Giving Compass’ Take:
• TechCrunch reports on Digital Financial Services Lab, an incubator (backed by the Gates Foundation) looking to bring financial technology to sub-Saharan Africa.
• Among the solutions being funded is a peer-to-peer payment system that integrates multiple mobile currencies and a startup that connects female entrepreneurs to financial resources. Are these initiatives sustainable? How can others emulate DFS Lab’s model?
Entrepreneurs have it rough in Africa, India, Pakistan — places where VC cash doesn’t fall from the sky and necessary infrastructure like reliable banking and broadband can be hard to come by. But companies grow and thrive nevertheless in these rugged environments, and DFS Lab is an incubator focused on connecting them with the resources they need to go global.
The company was founded, and funded, on the back of a $4.8 million grant from the Gates Foundation, which of course is deeply concerned with tech-based solutions for well-being all over the world. Its name, Digital Financial Services Lab, indicates its area of focus: fintech. And anyone can tell you that sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most interesting places in the world for that.
This week DFS Lab is announcing a handful of new investments — modest ones on the scale companies are used to in Silicon Valley, but the money is only a small part of the equation. Investment comes at the end of a longer process, the most valuable of which may be the week-long sprint DFS Lab does on the ground, helping solidify ideas into products, or niche products into products at scale.
The relative lack of VCs and angel investors puts early-stage companies at risk and can discourage the most motivated entrepreneur, so the program is aimed at getting them over the hump and connected to a network of peers.
Read the full article about how DFS Lab is helping bring more fintech to the developing world at TechCrunch.
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