Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone FinTech Challenge Finalists Announced

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone FinTech Challenge Finalists Announced

November 16 , 2017
Freetown, SIERRA LEONE - 

After a period of selection and voting, the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) in collaboration with Financial Sector Deepening Africa (FSD Africa), UNCDF’s Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P), with support from USAID and the Sida-funded Last Mile Trust Fund, will today announce the finalists of the Sierra Leone FinTech Challenge 2017.

Commenting on the challenge, Ahmed Dermish, the Ecosystem Specialist, Digital Finance at UNCDF’s MM4P said: “UNCDF commends BSL’s leadership in promoting innovations in digital finance and their commitment to support new service providers. We are excited to be a partner in this process and look forward to helping the BSL continue to shape the landscape of digital innovations in Sierra Leone.”

The announcement of the finalists comes at a time when the Government of Sierra Leone has identified access to financial services as a key pillar in the President’s Post Ebola Recovery Priority Plan.  Sierra Leone has a large number of licensed financial intermediaries. However, less than 15% of the adult population have access to financial services and 87% of the population are unbanked. Digital financial services have been identified as a key intervention area in the recently launched National Strategy for Financial Inclusion 2017 – 2020. The FinTech challenge is a strategic response needed to scale up outreach and design digital client-centric products.

The aim, successfully achieved was to encourage and catalyze the development of FinTech solutions that are useful and relevant to the people and businesses of Sierra Leone. Over 20 applications were received from various entrepreneurs in the country as well as from Kenya and Ghana. Three finalists have been selected and will each receive US$13,000 seed capital and access to the Regulatory Sandbox. This capital will help test designs, buy in expert support and clarify the business case. Up to two of the strongest fintech products and solutions will have the chance to win up to US$100,000 to pilot and scale-up in round two of the challenge.

The proposals were judged by representatives from FSD Africa, UNCDF MM4P, Bank of Sierra Leone and consumers’ group. Commenting on the finalists, one of the judges, Tamara Cook, the Head of Digital Innovations at FSD Kenya said: “The ideas submitted in the competition reflected fintech innovations from across the globe. The winners rose to the top because each addresses real problems that fintech solutions can help solve.”

It is expected that the challenge will foster collaboration between regulators, non-traditional market players, licensed financial institutions and other partners to pilot innovative products, services and solutions in Sierra Leone. With the improved financial access and usage, Sierra Leoneans and their businesses will have new tools to flourish. The FinTech Challenge 2017 has the potential to kick-start this process. 


The Finalists

1.DataPool - Credit Reference Services to non-bank Providers of credit.

“Check-Up” is a technology-based solution that helps non-bank providers of credit and credit-worthy consumers and borrowers in the informal and semi-formal sectors, to transact in a transparent and relatively low-risk manner. This solution is expected to increase credit-based commercial activities outside the banking sector. The product will allow providers of credit to give information on their debtors and their performance on their debts. It will also allow potential creditors to get reports on potential borrowers on their level of indebtedness and performance rating to inform their credit decisions.

2.Ace Ltd - App to track MSMEs’ (Micro, Small & Medium Businesses’) finances.

Ca$hr app is a simple and elegant tool for MSMEs to record business transactions. It has been specifically designed to fill the accounting needs of MSMEs in Sierra Leone, as current available options are inadequate (either too complicated, expensive, unreliable, or lack ability to analyze data in a meaningful way). The app functions as a point of sales and bookkeeping tool for business, whilst also aggregating these businesses’ data to track trends and give insight on the market.

3.Salone Microfinance & InvestED -  Smartphone-based entrepreneurship education program linked to microcredit via mobile money.

InvestED provides a platform for free phone-based training for low-income entrepreneurs. Learners who successfully complete curriculum in financial literacy and business skills – along with quizzes, surveys and chat interaction – qualify to apply for loans. Credit officers use a web dashboard to see loan applications and a creditworthiness rating provided through predictive analytics, and the tool allows them to execute disbursement, communicate with the borrower and manage the loan via mobile money. These drive the shared goals for customer empowerment, meaningful engagement and adoption of mobile money and digital financial services.


