ONE BY ONE, the young entrepreneurs walked in, eager to make an impression in front of the panel put together by Absa and Mastercard Foundation. These entrepreneurs, mostly from the Fintech and Agritech sectors in Ghana, had been allocated presentation slots of 15 minutes each to make the pitch of their lives.
The digital screen for the presentation loomed large in the meeting room on the third floor of the Absa Mastercard Foundation offices at Ridge in Accra. The projector rays blinked, and the PowerPoint slides were cued and ready to roll. This was the scene of the Absa-Mastercard Foundation Fintech-Agritech Support Programme pitch some weeks ago.
For the past three years, Absa Bank and the Mastercard Foundation have continued a formidable partnership, to create impact in key sectors of Ghana’s economy, including SMES, Fintechs, Agritechs and other complementary sectors. The initiative is under the sponsorship of the Absa Mastercard Foundation partnership, designed to support young startups that are innovating and creating new things to enhance the growth of Ghana's economy.
The programme provides a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs, in search of financing, to plead their cases before five tough-talking business and corporate executives. The programme has a GH¢2.5million support available to businesses in the Fintech and Agritech industry to build their capacity and make them viable in the medium to long term.
The GH¢2.5million support also targets businesses that are either at their ideation or up-scaling stage, including businesses using technology to improve financial services like lending, payments, insurance, investments, and education (financial literacy). To qualify, businesses must be more than three years-old, tech-savvy and with owners who are between 24 – 40 years.
The pitch session was an interesting spectacle. It reflected an overall sense of excitement and eye-opening developments happening in Ghana’s dynamic startup space. The presenters were grilled and had to thoroughly justify claims of efficiency, budget, end-to-end potency of their products and whether they had passed the Bank of Ghana regulatory sandbox test.
"We are a strong believer in the potential of young Ghanaian businesses – including technology startups, MSMEs, others – to drive sustainable economic growth. We consider it an important social obligation to support and provide the type of capital appropriate for these businesses and we are excited to have a willing partner in Mastercard Foundation," said Audrey Abakah, Head of SME Banking at Absa.
The potential of digital technology and innovation to transform lives and create an enabling environment are at the heart of this initiative.
Innovative ideas sold during the pitching session, included digitalised farming, eliminating manual labour and using robotics to enhance productivity and multitasking. Others included precision agriculture, drone technology in agricultural spraying (organic fertilizer), and many more.
The Absa/Mastercard Fintech-Agritech programme is a game-changer in Ghana. It is proof that technology can be a powerful tool for transformation and should be harnessed to drive sustainable economic growth and empower the youth. The future of Ghana's economy is in the hands of these young entrepreneurs, and they must be supported and encouraged to reach new heights.
“We find this relationship with Absa bank very rewarding and impactful. It aligns perfectly with our ethos as a foundation mandated to create change across sub-Saharan Africa,” said Rosy Fynn, Country Director of the Mastercard Foundation.
In a world where innovation and technology are driving growth and development, the Absa/Mastercard Foundation Fintech-Agritech Support programme is an industry leading initiative that is paving the way for young entrepreneurs to revolutionise the sector and transform the Ghanaian economy.