Visa has announced that applications for the 2023 edition of the Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI) in Kenya are now open. The global open innovation competition allows startups to present their innovative solutions that aim to solve payment and commerce challenges faced by businesses in the future.
Visa made the announcement after outlining its commitment during last year’s Jamhuri Day Tech Innovation Summit attended by President William Ruto. The organization’s five-year plan is to enable small businesses in Kenya to become more digital. In addition to monetary prizes, the winners of VEI gain access and exposure to Visa’s vast network of partners in the banking, merchant, VC, and government sectors.
The VEI Competition
This year’s VEI in Kenya will have an in-person competition on July 6. The winner of this competition will progress to the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA) finals. The CEMEA regional final will be live-streamed on July 27 on TechCrunch, and the winner will proceed to the global finale, to be held on September 19 at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.
The total prize money for this year’s VEI Kenya edition is $40,000 USD, which will be distributed among the different categories. The categories include $20,000 USD for the overall winner, $10,000 USD for the audience favorite, and a newly introduced $10,000 USD Impact prize. The Impact prize will go to the organization whose solution has a positive social impact on the communities it operates in. Examples of social impact include initiatives that boost financial inclusion, promote sustainability, or safeguard the environment.
The Importance of VEI
“The Visa Everywhere Initiative is a platform that empowers fintech and entrepreneurs to showcase the most groundbreaking, impactful solutions in the world of payments and commerce,” said Eva Ngigi-Sarwari, Visa Country Manager for Kenya. “Through their technology-driven, innovative solutions, fintechs have the potential to offer broad social benefits– particularly when it comes to providing financial services to those who have traditionally been underserved. At Visa, we believe access to the digital economy drives equitable, inclusive growth, and VEI is an important means of supporting the innovators playing a leading role in this space. We intend to work closely with the Ministry of Information, Communication, and the Digital Economy as well as the Central Bank of Kenya during this VEI edition to support the innovation ecosystem in Kenya.”
Since its launch in 2015, VEI has helped over 12,000 startups from across 100 countries collectively raise more than $16 billion USD in funding. Last year, VEI awarded more than $530,000 USD in prize money over the course of the competition, which saw over 4,000 startups participate from five regions. Nigeria’s Thrive Agric took home the Global grand prize of $100,000 USD and an additional $20,000 USD Visa Direct prize.
VEI Kenya edition is seeking innovative and ambitious entrepreneurs who are uplifting communities by solving payment and commerce challenges faced by businesses of all sizes and sectors, including the following:
- Urban mobility
- Gig Economy
- (M)SME solutions that solve for:
- Access to finance
- Access to new customers/markets
- MSME Business services are not limited to inventory management, payroll processing, customer relationship management
- VEI Kenya Winner: $20,000 USD
VEI KenyaAudience Favorite: $10,000 USD
VEI KenyaSocialImpact Award: $10,000 USD
VEI CEMEA Regionals 1st place: $20,000
VEI CEMEA Regionals Audience Favorite: $10,000
VEI CEMEA Regionals Risk Winner: $25,000
Startups in Kenya can apply for the VEI by visiting the Visa Everywhere Initiative website and submitting their applications before the May 14th deadline. The application process is straightforward, and startups are encouraged to showcase their innovative solutions and the positive impact they are making in their communities.