1.7X World Tour, crazy fall, new projects, and a great book.

Yesterday I wanted to calculate how many world tour (meaning the world circumference) I am about to do in the next few weeks, and sadly realized it’s almost two.

I have been silent during the summer, because I really thought family deserved a long quality time, and also because – as always – something (else) is on the making.

We are launching something called FinTechStage LEAP, (for Learn, Experiment, Accelerate, Partner) in Africa (to start with) as part of our engagement with Omidyar Network. These guys are awesome : the objective is to make FTS sustainable in its quest to help FinTech (and InsurTech and RegTech) thrive in emerging markets.

What “sustainable” means ?
We are not into maximise profits, but we are a commercial company.
What we REALLY want is to make a difference, an impact, something that someone else can pick up and run with it better than we do. We want to accomplish that with a team of likeminded people who don’t need holidays from the work they do (that one is not about Stakhanovite lifestyle, but about passion for what you do devouring you).

So… LEAP (credit to my friend Kabir for the word and to yours truly to figure out the acronym for it ;))

See later (this same post, there is a reason for postponing it)

If you remember, back in the Innotribe days, we created something called the Enablers.
A mix of Investors, Financial Institutions, Tech experts and Entrepreneurs helping the Innovation, scouting, vetting, productisation of ideas potentially helping SWIFT and the community.
Same concept in a different twist was also implemented by my dear friend Kosta for the BMGF (the Gates Foundation) to help the organisation become smarter about some of their emerging markets next moves (and their Level One project).
Well, no surprises here, we want to build the same community for Africa and use it as a soundboard, a community Enablers, a knowledge and connection catalyst.

Now : I have the simplest possible answer to what would look like a complex and political questions : HOW ARE YOU GOING TO CHOOSE THE ENABLERS ?
If we were a power-political control freak organization, we would need 15 charts and 5 committees to establish geographical, influence and members seniority criteria.

Since we are not, the simplest answer is : whomever GETS it.

It s not a remunerated role, we might partner with some event organiser to fund some of the T&E and take advantage of a speaker role to gather these people together, but we are offering an invaluable bridge with funding, network, knowledge and innovation and we hope that will be more than enough to reunite an awesome crowd.
Remember, the objective is to make it “sustainable” so long term no one would pay from his own pocket to be part of this, once we rally the right partners.

Action. As I said, we will start gathering our Enablers community during ad-hoc or existing events and start making connections, having an eco-system approach.
This – of course – sounds BS unless you have – like we did – already experimented that in other countries, and exchanged with the players behind the most successful FinTech players of the planet.

Concrete example : Omidyar Network is now experimenting in Tanzania a Venture Builder approach (like the one of FinLeap in Germany, for the ones who are familiar with it). It is about challenge lead entrepreneurship, starting by a problem that eco-system has to solve (SME credit, for instance) and putting the right ressources and seed capital in place to make it happen.
Well, guess what : you need all the players (VC, Regulator, Incumbents, Tech players, Entrepreneurs) to play ball. And you need a catalyst for it. That’s why we build the Enablers and the LEAP program.
There are a million things to sort out, and the right business/funding model is one of them, but the beauty of this approach (we are not exactly college freshmen) is that we will put enough brains together to figure that out, and Omidyar Network gave us the head start to allow us building the foundation of it.

So CALL TO ACTION, PLEASE : reach out to me and share contacts we should NOT miss that could help us in this endeavour. We have a good growing list of people already, but you guys will be very powerful in making it much better!

Find the right partners. We have already lined up a number of meetings with like-minded organisations (both working with emerging markets and kickass FinTech folks rocking the world, but also official Financial Inclusion pan-African agencies) because we are not stupid enough not to understand this has to be a combined effort.

Next places to hang out in the coming weeks:
– London Innovate Finance Growth 18-19 September
– Zagreb (Novathon with Intesa San Paolo) 24-26 September
Seamless Philippines Malesia (27-28 September)
BAI Beacon (FinTechStage is Content Partner) Atlanta (3-5 October)
Sibos 16-19 October, Toronto
– Abu-Dhabi ADGM FinTech Conference, 23 October

There is more to come, but 6 weeks planning seems good enough.
I think I will do Facebook Live videos from each of these events, rather than writing, will see what happens.

Stay tuned



Sahara Sparks and Omidyar Network call FinTechStage in Dar Es Salaam

After the great MozTech experience, Dar Es Salaam called for Sahara Sparks.
Second time in Tanzania this year and really impressed by how entrepreneurs community is growing.

As written in my previous post, FinTechStage has the firm intention to build the FinTech eco-system here.
We met the FinTech entrepreneurs and some VCs In a breakfast meeting organised with Omidyar Network. Tanzania being one of the focus country of the organisation.

The good news is that I believe we found the right Enablers onsite to move the dialogue on another level. The eco-system needs pre-series A investors, business angels and believe me the country is full of opportunities.
We had a great panel on Investment opportunities and in the afternoon a startup challenge for digital entrepreneurs.

FinTech sector need to be further developed, but the market is big and growing fast.
I hope I will be able to say more shortly, but it s very likely I will be back soon.

Special thanks to :

Jumanne and Maryam, relentless souls behind Sahara Sparks organisation and all their teams for being to instrumental in making this happen.

Dr Hassan Mshinda and Dr George Mulamula for being so open and helpful and to share what we can do together to help FinTech and Financial Inclusion locally.

