Meet Jamii Africa: Microhealth Insurance Startup

Tanzanian micro-health insurance startup Jamii Africa has just raised US$750,000 seed funding for expanding across the country and into East and Central Africa.

Jamii launched in January 2015 and has built a mobile policy management platform that performs all the administration activities of an insurer, and allows users to access cheap insurance via USSD (starting at $1 per month).

Jamii plans to launch in five other African countries in 2017, and part of the plan will be to leverage their strategic partnerships with Jubilee Insurance and Vodacom Tanzania to enable mobile premium collection and a cashless facility from over 400 hospitals.

Interview with Lilian Makoi, Founder of Jamii

What inspired you to start Jamii?

Seeing the husband of my maid lose his life because they didn’t have $25 to access medical help, was a wake up call for me. I became curious to find out how big the problem was and how I could build a solution to cater for this underserved community: 50 million Tanzanians have no health insurance.

How did Jamii get to where it is today?

We started off with two people in the team, myself and Chris Rabi as my first angel investor. The team grew to 5 people while still struggling with company expenses and entrepreneurship experience. Our first break was forming a partnership with the biggest insurer in the country, Jubilee Insurance, and the biggest telecom, Vodacom Tanzania.

Our biggest break was getting into an accelerator program, the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars. It was there that we got to understand the value of our innovation, how to communicate it, build a financial model and test out as many strategies as we could.

This helped us go to market faster and the right way. In no time we were conversant with the startup world, started raising and grew valuable networks. This enabled us to raise our seed round $750k which now places us nicely for regional expansion.

How has the Barclays Techstars Accelerator helped shape the business?

The Barclays Accelerator equipped us with the required business design, management and growth skills we badly needed. Through the program we gained amazing connections and introductions that become investors and mentors. We were able to understand what kind of funding we needed, what percentage had to be donors, and what had to be a commercial raise. By associating with the brands Barclays Africa and Techstars, we’ve eased the journey to raising funds, and growing our partnerships.

How do you think as a startup you can get the most out of mentorship?

I strongly believe in mentors to be a vital part of a startup’s success. However, I personally believe it’s not so much about the number of mentors that you may have, but about the fit between the mentor and the company. Having a good fit allows you to make the most out of the relationship – build great partnerships, learn important lessons, and embrace opportunities.

How will you use the $750k and where do you hope to see the business by the end of 2018?

With our seed raise, we’ll take our marketing strategy to market and impact the lives of 720,000 by 2018. We have amazing partners, a great team and fantastic strategy that only needed funding to change the world!)

What advice do you have for startups who want to raise money?

Two words: great product!

Only Three Weeks Left to Apply to the Barclays Accelerator in Cape Town!

There are fewer than three weeks before applications close for the second class of the Barclays Accelerator programme, powered by Techstars in Cape Town, an initiative aimed at uncovering the next M-Pesa or Paypal by working with exceptional fintech entrepreneurs innovating Africa’s financial services industry.

The Barclays Accelerator is a three-month intensive startup accelerator programme, focused on innovations in financial services. This partnership between Barclays and Techstars brings two global networks together into one to offer entrepreneurs unprecedented access not only to a leading international bank but also to Techstars’ mentor and investor relationships.

With applications open to startups from anywhere in the world, 10 companies will ultimately be selected to participate in our 13-week programme in Cape Town. The selected startups will also be able to leverage our Barclays Techstars Accelerator programme offices in London, New York and Tel Aviv as we connect fintech powerhouses across the major finance capitals.

We work with startups across the financial services sphere – payments, lending, financial inclusion, digital banking solutions, trading, cyber security, data analytics, machine learning, cryptocurrency, insurance, wealth management and more.

We have seen significant growth in some of the companies we have assisted through our Accelerator programme in recent months. Jamii Africa, for example, has just raised $750,000 of external funding. These funds will help scale the company, which offers a micro health insurance platform from as little as $1 a month, so that more low-income communities across Africa will be able to access the product.

