Visa hosted its inaugural Africa Fintech Accelerator program’s demo day yesterday at the Sankara Hotel in Nairobi. The demo day featured a showcase of innovations and pitches from fintech startups that were part of the first cohort of the Visa Accelerator Program.

The program was launched in June 2023 with an aim of expanding and supporting fintech startups in Africa by bringing expertise, connections, technology, and investment funding. It is a 3 month bootcamp in partnership with innovation firm Plug and Play.

The call for applications for the first ever cohort saw over 1,000 startups applying. In the end 23 startups were chosen to be part of the program. The cohort one startups are from 9 countries i.e. Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, Zambia, South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda. Kenya was represented by startups such as Power, duqha, workpay and Orda. Other startups include Eversend, Anchor, Chari, Afinity and Agrocenta.

Among the attendees at the Visa Accelerator Program Demo Day in Nairobi were Andrew Torre, the Regional President for CEMEA at Visa and Otto Williams, Senior Vice President, Head of Product, Partnerships, and Solutions at Visa CEMEA and startup representatives from the first cohort including Stone Atwine of Eversend, Desola Orosami of Orda, Tenu Awoonor of The Blue Penguin and Francis Obrikorang of AgroCenta.

Ugandan Stone Atwine of Eversend shared how his company is enabling payments across different African markets. He shared how he was able to buy airtime and pay for a cab in Kenya through Eversend after landing in Nairobi and how he was able to buy electricity tokens for his grandmother in Uganda while he was at the airport in London. His reasoning is that seamless and affordable money transfer and bill payments across Africa is a gamechanger and is looking forward to expand his company to more countries through the partnership with Visa.

Orda is cloud-based restaurant operating system that helps restaurants in Africa process orders, accept payments, track sales, track inventory, connect to logistic providers, engage with customers among others. Orda has evolved to accepting digital payments that includes cards and mobile money. On their involvement with the Visa Accelerator Program, Desola Orosami shared that it has been good for them from a knowledge perspective. A key learning for them has been partner led growth which led them to partner with another startup in the cohort and with Visa to launch new NFS enabled POS machines which has helped grow their business.

Otto Williams, Senior Vice President, Head of Product, Partnerships and Solutions at VISA CEMEA, reiterated Visa’s commitment to invest US$1 billion in Africa and to support African fintech startups into the future. Visa plans to plug as many startups as possible into the Visa pipeline through initiatives such as the Visa Accelerator Program, Visa Everywhere Initiative, Visa Fintech Partner Connect and the Fintech Fast Track Program. All this is part of a plan to open the Visa ecosystem to more small and micro sellers who stand at 6 million and this number is expected to grow.

Andrew Torre, Regional President for CEMEA at Visa added that the fintech startups that take part in Visa Accelerator Program should look forward to be supported by Visa after the end of bootcamp. There are apparently also opportunities for funding directly from Visa and also Visa’s partners.

Visa is accepting applications for the second cohort of the Visa Accelerator Program. Seed to Series A fintech startups operating in Africa are encouraged to apply here, with applications open until February 29th.