Understandably, corporate business is not known for its speed, nor many revolutionary ideas; the complexity and scale at which the big boys of business operate make it incredibly difficult to innovate, even incrementally. But this doesn’t mean they don’t want, or need to and this is why certain prudent corporations, like Nedbank, are finding ways to dig deep into the minds of our entrepreneurs to find the next big thing in FinTech.
The Ideas Programme, created by The LaunchLab, is one of the ways in which they’re doing it. This programme, the most recent of which started in August of last year, took more than 50 different entrepreneurs through an intensive 4-month process, helping them develop their business ideas, as well as connect with peers and the LaunchLab and Nedbank teams.
The competition (which is exactly what is was) has various challenges aligned to the LaunchLab’s focus areas, one of which is Fintech & Big Data. Nedbank provided a Fintech & Big Data challenge and the programme was designed to help Nedbank’s innovation and business development team select the top 5 Fintech & Big Data participants, who would receive seed funding and incubation support – much needed at this stage of their journeys – as well as on-going, rigorous support and motivation to succeed. One of the outcomes could be additional service offerings for Nedbank’s portfolio.
“We are encouraged by the depth of exciting ideas and entrepreneurs we engage with through the LaunchLab,” commented Nedbank’s Chris Wood. “South Africa is firmly poised not just to participate in the global innovation arena – but to lead it.”
There are good reasons why Mr Wood is so positive about the outcome. Two of the top 5 are already well on their way to carving new roads in the FinTech landscape in South Africa.
Fingertips, developed by UWC student Yolisa Nocanda and his partner, is a fast, simple way to transfer money between students (there are 1.5 million in South Africa, which is a substantial target market), and make online payments using something they all have – their student cards. For him, the access to the Bank’s big thinkers, and the LaunchLab’s workspace and mentors are what will help him decide the path he will tread, and the biggest boon received from the competition. “The work we’ve done so far is what got us here – now it’s time to push harder,” he enthused. They are currently building the business case for Fingertips, as well as “a few secrets things I have up my sleeve.”
With more than R45Bn (belonging to a whopping 11 million people) sitting in stokvels in South Africa, with little to no real control for contributors, innovations like Yethu (formerly Stokvella) are needed more than ever. Apart from digitizing the ecosystem, meaning that members and leaders know exactly what is where, they are also approaching investors in order to create a triad of strength between all three parties, and allowing the stokvel operating on Yethu to make substantially more than the 3% in interest they currently make. Says co-founder, Sebastian Daniels, “Being a Fintech entrepreneur can feel pretty lonely. The mentorship and relationships we’ve made with others who are going through the same things we are, are really encouraging. It’s been lots of fun.”
Other winners, who will now participate in the LaunchLab Knowledge Acceleration and Countdown Programmes, are:
- MoWallet, which enables banks with a white label digital marketing solution to deliver incentives to customers with lower income
- Airbuy is solution to purchase goods using airtime
- Inku – a peer-to-peer digital lending platform
Competitions like these, where young, hungry entrepreneurs are supported by the industry they are challenging, while also contributing significantly to the said industry, are both critical and wise. Creating these mutually beneficial, innovative platforms is exactly what the LaunchLab excels at. “The LaunchLab facilitates the relationship between the start-ups and our corporate partners to ensure a win-win scenario for both parties,” says LaunchLab CEO, Philip Marais.
This year’s Nedbank Innovation Challenge begins soon. We (Nedbank, LaunchLab, Yethu, Fingertips and all the other winners) highly suggest that, if you have the next big thing, that you get your pitch deck ready and enter.
For more information on our breakthrough innovation challenges ran previously, view here.
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