#SADCInnovation and Investment Challenge Winning Ventures

Digital Diamond

Digital Diamond, is an Online & Offline Tech Identity Solution that works both with and without a smartphone for cross country KYC, Identity Authentication and Financial institution access.

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MoneyChaps is a mobile based data driven technology solution that offers business, groups and personal financial management tools to keep track of income, expenses and savings. Users are educated and guided to ensure that they have the necessary knowledge to make better financial decisions.

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Phema Agri

Phema Agri is a Pan – African digital agriculture investment company that uses and leverages modern technology tools to de-risk agriculture value chain and facilitates financing for smallholder farmers in Africa.

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SADC Innovation Challenge Regional Finale Judges

Samuel Otim

Trail Analytics

Nkosi Ncube

FinMark Trust

Petronella Tizora

FinMark Trust

Obert Maposa

FinMark Trust

Farai Muronda

FinMark Trust

Damola Owolade

FinMark Trust

Bongani Sithole

Founders Factory Africa

Angel Setumo

Letshego Holdings Group

Thomas Ringer

Start-up Mentor

Postar Chikaoneka


Sasha Vieira

Standard Bank Mozambique

Webinars Relevant content

Digital Diamond

Quick introduction to Digital Diamond - Thematic winnner - Digital Financial Identity


Quick introduction to MoneyChaps - Thematic winnner - Woman and Savings

Phema Agri

Quick introduction to Phema Agri - Thematic winnner - SMME Financing

Masterclass with Charles Ojei

SADC Innovation and Investment Challenge ft. Charles Ojei C.E.O. of HYBR Group

Masterclass with Craig McLeod

SADC Innovation and Investment Challenge ft. Craig McLeod

Masterclass with Tomi Davies

SADC Innovation and Investment Challenge ft. Tomi Davies

Finale Webinar

SADC Innovation and Investment Challenge Finale Webinar

Mozambique finals

SADC Innovation Challenge - Mozambique finals

Zambia finals

SADC Innovation Challenge - Zambia finals

Lesotho finals

SADC Innovation Challenge - Lesotho finals

South African finals

SADC Innovation Challenge - South African finals

Malawi finals

SADC Innovation Challenge - Malawi finals

Webinar 8, Data driven webinar series 3

Scaling sustainably by Samuel Otim.

Webinar 7, Data driven webinar series 2

Putting it all together, going to market by Samuel Otim.

Webinar 6, Data driven webinar series 1

Innovating with the right mindset by Samuel Otim.

Webinar 5, Product-market fit

Learn more about designing scalable products that satisfy market needs. #SADCInnovation.

Webinar 4, Data driven innovation

Learn more about finding the opportunities in innovation and data science with Samuel Otim & #SADCInnovation.

Webinar 3, Fundamentals of creating successful products and businesses

Peter Nawa’s expertise is in identifying suitable business models, prototyping using the lean approach, analysing the financial viability of the startup and being analytical about how the pieces of a business fit together.

Access to Services

An introduction to the problem statement by Head, FinMark Trust Zimbabwe - Nkosi Ncube Moderator - Nicola Schoeman

SMME Financing

An introduction to the problem statement by SMME specialist, FinMark Trust - Obert Maposa Moderator - Robert Jones

Women and Savings

An introduction to the problem statement by gender specialist, FinMark Trust - Petronella Tizora Moderator - Dumisani Dube

Financial Identity

An introduction to the problem statement by Head, FinMark Trust Zimbabwe - Nkosi Ncube Moderator - Kgomotso Tolamo

Tech-enabled innovation

Panelists Botlhale AI and Bongani Sithole explain how too leverage technology to develop solutions for the SADC innovation and investment challenge.

InvestXD: Putting women’s investment needs at the centre

InvestXD created a digital investment platform for women and youth.

AgriGO: A farmer’s tool to grow greater financial harvest

DataHack4FI Rwanda winners, AgriGO, aims to tackle financial vulnerability of smallholder farmers.

