Tens of emerging fintech startups from 18 African countries on Tuesday staged innovations as Visa held the first day of the Africa Fintech Accelerator program first demo day in Nairobi.

Among the fintech startups that participated in the first Demo Day are Duqha (Kenya), Power (Kenya), Workpay (Kenya), OkHi (Nigeria) and Eversend (Uganda).

The programme officially unveiled in June 2023 seeks to empower the fast-growing startup community in Africa with expertise, connections, technology, and investment funding.

The emerging fintechs in the first cohort got a chance to showcase their key innovations to senior players in the ecosystem, funding partners, angel investors and venture capitalists.

The 20 initial startups were picked from more than 1,000 applicants in varied subsectors among merchant payment solutions, lending infrastructure, Banking-as-a-Service, and B2B marketplaces.

Applications for the second cohort are already being accepted with the applications open until February 29, 2024.

Seed to Series A startups operating in Africa under the following categories are being encouraged to apply on the Visa website: https://africa.visa.com/visa-everywhere/innovation/visa-accelerator.html

• Unlocking money movement: Digitizing various payment types (P2P, B2C, B2B, G2C) to create new commerce opportunities, including cross-border remittances and funds disbursements, open banking and account-to-account solutions, mobile money flows, and interoperability.

• Embedded finance: Creating advanced intelligence to enhance payment and finance experiences in B2C and B2B commerce models, including installments, flexible financing, consumer loyalty, and Fintech-as-a-Service.

• Empowering merchants and SMEs: Accelerating the growth of merchants and SMEs through digital payment solutions to foster financial inclusion, focusing on next-generation omnichannel payments, digital onboarding, working capital optimization, and merchant value-add solutions.

• Payment infrastructure enablers: Building the base layer of payment infrastructure and key enabling services such as authentication and fraud solutions, digital onboarding and identity management, credit scoring and risk management solutions, and data solutions and insights.

• The future of finance: Embracing emerging technologies to revolutionize financial services, such as AI-powered payments, blockchain and enterprise DLT, and programmable money.

• Sustainable and inclusive finance: Enhancing payments technology to contribute to an eco-friendly economy, drive inclusiveness, reduce inequality, and create positive impact through financial services for underserved communities or climate-vulnerable communities and affordable and accessible financial solutions.

Visa Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA) Senior Vice President, Head of Product, Partnerships and Digital Solutions Otto Williams said termed the inaugural program a success.

“Following the success of the inaugural accelerator, Visa is inviting a second round of disruptive startups to apply to the program, in an ongoing effort to support Africa’s growing fintech ecosystem,” said Williams.

He added: “This unique experience will offer entrepreneurs an opportunity for mentorship and fast-tracked growth, while also providing them access to a wider network of partners and investors.”