We are the best partner for early-stage inclusive fintech startups in emerging markets


How it works

Catalyst Fund is an accelerator for early-stage inclusive fintech startups in emerging markets. Portfolio companies are sourced by leading investors in this sector and receive catalytic grant capital, bespoke venture building support and connections to investors and corporate innovators to help them scale. In addition to supporting startups, Catalyst Fund aims to enhance the fintech ecosystem around the startups and share insights with the industry to spur more global inclusive fintech innovation.

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We source a cohort of six companies from across our focus markets, twice per year. Our startups are identified and nominated by our Investor Advisory Committee (IAC), in accordance with our Investment Criteria. Startups may express their interest to be considered by the IAC on a rolling basis. Catalyst Fund does not make calls for applications, host challenge competitions or solicit applications directly.

Investor Advisory Committee (IAC)

The Catalyst Fund Investor Advisory Committee (IAC) is composed of six experienced fintech investors who are familiar with emerging markets. Each IAC member nominates a high potential startup for each cohort and mentors that startup throughout the acceleration process.


Investors consider seven criteria when selecting companies. Preference is given for local entrepreneurs from the five focus markets and for women entrepreneurs.


Tech-enabled innovation

Startup has an innovative product and business model enabled by technology


Inclusion & scale

Potential to scale and meaningfully increase financial inclusion and financial health of excluded populations



Grant resources would substantially impact team’s ability to test and improve their product



Product is at MVP stage or built, has at least one customer, working to achieve product market fit



Target market/operations of the startup is in emerging markets, focusing on Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, India, and Mexico



Preference for teams led by local and/or women founders, with local teams in the country of operation


Learning potential

Potential for insights from the company to meaningfully contribute to a learning agenda to advance the collective knowledge of the industry

AAA approach: inclusive fintech solutions

Catalyst Fund strives to create AAA (Accessible, Affordable, Appropriate) products and solutions that will truly benefit low-income, underserved populations.

Focus countries 

We select startups operating in five key markets: Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Mexico and India. These countries are home to fintech startup hubs within their regions, but their populations also demonstrate significant gaps in financial health. 

Investment theses

Catalyst Fund targets sectors where fintech innovation has the greatest potential to benefit underserved communities and small businesses. Today we’re focused on three critical areas for fintech innovation: improving financial health, enabling access to essential services and leveraging platforms to expand financial solutions and benefits for workers in the digital economy. View our investment briefs here and below.


Financial health

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Essential services

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Platforms and new forms of work

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What we offer

Startup acceleration

Early-stage inclusive fintech startups in the Catalyst Fund portfolio receive:

  • Catalytic grant capital
  • Bespoke venture building support from fintech and emerging market experts  
  • 1:1 matching with investors and corporate innovators


Ecosystem acceleration

We’re building the innovation ecosystem around fintech startups in our key markets through local and global circles of:

  • Investors
  • Corporate innovators
  • Universities and talent networks