Four Kenyan start-ups are among 10 African tech firms that have been shortlisted for the 2018 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) prize for Innovation in financial inclusion.
The local firms are set to battle it out for Sh10 million top award of MIT's Zambezi Prize.
The contestants include credit-scoring company FarmDrive, virtual marketplace Tulaa, credit and last-mile farm in-put distributor Bidhaa Sasa and Apollo Agriculture, which uses technology to deliver credit and advice to farmers.
Tulaa’s platform minimises middlemen by connecting commodity buyers as well as financial service providers and agri-input suppliers to smallholder farmers. Two runners-up will also receive Sh3 million each while the other finalist will get Sh500,000 in cash prize with a similar additional reward given to an African entrepreneur that showed great leadership qualities to unify the continent’s tech ecosystem.
The Kenyan firms will battle it out for the top prize with Nigeria’s RecyclePoints, Senegal’s MaTontine, Ghana’s Farmerline and Oze and South Africa’s LanteOTC and Wala.
“We are pleased to welcome the 2018 finalists. They represent some of the world’s most innovative change agents,” said Executive Director of the MIT Legatum Center, Georgina Campbell Flatter.
The competition has since 2015 recognised start-ups that leverage on digital economy to give farmers access to credit and markets for their products.