Barclays Africa officially opened its Rise innovation hub in Cape Town’s Bandwidth Barn yesterday, providing Africa’s innovators and start-ups with a physical location to facilitate collaboration and fintech  (financial-technology) innovation.
Created by Barclays, Rise connects the world’s most active innovators to each other, as well as to corporates, resources and support networks through both a virtual community and physical hubs.
The opening of the innovation hub in Cape Town is the latest expansion within Barclays’s global innovation-hub network, which already includes London, Manchester and New York. Barclays also recently announced plans to open a hub in Tel Aviv in 2016. The premises will provide co-working facilities, a world-class events space, and a bespoke setting for initiatives such as the Barclays Accelerator programme.
“Rise provides an opportunity to leapfrog ageing analogue infrastructure deployed in most developed economies, and with it the capacity to solve some of Africa’s development challenges,” says Ashley Veasey, CIO of Barclays Africa.
The ability to bring scale to new ideas has long been at the centre of the Barclays approach to innovation. Rise in Africa has already championed several initiatives aimed at connecting and co-creating with African innovators, including Tech Lab Africa and the Barclays Africa Supply Chain Challenge.
“We saw amazing innovations submitted to our Barclays Africa Supply Chain Challenge, which concluded early in November, not least of which was the winning submission from the Kenyan-based Markit Opportunity.”
Markit Opportunity provides a mobile platform that connects traders in urban markets to farmers with real-time supply and demand statistics, as well as market-related pricing.
“The solutions we have seen are Africa-focused and look to solve challenges unique to our continent. This is inspiring because without collaborative platforms like Rise, we believe these companies and their innovative solutions might never realise their full potential on a global scale,” says Veasey.
By connecting the world’s most active innovation ecosystems, Barclays is confident that Rise can assist in co-creating ground-breaking products and services with entrepreneurs from across the African continent.
Derek White, chief design and innovation officer at Barclays Africa’s parent company, Barclays Plc, adds: “This announcement marks further expansion of our global programme, deepening Africa’s connection to our wider Rise global network. By connecting these hotbeds of innovation to each other, we hope to accelerate the development of fintech – both on the continent and globally.”
To date, with the Rise programme having engaged over 6 500 start-ups in 95 countries and transferred more than 3 000 hours of knowledge, the Rise innovation hub in Cape Town is set to enable Africans to connect, co-create and scale the next big thing in financial services.