Catalyst Fund gets $15M from J.P. Morgan, UK Aid to invest in 30 fintech startups across five emerging markets
Despite marked progress on reducing poverty over the past decades, nearly half of the world’s population lives on less than $5.50 a day. Catalyst Fund is a new venture fund on a mission to address the issue head-on. The fund was created in 2016 with support from J.P. Morgan and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to support entrepreneurs building solutions that improve the financial health of underserved communities.
Today, Catalyst Fund announced the launch of a new $15 million (£12 million GBP) commitment from UK aid and J.P. Morgan to advance financial inclusion for underserved people across the world. Over the next three years, the inclusive fintech accelerator will support the growth of 30 additional startups across five key emerging markets for fintech innovation: Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, India, and Mexico.
The announcement is taking place alongside the UK-Africa Investment Summit, which is being hosted by the Prime Minister and brings together businesses, governments and international institutions to showcase and promote the breadth and quality of investment opportunities across Africa. In addition to its expansion, Catalyst Fund is announcing its latest cohort of inclusive fintech startups, including:
- Pesakit – Kenya-based app for mobile money agents
- Kwara – Kenya-based online and mobile banking platform for Savings + Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs)
- Cowrywise – savings and investment tool targeted toward Nigerian youth
- Meerkat – South Africa-based debt counseling and savings product
- Farmart – India-based digital credit platform for farmers
- Spoon – South Africa-based savings and credit offering for women-owned, subsistence enterprises
With the additional investment from UK aid and J.P. Morgan, Catalyst Fund will support the development, growth and reach of 30 new fintech solutions to boost financial inclusion for an additional 1 million underserved people in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, India and Mexico.
“We’re thrilled to enter the next phase of this journey, building on lessons learned over the last four years, to position ourselves as the best partners for innovators building affordable, accessible and appropriate solutions designed to improve the financial health of underserved populations in emerging markets,” said Catalyst Fund Director Maelis Carraro. “The additional support from UK aid and continued support from J.P. Morgan will enable us to deepen our local footprints and ecosystem development role in each of our key markets, as well as welcome new partners that can support our mission.”
Catalyst Fund is focusing on these markets because of their vibrant fintech industries which house a significant number of early-stage startups across Africa, Latin America and Asia, and the need to address critical challenges faced by local underserved consumers.
“With the support of UK aid, Catalyst Fund is connecting more fintech start-ups in emerging African markets with expertise and investment from the UK and around the world,” said UK Minister for Africa Andrew Stephenson. “This innovative work is crucial to changing the lives of people around the world by providing access to basic services like pensions, lending and health care. The UK-Africa Investment Summit will create more partnerships that will boost investment, jobs and growth to benefit both people and businesses across Africa and the UK.”
The new support from UK aid, in addition to the continued support from J.P. Morgan and fiscal sponsor Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, will enable Catalyst Fund to build on learnings and insights from the organizations’ home markets in London and New York.
“Financial inclusion is the cornerstone of resilient communities and households,” said Carol Lake, Head of International Markets Philanthropy, J.P. Morgan. “At J.P. Morgan, as part of our $125 million global commitment to financial health, we are supporting the development and growth of innovative fintech solutions that can help underserved people across the world save, reduce their debt and improve their lives.”