Catalyst Fund partners MEST, Mastercard to launch US$4.3 accelerator program in Ghana

GHANA – Catalyst Fund has partnered with the Mastercard Foundation and MEST (Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology) to launch its Inclusive Digital Accelerator programme in Ghana, the first expansion of its flagship inclusive fintech programme.

Catalyst Fund, which is managed by BFA Global, is an accelerator that supports inclusive tech innovators in emerging markets.

The accelerator focuses on impact companies offering accessible, affordable and appropriate solutions, designed for underserved individuals and micro and small enterprises, and accelerate the local ecosystems around them.

The accelerator said that it aims to improve the livelihoods and financial resilience of informal micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in Ghana.

This according to catalyst was especially important at this time when businesses have been hardest hit by the impact of the COVID-19 economic crisis.

The accelerator will select innovative companies that can enable informal MSEs reap the benefits of digital commerce.

According to a report by Disrupt Africa, Six digital commerce companies will he selected to be scaled over the next two years.

The six companies will benefit from Catalyst Fund’s model which combines flexible grant capital of up to US$120,000, expert-led venture acceleration support, portfolio meet-ups, and curated cohort-based workshop sessions.

The startups will also benefit from connections with Catalyst Fund’s growing global Circle of Investors and Circle of Corporate Innovators

“We’re thrilled to announce the first Catalyst Fund expansion programme, which builds on lessons learned supporting inclusive fintech companies in emerging markets over the last five years,” said Catalyst Fund managing director Maelis Carraro.

Carrao further noted that through the Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator, Catalyst Fund aims to impact informal MSEs in Ghana who, particularly in light of the COVID-19 crisis, lack access to a financial safety net.

“Along with support and deep local expertise from Mastercard Foundation and MEST, we aim to enable companies who are already tackling distinct problems in the digital commerce space to better reach informal MSEs so they can leverage digital rails to improve their financial resilience for the future.”

Maelis Carraro – Managing Director, Catalyst Fund

MEST which is Catalyst Fund’s country partner brings deep market knowledge, leveraging more than 12 years of experience training and incubating tech entrepreneurs on the ground in Ghana.

“The opportunity to partner with an experienced organisation like Catalyst Fund, with support from the Mastercard Foundation, is equal parts exciting and aligned with MEST’s scale strategy in Ghana, and in time, beyond,” said MEST strategic director Greg Coussa.    

Historically, MEST has focused on early-stage startup support and creation through its training programme, seed fund, and incubator programmes.

The Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator will thus provide MEST with an an opportunity to work with Catalyst Fund to support scale-stage ventures who are strategically seeking to better reach and serve informal MSEs.

The Inclusive Digital Accelerator is Castor Fund’s flagship Inclusive Fintech program, supported by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and FCDO.

Originally launched in 2016 to fill the critical capital, support and talent gaps that limit innovation potential across emerging markets and foster the growth of inclusive solutions.

Today, its finance model is becoming an enabler, touching multiple industries where non-financial companies incorporate financial products to enhance their value offering, to retain consumers and to improve users’ lives.

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