Winners: Emata group photo; Credit: Emata

Bram van den Bosch, CEO and Co-Founder of Emata, a Ugandan fintech that gives farmers access to digital and affordable financial products, has won the Best Catapulter Award at the end of the CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa 2021 digital bootcamp, a programme developed by Luxembourg's dedicated fintech centre, the LHoFT Foundation. 

The award was announced at the end of CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa's digital pitching ceremony on Thursday 27 May 2021, which was kicked off by an inspirational opening address from Kosta Peric, Deputy Director of Financial Services for the Poor at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Besting thirteen other fintech finalists who joined the programme, Bram van den Bosch's final pitch, in front of a prominent jury, focused on making farmer financing right: tackling a huge paradox in Africa where agriculture accounts for 80% of employment and 30% of GDP but only 3% of lending. 

"Access to formal and affordable financial services is crucial for farmers to prosper, and we think Emata solves this in a sustainable and innovative way that ultimately strengthens the entire ecosystem. Catapult and the LHoFT has offered us a platform to meet, discuss with and learn from great founders and investors. We look forward to putting this into action as we scale up in Uganda and beyond", stated the CEO and Co-Founder of Emata. 

The runner-up of CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa was Mosabi, a Sierra Leone-based fintech and edtech hybrid which unlocks financial opportunities through innovative learning. The second runner-up was Nokwary Technologies, a Ghanaian startup developing voice based interfaces for financial services, with the aim of facilitating financial inclusion of the technologically illiterate.

Building on the 2018 and 2020 editions, but also on local expertise and aligned with the sustainability goals of Luxembourg's finance centre, CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa 2021 aimed to support fintech companies with the goal of improving financial inclusion across the African continent. The bootcamp served to build bridges for business between Africa and Europe and helped the fintechs connect with an international set of investors and venture capitalists. 

For the 2021 edition of CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa, fourteen fintech startups were selected from 163 applications from 29 different countries. The ten-day online bootcamp was organised and delivered by the LHoFT Foundation, sponsored by the Directorate for Development and Humanitarian Affairs of Luxembourg's Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and supported by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) as well as key strategic partners such ADA, InFine, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the University of Luxembourg, CGAP, KPMG Luxembourg, Compellio, MoBerries, SocGen Luxembourg, Luxembourg For Finance, the Social Performance Task Force, the Luxembourg Africa Investment Association, Contextual Solutions, ACRC and F6S, among others. 

Focusing this year on investment readiness, the fourteen ventures were supported by investors operating in Africa such as Bamboo Partners, TLG Capital, ZedCrest Capital, Rising Tide Africa, Outlierz, Angaza Capital, Anza Capital, Baobab Group, Beyond Capital, Advans, CRE VC, DRK Foundation, AfricInvest, Triodos Capital and Sherpa Africa Partners.

The CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa bootcamp covered a range of topics, including business model mapping, investment readiness, funding and capital raising, social impact, scaling strategy, building teams, operational management and pitch development. The digital bootcamp culminated with an online final pitch session gathering all the partners and supporters of the programme, an audience of 100 spectators, where the fourteen companies delivered their final pitches, leveraging the input they had received from the programme partners, experts and mentors over the course of the ten days.

The jury, composed of Laura Foschi (Executive Director at ADA), Thomas Lammar (Secrétaire de Légation at Luxembourg's Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs), Saad Sheikh (Principal Investments at TLG Capital), Robin Newnham (Head of Policy Analysis and Capacity Building at AFI), Benjamin Fernandes (Founder and CEO of NALA) and Nasir Zubairi (CEO of the LHoFT), listened to passionate pitches from all the finalists before declaring Bram van den Bosch, CEO and Co-Founder of Emata, "Best 2021 Catapulter". Emata received €5,000 prize money from the LHoFT, as well as a free entry and accommodation to attend the upcoming "African MicroFinance Week" in October 2021 (provided by ADA). All fourteen fintechs participating in the bootcamp received a one-year free membership at the LHoFT. 

Franz Fayot, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy and Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, commented: "Luxembourg is a centre of excellence for inclusive finance. Our distinct ecosystem, which includes the gintech innovations promoted by the LHoFT, aims at jointly creating impact through innovation. I'm glad to see that once more, and even digitally, Catapult: Inclusion Africa was able to benefit an excellent cohort of fintechs working in and for financial inclusion in Africa. While we have witnessed excellent solutions for payments, insurance, e-education, pensions and more, this year's winner, Emata, illustrates that modern and inclusive fintech models can also foster digitalisation in the agriculture sector".

Nasir Zubairi, CEO of the LHoFT Foundation, added: "The Catapult: Inclusion Africa programme brought together fourteen impressive entrepreneurs all committed to deliver real impact. I feel energised and inspired, their solutions are excellent and I am sure many will go on to achieve great things. Emata was a beacon amongst all the impressive pitches. We are immensely grateful for the commitment of the Luxembourg and international community who helped make this programme a success. It would not be possible without all our sponsors and partners, thank you all".