2015 to 2019: Catalyst Fund accelerated 25 inclusive fintech startups across 14 emerging markets. Over 90% of the initial companies are still operating, and have gone on to raise nearly 25x the amount invested in them, and reach more than 2.5 million (and counting) low-income customers globally.
January 2020: Catalyst Fund announced the expansion of the Inclusive Fintech program, with support from The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and JPMorgan Chase & Co., to accelerate 30 additional early-stage fintech startups operating in five key markets: India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa, by 2022. Our portfolio companies have raised over US$81M in follow-on funding, unlocking capital in their markets to return $25 for every $1 invested in the program.
Catalyst Fund also recognized that accelerating startups alone is not sufficient. The environment in which they operate also has to be conducive to their growth, which means capital, talent, partnerships and regulatory barriers have to be addressed. Catalyst Fund developed a method to accelerate innovation ecosystems in emerging markets, including unlocking capital from global and local investors, creating pathways to scale for startups via partnerships with corporate innovators, and filling talent gaps through an internship program sourcing quality talent from universities and talent networks in our key markets.
October 2020: Building on the learnings from and success of Catalyst Fund’s flagship Inclusive Fintech Accelerator, in 2020 we are building on the core elements of our model to launch additional programs where fintech can be a force for good. We are creating a family of programs with new partners in an effort to support tech innovators across additional key areas where we see embedded fintech approaches as crucial to developing better and more impactful solutions that can improve the livelihoods and resilience of underserved customers.
In October 2020, we launched the Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator in Ghana, with support from Mastercard Foundation, in partnership with MEST. The program aims to improve the livelihoods and financial resilience of informal micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in Ghana – who have been hardest hit by the impact of the COVID-19 economic crisis – by scaling digital commerce companies. The accelerator will select six innovative companies that can enable informal MSEs to reap the benefits of digital commerce and accelerate them over two years.
Catalyst Fund continues to focus on accelerating the innovation ecosystems in each of these focus markets in order to enable even more inclusive tech companies to grow and reach underserved populations. It also continues to gather and share learnings and insights with the ecosystem to spur more tech innovation in emerging markets.
Learn more about Catalyst Fund Programs