Another startup that has participated in the Barclays Accelerator programme – Ghanaian venture Asoriba – has scaled to 70,000 users and expanded its geographic reach through a new partnership with Interswitch in Nigeria. Beyonic, the mass payments platform has entered three additional African markets in three months, and continues to grow their partnership base.

If your startup has the potential to grow exponentially in a short space of time with the right support, join the Barclays Accelerator and apply here

We will accept the last applications on February 5th, following which 10 ventures will be selected to join the Accelerator programme in Cape Town from May 9th, 2017.

For more information please visit our website or contact us.

Techstars Application Tip: The 140 Character Description

When applying for Techstars, one of the first questions is “Describe your business in 140 characters or less”. This is basically your elevator pitch. Anyone will tell you that your elevator pitch is pretty critical to nail – you have only a few seconds to capture someone’s attention. Same thing applies to your Techstars application – you have to nail your 140 character description because it’s my first impression on what you do, and once that’s set, it’s pretty hard to recover from it.

So here’s a quick tutorial on how to write your 140 character description (and also your elevator pitch!)  You start with a basic formula, then add color.  Formula is:

For {customer segment},  with {x problem}  we offer {y solution}.  

This is a really rough formula, and I don’t recommend that you use it exactly, but it gives you a starting point.  

The key here is to be specific. Generic language can be deadly. I want to know what you specifically sell or do, not who you are. The best way to highlight this is to give some examples.

Here are some 140 character descriptions from some previous Techstars companies. These aren’t perfect, and this was before they went through the program, so you’re getting the raw, unedited version. But they’re pretty good and I have a very clear picture of what they do in only a few short words.

  • DealAngel’s website uses data mining and pricing analytics to rank online hotel offers.
  • Birdbox is a platform for managing all your photos and videos in one place, connecting everything from Facebook and YouTube, to Amazon and Dropbox.
  • Ubooly is a 6” tall, plush creature powered by your iPhone. It uses wifi to download new content every month.

And here are some examples of BAD 140 character descriptions:

  • We are an internet service that will reshape a dated 27 billion dollar industry thru tech initiating a global movement.
  • Solving life’s problems one app at a time.
  • PalmLing is Google Translate with a Human Touch.  (By the way, this company is VerbalizeIt and did get into the program despite their description)

Notice in this last batch I don’t know what they do. Even the last one, what is it? A web application? A device you carry around in your pocket? What does a human touch mean?

When I read 140 character descriptions like that, I’m left to my own devices to creatively imagine what you do, and I could be wrong. I probably am wrong. As I dive deeper into your app, I’m starting from a different mindset on what you do, and therefore am highly likely to misunderstand your whole entire business. The likelihood of getting cut goes up dramatically.

So spend some time crafting your 140 character description, or your elevator pitch, and test it on people. Take their feedback, iterate, and test again. Keep testing until you land on something where people know immediately what you do. You don’t just need it for your Techstars app, you desperately need it for your startup.


Why Apply to the Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars in Cape Town?

Alex Iskold, Managing Director of Techstars NYC, has written about Top 10 Reasons to Join (or not Join) an Accelerator.

In addition, here are 5 Reasons to join the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars in Cape Town programme:

Reason #1: You get access to INCREDIBLE mentors

Our mentors are a diverse and amazing collection of financial services executives, successful entrepreneurs, city power-brokers, top angel investors and venture capitalists, as well as experts with backgrounds in product, engineering, legal, marketing and finance.

In addition, you get instant access and mentorship to senior Barclays team members who define success as you being successful. Our mentors are well known to us and are trusted, connected and effective as evidenced by the qualitative and quantitative feedback we get back from our founders.

Reason #2: You really grow & accelerate your business

The program is rigorous and results driven. We help the companies make tangible progress and help grow and accelerate their business. 90 percent of the companies that joined our 2016 class were able to announce a proof-of-concept with Barclays on Demo Day.

At Demo Day, companies present their business to a curated group of investors and partners. Our last Demo Day was held at The Lookout in Cape Town’s Waterfront and 500 people were in attendance, of which over half were VC’s or angels.