About UNCDF MM4P

Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) is a programme launched by UNCDF in partnership with the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation. MM4P provides support to digital financial services (DFS) in a selected group of least developed countries (LDCs) to demonstrate how the correct mix of financial, technical and policy support can build a robust DFS ecosystem that reaches low income people in LDCs. For more information about UNCDF MM4P visit:

Website: mm4p.uncdf.org 

Twitter: @UNCDFMM4P

LinkedIn: UNCDF MM4P

About Sida

Sida is a government agency working on behalf of the Swedish parliament and government, with the mission to reduce poverty in the world. Through our work and in cooperation with others, we contribute to implementing Sweden’s Policy for Global Development (PGU). For more information about sida visit:

Website: http://www.sida.se

Twitter: @Sida

LinkedIn: Sida

About FSD Africa

FSD Africa is a non-profit company which aims to increase prosperity, create jobs and reduce poverty by bringing about a transformation in financial markets in SSA and in the economies, they serve. It provides know-how and capital to champions of change whose ideas, influence and actions will make finance more useful to African businesses and households. It is funded by UK aid from the UK Government. For more information about FSD Africa’s activities and current updates follow our social media platforms:

Twitter: @FSDAfrica

Linkedin:  Financial Sector Deepening Africa (FSD Africa)

Website: www.fsdafrica.org

Email: joe@fsdafrica.org

For more information, please contact
Wycliffe Ngwabe
DFS Expert, Sierra Leone
Anna Ferracuti
Knowledge Management Consultant
Additional Information
Wycliffe Ngwabe
DFS Expert, Sierra Leone
Video

How DFS can be a gamechanger for the smallholder farmers of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

How DFS can be a gamechanger for the smallholder farmers of Sierra Leone

By Oswell Kahonde and T. Keyzom Massally
August 28 , 2017

Participants at the DFS for Smallholder Farmers event in Sierra Leone.

Freetown, SIERRA LEONE - 

When it comes to access to financial services, smallholder farmers in Sierra Leone face similar challenges as the 475 million smallholder farmers across the globe. They live far from brick-and-mortar branches and their risk profile often excludes them from formal financial services. Digital financial services (DFS) can play an important role in overcoming this problem. A workshop recently held in Freetown and hosted by the Government of Sierra Leone in partnership with the Better Than Cash Alliance and MM4P brought together key leaders from the public and private sectors, under the title ‘Building an Inclusive Digital Payments Ecosystem to deliver Transformative Financial Services to Smallholder Farmers in Sierra Leone.

“Smallholder farmers represent nearly 70 percent of our workforce” emphasized in his key note speech the Minister of Finance, Momodu Karbo. “It is for this 70 percent that advances in technology — and digital finance in particular — could drive a new era of more equitable gains in agricultural livelihoods”.

The strong commitment of the Government to transform the agricultural sector by harnessing the potential of DFS was emphasized in the opening speech of the Minister of Agriculture Prof. Monty Jones, who announced his Ministry will lead, in partnership with the Bank of Sierra Leone, the development of a focused Digital Financial Inclusion Strategy for Smallholder Farmers and set up a national Agricultural DFS Sub-Working group. The Strategy will contribute to delivery of the broader National Strategy for Financial Inclusion 2017-2020.

The workshop benefitted from the presence of smallholder farmers who spoke of the challenges they face daily. Foday Sillah, a farmer from the northern district of Koinadog, underscored the importance of access to finance for his community: “Smallholder farmers are the main suppliers of food in this country. But due to lack of access to finance, extension services and marketing support, we are unable to sustain our yields. That is why we now have to import rice from other countries”. The Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Dr Patrick Saidu Conteh, spoke of DFS and its “potential to reduce the country’s food annual import bill by half”.

