Sierra Leone FinTech Challenge 2017


This page provides a useful summary and the latest news in relation to ‘Sierra Leone’s FinTech Challenge 2017’.

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.

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 is 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.

In Round 1, the three most promising concepts will each receive up to $13,000 to strengthen the design and test the business case. This seed capital will be used to test the product, service or solution; buy in technical expertise and strengthen the business case. The Round 1 application form can be found below. The Bank of Sierra Leone’s Youth Entrepreneurship Fund and FSD Africa will provide the seed capital.

In Round 2, up to two winning proposals will then be selected to pitch their concepts to the UNCDF and FSD Africa Investment Committees for up to $100,000 of investment. 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 three 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.

Who Can Apply?

Please review the briefing note below for full eligibility and assessment criteria.

How Will The Judging Process Work?

Round One applications will be judged by Panel A. Panel A will comprise three technical experts, and one consumer group representative – from Bank of Sierra Leone, FSD Kenya and UNCDF.

Round Two applications will be judged by Panel A and Panel B. Panel B will comprise three consumer group representatives.

For both rounds, judges will be selected to provide technical and commercial insight from an independent perspective. Please see below for details of Panel A judges.

NB. Judges are chosen and vetted by senior managers at FSD Africa and UNCDF. Any conflicts of interest are identified and addressed.

Upcoming Events and Deadlines

There are two immediate dates on the horizon.

  • Market Engagement Event – 15 June (1100-1200 GMT). The Bank of Sierra Leone and its partners invite key decision makers at financial service providers to join us at the Bank of Sierra Leone, Freetown for a breakfast market engagement event. At this meeting Bank of Sierra LeoneFSD Africa and UNCDF representatives will be on hand to explain more.
  • Round One Application Deadline – 15 July (1700 GMT). Round One Application Forms must be submitted to: ‘‘ with the subject line: ‘Sierra Leone Finch Challenge 2017 Application’ for assessment by judging Panel A. Please find Round One Application Forms below.


FSD Africa is very grateful for its partnerships with the Bank of Sierra Leone, UNCDFUSAid and the Last Mile Trust Fund.

Supporting Documents

At present, there are three key documents that underpin this project.

  • 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.