Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

African fintech has taken center stage for the Catalyst Fund, a JP Morgan Chase and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-backed accelerator that provides mentorship and non-equity funding to emerging markets startups.

The organization announced its 2019 startup cohort and three out of the four finance ventures — Chipper Cash, Salutat and Turaco — have an Africa focus (Brazil-based venture Diin, was the fourth).

Catalyst Fund, which is managed by global tech consulting firm BFA,  also released its latest evaluation report, which showed 60% of the organization’s portfolio startups are located in Africa.

The new additions to the fund’s program will gain $ 50,000 to $ 60,000 in non-equity venture building support (as Catalyst Fund dubs it) and six months of technical assistance. The funds and support are aimed at moving the ventures to the next phase of catalyzing business models, generating revenue and connecting to global VCs.

“We really tailor the kind of help we give to companies so they can reach market fit and proof points that investors want to see to enable the next phase of growth,” BFA Deputy Director Maelis Carraro told TechCrunch.

Catalyst Fund’s 2019 startup cohort also gained exposure to the fund’s Circle of Investors — a network of impact and commercial backers who can make decisions on investing in and accelerating particular companies.

Next Big Thing and Deciens Capital recently joined the group of 40 investors that includes Techstars and the Mastercard Foundation.

The tenor for support for Catalyst Fund’s newest cohort of startups lasts through 2019. The ventures will also attend the big SOCAP 2019 tech conference in San Francisco, where Catalyst organizes workshops and meetings with its Circle of Investors.

Founded in 2016, the Catalyst Fund’s mandate includes supporting fintech startups that are developing solutions for low-income individuals in emerging markets. The organization has accelerated 20 ventures in Africa, Asia and Latin America that have raised $ 25.7 million in follow-on capital, according to its latest report.

With the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and JP Morgan Chase as the lead backers, Catalyst Fund partners also include Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and Accion.

JP Morgan Chase’s interest in supporting Catalyst Fund connects to a firm-wide commitment of the global bank to financial inclusion, according to JP Morgan’s Head of Community Innovation Colleen Briggs — who is also a day-to-day Catalyst Fund manager.

JP Morgan recently launched a $ 125 million, five-year commitment to improve global financial health, she explained. “For us there is a true market opportunity…we genuinely believe that financial inclusion is the foundation for the economy,” Briggs said.

“If we don’t get the social issues right it undermines the resiliency of the communities and the markets where we’re trying to operate.”

That Catalyst Fund’s cohorts have shifted toward Africa focused ventures speaks to the thesis for fintech on the continent.

By a number of estimates, Africa’s 1.2 billion people represent the largest share of the world’s unbanked and underbanked population.

An improving smartphone and mobile-connectivity profile for Africa (see GSMA) turns this scenario into an opportunity for mobile-based financial products.

Hundreds of startups are descending on Africa’s fintech space, looking to offer scalable solutions for the continent’s financial needs. By stats offered by Briter Bridges and a 2018 WeeTracker survey, fintech now receives the bulk of VC capital and deal-flow to African startups.

Ventures such as Catalyst Fund cohort member Chipper Cash — co-founded by Ugandan Ham Serunjogi and Ghanaian Maijid Moujaled — are looking to grow across Africa first before considering any global moves.

The company plans to introduce its no-fee, P2P, cross-border mobile-money payments products beyond current operations in Ghana and Kenya to Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda within the next 12 months.

Ventures looking to join companies like Chipper Cash as a Catalyst Fund-supported startup can seek a referral from Catalyst’s Circle of Investors — who make a recommendations on new candidates. Catalyst Fund aims to choose 30 startups for its cohort over the next three years, according to program director David del Ser.


TechCrunch

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TechCrunch

The pace of malicious hacks and security breaches is showing no signs of slowing down, and spend among enterprises to guard against that is set to reach $ 124 billion this year. That’s also having a knock-on effect on the most innovative cybersecurity startups, which continue to raise big money to grow and meet that demand.

In the latest development, a New York startup called BlueVoyant — which provides managed security, professional services and most recently threat intelligence — has picked up $ 82.5 million in a Series B round of funding at a valuation in excess of $ 430 million.

