The Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub (MAFH) is a fast-growing ecosystem where entrepreneurs, corporations, governments, tech experts, investors, financial services providers, universities and research institutions can collaborate to build cutting-edge solutions for the emerging African market. MAFH exists to pave the way for international FinTech companies and financial services providers to access the African market. Similarly, MAFH facilitates African FinTech ventures to do business across borders.
1. From where did the idea for the Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub (MAFH) originate?
The idea for a Mauritius Fintech Association occurred through a consultative conference in 2017 where over 100 stakeholders from the ecosystem came together and put through the challenges they are all experiencing. Once all the feedback was consolidated, an action plan was drafted which positioned the association, now branded as the Mauritius Africa Fintech Hub (MAFH) to reflect our pan-African mandate, as the facilitator of the ecosystem. This initiative was championed by the EDB to reflect their goal of positioning Mauritius as the Fintech Hub for Africa. We officially began operations in October 2018 and had our local soft launch in December last year.
2. What is your experience of the current Fintech ecosystem, and what would you change?
There is a lot of good initiatives that are being tried and piloted locally. However, there was a sense of fragmentation and working in silos that existed when we started. There has also been a lot of talk around this space, but there was no direct correlation between the talk and the outcomes on the ground. This is where, I believe, the MAFH plays a critical role. By facilitating the ecosystem, and ensuring truly open collaboration, we can work hand in hand towards a common vision and implement impactful actions and projects. Together, there is nothing that we cannot achieve.
3. You mention stakeholders and working together frequently. Who are all these stakeholders that you feel will play a role?
For us to build a successful ecosystem, we need the buy in from academia, government, the small business sector as well as the private sector. In other words, everyone. All these elements come together to achieve this. For example, small businesses and the private sector need the skills in order to achieve their business goals, hence we need academic institutions to build a pool of youth talent that can add value to any organisation from day one. And this isn't only in terms of technical expertise, but also of soft skills that will see the success of the technology space such as critical thinking, innovative ideas that challenge the status quo, etc. Keeping in mind that technology is scalable, we can create talent locally and on the continent that could serve the globe. Government needs to be a part of this journey as well, as creating a fertile environment through regulation and other initiatives will allow these innovations and businesses to thrive and add value.
4. What is your view of Fintech and why do you believe it will play a role in building our country and continent?
For me, Fintech is a convergence technology that is applicable to every sector and industry of today. Whether you are in agriculture, banking, engineering or land registry, Fintech will somehow affect the way you do business everyday. The purpose of utilizing these technologies is not only to make things cheaper and more accessible, but to simplify the way we do business in the 21st century. We see a global trend of open IP, transparency, sharing economies... And the youth are driving this agenda. We also need to change the way we are doing business. Mauritius has all the right ingredients to develop and test these solutions, and then scale them up for the African continent. The solutions we co-create by engaging other ecosystems on the continent have the ability to help people, not only in terms of their most precious resource, which is time, but by ensuring everyone has access to the digital economy.
5. What is your vision for MAFH?
I always tell people that to achieve our 4 pillars, namely regulatory strategy, innovation and incubation, capacity building, deal flow, we need a place where everyone can come together and share their ideas and experiences. Many people chuckle when I tell them that we would like to have a 13-storey building that is open and accessible 24/7, 365 days a year, and which consists of training labs, small businesses, investors, corporate innovation labs, coding labs, regulators, even robotic classes for kids, etc. However, I truly believe that if we are able to create this innovative environment, whereby anyone can walk in off the street and engage in free training or meet investors from all over the world, we have won half the battle. The other half would be to facilitate all the stakeholders for them to be action and outcome oriented. Let’s share our successes, failures and experiences, so that more resources can be allocated for other innovative projects.