SOUTH AFRICA – Ukheshe, a Small Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) digital banking platform provider, has been selected to join Mastercard Start Path, an exclusive startup engagement programme for later-stage scaling startups. 

Focused on financial inclusion, Ukheshe’s technology platform helps banks and telcos aim to provide affordable digital banking and payment services (BaaS).  

With client acquisition, onboarding and distribution costs that are a fraction of traditional merchant accounts, informal banking is now an accessible, untapped and lucrative growth market for banking partners.  

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest-growing investment zones for financial technology companies and is fast-becoming the flagship for mobile disruption. Driving this growth is the unbanked. 

“Mastercard’s ecosystem, customers and innovations will assist us to continue building one of the most significant transaction platforms on the continent,” Clayton Hayward, co-founder and CEO, Ukheshe, said. 

He added that Start Path will assist in further addressing the unbanked challenge faced by the continent. “We need to ensure that we are able to reach these unbanked individuals and better understand, as financial service providers, why they opt to stay in the informal sector.”  

According to Hayward, since launching Ukheshe 15 months ago, the plight for financial inclusion has become glaringly obvious. While progress has been made in terms of mobile money, it’s become imperative that people move beyond that and look into digital payment solutions. 

However, Hayward commented that Ukheshe has realised that financial inclusion goes beyond consumers and plays a far greater role in the lives of small-scale entrepreneurs.  

“It’s ultimately about inclusive economic growth and how digital financial services can play a major role in the increase of financial inclusion in Africa.” 

“After sourcing the best and brightest later stage startups from across the globe, we’re thrilled to welcome Ukheshe to the Start Path ecosystem of innovators,” said Amy Neale, senior vice-president, Start Path and Fintech, Mastercard. 

Mastercard and the Start Path startups are a global network of innovators building the future of commerce. Start Path is one of many renowned programs in Mastercard Accelerate, which provides a simple, single entry point to Mastercard’s wide fintech portfolio and access to everything startups need to grow quickly.  

As an industry-wide collaboration, Start Path convenes banks, merchants and startups to scale new technology solutions for the financial services and payments industries. The programme also provides startups with operational support, commercial engagement and the opportunity for strategic investment.