Our blogIntroducing Sigma: A Step Towards Africa’s AI Transformation
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It’s 2023, and the world is turning right side up with the transformative potential of AI—promising to reshape our very existence. Yet, amidst this global revolution, one pressing question lingers: will Africa actively participate in this or merely remain a bystander?

Now, here’s the interesting twist: even with the vast resources, so-called global tech companies and upcoming AI startups still struggle with a critical blind spot—the lack of access to authentic African data. They build and offer us solutions built with very little to no regard to the unique African context, leading to great inefficiencies in addressing the specific needs of players in this ecosystem.

The big question then comes; can Africa truly drive its own transformation from within?

The Big Why

At Pastel, we strongly believe in the transformative potential of AI. However, many of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven solutions that are built in the West are built for Western use cases and are trained on Western data. It’s disheartening to see that most of these efforts are primarily concentrated on developing solutions for already developed countries, inadvertently leaving behind the developing nations, where the need for these solutions is the biggest.

Yet, for us, this presents a remarkable opportunity rather than a mere challenge—the chance for Africa to pave its own path and lead its transformation, building tailor–made solutions on data and patterns right from within. What a time to be alive, indeed!

Over the last two years at Pastel, we have built a suite of products for African businesses ranging from business management tools to financial services, scaling to over 150,000 users across the continent. In doing so, we have learned about, and experienced firsthand, many of the pain points in the financial services industry within Africa.

The Big Reveal

This is why we are more than thrilled to introduce Sigma, our suite of AI products designed to empower enterprises, and solve some of the pain points that every financial service provider experiences. With Sigma, we are unleashing the power of AI in tackling fraud, credit risk assessment, and insights for financial service businesses in Africa. Sigma is built in Africa, for Africans, and by those with a deep local context of Africa.

We’ve built infrastructure that enables us access to millions of data points on African users and has allowed us to build artificial intelligence (AI) models that are custom built for Africa. With Sigma, enterprises can improve efficiency by leveraging:

👉🏽 Our real-time fraud detection capabilities to minimize financial losses and reinforce protection from fraudulent activities.

👉🏽 Our statement analyzer solution which provides comprehensive insights into financial health, cash flow, and transaction patterns of users.

👉🏽 And, our credit risk assessment tool which empowers enterprises to evaluate creditworthiness and minimize risks, while allowing millions of people to access credit at favorable rates.

At the initial stage of our growth, we built all of these as pieces of infrastructure for our own solutions, but quickly realized that many other companies also share the same pain points. By extending Sigma to other players, we want to play a role in building the emerging ecosystem in Africa.

We've built a rock-solid team with top-notch expertise in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science. Our talented members come from the likes of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford, and Carnegie Mellon, and they've built solutions for banks and more.

And the most interesting part is this—we’re only just getting started!

Moving Ahead

Now, the possibilities are endless, and we are committed to empowering Africa’s transformation with AI while fostering a collaborative ecosystem. We’re continuously working to enhance Sigma's capabilities and expand its offerings to industry leaders, financial institutions, and technology providers to further strengthen the impact of Sigma and the ecosystem's robustness.

And yes, there's more! We’ll be posting more regularly on our blog as well! Stay tuned for exciting updates and new features as we continue to evolve Sigma to address emerging challenges and build a collaborative ecosystem.