SANAD Announces Pan-African Fintech Accelerator Program for MSMEs


SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy, MEST, and IMPACT Lab join forces to boost know-how transfer and expansion of financial technology startups from sub-Saharan Africa into in North Africa

Frankfurt, December 28, 2020 – The Entrepreneurship Academy of the SANAD Fund for MSME, in partnership with Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) and IMPACT Lab, has announced its first sector project in sub-Saharan Africa: a six-month program to accelerate high-potential, growth-stage financial technology (“fintech”) businesses in the region which are looking to expand to markets in North Africa. The initiative aims not only to promote the success of entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa, but also to tap the potential of fintech innovations to expand financial inclusion and facilitate economic benefits for businesses and individuals in the north. 

Fintech is a major force shaping the financial industry in sub-Saharan Africa, expanding access to financial services for underbanked clients while simultaneously opening up previously untapped markets for financial institutions. Yet while this region – particularly East Africa – has become a global leader in fintech services, the adoption and usage of fintech in North Africa remains less advanced than it does further to the south.

It is against this background that the SANAD Technical Assistance Facility has launched the Pan-African Fintech Accelerator, its premier program in sub-Saharan Africa. After nearly a decade of capacity-building support to the entrepreneurship ecosystem of the Middle East and North Africa, SANAD has now expanded to selected countries in SSA with an eye to bridging the regions through innovation exchange and strengthening its core region through exporting successful fintech models from sub-Saharan Africa northward. With the Pan-African Fintech Accelerator, SANAD and its partners aim to equip fintech startups in Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, and Côte d’Ivoire with the knowledge and networks to successfully scale their solutions through an entirely virtual six-month program. Through a tailor-made market integration and immersion curriculum, participants will receive industry-specific training on how to assess and enhance their fintech product for the North African market as well as access to pre-identified potential clients, corporate investors, industry experts, and an ecosystem of institutional partners. Training will be complemented by facilitated sessions with North African experts on the local fintech regulatory environment as well as mindset culture. 

The Pan-African Fintech Accelerator kicks off in January 2021 and will conclude with a Demo Day showcasing the startups to investors, industry experts, corporates and ecosystem players.

Ms. Ines Ebrecht, Chairperson of SANAD Technical Assistance Facility which runs the Entrepreneurship Academy, stated: “The accelerator hopes to support the development of a resilient and agile tech ecosystem in sub-Saharan Africa that is capable of expanding into the North African market, the core region for the SANAD Fund, and competing globally.”

In a joint statement, MEST Consultancy Director Prasanth Kumar and IMPACT Lab CEO Salma Kabbaj added: “With more startups in Africa providing technology-based financial solutions than ever before, and the COVID-19 pandemic compounding the need for contactless commerce, it has become crucial for local startups to bridge their knowledge and experience gaps with industry players and develop stronger ties with other regions.” 

Ten businesses will be selected to participate in the pilot launch of the Pan-African Fintech Accelerator. The program will particularly seek out solutions in personal finance, lending, insurance, regulatory technology, payment and money transfer, HR, payroll, wealth management, accounting, and expense management. An equal opportunity initiative, the program aims to include an even ratio of male to female participants. Applicants must have a dedicated full-time founding team and be operational for at least two years before applying.

Interested startups can find more information and apply at:   

About SANAD 

The SANAD Fund for MSME finances micro, small, and medium enterprises and low-income households in the Middle East, North Africa, and selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa via qualified local lenders. SANAD thereby fosters economic development and job creation – including youth employment – agriculture, affordable housing, and innovations in finance and financial technologies. SANAD strives to meet these goals by providing debt and equity financing to its local partners. The SANAD Technical Assistance Facility multiplies the fund’s development impact and outreach through capacity-building with partner institutions, developing financial infrastructures according to the principles of responsible finance and conducting much required R&D. 

An impact investment fund advised by Finance in Motion, SANAD’s investors include the KfW Development Bank, which initiated the fund; the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); the European Union; Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO); OeEB, the Development Bank of Austria; Germany’s GLS Bank and GLS Treuhand; the Dutch development bank FMO; and Calvert Impact Capital. 

For more information on the SANAD Fund for MSME, please visit:   
For more information on Finance in Motion, please visit:   

About MEST 

MEST Africa is an entrepreneurial training program, seed fund, tech incubator, and community for African software entrepreneurs. MEST was launched in 2008, by Meltwater Founder & CEO Jorn Lyseggen. MEST was created on the basis that talent is everywhere but opportunity is not. Meltwater is a global leader in media intelligence and Outside Insight software. Meltwater began in 2001 in Oslo, Norway and today, is headquartered in San Francisco, with nearly 60 offices around the world and over 2,000 dedicated employees, serving more than 30,000 corporate clients. Each year, the most promising tech entrepreneurs from across the continent apply to MEST, and those selected come to Ghana for a 1-year intensive program which culminates in an investment pitch with the opportunity to receive funding and enter one of the MEST incubators. Since its inception, MEST has trained nearly 400 individual entrepreneurs and invested more than $20M in nearly 60 software startups. Mest is the word for ‘most’ in Norwegian and speaks to our founder’s Norwegian heritage and our parent company’s roots in Oslo.

Today, MEST is supported by a talented international staff and a regular cohort of experienced fellows. What began as a two- year training program for Ghanaian entrepreneurs has grown into a Pan-African tech hub and incubator network, with 12 African nations represented in our training program, and hubs with portfolio incubation present in Accra (launched 2011), Lagos (launched 2017), Cape Town (launched 2017), and Nairobi(launched 2018).MEST entrepreneurs have developed solutions addressing local and global markets, received follow-on funding from global investors, and have gained admittance to top accelerator programs such as Y-Combinator, 500 Startups, and TechStars. MEST entrepreneurs have also been selected by President Obama as representatives of the African business community in the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. and have been named Mandela Washington Fellows, Harambeans, and Westerwelle Young Founders.

For more information, please visit:

Media contact – SANAD

Nikki Eggers
Senior Officer, Marketing & Communications
Phone: +49 (0)69 271 035-470 

Media contact – MEST 

Emelia Ainooson
Marketing Consultant
Phone: +233544787493