Alisée and Pierre Alain, co-founders of Seedstars , with whom I hope we will collaborate more and more in the future, for sharing their network with us and being so open in collaborating.

Lilian Makoi a marvellous entrepreneur in the InsurTech space who s energy is inspiring.

My partner in crime and my dear friend Ameya, in charge of African investments at Omidyar Network, for sharing this whole adventure with me and bringing an invaluable brightness to the mix.

So… this happened in Tanzania and I am really looking forward to the next steps !

Stay tuned



Maputo calling FinTechStage

I was invited last week to speak at the MozTech conference in Maputo.
After moving to Lisbon, destiny keeps me coming back to a Portuguese speaking environment and I am definitely in love with it.

Maputo is a thriving city, flirting with the Indian Ocean and this event was all about serendipity.
During our FTSInclusionForum in Jakarta I met Dr Esselina Macome and Aurora da Gloria Vaz Billa, the neo-director of FSDMoc and the Central bank payments infrastructure head respectively, and Esselina asked me to lead the first EVER FinTech panel in the country.

Mozambique is a 26 Million people country, with only 2M bank account and only 7 millions mobile phones. Half of the active population is off the digital and financial grid (Recalling this from conversation, but numbers are close to real and I am too lazy to google so you guys do it eventually pls ;)).
In other words, Mozambique is an enormous opportunity for financial inclusion and startups to thrive.

FSDMoc organised this panel with David Milligan from Maatchi (Tinder for Banks and Startups), Philip Ngarambe, the Co-founder of a value added Oyster for Ruanda, AC Group (with close to 100% of Kigali covered, a million people) Mercy Zulu from GoodWell and impact investor very active in Africa and Helder Buvana, the business development head of FSDMoc.

As you know by now, I have now devoted my time in building FinTech eco-systems, by bringing together what we believe to be the 5 pillars of each financial innovation initiative : the incumbents, the entrepreneurs, the venture capitalists, the regulators and the technology partners.

I believe we should add the academia as well, but more as a ground effort to educate the students and open their eyes, as the R&D of certain universities are part of the Tech enablers in my view.

FSDMoc organised a session with the students at the university, as an introduction to FinTech opportunities. It was really interesting to realise how differently the Millennials in emerging markets see banks and financial behaviours. More on that another time.

MozTech is by far the biggest tech gathering of the country.
Looks clear to me we need now to build a FinTech national initiative, which is why we – FinTechStage – have chosen Mozambique and Tanzania (where I went immediately after Maputo) to launch the FTS4Africa Enablers program. Branding aside (still under construction) the idea is simple : can we build catalysts of FinTech innovation, with all the 5 communities represented (see below) in as many African countries as possible, so that startups have a soundboard to thrive and grow, VCs will have a snapshot of the opportunities of the country in a single place and incumbents (with the blessing of the Regulator) can find ways to collaborate with the new players ?

Looks like we build the right ground to start working on it in Maputo and I hope we will be able to agree on concrete next steps soon.

Special thanks and kudos to the wonderful FSDMoc team for their kindness, flexibility and support in having me there!

Stay tuned



FinTechStage Inclusion Forum Jakarta : snapshot debrief

Sitting in Doha Lounge, in a stopover on my way back from Jakarta, where we – awesome team – delivered an awesome FinTechStage Inclusion Forum.
600+ participants over 3 days, 2 workshops, a great conference, 29 countries represented, close to 20 regulators, 150+ participants from Indonesia.

The objective of this event was to enhance the dialogue at the crossroads of RegTech, FinTech and Innovation, with a Financial Inclusion focus.

The 1st day we had an invitation only workshop managed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where Kosta & C talked about fundamentals and progress of the Level One project, a bold initiative to standardise open API financial infrastructure for emerging markets.

The 2nd day, in a beautifully crowded space, we welcomed the local government officials and a number of great speakers for a super content rich conference.

We will post the report soon, but one of the highlights of the day was really the eco-system mapping. Basically, we extrapolated from the conversation the interactions amongst the different players and spot the intensity or the lack of it in the dialogue.

The last day was a RegTech workshop with Omidyar Network, where we :
– worked on the sails and anchors of the regulators dialogue,
– announced the R2A Initiative (accelerator for Regulators) from ON,
– shared best practices around the world on Technology, SandBoxes and market initiatives.

We had at least 15 different regulators or central bank representatives in the room and most of our speakers.

FinTechStage cube flying microphone went from Uganda to Tanzania to Pakistan to Singapore to Nigeria in the same conversation.

Sopnendu Mohanty, one of the smartest, forward looking and innovative regulators in the world (if not The smartest) said he never saw such a powerful and interactive conversation on RegTech.
That says it all 🙂


Here is the knowledge wall we built :

And here is the v2 of the eco-system mapping we built during the workshop, which is very consistent with th one built during the conference day :


We are very humbled and grateful to have the support of ON and BMGF and we really hope this is the first instance of a long term collaboration !

On a personal note, this is what I really LOVE to do : build dialogue and knowledge bridges around the world. Having fun in doing that. This picture says it all…


Lastly, kudos to the team.
We proved ourselves to be resilient, flexible, hard working and I am beyond proud of you !


We also just opened FinTechStage Milan registrations – – just saying 🙂

Stay tuned