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CO-OP Bank’s $50K Akili Kali Innovation Challenge to Digitize Chamas

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Co-operative Bank has launched the Co-op Akili Kali Innovation challenge to address the gaps and challenges faced by Cooperative Societies.

Co-operative Bank, which was launched to serve Cooperative societies in Kenya, says the Akili Kali Challenge will see innovators build the next generation of financial solutions beneficial to the Co-operative movement and its membership of over 20 million Kenyans.

Supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), applications should be submitted through the Co-operative Bank website by 7th August 2020. The shortlisted candidates will be taken through a 5-week co-development and co-design program supported by a dedicated team, after which a virtual demo event will be held to select one or more winners. The winners stand to be awarded a cash reward of up to Kes 5M and an opportunity to integrate and launch their innovation with Co-operative bank.

Co-operative Bank is looking for technology innovators that can rapidly develop solutions to build value for Co-operatives and enable them to service members’ demands more efficiently while ensuring that the essence of the Co-operative movement, which is engrained in enabling both national and social development for individuals through a shared economy, is sustained. The new innovations will also give Cooperatives a competitive edge and strengthen their resilience in the rapidly changing financial landscape in Kenya, particularly in light of the myriad challenges occasioned by COVID-19.

The Co-operative Movement in Kenya is the largest in Africa and among the top 10 globally, with over 22,000 registered Co-operatives and over Kes 600B in savings. Co-operatives play a major role in all the key sectors of the economy including Education, Agriculture, Housing and Transport. It employs more than 500,000 people besides providing opportunities for self-employment to many more.

Co-operative Bank has a long history with the Co-operative movement, having been started by coffee farmers back in 1968 and now owned 64.56% by Co-operatives through a special purpose vehicle known as Co-op Holdings Limited. Speaking during the rollout of the Co-op Akili Kali Innovation Challenge, the Bank’s Director of Co-operatives Banking Mr. Vincent Marangu noted that the growth trends of Co-operatives in Kenya indicate a great opportunity for Co-operatives to offer valuable services to existing and potential new members whose demand for more and better services has grown with the digital revolution.


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