalists. The finalists pitched their Fintech and Big Data innovation ideas during the final event held at the Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab on 20 October 2016. The judging panel consisted of five members selected from the innovation and business development teams from Nedbank.
The 5 winners each won seed funding and incubation support from the LaunchLab which they will use for the next 6 months will to launch and grow their business ideas. Nedbank will be carefully monitoring the development of these business ideas during this time to gauge their potential and see if they can add value to Nedbank’s service offering.
“We are encouraged by the depth of exciting ideas and entrepreneurs we engage with through the LaunchLab. Most importantly, the fast-growing traction of Fintechs and usage of Big Data intelligence gives us a great sense of comfort that South Africa is firmly poised not just to participate in the global innovation arena – but to lead it,” Chris Wood: Executive Head of Emerging Payments, Strategy and Regulatory at Nedbank.
The Nedbank Fintech and Big Data Innovation Challenge winners, who will now participate in the LaunchLab Knowledge Acceleration and Countdown Programmes, are:
- Desmond Mongwe from MoWallet – Enables banks with a white label digital marketing solution to deliver incentives to customers with lower income
- Njabulo Makathini from Airbuy – A solution to purchase goods using airtime
- Conor Foley from Inku – A peer-to-peer digital lending platform
- Sebastian Daniels from StokVella – A digital stokvel management and accountability tool
- Yolisa Ncanda from Fingertips – Online payments done via a student card.