Ecobank Group, a Pan-African Banking conglomerate, has declared Koree, a fintech company based in Cameroon, as the winner of the 2023 Ecobank Fintech Challenge. The announcement was made during the competition’s Grand Finale held at the bank’s headquarters in Lomé, Togo, by a distinguished panel of judges. Koree emerged victorious after facing stiff competition from seven other fintech companies, all of whom presented their innovative fintech solutions to an independent panel of five judges. These eight finalists were carefully chosen from an initial pool of over 1,400 fintechs from 64 countries, highlighting the substantial growth in the competition’s popularity since its inception six years ago, especially on the African continent.
The eight finalists included Flexpay Technologies (Kenya), IPOXcap AI (South Africa), Kastelo (South Africa), Koree (Cameroon), Kori Tech (Senegal), Smart Teller Technologies (Nigeria), Rubyx (Belgium), Wolf Technologies (DRC). Koree was declared the overall winner after three rounds of judging and will be awarded a cash prize of US$50,000 for this remarkable achievement. Wolf Technologies, the first runner-up, will receive US$10,000, while Flexpay Technologies, the second runner-up, will be presented with US$5,000.
The Ecobank Fintech Challenge cash prize stands as one of the most significant no-strings-attached fintech cash rewards available in Sub-Saharan Africa, designed to promote innovation within the fintech sector. Koree particularly impressed the judges with their card wallet payment solution that digitizes merchant payments, earning them a well-deserved victory. In addition to the cash prize, the winner and the other seven finalists will be inducted into the prestigious Ecobank Fintech Fellowship. This exclusive program offers fintech companies the opportunity to explore potential commercial partnerships with Ecobank, including seamless integration with the bank’s platforms and the potential for expanding their fintech ventures across Ecobank’s 35 African markets.
Jeremy Awori, Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank Group, expressed his enthusiasm: “The eight finalists this year have demonstrated exceptional innovation and promise. We eagerly anticipate collaborating with them to develop groundbreaking products, services, and solutions that will ultimately benefit our valued customers and contribute to the advancement of our continent. We believe that forming sustainable partnerships with fintechs and the broader tech ecosystem is a viable strategy in our quest to deliver convenient, affordable services to our customers.”
Jeremy Awori also extended his warmest congratulations to Koree, noting that they are the first-ever female-led fintech winner of the challenge, and praised their outstanding victory and contributions to the fintech landscape. The announcement took place during the Grand Finale event, attended by Madam Cina Lawson, Minister of Digital Economy and Transformation, Republic of Togo. In his speech, Mr. Awori expressed Ecobank’s profound gratitude to the jury and conveyed appreciation to the sponsors and partners, including Huawei, this year’s gold sponsor, Arise, Proparco, Asky Airlines, Jeune Afrique, and The Africa Report.
Notably, Asky Airlines, one of the sponsors that flies to 28 destinations across Africa, awarded free roundtrip tickets to the top three winners. Asky CEO, Esayas Woldemariam, personally presented the tickets to the winners during the event.
Magalie Gauze-Sanga, CEO of Koree, expressed her excitement about winning the Fintech Challenge, saying, “Koree winning the Ecobank Fintech Challenge is a triumph for innovation and diversity. We are immensely proud of the technological innovation we have been implementing in Cameroon for many years, and it’s noteworthy that this is the first time a woman has won the Ecobank Fintech Challenge prize. We’re eager to collaborate with Ecobank Group across its extensive network to further transform the financial landscape in Africa by digitizing cash-based payments and empowering millions of consumers, thereby adding value to local brands and retailers.”
Since its establishment in 2017, the Ecobank Fintech Challenge has received over 5,500 submissions from fintech innovators representing 64 countries across six editions. Out of this impressive talent pool, 60 exceptional fintechs have been inducted into the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship. The event had the support of various partners, including Konfidants, TechCabal, Africa Fintech Network, ALX Ventures, Afrilabs, MEST Africa, Africa Business Angels Network, BlueSpace, and Naija Start-ups.