Ukheshe, a South African Fintech startup that is primarily focussed on banking the unbanked, has been selected to participate in Mastercard Start Path - an exclusive startup engagement program by the global financial services company for later-stage scaling startups. What makes Ukheshe unique and interesting, especially in South Africa, is that its platform helps banks and telecommunications companies to provide affordable digital banking and payment services at a fraction of the cost they would normally do this.

“Mastercard’s ecosystem, customers and innovations will assist us to continue building one of the most significant transaction platforms on the continent. We need to ensure that we are able to reach these unbanked individuals and better understand, as financial service providers, why they opt to stay in the informal sector," Clayton Hayward, co-founder and CEO, Ukheshe.

Clayton Hayward, co-founder and CEO, Ukheshe.

Financial inclusion in South Africa

In South Africa, financial inclusion, especially aimed at banking the unbanked, can prove a bit difficult to pull off for many aspiring technology startups. This is partly because to operate as a bank the country has laws that require certain resources in place to do so. Such resources, funds and infrastructure, often prove too steep for many budding Fintech startups.

As such, one of the few methods that any Fintech startup in South Africa can offer services such as banking for the unbanked is through partnering with or providing their services to already established financial services companies.

According to Hayward, the plight for financial inclusion in South Africa has become glaringly obvious since launching Ukheshe 15 months ago. While progress has been made in terms of mobile money, it’s become imperative that we move beyond that and look into digital payment solutions.

“Financial inclusion is not just about technology disruption, but more about solving greater economic problems. Consumers need simpler, more cost-effective ways to do simple tasks such as sending or receiving money and buying airtime.”

Global network of startup innovators

Mastercard Start Path is a global network of innovators and startups building the future of commerce.

According to Mastercard, Start Path is one of many renowned programs in Mastercard Accelerate, which provides a simple, single entry point to Mastercard’s wide fintech portfolio and access to everything startups need to grow quickly. As an industry-wide collaboration, Start Path convenes banks, merchants, and startups to scale new technology solutions for the financial services and payments industries. The program also provides startups with operational support, commercial engagement, and the opportunity for strategic investment.

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“After sourcing the best and brightest later-stage startups from across the globe, we’re thrilled to welcome Ukheshe to the Start Path ecosystem of innovators,” said Amy Neale, Senior Vice President, Start Path & Fintech, Mastercard.

“The diversity in our Start Path program proves how quickly the pace of innovation is happening and together we are building the future of commerce.”

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