The Co-operative Bank on Friday, July 24, announced the launch of the Akili Kali Innovation Challenge to develop technology solutions for co-operative societies.
Also supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the virtual challenge is expected to result in the creation of financial technology (fintech) solutions capable of efficiently serving the needs of members of co-operative societies.
Interested innovators can apply through the Co-operative Bank website, with the deadline set for Friday, August 7.
The challenge will see several candidates short-listed to enter a five-week co-development and co-design program alongside a team from Co-op Bank and nominated co-operative societies.
At the end of the program, a virtual demo event will be held where candidates will showcase their final, improved solutions.
One or more winners selected at the demo event will receive Ksh5 million as a cash prize for their efforts.
In addition, they will get to partner with Co-operative Bank and co-operative societies to integrate and officially launch their innovations.
“The new innovations will also give co-operatives 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 bank noted in a press release.
Kenya’s co-operative movement is widely considered among the most vibrant in the world; with more than 22,000 registered co-operatives holding over Ksh600 billion in savings.
Co-operative Bank owes its history to this movement, as the bank was established by coffee farmers who came together in 1968. Co-operative societies currently own 64.5% of the bank through a special purpose vehicle known as Co-op Holdings Limited.
While launching the innovation challenge, the Bank’s Director of Co-operatives Banking Vincent Marangu noted the need for co-operative societies to fully transition into the digital age.
He observed that societies could capitalise on the growth of the larger co-operatives movement to offer important services to their members by leveraging on the digital revolution.