The companies announced various deals, partnerships and proof of concepts that were initiated and agreed during the programme. These included deals with Barclays, Quirk, Sage, BermanBros, and many others.

Reason #3: Companies have gone on to raise very successful funding rounds

Having paying customers helps generate investor interest, and this interest has translated into very successful funding rounds. Companies such as Post Quantum, Ravelin, Do Pay and Cutover are just a few examples.

Globally, Techstars has the highest success rates for follow-on funding, over 90 successful portfolio company exits and $2.4 Billion of combined portfolio financing. 

Reason #4: You get a network for life

Techstars is not just an intensive programme. It is one of the largest and fastest growing networks of entrepreneurs around the world. Once you are a part of Techstars, you are a part of Techstars for life, and you get to be part of the network that helps you go faster and accelerate your current and future businesses.

For instance, Techstars has a team of seven people in the Valley that run partnerships and M&A, which companies tap into many months or years after they finish the programme.

Reason #5: In Cape Town, you are at one of the key hubs of the African global FinTech scene

Cape Town is a great place to build a startup and is a melting pot of rich culture, talent and energy.

You will be surrounded by a fantastic and supportive ecosystem of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and corporate innovators.

Many of Africa’s top banks, corporates and asset managers are also located here in the Western Cape.

Africa is fertile ground for new fintech services which are leveraging the power of communities and social media to make financial services more relevant. The technological boom in the financial sector is not only making waves in innovation, but it’s also creating jobs and redefining employment roles within existing, traditional businesses.

And, of course, we boast the one and only ‘Table Mountain’!

What Founders Say

Founders appreciate and value our work. We received an incredibly high, 100% Net Promoter Score (NPS) score from the latest Techstars Barclays Africa 2016 programme. Here is what founders are saying about our program:

“The Techstars Accelerator Program took our company from an idea with potential into a growing business in just a few short months. The Techstars mantra of getting 12 months worth of growth done in 3 months really is true. During the crucial stage of our business where we had to decide which direction to focus on, we received invaluable feedback and input from a diverse and large number of experienced mentors. The Techstars network and reputation has also opened so many doors for us and has catapulted us forward with introductions to clients and investors. We would highly recommend it for start-up entrepreneurs that want to grow fast and have big ambitions for their business”.

Bradley  – CEO, Wizzpass

“Unlike other companies in the accelerator, when entering the program BenBen was yet to launch our company. We were still working to finalize our development and narrow our focus for customer acquisition. The program was essential for these aspects as we were able to get introduced to Barclays executives, industry leaders, and mentors possessing valuable insight. These connections lead us to bringing on our first customer in Barclays, being able to validate our business model through existing similar companies, and find creative solutions to finalize our development. We are now leveraging the investor network as we are raising our next round of funding. We plan to continue to leverage this network as we scale BenBen throughout Ghana and the world”.

Daniel Bloch – CEO, BenBen

Being part of The BarclaysAccelerator Programme not only got us our 1st major investor but raised the profile of our company massively! We came in seeking to solve for an efficient and effective acquisition strategy and the Barclays Accelerator facilitated a controlled pilot, mentors with amazing ideas and experience and associates to help with the implementation. To top it all we had a ‘cofounder’ figure (Yossi) to assist us through decisions,negotiations and the stress that comes with entrepreneurship! Jamii is the beast it is because of The Barclays Accelerator Programme!

Lilian Makoi – CEO, Jamii

Apply before 5th February 2017 and join us for an incredible journey. Note, we review applications on a rolling basis so the earlier you apply, the better.

Want to know more?

Applications are Open for the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars in Cape Town

We are excited to announce that applications have opened for the second class of the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars in Cape Town!

We are looking for exceptional founders who are tackling difficult problems and big opportunities. We are specifically looking for founders who are beyond the MVP stage and working on applications of financial inclusion, mobile solutions, insure-tech, payments, big data, agri-tech and beyond. The most attractive applications are those that can have a major impact across Barclays globally.