Participants also called for better mobile networks and infrastructure for increasing access to markets and doing away with unfavorable subsidies. They also acknowledged the urgent need to strengthen consumer protection laws to promote greater confidence in DFS. Women, who make up the majority of the smallholder farmers, face even greater challenges and the need to revise land ownership and title laws to ensure greater access to funding was stressed as well. The Agriculture Minister, Prof. Jones, challenged digital financial services providers to design better solutions by understanding the needs, preferences, aspirations and behaviors of smallholder farmers.  

For Sierra Leone, a country recovering from the threat of Ebola and recent devastating floods, and with half of its population of 7 million considered food insecure, digital financial solutions (DFS) can make a difference. Developing an inclusive digital payments ecosystem, which was the agreed outcome of the workshop by the Government and the private sector, will certainly provide the rails to transform the agriculture sector of Sierra Leone. 

For more information, please contact
T. Keyzom Massally
Technical Specialist Digital Finance
Oswell T. Kahonde
Regional Lead - Africa
Additional Information
T. Keyzom Massally
Technical Specialist Digital Finance

Resources

Sierra Leone

TITLE AUTHOR DATE FILE
Digital Financial Services for Smallholder Farmers in Sierra Leone – What is the Opportunity? APEX Bank & UNCDF MM4P  08 Aug 2017  DOWNLOAD 
Overview of Digital Financial Services Ecosystem in Sierra Leone Bank of Sierra Leone  08 Aug 2017  DOWNLOAD
Global Agriculture Payments Landscape MM4P 08 Aug 2017  DOWNLOAD
Building a Digital Payments Ecosystem  Better Than Cash Alliance 08 Aug 2017  DOWNLOAD

 

Agenda

Sierra Leone

Time

Topic

Facilitator/Speaker

8:30 – 9:00

Registration

Master of Ceremony – Bank of Sierra Leone

9:00 – 9:10

Welcome Remarks

  • Deputy Governor, Bank of Sierra Leone  

 

9:10 – 9:30

Statements by:

  • Governor, Bank of Sierra Leone
  • Honourable Minister, Ministry of Finance & Economic Development

Dr. Patrick Conteh

Governor-Bank of Sierra Leone

Honourable Momodu L. Kargbo

Minister of Finance & Development

9:30 – 9:45

Keynote Speech

  • Honourable Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security

Honourable Prof. Monty Patrick Jones

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry & Food Security

9:45 – 10:00

Overview of Digital Financial Services for Smallholder Farmers in Sierra Leone – What is the opportunity? Objective:

  • Provide an overview of the country context of DFS for Smallholder Farmers in  Sierra Leone

 

Tenzin Keyzom Ngodup

UNCDF

 

Momodu Sesay

Apex Bank

10:00 – 10:20

Overview of the Digital Payments Ecosystem In Sierra Leone

Overview of Digital Payments Ecosystem in SL

Bank of Sierra Leone

 

10:20 – 10:50

Coffee/Tea Break

 

 

10:50 – 11:30

Global Agriculture Payments Landscape

Objective:

  • Lessons & Best Practices from other countries
  • Small groups exercise on identifying lessons from selected case studies.

MM4P/Alliance

11:30-12:15

Voices from the Field

Objective:

  • Hear from Farmers Groups one from each Province (4) on some of the challenges.

 

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Food Security/APEX Bank

12:15-1300

Barriers to Sustainable Agriculture-How Digital Payments can help

 

Objectives:

  • Break out Group discussion- identify the key barriers to SF sustainable agriculture in Sierra Leone
  • Explore how digital payments can assist in addressing the identified barriers

 

 

Alliance/MM4P

 

 

13:00 – 14:00

Lunch

 

1400-14:30

Continue Group work on barriers & Digital Payments Solutions

Alliance/MM4P

1430-1500

Presentation of outcomes from Group activity

Alliance/MM4P

1500-1600

Role of Key Stakeholders in Agriculture Digital Payments

Objective:

  • Discuss the roles of each key stakeholder in view of the identified barriers & proposed solutions.

