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Clever fintech ideas earn entrepreneurs data science skills

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 05 Mar 2019
Participants of the Explore initiative will stand a chance to be accepted into the AlphaCode Incubate programme.
Participants of the Explore initiative will stand a chance to be accepted into the AlphaCode Incubate programme.

Explore, a joint initiative by the Explore Data Science Academy and start-up incubation vehicle AlphaCode, has selected 20 candidates to participate in its 12-month data science and business skills programme.

Sponsored by Rand Merchant Investments a fintech division of AlphaCode, Explore aims to take the candidates' fintech ideas and turn them into viable business models.

The programme, described by its creators as a "mini Master of Business Administration" course, seeks to provide participants with entrepreneurial data science skills.

Some of the selected ideas include a peer-to-peer blockchain-based authentication system for debit orders that protects the interests of all role-players, including the consumer, respective business and the issuing bank; a medical platform which enables low income individuals to access quality healthcare in the private sector; and a mobile payment app that allows parents to make payment of their children's school fees while enabling them to save for their eventual tertiary education.

"The calibre of applicants and their ideas was impressive, demonstrating the depth of talent that exists within South Africans of all backgrounds," says Shaun Dippnall, co-founder of the Explore Data Science Academy.

"Data is the new oil and will drive the future of business. Explore aims to produce great fintech entrepreneurs who can provide the necessary momentum to grow our economy."

The programme is offered at no cost to the candidates and includes a stipend to cover major living expenses during the year.

The winning entrepreneurs will go through an intensive data science training and coaching programme, during which they will learn how to design a 10X business (a business with exponential growth potential), along with the core digital skills needed to build a fintech organisation.

This will be followed by three months of intense business training, when their fintech ideas will be reviewed, assessed and refined.

"Each participant is matched with a seasoned fintech entrepreneur as a mentor who will assist them with their business pitch," notes Dippnall.

"This is so that the entrepreneurs are given access to the best coaching and mentorship available, with a view to their idea being accepted into the AlphaCode Incubate programme, which will offer further support."

Commenting on the quality of those selected for the Explore programme, Andile Maseko, head of ecosystem development at AlphaCode, says: "Participants are a very impressive mix, including self-taught developers, an actuarial graduate, a candidate with a masters in science and a junior medical doctor.

"Based on the ideas submitted, the cohort is very aware of the potential impact of blockchain, data analytics and artificial intelligence, and how these technologies can create financial services offerings that will disrupt the industry. The programme will help refine these ideas."