By combining Barclays’ 300+ years of financial services experience with the exceptional mentorship-driven model and entrepreneurial network of Techstars, we offer an unfair advantage to 10 startups. Since financial services is a global sector and Barclays is a global partner, we welcome applications from companies across the globe but with an African focus.

The programme will start on 9th of May and culminates with Demo Day on the 2nd of August 2017. Apply today.

Meet us:

We are holding open meetings in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch, Lagos, Accra and remotely through Google Hangouts. If you’d like to meet with us, please fill out this meeting request form.

Throughout November – February: Cape Town
Throughout November – February: remote Skype meetings
6 & 7 December: Lagos (Africa Tech Summit)
15 & 16 December: Accra (Women in Tech)
17 January: Johannesburg
19 January: Stellenbosch


We’re hosting an event during the application phase for interested startups that will give you a taste of the Techstars experience for a day. You will hear all about the programme from our alumni and executives from Barclays and Techstars.

January 25th: from 9am – 6pm in Cape Town. Please contact if you’d like to attend.


We’ve created this webinar to answer some of the questions that you may have about our programme. Please ensure that you watch it before you meet with us so that we can make the most out of the time we have.

Also, we’ll be hosting two live, group information sessions. These are interactive sessions where participants will be able to ask questions and hear more about the specifics of the programme.

Information session 1 – December 13th 2pm SAST: Register here
Information session 2 – January 18th 2pm SAST: Register here

Follow us on Twitter

We also recommend that you follow us on Twitter for specific updates, new event postings and live Q&A. Here are our handles @yossihasson @emilyskinstad and @Thinkriseafrica

Learn more about the program here.

12 Things to Consider for your Techstars Application

Over the last few years, I’ve reviewed the good, bad and ugly of thousands of applications for startup programs all over the world. With six new Techstars city programs open for applications, providing some hints and tips seemed timely.

In no particular order, here are some things to consider:


1. Do a bit of digging into the program, the mentors, the MD and the partner and target your application accordingly. Do your due diligence on us and don’t be afraid to talk about it when we’re chatting. If you want to work with a particular MD because of their background or a program because of its mentors or corporate partners, then it’s a sign that you’ve done some research – which is great. For example, it’s unlikely that our Fintech programs would be interested in an Uber for pooper-scoopers. It’s always brilliant when we talk to companies who understand what we’re looking for, and who tailor their replies accordingly. We’re pretty clear on what matters most to us. There is a lot of detail on how we pick teams and why we don’t in our FAQ – well worth a read.

2. We ask people to make videos one minute long for a reason. It forces you to focus your thinking. Obviously, we can live with a little flexibility +/- 60 seconds, but not a huge amount!  

3. Learn how to demo your product. Everyone should be able to do this. It can be as simple as a one minute screencap with you narrating the story of your incredibly technical, but not public-facing infrastructure start over slides. Don’t know how to make a screencast? Now you do. On the team video front, Alex Iskold wrote a great piece about how to make your application stand out, including some examples of great team videos. It’s definitely worth a read.

4. If you are applying at the idea stage, or if you don’t have a designer or developer on the team, you’d be amazed at how easy it is to create and impress folks with simple prototypes. Here’s how anyone can build one. This is also something you can use in your demo video. For Bonus Points this can also be used to show potential co-founders and employees that you’re not building vaporware…

5. Be careful if you use placeholder videos in your application. You’d be surprised how many people forget to replace them. Be wary of using copy and paste – I’m looking at the person who shared something rather more adult than they intended in an application in the past. Also, don’t rickroll us in the video sections. 😉

6. Be precise. I wrote about the importance of words a while back. This is important. Short sentences that get to the point can help. Long rambling ones (and I recognize I’m guilty of this) don’t.

7. Don’t play the politician. We’ve all seen the trick they do – ignoring the question they were asked and instead answering the question they wanted to be asked. We ask specific things for specific reasons. If you don’t know the answer, that’s fine. Saying you don’t know something is not just ok, it’s actually great.