Breakout Group discussion

  • Explore the role of Key Stakeholders:
    • Role of National Government,  MoFED, MoAFFS, & BSL
  • Explore Role of Development Partners & the Private Sector

Alliance/MM4P

4:00 – 4:30

Presentation of the Outcomes from the group discussions

 

4:30 – 4:55

Smallholder Digital Payments Strategy- Way Forward.

  • Framework of an Agriculture Digital Payments Strategy

Tenzin Ngodup

UNCDF

 

 

4:55 – 5:00

Thanks

 

DFS for Smallholder Farmers in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Bank Complex, Kingtom. 8th August 2017​, 8:30am – 5:00pm

Organizers

Ministry of Finance & Economic Development and Bank of Sierra Leone in partnership with Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, with support from the UNCDF-based Better Than Cash Alliance (Alliance) and MM4P.

Rationale

Digital financial services (DFS) are playing an increasingly central role in financial inclusion efforts globally. The Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL), recognizing DFS as a priority, highlighted it in its National Strategy for Financial Inclusion 2017 – 2020: “to enable financial services and delivery channels to leverage technology to design and deliver services for a diverse range of population including women, youth, rural-based population and MSMEs.” As part of the implementation of this priority, many initiatives are underway such as the creation of the DFS Working Group, the launch of the Sierra Leone FinTech Challenge 2017, and the Government to People (G2P) Payments Initiative. 

Recognizing agriculture and smallholder farmers as the backbone of the economy and source of livelihood for over 70% of the population, concerted efforts are also required to deliver the promise of digital financial services to this critical group and growth sector: agriculture.  “Agriculture is the mainstay of the rural populations and the most dominant of the country’s economic sectors followed by mining. Their distance from brick-and-mortar branches and risk profile have traditionally excluded them from access to formal financial services.

Relatively little is known about the financial services needs of the Sierra Leone agriculture sector, and the first step in reaching these clients successfully is to better understand their needs, preferences, aspirations and behaviours. With that knowledge and a robust digital payments ecosystem, the government, financial services providers, fintech companies and other stakeholders can develop and pilot more effective financial services and products designed to enhance the value proposition for value chain actors in general and smallholder farmers specifically. The focus will be on improving their risk management ability and lowering provider delivery costs through the use of technology. 

Workshop Overview

The Ministry of Finance & Economic Development recognises that the role of Government is central to lead and coordinate stakeholders, including leveraging their payments to the agriculture sector to build out the DFS ecosystem.  With support from the Better Than Cash Alliance and MM4P (UNCDF), the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development; the Bank of Sierra Leone and the Ministry of Agriculture are hosting an interactive workshop to explore the opportunities of building a robust digital payments ecosystem that will deliver transformative financial services for the country’s smallholder farmers and the agriculture sector at large. 

Objectives of the Workshop

  1. Share lessons from other countries on how client-centric DFS for the agriculture value-chain and smallholder farmers can lead to cost-savings for government, greater outreach and impact, and transformative financial inclusion;
  2. Achieve greater clarity on the role of key stakeholders Government, including Ministry of Finance & Economic Development Bank of Sierra Leone and Ministry of Agriculture, Development Partners and the private sector;
  3. Explore the common challenges and solutions to building sustainable agriculture for smallholder farmers in Sierra Leone and how digital payments can be used to address the challenges.

Envisaged Outcomes from the Workshop

  1. Framework for development of a Digital Payments Strategy for the agriculture sector, with a special focus on smallholder farmers;
  2. Mapping of the roles of key government ministries and other stakeholders in building a digital payments ecosystem that supports agriculture sector.

