Catalyst Fund announces Circle of Corporate Innovators to accelerate startup-corporate partnerships

Global inclusive tech accelerator Catalyst Fund has announced pioneer members of its Circle of Corporate Innovators to accelerate startup-corporate partnerships.

The Circle of Corporate Innovators is a collaborative, global community of organisations – from major banks and telecommunications companies, to FMCGs, logistics providers, and more. The pioneer members include Sterling Bank, Ecobank, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, and the VFD Group are the pioneer members. This network of prominent corporate innovators is prominent in emerging markets and has already managed to partner with tens of startups in creating new digital products.

Catalyst Fund will accelerate their efforts by enhancing their capacity to source, assess, test and continue to bring new innovations to their customers across Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Mexico, and India.

The selected members the Catalyst Fund’ says share its goal of developing inclusive tech innovations in emerging markets. One key element of the Circle’s offering is to facilitate corporate-startup partnerships, which can better enable startups to reach scale while providing market leaders with access to and data on the last mile.

Members of the Circle will receive support such as Access to vetted and de-risked startup partners from the Fund’s portfolio, a global tech industry landscape, innovation strategy development, custom toolkits that strengthen and streamline startup partnership processes, startup partnership workshops with Catalyst Fund experts, knowledge sharing roundtables, and support in developing de-risked partnerships with Catalyst Fund startups.

Maelis Carraro, Managing Director, Catalyst Fund says. “The goal of the Circle of Corporate Innovators is to actively facilitate and de-risk these partnerships, equipping both innovators and startups with the tools and expert support they need to better discover technical and commercial synergies, while sharing learnings and insights with the wider industry. ”

Successful startup-corporate partnerships are already demonstrating benefits for both sides. Unilever has partnered with Catalyst Fund portfolio company Sokowatch in East Africa, enabling them to reach millions of new consumers through Sokowatch’s network of tens of thousands of informal retailers. Bamba is working with BBVA to deliver bank accounts and other financial products to 8,000 domestic workers in Mexico. Mobilife’s partnership with Standard Bank in South Africa has allowed for 7,000+ life insurance claims to be processed.

Catalyst Fund has already begun working with members of its Circle, offering innovation diagnostic workshops, facilitating partnerships with portfolio companies, advising on partnership strategies, and more. This is part of Catalyst Fund’s wider focus on ecosystem acceleration, which also includes a Circle of Investors with over 80 global members.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to

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