In 2015, RBH announced a collaboration with Rand Merchant Investment Holdings (RMI) to drive the AlphaCode Incubate initiative. The initiative aims to build a pipeline for South Africa’s investment community in the fintech space, particularly angel investors who are ready to invest in and support these black-owned start-ups.
Over the last four years AlphaCode has identified and rewarded high-potential, innovative entrepreneurs, to boost the development of fintech and financial services in South Africa. Since inception the programme has disbursed R21.5 million in funding to 23 black-owned financial services businesses.
In August 2019, eight high-potential fintech start-ups were awarded R2 million each in entrepreneurial packages, R1 million in cash and R1 million worth of mentorship. The winning firms are less than two years old and at least 51% owned by black South Africans. More than 200 start-ups applied to participate in the initiative with 12 finalists getting a chance to pitch their businesses to a panel of judges at the final pitch evening.
As part of the process several judges asked the contestants a series of questions ranging from the viability of their business idea and how they intend generating revenue. The 2019 programme included a selection boot camp to help judges get a better understanding of the entrepreneurs and their ideas prior to selecting the finalists. 2019 also saw an increase in the number of female-led startups applying for the programme, there are four female co-founded startups in the top 12 and three in the final six. There was also a stronger focus this year on alternative forms of lending
Founded by Nicky Swartz and Lorna McLaren, is a group-based micro-working capital finance platform for female informal traders. It is a saving and credit solution which builds a financial and credit history for informal traders, in that way driving inclusion as well as more sustainable businesses.
Founded by Nchila Mokoena, Popo Sechele, Thulo Sechele and Ruben Engelbrecht is a free interactive application, that facilitates and educates on the four fundamentals of financial literacy.
We are particularly encouraged to see many of the businesses solving problems in the township economy, which are issues that have been generally ignored by corporates. Many of the participants in the programme are part of these communities and deeply understand the issues these communities face.RBH and RMI are encouraged by the programme and how it continues to develop fintech, particularly in areas where it is needed most.