A high-speed pitch event held at AlphaCode in October 2016 saw R5 million awarded to fintech startups by Merrill Lynch South Africa and Royal Bafokeng. The event focused on broad-based black economic empowerment startups, identifying and rewarding these high potential new businesses to promote fintech in South Africa.
This was the second event of its kind at AlphaCode, with all five award-winning startups becoming AlphaCode platinum members, which entitles them to office space and one year of incubation.
Four startups were each awarded R1 million by Merrill Lynch, including:
E-factor, an online marketplace that allows small and medium sized businesses to sell their invoices so that they can obtain payment within 24 hours.
Imafin, a specialist payment and commercial credit firm driven by innovation on traditional payments models
Invoiceworx, an online platform that enables SMEs to save time and money when applying for credit from financial institutions and;
Stokfella, which offers a digital platform for stokvels to manage their day to day affairs with ease.
A fifth startup, Heritage Capital Partners that seeks to invest growth capital into small to medium sized companies, was announced as the fifth winner and was awarded R1 million courtesy of Royal Bafokeng Holdings.
The event gave eleven contestants just five minutes to pitch their businesses, followed by a rapid-fire question and answer session. Judges included Senior Investment Executive at RMI, Dominique Collett, CEO of Merrill Lynch South Africa, Richard Gush, CEO of Royal Bafokeng Holdings, Albertinah Kekana, and principle partner at Identity Partners, Sonja Sebotsa.
RMI's Collett said she was extremely impressed by the energy and calibre of all the contestants.
“The winning businesses were selected because of their ability to meet our judging criteria which included their pricing and revenue-generating models and how delivery and implementation would occur,” she said.
“AlphaCode was established a year ago to drive and support innovation in financial services and to fast-track financial inclusion in our society. Our partnership with Merrill Lynch South Africa allows the mainstream financial services sector to help support emerging fintech innovators,” said Collett.
Richard Gush added that, “South Africa has the potential to become a fintech centre of excellence as it has an incredibly advanced financial services infrastructure. This provides an empowering context for emerging fintech entrepreneurs and financial technology innovators to develop solutions that meet the needs of different communities, many of whom have previously had little access to safe and reliable financial services.”