Sierra Leone FinTech Challenge 2017


This page provides a useful summary and the latest news in relation to ‘Sierra Leone’s FinTech Challenge 2017’. This is the first step in FSD Africa’s increasing commitment to inclusive financial sector development in Sierra Leone.

 What is the FinTech Challenge 2017?

The Challenge was designed to encourage and catalyse the development of FinTech solutions that are useful and highly relevant to the people and businesses of Sierra Leone. These innovations have the potential to introduce game-changing ingredients for expanding quality of access and usage of financial services in Sierra Leone, where over 87% of the population remain unbanked, especially those living in rural areas, women, young people, smallholder farmers and marginalized population groups.

The applications were judged by a panel comprised of three technical experts – from Bank of Sierra Leone, FSD Kenya and UNCDF. The winners of Round 1 will each receive $13,000 to strengthen the design and test the business case. From there, Round 1 winners will be invited to pitch their concepts to the UNCDF and FSD Africa Investment Committees for up to $100,000 of investment where two awards will be given. If approval is given, independent due diligence will begin. If funding is awarded, the project will move to pilot testing and/or scale up.

The Bank of Sierra Leone will provide all finalists with access to its newly launched Regulatory Sandbox – a safe space for unregulated financial sector innovations to grow under the guidance of the Bank of Sierra Leone staff and other specialists.


The Sierra Leone FinTech Challenge 2017 is an initiative by the Bank of Sierra Leone, in partnership with FSD Africa funded by UK Aid from the UK government and UNCDF, with support from USAid and the Last Mile Trust Fund.

Recent Updates

We are delighted to announce that after receiving 20 strong applications, the judges were able to narrow it down to three winners. This was done on the basis of ‘feasibility, relevance and impact’ in driving game-changing innovation to the quality and usage of financial products in Sierra Leone.

We are now in the process of formalising four grant agreements with the following winners, who will all receive $13,000 over the coming months to strengthen the design and test the business case before Round 2, where they can be awarded up to $100,000.

Winners: Datapool, ACE, Salone MF/InvestED

Key Events

  • Market Engagement Event – 15 June (1100-1200 GMT). The Bank of Sierra Leone and its partners invited key decision makers at financial service providers to join us at the Bank of Sierra Leone Complex, Freetown for a breakfast market engagement event. At this meeting Bank of Sierra LeoneFSD Africa and UNCDF representatives were on hand to explain more.
  • Round One Application Deadline – 15 July (1700 GMT). The deadline for the submission of Round One Application Forms was 15th July 2017.
  • Round One Grant Agreements – TBC. Business case development, concept testing and capacity strengthening underway with first disbursements completed.
  • Round Two Application Deadline – TBC. Round Two Application Forms must be submitted to: ‘‘ with the subject line: ‘Sierra Leone Fintech Challenge’ for assessment.


Key Documents:

  • Concept Note. A more detailed description of the project, highlighting why FSD Africa will use a competition mechanism, how it will work, and why it will focus on enterprise credit. It also provides useful details on expected timings and the application process.
  • Round One Application Form. An unlocked MS Word document template. This is designed for Round 1 applicants to complete and submit to FSD Africa for assessment. It should take no longer than two hours to complete.
  • National Financial Inclusion Strategy (2017-2020)This document highlights the Bank of Sierra Leone’s vision for financial inclusion in Sierra Leone. It has detailed digital finance and fintech sections.
  • Panel A (Round 1) Judges. Representatives from FSD Kenya, UNCDF and Bank of Sierra Leone – which have been vetted by senior management – and will provide a clear and independent assessment of the commercial and technical strength of each application. Please find there bios here.

Please note that any commercially sensitive information disclosed during the application process will be treated in the strictest of confidence by the partners involved.