Yesterday the Johannesburg CBD played host to Visa’s Everywhere Initiative finals for Sub Saharan Africa. It’s a fintech startup focused competition that aims to give promising companies the chance to showcase their ideas and potentially win funding from Visa.

$50 000 (~R661 640) in funding was up for grabs, with Kenyan startup Mookh Africa awarded the main prize. The company also took home first place in the Social Business Payments category of the competition.

For those unfamiliar with Mookh Africa’s offering, it’s a platform that enables merchants and sellers to create an online presence, while also facilitating the payment process.

The startup notes that their platform allows people and companies to focus on what they do best, instead of worrying about some of the more time consuming administrative tasks.

Speaking to us after the announcement, Mookh Africa CEO and co-founder Eric Thimba noted his excitement for winning the funding, but stressed that the chance to partner and collaborate with Visa is what most interests him now.

“The $50 000 will allow us to do more, but the most valuable thing for me is the ability to partner with Visa as it presents an exciting opportunity. Funding may allow our company to keep operating for longer, but it’s partnerships like these that will make scaling our platform far easier. It can help make Mookh Africa a pan-African brand, and move from helping sellers in Kenya, to helping those across the continent,” enthuses Thimba.

Mookh Africa was one of 12 African startups that presented to a panel of judges on the day, two of which were South African.

Visa was particularly impressed with the number of entrants that came from the Sub Saharan Africa region for the competition, with a total of 238 startups applying for consideration.

This high volume has prompted Visa to rethink next year’s Everywhere Initiative with Geraldine Mitchley, senior director for digital solutions, noting that the competition will be broken down into smaller regions in 2019.

Mookh Africa’s Eric Thimba receiving his prize money.

This will allow a higher number of startups to present, as well as allow them the opportunity to network and connect with other individuals in the fintech industry across the continent.

“The plans for next year are to go more narrow in terms of geography. We will roll out individual Initiatives across the East African region, perhaps hosting an event in Kenya, and likewise in West Africa in Lagos. These are some of the steps we’re going to take as it opens up more opportunities for startups to increase their visibility,” notes Mitchley.

The next step for Mookh Africa will be a partnership with Visa, where the latter will be able to help the startup expand its operation.

“The great thing about this competition, is that we’re now able to help steer and mentor the business and assist in legitimising all their fantastic ideas. It also affords them the opportunity to leverage technology that is robust and secure, along with looking at who else can be brought in to help partner with the startup,” adds Mitchley.

With the African fintech startup space looking the most promising it has in years, those looking for funding should keep an eye out for when the 2019 edition of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative kicks off.

The 12 competing startups from Visa’s Everywhere Initiative.