Meet The Winners Of The Visa Everywhere Initiative

Story Highlights
  • Ayo Arikawe, Co-Founder of ThriveAgric and now the winner of both the global and the CEMEA competitions delivered his pitch on how his fintech is enabling strategic partnerships with financial institutions and agriculture value chain players to provide smallholders with financial services, agriculture inputs, extension, market linkage, e-commerce, and payment services.

Thrive Agric, a fintech providing smallholder farmers access to finance, insights, and distribution was crowned the 2022 winner of the Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI) – a global open innovation program and competition for start-ups and fintech companies. Thrive Agric is also the winner of the Visa Direct award for its role in shaping the future of the money movement in Nigeria.

Taking place in Qatar alongside the FIFA World Cup 2022™, the global finale was preceded by a year-long competition that saw more than 4,000 entrepreneurs across the world entering innovative ideas to solve the payment challenges of tomorrow.  

In addition to the overall winner, the following prizes were awarded:

  • 2nd place: Zeti, a fintech enabling pay-per-use financing of sustainable transport.
  • 3rd place and Audience Favourite:  Huli, a platform that connects patients, doctors, and other healthcare services.

“This year, more than 4,000 fintech participated in the global Visa Everywhere Initiative, including a record 1,130 applications from Central Europe, Middle East, and Africa,” said Andrew Torre, Regional President for CEMEA, Visa. “A new fintech generation is transforming the way consumers and businesses make payments, making it easier for more people to access and move money when they need it. We congratulate Ayo and all the winners in this year’s competition, and we look forward to continuing partnering with fintech to solve the payments challenges of tomorrow”.

Ruben Salazar, Senior Vice President and global head of Visa Direct, said: “As we strive to create more ways for people, SMBs, and larger businesses to participate in the global economy, the VEI competition provides a unique insight into how fintech is helping shape the future of money movement and expanding access to underserved markets and regions. Today’s Visa Direct Award winner will have access to modern tools and teams that help enable global money movement to billions of endpoints worldwide¹.”

The event brought together Visa and industry thought leaders and a previous Visa Everywhere Initiative winner to celebrate the innovative fintech and their solutions. Wade Arnold, founder and CEO of Moov Financial and 2021 Visa Everywhere Initiative North America and Global winner returned as a judge, with special guest Visa’s Dr. Saeeda Jaffar hosting a fireside chat with football legend Marcel Desailly. 

“As a central part of the Nigerian economy, agriculture is the livelihood and main source of income for many of our people. The hard work we’ve put into ThriveAgric will ensure that technology is leveraged to empower farmers across the country. To not only win the CEMEA regional VEI competition but also pitch at the final here in Qatar gives me great confidence in our ability to scale our solutions and continue to enrich farmers’ lives,” said Ayo Arikawe.

The global final of the Visa Everywhere Initiative was livestreamed on TechCrunch and can be viewed on its website here

About the finalists of the Visa Everywhere Initiative

Ayo Arikawe of Thrive Agric (Central Europe, Middle East, and Africa) – Providing smallholder farmers access to finance, insight and distribution.

Ayo co-founded Thrive Agric a platform that connects farmers to finance, best practices, and market. Since launching in June 2017 they have worked with over 250,000 farmers across 23 states in Nigeria. Thrive also opens up its platform to financial service providers, insurers, and lenders which allows them to access data from the farmers and share value with each other. Thrive’s farmers grow 7% of the maize consumed in Nigeria. Ayo is an alumnus of Ycombinator and Google Launchpad. He was Top 10 in Jack Ma African Netpreneur Prize and a YTech 100 recipient by the Future Awards Africa.

Mriganka Pattnaik of Mriganka Pattnaik of Merkle Science (Asia Pacific) – Merkle Science is the next-generation predictive Web3 risk & intelligence platform

Merkle Science is the next-generation Web3 risk mitigation, compliance, and forensics platform. They work with crypto and DeFi businesses, blockchain bridges, NFT players, retailers, financial institutions, insurers, and government agencies around the globe. Their focus on multi-chain and liquidity pool analysis, real-time transaction monitoring, and predictive and machine learning-driven analytics provides our clients with best-in-class solutions and enables Web3’s safe and healthy growth.

Dan Saunders of Zeti (Europe) – Fintech enabling pay-per-use financing of sustainable transport

Zeti helps organizations adopt zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by making it as simple, easy, and transparent as paying for a utility. Powered by real-time data, Zeti’s software improves the financial viability of ZEVs for organizations, generates attractive returns for financiers, and helps manufacturers to sell their vehicles.

Christine De Wendel of Sunday (North America) – The fastest digital payment for restaurants and the industry’s future  

Christine de Wendel is co-founder and CEO of NOAM of Sunday. Prior to this, she was Chief Operating Officer of ManoMano, one of France’s fastest-growing tech companies and Europe’s leading online platform for home improvement. Before joining ManoMano, Christine spent seven years at Zalando, Europe’s largest online fashion retailer, where she built up Zalando’s French business. Christine is passionate about the European tech industry and has become an expert in scaling start-ups. Christine holds a BSc in International Affairs from Georgetown University, an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics, and an MBA from INSEAD.

Alejandro Vega of Huli (Latin America) – Platform that connects patients, doctors and other healthcare services

Alejandro Vega is the CEO of Huli, a Latin American digital healthcare startup. Before founding Huli, Alejandro worked in investment banking where he worked on several cross-border M&A deals. He also worked in General Electric, where he graduated from the Operations Management Leadership Program. Alejandro is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he obtained an MBA from the Wharton School. He is a Fellow of the Lauder Institute Global MBA program and an alumnus of the Portuguese international program. He graduated Summa Cum Laude as an Industrial Engineer from Louisiana State University.

About the Visa Everywhere Initiative

Visa Everywhere Initiative is an open innovation program that helps start-ups unlock new opportunities and gives them a global platform to demonstrate their ground-breaking solutions. The program first launched in the U.S. in 2015 and quickly expanded into a global program. To date, nearly 8,500 start-ups have participated, and have collectively raised more than $16 billion in funding. 

The Visa Everywhere Initiative is open to all start-ups who offer innovative solutions to the payments and commerce challenges of tomorrow. It also helps support start-ups and fintech in two ways: 

  1. As a competition, it gives them a global stage to pitch their solutions to a panel of payments experts, win prizes and gain wider attention in the sector. 
  2. As a program, it plugs start-ups into our global network of partners. This network is accessible to our Visa teams from all over the world when looking for solutions.

About Visa Inc. 

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the Visa (NYSE: V) is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions, and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories each year. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable, and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses, and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of the money movement. Learn more at 


Nichole Manhire

Is the media and brand manager at GFA News. She works very closely with editors and podcasters that contribute to telling the African business success story. For marketing and advertising send Nichole an email:

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