Blockchain Startup Wala Wins 2018 Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion

Tulaa and RecyclePoints Named Runners-up in the US$200,000 Prize Competition

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The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship  at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with support from the Mastercard Foundation), has named South African startup Wala as the grand prize winner of the 2018 Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion. The announcement came during the Open Mic Africa Summit  in Nairobi on August 29th, 2018.

“Innovators like Wala and the other Zambezi finalists are vital to driving a more inclusive prosperity”, said Georgina Campbell Flatter, the Executive Director of the MIT Legatum Center. “We’re excited to work with them.”

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“We are immensely proud to support the Zambezi Prize,” said Ann Miles, Director of Thought Leadership and Innovation at the Mastercard Foundation. “It shines a bright light on the creativity and talent of Africa’s young people, and the thinking they bring to financial inclusion. This is making real differences in the lives of poor people on the continent.”

“Innovators like Wala and the other Zambezi finalists are vital to driving a more inclusive prosperity”, said Georgina Campbell Flatter, the Executive Director of the MIT Legatum Center. “We’re excited to work with them.”

“We’re especially grateful to the Zambezi Prize Board, our global ecosystem collaborators, and the 40 African tech leaders who served as Zambezi judges and whose dedication to entrepreneurship and financial inclusion helped us discover this new generation of innovators”.

Wala is a mobile financial platform geared toward consumers operating outside the formal financial system. Using a blockchain system, it enables zero-fee, instant, borderless micro-payments for emerging market consumers. Through the Wala platform, users receive a cryptocurrency wallet and can access transactional banking, remittances, loans, and insurance.

Wala was chosen from among 10 finalists for the Zambezi Prize. All of them joined leaders from the MIT and African tech ecosystems for the 2018 MIT Open Mic Africa Summit   at Strathmore University in Nairobi. The Summit, featuring cohort-building, panel discussions, and MIT hackathon exercises, culminated in the announcement of Wala as the US$100,000 grand prize winner. Tulaa  (Kenya) and RecyclePoints (Nigeria) each won US$30,000 as runners-up.

The seven remaining finalists won US$5,000 each. They are Apollo Agriculture (Kenya), Bidhaa Sasa (Kenya), FarmDrive (Kenya), Farmerline (Ghana), LanteOTC (South Africa), MaTontine (Senegal), and OZÉ  (Ghana).

An additional US$5,000 will be awarded to an African entrepreneur—to be named later this year—who has demonstrated great leadership in unifying Africa’s tech ecosystem.

All 10 Prize finalists will attend the Zambezi boot camp on the MIT campus during the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) gala in Boston on November 5-9. As the Zambezi Prize winner, Wala also won the IIC Africa Prize in the Financial Inclusion category. The startup will join the three other winners of the IIC Africa Prize, to represent Africa at the IIC global tournament which awards over $1 million in prizes. The IIC event is part of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy  and, along with the MIT Legatum Center’s initiatives, exemplifies MIT’s global commitment to the future of work.

The Zambezi Prize and the Open Mic Africa tour are pillars of the Legatum Center’s Africa Strategy – a global vision to leverage MIT’s ecosystem to improve lives through principled entrepreneurial leadership. The Legatum Center’s Africa strategy is also a core component of the MIT-Africa initiative which encompasses the Institute’s global priority for collaboration with the continent.

Ali Diallo, Global Programs Manager at the MIT Legatum Center, emphasized the scale of collaboration necessary to execute initiatives like Open Mic Africa and the Zambezi Prize.

For more information on the Zambezi Prize and on the 2018 Open Mic Africa Summit in Nairobi, visit http://www.Zambezi.mit.edu/ or contact the MIT Legatum Center at [email protected].

About Richard Kastelein

Founder and publisher of industry publication Blockchain News (EST
2015), a partner at ICO services collective Token.Agency
($750m+ and 90+ ICOs and STOs), director of education company
Blockchain Partners
(Oracle Partner) and ICO event organiser
at leading industry event CryptoFinancing (Europe's first ICO event now
branded Tokenomicon)
– Vancouver native Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher,
innovation executive and entrepreneur. He sits on the advisory boards
of some two dozen Blockchain startups and has written over 1500
articles on Blockchain technology and startups at Blockchain News and
has also published pioneering articles on ICOs in Harvard Business Review and Venturebeat.  Irish Tech News put him in the top
10 Token Architects in Europe.

Kastelein has an Ad Honorem - Honorary Ph.D. and is Chair Professor of
Blockchain
at China's first Blockchain University in Nanchang
at the Jiangxi Ahead Institute of Software and Technology. In 2018 he
was invited to and attended University of Oxford's Saïd Business School
for Business Automation 4.0 programme. Chevalier (Knight) - Ordre des
Arts et des Technologies at Crypto Chain University and an Advisory
Board Member of International Decentralized Association Of
Cryptocurrency And Blockchain (IDABC) as well as Advisory Board Member
at U.S. Blockchain Association. Over a half a decade experience judging
and rewarding some 1000+ innovation projects as an EU expert for the
European Commission's SME Instrument programme as a startup assessor
and as a startup judge for the UK government's Innovate UK division.

Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on Blockchain
technology in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels,
Bucharest, Dubai, Eindhoven, Gdansk, Groningen, the Hague, Helsinki,
London (5x), Manchester, Minsk, Nairobi, Nanchang, San Mateo, San
Francisco, Santa Clara (2x), Shanghai, Singapore (3x), Tel
Aviv,  Utrecht, Venice,  Visakhapatnam, Zwolle and
Zurich.  His network is global and extensive.

He is a Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) whose writing career has
ranged from the Canadian Native Press (Arctic) to the Caribbean
& Europe. He's written occasionally for Harvard Business
Review, Wired, Venturebeat, The Guardian and Virgin.com, and his work
and ideas have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German and
French. A journalist by trade, an entrepreneur and adventurer at heart,
Kastelein's professional career has ranged from political publishing to
TV technology, boatbuilding to judging startups, skippering yachts to
marketing and more as he's travelled for nearly 30 years as a Canadian
expatriate living around the world. In his 20s, he sailed around the
world on small yachts and wrote a series of travel articles called,
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Seas' travelling by hitching rides on
yachts (1989) in major travel and yachting publications. He currently
lives in Groningen, Netherlands where he's raising three teenage
daughters with his wife and sailing partner, Wieke Beenen.

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