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A high-speed, high-excitement pitching event at AlphaCode last night saw five black-owned South African fintech startups walk away with R1-million each in funding. A surprise additional R1-million was allocated to Heritage Capital Partners by Royal Bafokeng Holdings. By Staff Writer

The Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) pitching event is an initiative of Merrill Lynch South Africa and AlphaCode which seeks to identify and reward high potential South African fintech entrepreneurs to catalyse the development of fintech in South Africa.

The event was run for the second time this year in collaboration with AlphaCode, a Rand Merchant Investments club for fintech entrepreneurs.

Top honours were awarded to five of the eleven black-owned fintech businesses. These five become AlphaCode platinum members which entitles them to office space and one year of incubation.

The winning fintech startups were:

  • E-factor, an online marketplace that allows small and medium sized businesses to sell their invoices so that they can obtain payment within 24 hours
  • Imafin, established in 2013, a specialist payment and commercial credit firm driven by innovation on traditional payments models.
  • Invoiceworx, an online platform that enables SMEs to save time and money when applying for credit from financial institutions.
  • Stokfella, which offers a digital platform for stokvels to manage their day to day affairs with ease.

During the event, the eleven contestants had just five minutes to pitch their businesses with a couple of minutes set aside for questions. Judges included Senior Investment Executive at Rand Merchant Investments, Dominique Collett, CEO of Merrill Lynch South Africa, Richard Gush, Albertina Kekana, CEO of Royal Bafokeng Holdings and Sonja Sebotsa, principle partner at Identity Partners.

Dominique Collett said she was extremely impressed by the energy and calibre of all the contestants, “The winning businesses were selected because of their ability to meet our judging criteria which included their pricing and revenue-generating models and how delivery and implementation would occur.”

Richard Gush said, “South Africa has the potential to become a fintech centre of excellence as it has an incredibly advanced financial services infrastructure. This provides an empowering context for emerging fintech entrepreneurs and financial technology innovators to develop solutions that meet the needs of different communities, many of whom have previously had little access to safe and reliable financial services.”

Says Collett: “AlphaCode was established a year ago to drive and support innovation in financial services and to fast-track financial inclusion in our society. Our partnership with Merrill Lynch South Africa allows the mainstream financial services sector to help support emerging fintech innovators.”

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