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eSewa and Tootle selected for innovation funding by GSMA

Nepal’s two innovative startup are selected by GSMA for funding. Out of 550 applicant all around Africa and Asia Pacific, GSMA selects 24 innovative startups. Among these 24, Nepal grown innovative startups; eSewa and Tootle managed to win the innovation fund in such global program. This will create a good atmosphere for the innovative minds here in Nepal.

The selection is for the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator program that focuses on bridging the gap between mobile operators and start-up. Thus to enable strong partnerships fostering the growth of innovative mobile products and services. These partnerships bring impactful mobile solutions to the people and places that need them most, generating the greatest socioeconomic impact. In particular, the program operates an Innovation Fund which supports start-ups from Africa and Asia-Pacific with direct grant funding, technical assistance, and connections with mobile operators.

They announced 9 startups (including eSewa) in 2017 while they add 15 more (with Tootle) in 2018 to cover more sectors in their portfolio.  The announcement happen in the sidelines of Mobile world Congress 2018, Barcelona. At first, the fund covered sectors like instance education, transportation or agriculture. All of the start-ups are more committed than ever to leveraging the power of mobile technology to deliver socioeconomic impact, and engagements with mobile operators are progressing. After the addition, more covered sectors includes health, insurance, and logistics, and illustrate a wider range of areas in which local SMEs are using mobile innovation to help solve local problem.

Max Cuvellier, Head of Ecosystem Accelerator programme, GSMA writes, “We are committed to help these  organizations realize their full socioeconomic and commercial potential. We hope the information included in this document will inspire you to engage with them, and to refer relevant start-ups to the upcoming round of our Innovation Fund”.

Here is what GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator program writes about the two popular startups of Nepal.

1. eSewa

Mobile payment service provider allowing users to make online payments, pay utility bills, receive money or set up  merchant accounts.
Founders: Asgar Ali, Biswas Dhakal, Subash Sharma

The Problem

In Nepal, only 34 per cent of adults have an account at a financial institution, and this number is even lower for women (31 per cent) and lower income individuals (24 per cent). Financial inclusion is key to reducing poverty and boosting  prosperity; without it, many societies are held back.

The Start-up

The eSewa mobile payment solution can be accessed either through a mobile app or one of 25,000 agents across the country. Users can buy mobile airtime, pay utility bills, deposit funds in their bank account or perform cash-ins or cash-
outs from their eSewa account. The app can also be used to buy bus tickets, pay for school fees or book trips abroad.

The Project

eSewa received a grant from the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund in April 2017 to improve the usability of its agent app and expand services and operations in eastern Nepal.

2. Tootle

Mobile-based motorbike ride-sharing platform in Nepal
Founders: Sixit Bhatta, Sanjay Golchha, Anand Bagaria, Sanjib Raj Bhandari

The Problem

In the Kathmandu Valley, the population has increased more than 60 per cent over the last decade, putting major  pressure on the public transportation network. Public transportation also appears to be increasingly unsafe for women, with 26 per cent of women aged 19 to 35 reporting they had directly experienced inappropriate touching on public transport.

The Start-up

Tootle is a ride-sharing service provider in Nepal. Drivers can earn additional income of around $20/day from sharing their rides (compared to an average daily income of $2). The Tootle app allows women to choose female drivers and vice
versa. Customers are also able to share tracking codes of their rides with family and friends for added safety. Tootle partners with insurance companies to cover both the passengers and their drivers.

The Project

Tootle received a grant from the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund in February 2018 to increase the number of rides in Kathmandu and enrich the product offering, features and technical capability.

We would like to congratulate these two startups for spreading Nepalese innovation to the global market. This sort of recognition will help and encourage growing youth entrepreneurs and startups to work more. Let the startups rise here in Nepal for more sustainable and technological development for better lives here.

About GSMA: The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organizations in adjacent industry sectors.

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