8. “I’m sorry I wrote you such a long letter. I didn’t have time to write you a short one” is one of my favourite quotes ever. Spend time on your application. Subtract the obvious and add the meaningful. Your goal is to get us sufficiently excited about your company to ask for a call or a meeting. Essay type answers to questions are tough to read and even harder to follow. Make it short. Make it to the point. Make it clear and easy to understand.

9. Create a Google Doc and collaborate with others on your answers. I’ve reviewed enough applications to know a thoughtful one from a cobbled together one almost straight away. Well prepared applications stand out. Get someone to review yours. Spelling, syntax, grammar and clarity are not deal-breakers, but precision in applications is a strong signal that you can take a systematic approach in other aspects of your business. Find someone who doesn’t know what you’re doing and get them to review it for clarity.

10. If you’re finalizing and submitting your application, just do a quick check on all of your social channels and website to make sure they all a) work and b) are active. You don’t have to have hundreds or thousands of followers on Twitter, but if I go to a social channel and see that the last update was shared 6 months ago and there hasn’t been anything posted on your website for a similar amount of time, I’m going to see a miniature red flag. Also, make sure that the www and non-www version of your URL both work (my inner-SEO nerd says don’t forget to pick a canonical domain).

11. Be honest. If you say people work for your company, make sure they actually work for your company. I reviewed an application recently that said that a pretty prominent person had joined a company in a C-level role. I was impressed. Until I talked to that person (who I happened to know). They had met the company once for coffee and had a very preliminary chat about an ad hoc advisory position. Lies have a funny way of finding their way into the light.

12. Update us. Once your application has been submitted, you can access the update field in F6S. The selection process can sometimes take several weeks or months – particularly if you apply early. Keep us posted on your progress. Show us traction and momentum. General excitement helps. A lot!


That should give you some food for thought. If you’ve got questions, queries, comments (or if you want to apologize for that NSFW link), you can find me on Twitter and all the other obvious places, or leave your comments below.

Tech in Africa: 5 Key Lessons from my Double Life

Jess Williamson is Global Program Director for Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars, which now runs fintech programs across London, New York, Tel Aviv and Cape Town. She chaired a panel of African fintech entrepreneurs during London Fintech Week

For the past 12 months, I’ve lived a double life between the UK and Africa, embedded in the financial technology ecosystems on both hemispheres.

As an American who’s just spent ten years in Scotland and England, I was very aware of my newcomer status when it came to investing in fintech startups in emerging markets.

I was fully aware of some of my knowledge gaps; other biases and ignorance I would come to realize, and with a curious mind and an open heart I have felt incredibly welcomed and initiated into the fintech ecosystem.

Reflecting back on the past year, on relationships, observations and shared journeys with some amazing entrepreneurs and banking innovators, I’ve distilled five key takeaways from my personal adventures.

African Solutions for African Problems

I quickly realized there is little interest in importing systems from other parts of the world, as people seem to find it highly amusing to watch solutions from overseas startups or corporates fail when deployed in the real African environment.

Whether it’s the absence of physical addresses in many regions, low penetration of credit cards for ecommerce transactions, or trust issues around paying for an item before actually receiving it, the failures of imported approaches serve as great sources of comedy at conferences.

Whenever non-African companies are plagued by oversights on logistics, payments, cultural nuances, or other infrastructure, this only reinforces the spirit that solutions need to come from within.

Look Beyond the Diaspora Entrepreneurs

Great entrepreneurs can be found anywhere. Many VC funds get criticised for finding the African entrepreneurs who are easiest to spot and easiest to relate to – those who have studied at Stanford, Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, or who have lived in the US or UK prior to founding companies overseas.

While these are certainly compelling entrepreneurs to invest in, having built out their networks and being able to ‘talk the talk’ in a familiar way, there are also many impressive entrepreneurs who are deeply rooted on the African continent.

Investors who build relationships with partners on the ground, who can recognize strong teams in a new context, and who are prepared to do due diligence beyond familiar alumni networks will be able to get in on a wider variety of opportunities.

