Catalyst Fund partners Mastercard Foundation, MEST to launch $4.3M Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator in Ghana

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By Busayo Onijala

Lagos, Oct. 19, 2020 Catalyst Fund is partnering MasterCard Foundation and Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) to launch a $4.3 million inclusive digital commerce accelerator in Ghana.

Ms. Maelis Carraro, the Managing Director, Catalyst Fund disclosed this in a statement on Monday to the News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN.

Carraro said that the expansion programme would build on lessons learnt in supporting inclusive fintech companies in emerging markets over the last five years.

Naija247news reports that Catalyst Fund is an accelerator that supports inclusive tech innovators, and facilitates the growth of innovation ecosystems in emerging markets.

The organisation was launched in 2016 to support startups offering accessible, affordable and appropriate solutions, across key markets in Africa, South Asia and Latin America.

Carraro said that six digital commerce and innovative companies would be selected to enable informal Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) reap the benefits of digital commerce, leveraging Catalyst Fund’s existing proven models.

The two-year programme would improve the livelihoods and financial resilience of MSEs in Ghana, that have been impacted by COVID-19, by enabling access to digital commerce platforms and access to market, she said.

She added that the aim of the programme was to impact the informal MSEs, in Ghana, who lacked access to financial safety nets in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Along with support and deep local expertise from the Mastercard Foundation and MEST, we aim to enable companies who are already tackling distinct problems in the digital. commerce space to better reach tge informal MSEs.

“This is for them to leverage digital rails to improve their financial resilience for the future,” she said.

Similarly, Mr. Greg Coussa, the Strategic Director at MEST said that the accelerator programme would provide an opportunity to work with Catalyst Fund to support scale-stage ventures strategically seeking to reach and serve the informal MSEs.

“The opportunity to partner with an experienced organisation like Catalyst Fund with support from the Mastercard Foundation, is in equal parts exciting and aligned with MEST’s scale strategy in Ghana, and beyond.
“Historically, MEST has focused on early-stage startup support and creation through our training programmes, seed fund, and incubator programmes,” he said.

Naija247news reports that MEST is an Africa-wide technology entrepreneur training programme, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for technology startups in Africa.

MEST, which provides critical skills in training, funding, support in software development, business, and communications to Africa’s tech entrepreneurs has hubs located in Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; Cape Town, South Africa; and Nairobi, Kenya.

Also, Nathalie Akon Gabala, the Regional Head for Western, Central and Northern Africa at the Mastercard Foundation, said that MSEs were the bedrock of Ghana’s economy.

She said that they were the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic which had put livelihoods and economic gains made over the years at risk.

“Accelerating access to markets through digitization and e-commerce platforms provides MSEs the opportunity not only to scale, but to strengthen their resilience at the other side of the pandemic,” she said.

Naija247news also reports that the Mastercard Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world.

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