The funding is coming from a range of new and existing investors that includes Fiserv, the fintech giant that’s acquiring First Data for $ 22 billion. (The startup is not disclosing any other names at this time, it said.) It has raised $ 207.5 million to date.

BlueVoyant has a notable pedigree that goes some way also to explaining how the idea for the startup first germinated.

Co-founder and CEO Jim Rosenthal met his co-founder Tom Glocer (the former CEO of Thomson Reuters) when Rosenthal was COO of Morgan Stanley and Glocer was a director at the financial services giant (Glocer is still on the board). Glocer said that in 2012 and 2013, a fair amount of Rosenthal’s work involved cyber defense, and he came into close contact there with Glocer, who was chairing the operations and technology committee at the time.

“Here was an incredibly strategic, smart fellow in charge of operations,” he said of Rosenthal. “When it came time for him to retire, he told me he wanted to do one more big thing, but in a more entrepreneurial fashion. I suggested to him that the next step could be to work on [cybersecurity], which we were focusing on at Morgan Stanley.”

Glocer noted that the bank was spending some $ 300 million annually on cybersecurity at the time. It effectively had all the resources of the world at its disposal to invest in tackling the risks, but the two were all too aware of how even that could prove not to be enough — and of course for any company with fewer resources, or that wasn’t build as a tech company or with technology as part of its DNA.

BlueVoyant was built with those kinds of challenges in mind.

The startup has amassed talent from the world of private enterprise, but also a number of government organizations such as the NSA, FBI, GCHQ and Unit 8200 — which are alternately renowned and somewhat notorious for their work in cybersecurity and hacking. Its offices span a multitude of geographies that speaks to the customers that it has picked up in its quiet growth to date (which also gives some color to its valuation, too). In addition to the US, it has operatoins in Israel, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Philippines.

Tapping that talent pool, the company focuses on three areas of service for its customers: threat intelligence, managed security and professional services (with the latter focused specifically on those related to security implementations and operations).

Within these, Rosenthal said in an interview that it both builds its own IP, and also brings in software from a range of trusted partners (which include many of the biggest security software companies around today). Key to the proposition, though, is also the implementation of that technology. The theory is that technology will only get a company so far: you need a multi-level strategy when it comes to cybersecurity, and part of that will involve people able to identify vulnerabilities and figuring out how to fix or defend around them.

BlueVoyant believes the opportunity for it is twofold: targeting small and medium enterprises — the pitch being that it can provide the same kind of software and level of services that large enterprises enjoy; and targeting larger enterprises that may already have large IT budgets and teams tasked with cybersecurity, but could still use supplementary work from a world-class team of experts that would be a challenge to amass directly.

“My view is that for firms with very good cyber defenses, external cyber intelligence is important because you can’t defend everything equally,” Rosenthal said. “Having good actionable defense makes it better.

“Then for firms that are unable to afford an excellent cyber defense instructed by themselves and may not be able to attract the talent necessary, a managed security service is the right and important answer,” he continued. “That kind of managed security now needs to be available to companies of all sizes, not just the big ones but small and medium organizations, too. We have created a tech stack and level of talent capable of providing those.”

The formula appears to be working. Since launching the first tranche of its offering, managed services, in 2018, BlueVoyant has picked up some 150 customers in verticals like financial services, manufacturing, municipal government and education.

Working with partners is one way that BlueVoyant plans to expand that customer base over time. Fiserv is backing the startup as a strategic investment and the two will collaborate on providing respective services to each other’s clients. Specifically, Glocer noted that many of the banks that Fiserv currently works with are typical targets: businesses that have a lot to lose in a breach, but may lack the size to ever adequately secure its infrastructure and other assets.

“The strategic alliance between Fiserv and BlueVoyant brings advanced cyber defense capabilities to banks and credit unions of all sizes,” said Byron Vielehr, Chief Administrative Officer of Fiserv. “Our continued investment in BlueVoyant underscores the value these capabilities can bring to our clients.”

BlueVoyant is not the only big security startup to raise at a high valuation in recent times. Auth0 raised $ 103 million at a $ 1 billion valuation last week. In April, Bitglass closed a $ 70 million round. 2018 had seen a high water mark for security funding, with startups raking in a record $ 5.3 billion in the year: it will be worth watching to see whether the ongoing march of breaches will see those figures rise again this year.


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