“Marinate Yourself”

Early on in my quest, an entrepreneur spoke to me very directly on a Google Hangout between the UK and Kenya: “Don’t sit in your ivory towers in London and Cape Town thinking you can learn about Africa. Marinate yourself in Ghana. Marinate yourself in Kenya.”

This advice wasn’t necessarily surprising as I knew I needed to invest time on the ground, but he stated it more eloquently. The word “marinate” stewed in my head as my travels unfolded.

The first time I landed in Ghana, I agreed to a night out in Accra with someone I met at baggage claim, leading to an interesting debate between Ghanaians and Nigerians about IP protection and insights into childhood pop culture that had inspired their own entrepreneurial journeys (hint: Billionaire Boys Club).

On further stays, I wound up dancing front row in a gigantic church with a Ghanaian family, walked door-to-door shadowing a susu [financial intermediary] collecting people’s daily savings, and seeing the giant signs across multiple African countries advertising: “This Land is NOT for sale”.

Each of these experiences gave me a much deeper appreciation for the role that new financial technologies can have in facilitating church tithing and transparency, managing savings collections without disregarding those trusted relationships, and digitizing land registries to reduce fraudulent sales.

I could have learned these concepts from a pitch deck, but ‘marinating myself’ in them gave me more powerful convictions. I am forever grateful to those who brought me under their wings.

This is Africa

This phrase is so common on the African continent, it has its own acronym, TIA. Its meaning slightly depends on the context, but to me it came to mean ‘suspend expectations and assumptions about how things should work, how long something should take, what straight-forward answers you should be able to get from government departments’.

This is Africa. Those with the patience, talent and knack for navigating uncertainty and obstacles can use that to their advantage, while others will wind up forever frustrated and caught off-guard.

Behind this saying I sensed a mix of humour, challenge and pride.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Fintech

While many fintech entrepreneurs are solving problems faced in their former financial services careers, I couldn’t help but notice that the problems many African fintech entrepreneurs are solving are much more personal to their own daily life, or struggles of their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents or friends.

Yes, many of them have had careers in investment banking or other finance roles, but the problems they are tackling are not ones they discovered at work. It’s the family friend who couldn’t afford medical treatment, the aunt who couldn’t access her savings quickly enough in an emergency, the autistic brother who struggled to understand the concept of money, or the grandmother that passed away in the waiting room because the hospital only took cash payments.

I kept thinking it might be time to adapt Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Fintech, with basic money storage and ability to make payments toward the bottom, and investment banking algorithms perhaps nearer the top.

The evolution of these technologies will certainly be different and non-linear, with African infrastructure indeed leap-frogging that of Europe in many areas. But the distributed weight and priorities of innovation feels to be in different places in this imaginary pyramid.

Back in London now with many of our entrepreneurs from the Africa program currently visiting the UK, my two lives have temporarily collided.

Many ask me which life is better, which companies are stronger – and when I see everyone together the differences quickly fade away.

The best entrepreneurs are highly adaptable, so drawing distinctions feels futile. They are all passionate, determined, crazy and wonderful problem-solvers, and no matter where I grew up, they all feel like extended family now.

As each company pushes boundaries in new markets, serving new customers across diverse regions, a familiar voice enters my head – yes we have all made time to marinate.

Demo Day Round Up: Summer 2016

It has been a busy summer so far at Techstars with the addition of 41 new companies and the first-ever Demo Day for several new programs! Techstars had four Demo Days across the globe, including Barclays in Tel Aviv and Cape Town, Techstars Healthcare in partnership with Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, and the Virgin Media Accelerator in London. Here’s a quick round up of the highlights:

Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars in Tel Aviv Class of 2016

tel aviv

Barclays Tel Aviv is proud to announce its first Demo Day. Held at the beautiful Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv, the Demo Day showcased ten fintech and cyber companies with products ranging from document tracking, remittance, financial news platform, rounding up change for donations and many more.

