The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship in partnership with Mastercard Foundation has announced South African start-up, Wala as the winner of the 2018 Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion in Nairobi Kenya.
The Zambezi Prize and the Open Mic Africa tour are pillars of the Legatum Center’s Africa Strategy – a global vision to leverage MIT’s ecosystem to improve lives through principled entrepreneurial leadership.
Wala is a mobile financial platform geared towards consumers operating outside the formal financial system. Through the Wala platform, users receive a cryptocurrency wallet and can access transactional banking, remittances, loans, and insurance.
Wala was picked from among 10 finalists for the Zambezi Prize. All of them joined leaders from the MIT and African tech ecosystems for the 2018 MIT Open Mic Africa Summit at Strathmore University in Nairobi.
Wala take home US$100,000 grand prize. Tulaa of Kenya and RecyclePoints from Nigeria each won US$30,000 as runners-up. Other winners include; Apollo Agriculture (Kenya), Bidhaa Sasa (Kenya), FarmDrive (Kenya), Farmerline (Ghana), LanteOTC (South Africa), MaTontine (Senegal), and OZÉ (Ghana).
An additional US$5,000 will be awarded to an African entrepreneur—to be named later this year—who has demonstrated great leadership in unifying Africa’s tech ecosystem.
“Innovators like Wala and the other Zambezi finalists are vital to driving a more inclusive prosperity”, said Georgina Campbell Flatter, the Executive Director of the MIT Legatum Center. “We’re excited to work with them.”
“We are immensely proud to support the Zambezi Prize,” said Ann Miles, Director of Thought Leadership and Innovation at the Mastercard Foundation. “It shines a bright light on the creativity and talent of Africa’s young people, and the thinking they bring to financial inclusion. This is making real differences in the lives of poor people on the continent.”
All 10 Prize finalists will attend the Zambezi boot camp on the MIT campus during the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge gala in Boston on November 5-9.
Wala also won the IIC Africa Prize in the Financial Inclusion category. The start-up will join the three other winners of the IIC Africa Prize, to represent Africa at the IIC global tournament which awards over $1 million in prizes. The IIC event is part of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and, along with the MIT Legatum Center’s initiatives, exemplifies MIT’s global commitment to the future of work.
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