Visa has introduced a program aimed at fostering Africa’s burgeoning startup landscape. The Africa FinTech Accelerator, unveiled on Wednesday (June 14), will offer support to up to 40 startups annually, focusing on business expansion and mentorship.
In a press release, Visa’s Executive Chairman, Alfred F. Kelly Jr., stated, “Africa has one of the most exciting and admired fintech ecosystems in the world, bringing outstanding entrepreneurial talent to a young digital-first population that is growing fast.”
Twice a year, African FinTech startups can apply for the accelerator program, with the first application period set to begin next month.
Upon completing the program, Visa plans to continue aiding fintech growth by investing capital in select participating startups, while facilitating their market entry through access to Visa’s technology and capabilities, the release noted.
The launch of the accelerator follows Visa’s commitment six months ago to invest $1 billion in Africa to accelerate the continent’s digital transformation. This investment is aimed at scaling operations, introducing new technologies, and enhancing collaboration with partners like merchants, fintechs, and mobile operators over the next five years.
According to Visa, less than half of Africa’s adult population has engaged in digital payments, and over 40 million African merchants do not accept digital payments.
In a discussion with Maurizio Caio, founder and managing partner at Africa-focused venture capital (VC) firm TLcom Capital, PYMNTS explored the state of startups in Africa in March. Caio emphasized that Africa-focused VCs comprehend the vast potential in Africa, while acknowledging the challenge of conveying this potential to individuals outside the region. The onus, he added, is on Africa’s VC community to raise awareness about the substantial returns that Africa’s startups can offer, in order to increase the annual investment of $4 billion to $5 billion in Africa’s VC sector.
The launch of Visa’s accelerator program contributes to the efforts to empower Africa’s startup ecosystem and strengthen its appeal to global investors.