Len Rosen, CEO of Barclays Israel, opened the evening with an inspiring keynote, and Techstars Chief Product Officer, Nicole Glaros, and Tel Aviv Managing Director, Liron Rose, provided welcoming remarks. We were also proud to announce that 8 out of 10 companies have signed a proof of concept (POC) with Barclays, an amazing outcome for our first class in Tel Aviv!

Congratulations to the inaugural Barclays Tel Aviv Class of 2016!

Techstars Healthcare, in Partnership with Cedars-Sinai Class of 2016

Techstars Healthcare, in Partnership with Cedars-Sinai held its inaugural Demo Day at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on June 23rd in Beverly Hills, California. The event showcased eleven healthtech companies which represented a wide range in both product and funding. On one end of the spectrum was Ella, an online mindfulness based program to manage chronic pain, which was “born” in program after a product pivot days after the formal offer into the program, and on the other end was HomeHero, a non clinical home care provider, which has raised a 20M+ Series A round.

Darren Dworkin, the CIO of Cedars-Sinai gave the opening remarks, followed by remarks from David Brown, Managing Partner of Techstars, and the program’s Managing Director, Matt Kozlov. The Techstars Healthcare Demo Day served as the culmination of three months of progress and very hard work for the eleven companies in the accelerator program. During the event, each company demonstrated the traction that they’ve gained since founding their company, with an emphasis on the tremendous headway they made while in program. Through Demo Day, Techstars and Cedars-Sinai further accelerated the growth of the 2016 class, and their partnership in healthcare and technology.

Congratulations to the inaugural Techstars Healthcare Class of 2016!

Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars in Cape Town Class of 2016

cape town

The first ever class of the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars, on the African continent has now drawn to an epic close.

An audience of more than 400, including investors, industry experts, fintech specialists, as well as Absa and Barclays executives, (plus 450 tuning in to the livestream globally) attended the Demo Day to hear how the startups are tackling different challenges in Africa and ultimately helping shape the future of financial services across insurance, payments and agriculture.

When you think of tech startup hubs, you likely think of places such as Silicon Valley, London, New York or Tel Aviv. But Africa is accelerating its economy and challenging the status quo of the FinTech landscape in a huge way. This has been demonstrated by the 10 companies selected from 9 different countries (making it the most geographically diverse accelerator program ever for Techstars)!

Solutions included: mobile medical insurance, lending platforms, land title registration via the blockchain and international payments solutions.

Techstars Managing Director, Yossi Hasson, together with Paul Nel, (Head of Open Innovation at Barclays), and Ashley Veasey, (Group CIO and CDO of Barclays Africa Group) provided welcoming remarks. It was a truly exciting event to celebrate the inaugural African Techstars class and the wider African startup community.

The next frontier for FinTech disruption is here. It’s now. It’s Africa.

Congratulations to the inaugural Barclays Cape Town Class of 2016!

Virgin Media Accelerator, Powered by Techstars Class of 2016


The first class of the Virgin Media Accelerator, powered by Techstars, just finished their first Demo Day at the St. James Theater in London, where the founders pitched to investors, Liberty Global and Virgin Media executives and the London startup community. Back in March, they kicked off the program with a trip to San Francisco where they met execs from Google, Comcast and Cable Labs, and spent time with Sir Richard Branson talking about entrepreneurship and how to make a real difference in the world.

Fifteen weeks later, the 10 companies ranging from a virtual reality treadmill, to a home energy monitoring system, to corporate alumni networks, disruptive ad tech, on demand iPhone repair, live football broadcasting solutions, always on voice solutions, intelligent developer tools, and peer to peer video delivery networks, all debuted their progress at Demo Day.

Building these startups with the support of Liberty Global, Virgin Media, Techstars and the amazing mentors and investors that comprise the London startup community has provided these 10 companies with an incredible start. Special thanks to Bruce Dines of Liberty Global Ventures and Neil Illingworth, Head of Innovation for Virgin Media, for their support of these founders.

Congratulations to the inaugural Virgin Media Class of 2016!

