- Livingstone Mukasa, founder of Four One Financial Services, Uganda’s first micro-pension service and Mayicard platform, won the Best Catapulter Award
- Mukasa’s pitch was top gun from a pool of 10 other fintech finalists from Africa
- One of the ways LHoFT is helping solve problems is by connecting the startups with established companies in Luxembourg solving similar problems
Earlier in November, Livingstone Mukasa, founder of Four One Financial Services, Uganda’s first micro-pension service and Mayicard platform, won the Best Catapulter Award from Catapult: Inclusion Africa.
Catapult: Inclusion Africa is a week-long bootcamp on financial inclusion organised by the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT) Foundation, an initiative created to drive technology innovation for Luxembourg’s financial services industry.
Mukasa’s pitch was top gun from a pool of 10 other fintech finalists from Africa. Nasir Zubair, CEO of the LHoFT Foundation, tells me that Mukasa’s pitch stood out from the rest because of the passion he exuded. There was so much emotion in the room, tears were shed, and the connection with Mukasa’s story was palpable. “Livingstone (Mukasa) pulled on everyone’s heart and his presentation was absolutely incredible,” Nasir says. “He talked about growing up poor and how he’s made it his mission to eradicate poverty.”
The pitch won Four One Financial Services €5,000 and an entry to the 2019 African Microfinance Week (SAM).
Romain Schneider, Luxembourg’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, believes that the Catapult: Inclusion Africa bootcamp provides “an excellent opportunity to link the striving fintech sector in Africa to their equally active counterparts in Luxembourg… African fintech startups have a lot of substance to exchange among each other, which the inclusive finance and fintech actors from Luxembourg also benefited from.”
Why LHoFT is targeting African fintechs
I ask Nasir why LHoFT has taken interest in African fintechs. He tells me that there’s interest from partners, sponsors, and the government to focus on Africa. Also, the continent is large, hence there’s massive potential for the growth of these financial technology startups. Finally, there are critical problems on the continent that require urgent solutions because the future of Africans, and several other connected regions, rests on them.
The challenges for fintechs and financial inclusion
One of the things the bootcamp opened Nasir’s eyes to, he tells me, is the variety of solutions to financial services problems available on the continent. He also says that the creative ways in which the startups involved in Catapult have built up their businesses is impressive and refreshing to see.
Another challenge fintechs are facing is talent availability. While it may not be hard to find young people with high-levels technical skill, the problem really is finding people with the passion and ingenuity to solve the problems that require solving, people who see beyond the job and embrace the startup’s vision and mission. Instead, many startups on the continent, for various reasons including economic reality, are stuck with people who just want a job.
One of the ways LHoFT is helping solve these problems is by connecting the startups with established companies in Luxembourg solving similar problems. LHoFT also offers follow-on engagement. Nasir believes that the participants (of the bootcamp) are likely the most important resources for each other. It’s why they all belong to chat groups where they keep in touch and share valuable information with one another. And Nasir says “LHoFT will continue to provide resources to help them achieve their targets.”
I ask Nasir if Luxembourg is planning more initiatives in Africa and he believes so, but he just doesn’t know when yet. Whenever, however though, collaboration and engagement will be the bedrock for future initiaives.