Kenyan firm among 15 start-ups to benefit from first IBM project

Co-founder and CEO of the tech start-up Wayapay Maroria Hempstone making a presentation (Photos by Lydiah Nyawira)

A Kenyan tech start-up is the only firm from Africa selected for the inaugural IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator project which was hosted in Charlotte, North Carolina USA.

Wayapay is a Kenyan based finetech startup that is offering a platform to transfer money from all over the world to East and Sub Saharan Africa through mobile money wallets such as Mpesa, bank accounts, and into wayapay wallets.

The Co-founder and CEO of the start-up Maroria Hempstone explained that Wayapay is a money remittance service that solve the stressful and expensive problem of sending money to sub Saharan Africa from other parts of the world.

“Currently money can take days if not weeks to reach the recipient. This is often stressful as it means enduring long queues and hundreds of dollars in transaction fees for the sender,” he explained.

However Maroria explained that through their service Wayapay the money can be sent securely, through the web and mobile phone applications and received via mobile money.

“Because of globalisation remittances have increased worldwide, diaspora remittances into Sub Saharan Africa in 2018 stood at 49 Billion dollars while diaspora remittance into Kenya stood at 2.68Billion dollars,” he stated.

While still a start-up, wayapay has been selected for the IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator Powered by IBM Linux ONE alongside 14 other start-ups.

According to the Melissa Sassi, Program manager at IBM, the start-ups were selected from nine countries, including Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Kenya, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United States.

“The IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator is designed to build and scale the next generation of fintech and healthtech companies with solutions engineered to keep their sensitive data highly secured,” Ms Sassi posted on the IBM Website.

Among the benefits listed for each of the start-ups are IBM Cloud credits of up to 120,000,US Dollars

“This will be used for storage, and ideally start ups do not have access to funds so this will help them to scale up their business also mentorship with our IBM partners and engineers,” Ms Sassi explained.

The one week accelerator conference took place in Charlotte, North Carolina and offered the start up firms meetings with various investors and companies.

“The start-ups including Wayapay will also receive one year business mentorship and technical mentorship will happen over a two year period,” she explained

Ms Sassi also highlighted other advantages of the program including access to IBM’s network of partners, customers, and stakeholder groups, go-to-market support, and co-marketing collaboration.

Maroria said their participation in the IBM program was a new experience noting the IBM cloud was going to be helpful ahead of launching the program.

“We expect to benefit from its security features, protection of customer data and information,” he stated.

During the conference at Charlotte the Maroria’s team is seeking mentors on how to proceed to achieve their vision as a company, investors to fulfil the company’s financial obligations, financial institutions to offer umbrella coverage of licencing within the USA and other jurisdictions.

“We are also hoping to meet with regulatory experts and companies to help us in compliance and doing background checks of our customers,” Maroria said.

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