About Catalyst Fund

Supporting inclusive tech innovators in emerging markets


Our story

Catalyst Fund was launched in 2015  as a global accelerator, managed by BFA Global for early-stage inclusive fintech startups,  offering affordable, accessible, and appropriate digital financial solutions that improve the financial health of underserved communities in emerging markets. 

Initially backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and JPMorgan Chase & Co., and fiscal sponsorship from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, over the years the accelerator scaled with support from the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), PayPal, and Mastercard Foundation.

The Catalyst Fund startup accelerator worked to fill important gaps in the innovation ecosystems across Africa, Latin America, and Asia, including a lack of patient capital to test and iterate products in-market, a lack of skill sets to rapidly build viable solutions for underserved customers, and a lack of connections for many local founders with global and local investors and corporate partners. The accelerator tackled these challenges by offering a combination of catalytic grant capital, bespoke venture-building support from market and sector experts, and access to a global network of investors and corporate innovators while sharing insights, learnings, and toolkits with the broader inclusive tech ecosystem.

Since 2015, Catalyst Fund backed 61 companies over 15 emerging markets, constantly refining its proven model to take startups closer to product-market fit. Our portfolio companies have gone on to secure over US$656 million in follow-on funding and currently serve more than 14 million individuals and MSMEs globally. 

In line with our mission to support entrepreneurs who use technology, finance, and data innovation to tackle the biggest challenges and opportunities of our time, in 2022 we have expanded our mandate to invest in enterprises that address the most pressing global challenge of climate change. 

Building on lessons learned and core strengths, the new $30M pre-seed fund and accelerator will back high-impact tech startups that seek to improve the resilience of underserved, climate-vulnerable communities across Africa. 

Inclusive fintech startups video series: Produced by Innovate Finance and BBC Storyworks

Hear how fintech innovation is transforming financial health in Africa, from the customers served by Catalyst Fund portfolio companies Sokowatch, Turaco, Abalobi and Spoon Money.