Announcing the First Class of Barclays Cape Town, Powered by Techstars

Today we are excited to announce the first ever class of the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars on the African continent. It may be the most geographically diverse accelerator program ever for Techstars! Applicants from over 45 countries applied for the spots in the 3-month intensive program. The 10 companies  who were selected join us from nine different countries (South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, United States, Lebanon and the United Kingdom). The companies encompass a wide array of verticals within FinTech – including international payments, mobile medical insurance, land title registration via blockchain and financial inclusion. This diversity signifies the breadth and depth of the entrepreneurial talent that exists in this class.

By combining Barclays’ 300+ years of financial services experience with the mentorship-driven model and entrepreneurial network of Techstars, we offer a game-changing advantage to our startups.

We’re incredibly excited to announce and welcome the ten companies that will be joining and also want to take this opportunity to thank our mentors. Their time and support is essential for this accelerator. We couldn’t do it without you! 2016 is going to be an amazing year for both Techstars and Africa!

Here are the companies for the 2016 Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars in Cape Town:

inuka pap LOGO

iNuka Pap (Kenya) – A mobile platform that partners with credit co-operatives to allow their members to conveniently deposit, withdraw and access instant micro-loans as well as access other credit services.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 9.32.29 AM

BenBen (United States) – A solution for governments to convert physical land titles to digital copies on an irrefutable platform secured on the Blockchain. Additionally, they provide citizens with a mobile application, website, USSD platform for them to manage their properties.


Beyonic (United States) – Enable businesses to quickly deploy and manage two-way mobile money payments to eliminate the need to make payments using cash. Through the use of web services and APIs, businesses can access payee and workflow management systems that greatly reduce fraud.


SimbaPay (UK) – Send money to family and friends bank accounts or mobile wallets in Africa (from abroad) in a convenient and cheap way. Customers can also use their bill settlement technology to pay merchants in Africa (such as universities, utilities). You can also open a bank account back home using the app.


Asoriba (Ghana) – Simplifies church administration for leaders and improves engagement with members via mobile apps.

social lender protrait logo11

Social Lender (Nigeria) – A lending platform, licensed to financial institutions, that determines credit worthiness based on social reputation on social media platforms.


WizzPass (South Africa) – Complete parking solutions app allowing entry and exit to shopping malls, airports, commercial property, office parks, residential property and gated communities via your smartphone.

tech 4 farmers logo final

Tech4Farmers (Uganda) – Provides farmers with real-time access to market information through an electronic commodity exchange and electronic warehouse receipt system.


Re-Able (Lebanon) – Provides tools and apps that empower the financial literacy and inclusion of people with special needs.

Copy of EdegPoint

Edge Point (Tanzania) – Micro-health insurance that is administered from the mobile handset. From cover registration, options browsing, premium payment (via mobile money), profile management, benefits wallet (ledger) management to claim (hospital) payments.

Techstars & Barclays Expand FinTech Accelerator Programs in Cape Town and Tel Aviv

Techstars is excited to announce the expansion of our partnership with Barclays with two new accelerator programs in Cape Town, South Africa, and Tel Aviv, Israel, focused on the FinTech market. This brings the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars’ programs to four, across four continents, including existing programs in London and New York.

In partnership with Techstars, Barclays is actively embracing the expertise in the global startup ecosystem to help bring innovate technologies to the future of financial services. The Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars programs in Cape Town and Tel Aviv will provide 20 companies focused on FinTech and cyber security innovation with the opportunity to participate in Techstars’ three month, intensive, mentorship-driven accelerator.

Greg Rogers, previously the Techstars Managing Director (MD) for Barclays Accelerator in London, will now oversee all Barclays Accelerator programs in an Executive Director role. Chris Adelsbach, entrepreneur and FinTech veteran, has taken over management of the London Barclays Accelerator program. Jenny Fielding will continue as the MD for the Barclays Accelerator program in New York. Cape Town and Tel Aviv MDs will be announced soon.

We are excited about this key international expansion and look forward to continuing to grow the global entrepreneurial ecosystem!

Founders and startups from around the world can apply for the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars, at