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Create a Disruptive Fintech Startup that Transforms the Lives of Millions of People in East Africa

Break into the booming “Silicon Savanna” with a bold solution to drive financial inclusion for underbanked small businesses in Tanzania and Kenya

  PEARS CHALLENGE 2024  

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

Pears Challenge VI is a prestigious early-stage venture builder for an innovative group of tech and financial leaders and entrepreneurs. Build your next successful start-up from ideation to launch with invaluable market insights, startup grants, mentorship, and travel to Africa as you develop your concept - all equity free!

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Your Next
Challenge Awaits...

Have you heard of Sub-Saharan Africa’s booming fintech sector? BCG reports that Africa leads the world in fintech growth and is projected to experience 13x growth over the next decade to reach $65B in revenue by 2030!

Join a distinguished cohort of 25 experienced entrepreneurs passionate about creating new fintech solutions to drive small business growth and financial inclusion. Develop an innovative startup that will create economic opportunity and financial access for underbanked people in East Africa.

As a Pears Challenge Fellow you get access to:

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Mini-grants

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Rare market insights

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Mentorship from experts

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Validation trip to East Africa

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Network of local partners

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Feedback for fast iteration from the field

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Acceleration and fundraising opportunities

About the Program

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FALL 2023

Selection

During the selection process, we identify 25 exceptional entrepreneurs who have what it takes to conceptualize and launch new successful fintech ventures with a social mission.

APPLICANT CRITERIA:

We look for open-minded, impact-oriented, and experienced individuals who are at a stage in life where they want to tackle
a new challenge and launch a start-up.

Ideal candidates have finance and tech backgrounds with practical experience developing pioneering ventures. We are looking for individuals with a track record of identifying and solving complex problems, thinking critically, analyzing data and developing innovative solutions. Development or humanitarian experience, micro-finance, strategic designers, SMEs support, climate finance are a plus.

We seek out equal gender representation and diversity in our cohorts and encourage applications from people of different ages, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds.

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PEARS CHALLENGE VI

Building Scalable, Financially Viable Digital Solutions to Grow East Africa’s Small Businesses

East Africa is experiencing a major revolution in digital finance. Dubbed the “Silicon Savanna”, the financial services sector is in the midst of a rapid transformation, giving millions of previously excluded people access to savings, credit, and opportunities for personal and economic mobility.


Historically, financial services in Africa have been inaccessible to most people due to high fees, a lack of physical infrastructure and geographical constraints. In recent years, the COVID pandemic has sped up digital adoption and accelerated the already growing trend of mobile penetration. These exciting developments have laid the groundwork for a revolution in digital finance.

According to the World Bank Group, financial inclusion is key to reducing extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. African governments as well as private sector players are focused on expediting access to financial infrastructure to allow millions of people to participate in the formal economy.


The Pears Challenge is your gateway to this emerging landscape of opportunity and a chance to bring your entrepreneurial skill in a market with a strong appetite for innovation and new technologies. It is also an opportunity to have a large scale and transformational change on the lives of millions of underbanked business owners.

This is your chance to:

Disrupt East Africa’s digital finance industry

Bring Israel’s cutting edge tech and creativity to improve economic opportunity for millions of underbanked people

Join an inspiring, brilliant cohort of innovators

Innovate among passionate, impact-oriented peers eager to explore new markets and design new technologies

Gain invaluable market insights

Get a competitive advantage with insight into digital finance trends in Kenya and Tanzania and partnership opportunities

Collaborate with local partners

Gain a serious advantage with the opportunity to validate your assumptions and test product-market fit

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East Africa: Break Into the New Frontier in Digital Finance 

Here’s what makes Kenya and Tanzania ideal markets for a new fintech venture:

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Innovate to promote the use of mobile money

In the 2021 GSMA State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money, Africa accounted for 64% of all mobile money transactions globally!


Going cashless has enabled people to get around issues that have plagued the continent’s financial institutions such as verifying transactions, reducing the high cost of printing and transporting currency, dealing with fraud and theft, and helping to curtail money laundering. 

Pears Challenge VI Global Partners

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IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Inspirational Alumni

The last five cohorts of the Pears Challenge have created over a dozen new companies and raised over $20M in seed financing and contracts.

Working with a broad network of local, regional and international partners, they have piloted technologies in markets across five continents affecting the lives of individuals and communities in Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Senegal, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Fiji, India and beyond.

Browse Pears Challenge Alumni Ventures

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Design and R&D company specializing in solutions for people with disabilities

Cassit is moving into the Kenyan market with a line of affordable hand supports, enabling disabled Kenyans to use their hands for work, study and self care. 

