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Mastercard expands search for SA startups

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Mastercard’s startup engagement programme Start Path Global works with startups to drive new businesses forward and is launching a call for applications in South Africa.
Start Path is an integral part of Mastercard’s broader startup engagement effort that is focused on partnering with the best startups to collaborate and create new experiences for its customers, business partners, and the broader financial industry.
Start Path was established in early 2014 as a way for Mastercard to work directly with global startups building innovative solutions covering everything from blockchain to artificial intelligence and chatbots. Over the last two years, Start Path has worked with over 90 companies across 24 countries. Mastercard is currently running active pilots with or has directly invested in nearly 20 percent of the companies.
“In 2014 we wanted to look beyond Mastercard and support innovation that was being developed by new and upcoming, early-stage companies,” says Stephane Wyper, global lead: Mastercard Start Path. “We believe every startup is unique and that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to working together. We have put in place different mechanisms including pilots with Mastercard business lines, access to our APIs, and connectivity to our customer base and partner networks.”
Start Path will be intensifying its search in South Africa because of the vibrant startup community. The objective of the programme is to stay close to innovations that are coming out of South Africa and to drive success for the early-stage companies that are working on next-generation commerce technologies.
The six-month, virtual programme will help startups tackle business problems and introduce them to new opportunities around the globe.
In Africa, the programme is working with startups creating practical, affordable innovations that help people gain access to financial tools such as loans, plan for their futures, build wealth and lead better lives. Saida, NFrnds and Dopay are all working with Start Path to identify growth areas, partnership possibilities and integration plans within and beyond Mastercard.
Saida: Saida is a startup that has developed an app that uses the data on the customers’ smartphones to underwrite loans to them in minutes. The app just launched in Kenya and has been instrumental in providing over 16,000 loans in the area.
NFrnds: nFrnds connects 5-billion simple phone users who don’t have data plans to information, communication, and mobile payments. Designed for emerging markets,the platform connects consumers and businesses to managed cloud services, bundling solutions for vertical ecosystems such as agriculture, health, banking, finance and horizontal services such as loyalty, CRM and supply chain management.
DoPay: With offices in London, Egypt and Ghana, DoPay is designed to be the ‘day-to-day’ bank in markets with largely unbanked and financially underserved populations. We provide a cloud-based payroll service that allows employers to calculate salaries and pay all employees electronically.
Each quarter, Mastercard Start Path recruits a new class of startups to embark on the six-month virtual programme. The programme is currently accepting applications for its next class. The application window to join the next class is open until 11 October 2016.