A-Trader: Promoting investment and savings with robo-advisor services

Targeting beginner and experienced stock market traders with a digital investment platform.

Bizfundi: Improving credit access through tailored business advice

Targeting small businesses with personalised business advice and predicting successful loan applications

Exuus: Using data to demystify savings groups’ black boxes

See how this Datahack4FI team is digitising savings groups in Rwanda

Inclusive: Identification that removes barriers to financial inclusion

DataHack4FI in-country winners from Ghana offer a multiple-database-verification API solution to identity verification.

ABOUT The SADC Innovation Challenge Process

The challenge will be implemented over a 16-week period, with 8-10 teams selected per country. Four winners will be selected from each country, one for each thematic challenge, to participate in the Grand Finale to be held in in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

You can expect to develop your data science and entrepreneurial skills through a series of webinars and bootcamps, including a free online course in design thinking from IBM Digital – Nation Africa. Successful applicants will receive support and mentorship through a dedicated Slack channel.

What you can expect from the SADC Innovation Challenge

The SADC Innovation Challenge provides you with support from mentors and sector experts, through a series of a series of webinars and design bootcamps. Country winners will be awarded cash prizes and incubation support, as well as sponsorship to participate in the Grand Finale.

Young innovators from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa , Tanzania, Zambia are invited to apply. Participants are tasked with developing innovations that address four key challenges that represent practical community problems, leveraging data and data analytics to design scalable solutions.

The solutions developed by the winners of the SADC Innovation Challenge will receive incubation towards further development, commercialization and operationalisation.

Identify and surface

Identify and surface early stage innovations that are relevant to financial inclusion within the 4 thematic areas: SMME Financing, Digital Financial Identity, Women and Savings, and Access to Basic Services


Skills development

Skills development through webinars, online courses and bootcamps.


Regional data innovation

Support data driven innovation in the region



Support data driven innovation in the region


Applications are now closed

Thematic challenge descriptions 1. SMME Financing

Very few Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprise (SMMEs) are able to get access to credit and other financial products from the formal financial sector and banks. The bulk of their funding is received informally, through family or lenders. Alternative service providers, such as Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), Savings and Credit Co-operative Societies (SACCOs), and Mobile Money Institutions are emerging to cater for this market. These providers are arguably smaller, more flexible, and have a better understanding of the sector. Different operating and business models can help to more efficiently and effectively serve SMMEs business and finance needs. However, SMMEs are considered high risk by financial service providers (FSPs) and face further barriers to accessing traditional FSP products and services. This presents a market opportunity to develop products and services for primary and secondary agro-businesses, which make up the bulk of SMMEs in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), together with wholesalers and retailers.

Developing a solution that addresses SMME’s unique financial needs (sustainability, liquidity, payments, and resilience), with a mind to alternative funding business and operating models is, therefore, key to unlocking the contribution of SMMEs. This solution can be designed/tailored to be a standalone product or integrated into other existing solutions and channels, such as business registration, input-based lending, or value chain finance.

In the wake of the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, SMMEs have become key in sustaining livelihoods in the SADC region. At the same time, the crisis makes SMMEs more vulnerable, threatening their sustainability and success. It has become more apparent that issues around informality make it difficult to assist SMMEs, which are largely informal, but also to identify those that need relief. Relief for SMMEs, ranging from access to capital, debt restructuring, and employee benefits, has largely been extended to formal SMMEs. Solutions garnered from the SADC Innovation Challenge will thus be key in addressing their access to finance needs (notably resilience and liquidity) during the current economic crisis in the region.