 

In Details: 

 

 

SL FinTech Challenge 2017: Market Engagement Session

Sierra Leone

SL FinTech Challenge 2017: Market Engagement Session

Conditional & Unconditional Cash Transfers
July 04 , 2017

SL FinTech Market Engagement- Cash Transfer 2017

Freetown, SIERRA LEONE - 

The Sierra Leone FinTech Challange 2017 in partnership with the SL FinTech association is organizing a Market Enagement Session with a critical use-case for fragile markets- Conditional & Unconditional Cash Transers.

The event is scheduled on:

JULY 6, 2017

2:00 PM- 3:30 PM

ACDI/VOCA OFFICE at HILL STATION, OFF

REGENT RD

FinTechs and partner financial institutions will hear from Cash Transfer Working Group, a sub-set of the Food Security Sector using cash to address food seurity needs in Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone, over 3.5 million people are food insecure, without access to a sufficient amount of safe and nutritious food. This is also the volume of people that the Cash Transfer Groups face significant challenges in delivery cash-assistance to.

The distribution will provide valuable insights to the FinTechs and overall financial inclusion industry on designing and piloting tech-based solutions for reaching the vulnerable households in cost-effective, timely, and convenient ways which can also result in greater financial inclusion.

For more information, please contact
Tenzin Keyzom Ngodup
Technical Specialist Digital Finance
Additional Information
Tenzin Keyzom Ngodup
Technical Specialist Digital Finance
Related Documents
SL FinTech Market Engagement Session

Sierra Leone FinTech Challenge 2017

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone FinTech Challenge 2017

June 15 , 2017

The Sierra Leone FinTech Challenge 2017 is designed to encourage and catalyze the development of FinTech solutions that are useful and highly relevant to the people and businesses of Sierra Leone. 

Freetown, SIERRA LEONE - 

The Sierra Leone FinTech Challenge 2017 is an initiative by the Bank of Sierra Leone, in partnership with FSD Africa funded by U.K. aid from the U.K. government and UNCDF MM4P, with support from USAID and the Last Mile Trust Fund. The Challenge is designed to encourage and catalyze the development of FinTech solutions that are useful and highly relevant to the people and businesses of Sierra Leone. These innovations have the potential to introduce game-changing ingredients for expanding quality of access and usage of financial services in Sierra Leone, where over 87% of the population remain unbanked, especially those living in rural areas, women, young people, smallholder farmers and marginalized population groups.

The Bank of Sierra Leone, FSD Africa, funded by U.K. aid from the U.K. government, and UNCDF MM4P, with support from USAID and the Last Mile Trust Fund will provide financial rewards to the most promising ideas that expand financial inclusion. Specifically, the Bank of Sierra Leone, through its Youth Entrepreneurship Fund, FSD Africa and UNCDF MM4P will provide up to $13,000 seed capital to three winning concepts, including one youth award for a Sierra Leonean youth based in Sierra Leone through the Bank of Sierra Leone Youth Entrepreneurship Fund, as judged by a panel of FSD Africa, UNCDF MM4P, Bank of Sierra Leone and a Consumer Group representative. This capital will help test designs, buy in expert support and clarify the business case.

FSD Africa and UNCDF MM4P will then provide a $100,000 grant/debt mix to up to two winning finalists as judged by two panels – a consumer group panel, as well as an FSD Africa, UNCDF MM4P and Bank of Sierra Leone panel. This capital will be a contribution to the implementation of a pilot with clear targets.

The Bank of Sierra Leone will provide to all three finalist access to its newly launched Regulatory Sandbox – a safe space for unregulated financial sector innovations to grow under the guidance of the Bank of Sierra Leone staff and other specialists.

The Sierra Leone FinTech Challenge launched on June 15, 2017. To apply, please click on the application form.

To learn more, read the concept note and watch this video.

For more information, please contact
Tenzin Keyzom Ngodup
Technical Specialist Digital Finance
Anna Ferracuti
Knowledge Management and Communications Consultant
Additional Information
Tenzin Keyzom Ngodup
Technical Specialist Digital Finance
Video
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