R16m for 8 disruptive financial services startups: apply for SA’s most prestigious programme

Whether you are currently working in a corporate or perhaps you’re already a fintech or financial services entrepreneur, AlphaCode Incubate could be the big break you’ve been waiting for. This year-long startup support initiative of Rand Merchant Investment Holdings (RMI), Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Royal Bafokeng Holdings seeks top applications that could disrupt the financial services sector and grow rapidly locally or internationally to create the next OUTsurance or Discovery.

The rewards are significant for the final eight businesses selected: a package valued at R2 million each including R1m in grant funding and R1 million in support services. This includes mentorship, monthly expert-led sessions, exclusive office space in Sandton, marketing, legal and other business support services as well as access to like-minded entrepreneurs, RMI’s extensive network of thought leaders, potential clients and capital.

Getting in is tough though. Last year more than 200 startups applied. The programme is for highly motivated South African entrepreneurs and those with potential for entrepreneurship, who want to change the face of financial services. Each business needs to be at least 51% black-owned and operating in the financial services space.

You could have a business or idea focusing on insurtech, data analytics, lending, savings and investments, blockchain or any other area of financial services. AlphaCode looks for strong entrepreneurial teams of two or more people with tech or financial services understanding and a business idea or model that they’ve validated a business case for, at least through some potential customer engagements. AlphaCode will also consider whether it can invest in this business over the longer term.

Says Andile Maseko, head of ecosystem development at AlphaCode, “Whilst the initial attraction is the money, we have had our previous participants say that they value the top rate mentorship and learnings they get even more. We’ve showcased key learning modules such as regulation in financial services, digital marketing basics and growth hacking with speakers from the Reserve Bank and Luno.”

The programme, which began four years ago, has disbursed R21 million in funding to 23 black-owned financial services businesses since its inception.
The winners last year included Yalu, a self-service credit life insurance platform which replaces a customer’s current policy with a more affordable, simpler and rewarding policy and Akiba Digital, a gamified savings tool that allows users to save towards their lifestyle goals and get rewarded for it.

Adrian Taylor, a founder of Jamii Cities, is a current participant on the Incubate programme. He says that, “The best part of Incubate is the access to some of the sharpest minds that challenged our thinking about fintech. We’re getting the chance to build our business and learn things that would have taken us years to discover. I would leave a corporate to do the programme – whether you succeed or fail, it will give you perspectives very few jobs can.”
Dhanyal Davidson, another participant and founder of Prospa, comments that, “An MBA is seen as the pinnacle of academic success and was something I planned to do. The programme with AlphaCode has proven to be something more than that. The calibre of the workshop presenters, the advice, the experience of the mentors and the real-time startup lifecycle make for rapid learning on the job.”

Applications close on Tuesday, 18 June 2019. Thereafter there will be a rigorous selection process involving a business reviews as well as a bootcamp for those shortlisted. The final shortlist of top 16 applicants will stand a chance to impress a judging panel on 1 August 2019 in order to secure one of the winning programme slots.

Apply at www.alphacode.club/incubate