2. Digital Financial Identity

Across the continent, many people are still denied access to basic services because of a lack of identity documents. This issue has become worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it is increasing the negative consequences of not having a reliable ID – primarily among the poor. When you consider that virus containment measures, like contact tracing and the quarantining of infected individuals, are impossible without widespread digital IDs, the extent of this problem becomes obvious. A universal ID could also help to ensure that all individuals have equal access when healthcare systems are distribute medication and, ultimately, a vaccine to combat the virus. FMT believes in full financial inclusion across the globe and advocates for a scenario where no one is denied a bank account because of the lack of an identity document, as this can be addressed through a Digital Financial Identity. In 2017, FMT undertook a Digital ID landscape across the SADC and the findings showed that a Digital Financial Identity across the SADC is an initiative that should be looked at fully by financial regulators as a means of addressing the identification challenges on financial inclusion.

As a result of increased regional growth through the years, there are rising forces pointing to the case for a regional digital financial ID in the SADC. These include:
  • Increasing digitisation of financial services and the growth of e-commerce.
  • Progress of regional electronic payment arrangements.
  • Indicators that public policy drivers favour a digital ID.
This presents an opportunity to develop solutions that address the possible use cases for a digital financial ID in the SADC region.

3. Women and Savings

Financial Inclusion for poor rural populations has been an ongoing challenge in Southern Africa. About 45 million people in the SADC region are financially excluded, the majority being women. The existence of informal financial services in the form of savings groups has, however, proved to be an effective way of expanding financial inclusion to vulnerable and marginalised communities that are unserved and underserved by traditional banking. These savings groups are predominantly made up of women in the same community who save into a central fund to cater for household needs and emergencies. Apart from enabling regular savings and facilitation of access to loans, savings groups promote social cohesion and provide spaces for community members to learn how to manage their personal finances. The lack of financial education and capability has been identified as one of the major barriers to financial inclusion. Savings groups can, therefore, act as instruments for delivering financial education to women and vulnerable communities.

FMT recognizes that savings groups are increasingly improving the livelihoods of many rural poor women and contribute to development efforts towards poverty reduction, improved education and health outcomes, and women empowerment in the SADC region. FMT, therefore, supports innovations, research, and women economic empowerment interventions and programmes to support linkages between savings groups and formal institutions.

Although there is clear evidence of the benefits of savings groups to members and communities, savings groups’ systems often lack control mechanisms to reduce the risks of loss of savings. The functioning of savings groups can be improved by leveraging digital technology through digital savings, which: automate pay-out to address manual calculation inaccuracies, eliminate the risk of cash theft, and provides clear tracking of transactions. This challenge requires the development platforms that allow for peer-to-peer savings, tracking and management of savings, and credit scoring, without removing the social interactions of women.

4. Access to Basic Services

Over the years, FMT and other developmental organisations have done much work to promote financial inclusion and to ensure that all adults have access to financial services. Behind this need lies the drive to ensure that this will also make it easier for the poor to access basic services. Financial inclusion is one of the key pillars through which access to basic services can be achieved. Basic services are those necessary to ensure the full social inclusion of people in society, to meet basic human needs and eradicate poverty. Differences in the quality of life between and within African regions, is largely determined by the availability of basic services, such as water, sanitation, healthcare, education, and electricity. Large segments of the population in the SADC region still lack access to basic public goods, such as piped water and sewage facilities. Most people live in places that are historically underserved, geographically isolated, and economically marginal. Despite progress throughout the region to improve access to basic services, a considerable amount of work remains to achieve universal access to these standard of living basics.

Digitalisation has proven to be a key tool both for increased access to financial services as and basic services. Solutions that are linked to basic services will help the poor to see value in financial services and improve livelihoods throughout the SADC region. The challenge is relevant to the work being done by FMT as it promotes the eradication of poverty while at the same time promoting the use of financial products. It is through developing solutions like these that financial inclusion becomes relevant to all human beings and increases account use.

Develop a digital solution that broadens access to basic services for the poor in water, education, electricity (or energy), sanitation or health care, through the use of mobile or other digital payment systems accessible to the poor.

"Failure is an option here. If things are not failing you are not innovating."

Elon Musk