FinTecHub and Cenfri: partnership announcement

FinTecHub and Cenfri: partnership announcement

28 August, 2020    

FinTecHub and Cenfri are pleased to announce the signing of their new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This MoU underlines the shared interest of FinTecHub and Cenfri in developing and strengthening African fintech, and Rwandan fintech in particular.

FinTecHub is Rwanda’s dedicated virtual accelerator that supports selected Rwandan fintech start-ups to scale by addressing their needs for skills, partnerships, access to capital and markets, and navigating the regulatory environment. FinTecHub is an initiative by UNCDF, the ICT Chamber, Kigali Innovation City, the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The initiative is as a direct response to address the challenges and strengthen the enablers identified in UNCDF’s research on the Rwandan fintech landscape.

Touted as “the test kitchen for African tech start-ups”, Rwanda benefits from a few strong government policies that favour fintech development, such as a commitment to a cashless society, a visa policy that is friendly to international students and start-ups, and a regulatory sandbox focusing on fintech. On the other hand, some of the challenges in Rwanda are a lack of seed- and early-stage funding, a lack of entrepreneurial (soft) skills, and the small size of the market. FinTecHub responds to the enablers and barriers identified by UNCDF across four ecosystem components: Talent, Demand, Capital, and Policy and Regulation.

FinTecHub accepted its first cohort in August 2020 and intends to leverage the BFA Catalyst Fund tools to provide start-ups with specialised accelerator support. FinTecHub will further contribute to the development of the fintech ecosystem by becoming a key convening and information point for all stakeholders to support the growing fintech community  – going beyond start-ups to include regulators, traditional financial service providers, investors, academia and other interested parties.

Roselyne Uwamahoro, UNCDF Country Lead, comments: “The UNCDF strategy aims to promote digital economies that leave no one behind. We support the development and financing of digital economies to significantly reduce the digital divide and bring countries to a stage where digital rails (policy, mobile and payment infrastructure) are strong enough to enable innovation and skills development. We partner with private and public stakeholders to unlock market constraints and leverage innovation and technology to build inclusive digital economies that serve the sustainable development goals.  FinTecHub embodies the partnership approach to catalyse the ecosystem. We are excited to be one of the inaugural partners and are committed to leverage our unique, blended finance toolkit to support the fintech ecosystem.”

Tesi Rusagara, Managing Director of Kigali Innovation City, comments: “The Kigali Innovation City’s mandate is to nurture Rwanda’s innovation ecosystem by convening key actors locally and globally. FinTecHub is one of many efforts to strengthen synergies between industry, research, academia, and entrepreneurship. We are committed to creating an enabling environment in Rwanda for scalable innovation and we are excited to partner with Cenfri given their thought leadership on innovation ecosystems and financial inclusion.”

Doubell Chamberlain, Managing Director of Cenfri, comments: “We are very excited about the opportunity to provide direct and practical support to the FinTecHub. At Cenfri, we believe innovation ecosystems fulfil a core role in enabling a digital Africa in which all individuals can flourish. It is  important to understand the enablers and inhibitors of such innovation ecosystems, and FinTecHub is founded on this understanding. We have a long history with many of the partners involved in this collaborative initiative and look forward to deepening our working relationship with this initiative.”

Cenfri endeavours to collaborate with FinTecHub by:

  • Providing training and technical assistance to the fintech cohorts
  • Sharing knowledge (through documents and virtual engagements) on topics relevant to the Rwanda fintech ecosystem
  • Facilitating conversations with a wide variety of stakeholders to catalyse action for impact in the Rwanda fintech ecosystem

This commitment from the various local stakeholders that are involved, and FinTecHub’s strong underpinning in research on the barriers to the ecosystem, will enable FinTecHub and Cenfri to develop richer insights and expand the reach of their impactful work across the ecosystem. It builds on Cenfri’s existing commitments to supporting innovation ecosystems, through our ecosystem mapping efforts, the DataHack4FI, and our other partnerships with the likes of the Africa Fintech Network and Findexable.

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