Our alumni have partnered with

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JOIN THE RANKS OF THESE INNOVATIVE STARTUPS

Israeli Companies Revolutionizing FinTech

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Founded in 2016, Fido is an Israeli-Ghanaian company building an automatic banking platform based on unique risk management and machine learning models that give people credit insights, estimate risk and identify fraud

What’s cool about it: Fido enables customers with no financial history or access to banking credit decisions on the spot. The “Fido Score” empowers customers to build and maintain a digital track record, making them visible to the financial system. The app is available throughout Africa and serves over 600,000 customers, distributing over $300 M worth of credit.

Read More

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Upcoming Events

  • Online Launch Event: Opportunities for Fintech in East Africa
    Online Launch Event: Opportunities for Fintech in East Africa
    Tue, Oct 24
    Virtual event
    Oct 24, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
    Virtual event
    Oct 24, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
    Virtual event
    Share
  • Women in Fintech & Fintech for Women
    Women in Fintech & Fintech for Women
    Sun, Nov 26
    Location is TBD
    Nov 26, 6:30 PM – Nov 27, 8:00 PM
    Location is TBD
    Nov 26, 6:30 PM – Nov 27, 8:00 PM
    Location is TBD
    Share

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is the program for?
    We look for open-minded, impact-oriented and experienced individuals who are at a stage in life where they want to tackle a new challenge and launch a start-up. Ideal candidates have finance and tech backgrounds with an entrepreneurial spirit and strong leadership capabilities. We are looking for individuals with a track record of identifying and solving complex problems, thinking critically, analyzing data, strategizing, and developing innovative solutions. Development or humanitarian experience, micro-finance, small business support, climate finance are a plus. We seek out equal gender representation and diversity in our cohorts and encourage applications from people of different ages, ethnicities, and religious backgrounds.
  • When does the program run?
    The Israel-based program (exploration, ideation and creation stages) will take place in a hybrid model. Some sessions will be in person in Tel Aviv and others will be online facilitated by global experts. The Pears Challenge is a staged program, with each stage ending with a mandatory submission of a progress assignment in order to move onto the next stage. At the end of the Creation phase, an independent panel of international experts will select the fellows with the most promising venture ideas for field validation in East Africa. Sessions are on Thursdays from 18:00-21:00 and Fridays from 9:30-12:30 as well as a full day once a month. Fellows are expected to attend a minimum of 80% of the sessions and must be able to arrive in Tel Aviv in person for sessions. The Exploration phase runs from December 28, 2023 to February 2024 to March The Ideation phase runs from February to April The Creation phase will run from April to May The Validation phase and trip to East Africa will then take place in summer 2024
  • Can I still work while participating in the Pears Challenge? How intensive is the program?
    The Pears Challenge is a staged program designed for people who are working full time jobs. Most workshops are scheduled after work hours and on Fridays (including one full day workshop every month) in order to accommodate working schedules with increasing levels of time commitment expected as fellows pass from stage to stage. In the Exploration and Ideation phases, fellows are expected to attend sessions and work up to 1-2 hours a week on assignment preparation. After the Ideation phase, the program becomes more intensive, as fellows develop their venture ideas and build their field validation plans. Fellows who progress to the Creation and Validation stages will be expected to devote increasing amounts of time to working on their ventures. In general, by the end of the Validation phase, fellows may choose to scale back their work schedules in order to devote the time necessary to make it possible for their startups to succeed.
  • Is there a program fee associated with Pears Challenge?
    A symbolic commitment fee of 800 NIS is required for participation in the Exploration phase.
  • Does the Pears Challenge take any equity in my venture?
    No. All of the support, mentorship, connections, and advising that you receive as a fellow are provided with no expectation of equity in your start-up.
  • If I already have a venture idea or a working product, is the program right for me?
    The Pears Challenge accepts a range of innovators - from those with outstanding experience who have yet to develop their next idea to innovators that already have a concept or even an early prototype. Whether you are looking for inspiration to start your next impact tech venture, or have an idea at the early stage of development, the Pears Challenge is a great way to move to the next level. If you are passionate about creating meaningful impact through innovative technology-driven business then contact us and request an application. Someone will be in touch with you to discuss the program and whether it is relevant to your venture.
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Ready to create your next impact tech venture?

The Pears Challenge is your opportunity to break into the East African market with the connections, insight, and resources you need to go from ideation to launch. Request an application for Pears Challenge 2024 below to learn more:

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Will you be in Israel beween January-June 2024?
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