Dubai wants African startups to tap into US$100m Fintech Fund

Chief Business Development Officer of DFIC, Salman Jaffery

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DFIC), the leading international financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, has urged African financial technology startups to tap into its US$100million FinTech Fund designated to accelerate their growth and development.

The US$100million fund will help promising startups to raise growth capital, while also supporting their outreach and connections within the wider financial services industry; link them to a vast network of potential partners and investors; provide them a flexible and collaborative environment; and ensure an enabling legal and regulatory framework for them.

Commenting on advantages the FinTech Fund has for African startups, Chief Business Development Officer of DFIC, Salman Jaffery, said it will provide an opportunity for startups to grow their business in Dubai and move back to build African economies.

“We are not placing any restrictions on the activities or growth plans of these companies, so there is nothing that prevents them from coming here, scaling-up, and going back. We view it as enabling talented startups to come and scale-up, get the capital and go back,” he said during a visit by selected media from Africa and India to the company.

Startups who are interested in the DIFC FinTech Fund can apply on the company’s website. The criteria for applying are whether a startup is at the growth stage of the company life cycle; whether it intends to have or currently has a presence in the MEASA region; and whether activities of the tech firm has relevance to the financial services industry.

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So far, the DIFC has invested US$6.2million in startups, meaning more than 93 percent of the FinTech Fund remains to be tapped into by startups around the world. The company currently has a balance sheet of US$158billion with 2,137 active registered firms, of which 625 are financial firms.

The DIFC FinTech Hive

The FinTech Fund is not the only provision the DIFC has outlined to accelerate the growth of startups. The organisation has also launched the DIFC FinTech Hive to grow startups through accelerator programmes that provide them with opportunities to connect with the region’s largest stakeholders and institutions.

FinTech Hive offers FinTech startups the opportunity to develop, test and adapt their technologies, in collaboration with top executives from DIFC and regional established financial institutions. The programme also offers startups the opportunity to showcase their final products in front of potential investors from the large players in the financial industry.

Again, the programme offers a co-working space that provides startups with world-class infrastructure and ecosystem at feasible rates; mentorship from leading financial institutions; and a community of like-minded individuals, as well as access to the largest financial community in the region.

Other initiatives the DIFC is working on to improve the business climate in Dubai include: enhancing DIFC legal and regulatory infrastructure (most recently introducing the new Employment Law and Insolvency Law); introducing new and accessible financial structures (Prescribed Companies); facilitating collaboration between regulators (UAE Passporting Regime); and consulting industry experts through sector-specific associations.

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