Kenyan fintech, Koa among 5 finalists to pitch for $100k at Startup Battlefield 2021

Ejike Kanife

Kenyan startup, Koa, is one of only five startups from around the world that qualified for the finals of the Startup Battlefield at Disrupt 2021. The fintech startup is Africa’s only representative in the finals.

The startup joins American interactive video company, Adventr, and Cellino, a startup from Cambridge which combines AI and machine learning to democratize access to cell therapies.

Other startups in the finals include Nth Cycle, an American recycling startup that uses an electro-extraction system to recycle waste into valuable minerals like nickel, cobalt and manganese, and Tatum, a blockchain company from Czech Republic.

The startups emerged successfully from a pack of 20 companies from around the world which pitched at the preliminary round of TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield.

Over the last two days, 20 companies took the stage in TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield in a bid to win $100,000 and the Startup Battlefield Cup. They had six minutes to present their pitch decks and answered six minutes of questions from noted investors and executives.


Koa is helping Africans make better money choices

Africa’s only representative in the lineup is Koa, a fintech startup based in Nairobi, Kenya. Founded in 2020 by Alexis Roman, Bubunyo Nyavor and Delila Kidanu, the startup is helping Kenyans make better money choices by offering them a broader array of digital services.

Kenyan fintech, Koa among 5 finalists to pitch for $100k at Startup Battlefield 2021
Koa recently partnered with financial services leader Britam Asset Managers to help young Kenyans save their money
Image: Kenyan Wall Street

East African countries like Kenya and Uganda are renowned for their dependence on Mobile money services like M-Pesa, Mobikash and Airtel Money. These countries and services more than anything else made sub-Saharan Africa the mobile money capital of the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa gained 79 million new mobile money users in 2020, with East Africa responsible for about 53% of it, despite having fewer service operators than the West African region. It recorded 293 million total registered accounts and $273 billion in value.

However, while the operators offer basic services like cash transfer and receipt, they failed to provide other more impactful financial services like savings.

According to Techcrunch, Kenyans saved up to $13 billion in 2020 with more than 70% of them using informal saving groups and cooperatives.

Koa CEO, Alexis Roman said a lot of Kenyans weren’t content with the kind of financial services they were getting as most of them are manual and therefore tedious, expensive and error-prone.

“It was shocking that when we spoke to people, and they told us their experience in their cooperatives and savings groups, we wondered why there aren’t better alternatives. People often use access as a keyword when describing the problem behind how financial services are used. But for us, we think access is not the problem; it is how easy or efficient it is to access the service. It was this obvious observation that made us start Koa,” he said.

The fintech currently offers just savings, where users can make deposits without hassles and get interest on their savings. The startup, however, plans to expand its services to include banking and finance-as-a-service tools for other startups to launch fintech products at a faster pace.

Ultimately, Koa plans to become a digital banking platform that offers other services like lending and investments. Since launching the beta version of its app in April 2021, Koa has amassed around 5,000 users.

We wish the African flagbearers success as the team guns for the cash prize of $100,000 at Techcrunch Startup Battlefield at Disrupt 2021.

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