A local startup called FlexFinTx has been selected by the World Economic Forum to join its Technology Pioneers Cohort 2021. This marks yet another first for Zimbabwe because as far as we can tell FlexFinTx has carved a new path.
What is FlexFinTx?
The best way to describe FlexFinTx is to look at the problem the startup is trying to solve. In 2018 the World Bank estimated that there are 1 billion people in the world who don’t have any form of identification. The biggest proportion of those individuals were in South East Asia and Sub Saharan Africa (81%).
Having identification documents helps you in a number of ways. It’s a requirement for you to get financial services like a bank account, a mobile money wallet, get a mobile phone line or register for any number of services. Without this then you are essentially in the wilderness because there is no way that a company, for example, can verify who you are and log you as one of its users. Worse still, you might not be able to get employment if you can’t provide a form of identification to your prospective employer.
Now, this is where FlexFinTx comes in. The startup helps those individuals build Self Sovereign digital Identities (SSI), which they will be able to access without any need for the internet. For those wondering what an SSI is, it’s a model that manages digital identities for individuals or businesses. The holder of the digital identity has sole ownership of it and has the ability to control their accounts and personal data. SSIs use a blockchain for security among other benefits and FlexFinTx last year became a member of the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF)
World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers
Because of its ambitions and potential impact in Africa, the World Economic Forum selected FlexFinTx to be part of its Technology Pioneers Cohort. The startup is joined by six others from the continent but is one of a hundred in total chosen worldwide.
- Cambridge Industries, Ethiopia: Innovating next-generation urban infrastructure through sustainable city parks
- Kuda Technologies, Nigeria: Providing Africans with access to credit and free banking services
- Moringa School, Kenya: A workforce development platform serving African students
- mPharma, Ghana: Building good health in Africa through technology-driven healthcare
- Sokowatch, Kenya: Offering same-day delivery and working capital to African retailers
It’s worth mentioning that former alumni of the Tech Pioneers program include names like Airbnb, Google, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Spotify, and Twitter.
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