A financial inclusion enterprise wins Intervarsity 2023 finals in the Tech category

Published On: 15 February 2024|

It was a big week for the founder of Libex, a Web3 ecosystem company whose primary aim is to promote financial inclusion and democratise financial opportunities, bringing people together to allow them access to otherwise out-of-reach investment possibilities.

Mr Asif Aziz, 36, a final year MBA student at the University of the Witwatersrand, and his wife Feroza, celebrated the birth of their fourth child, a girl they’ve named Aqsa. The brand-new baby’s siblings, sister Alizah, 9, brother Isa, 8 and sister Huda, 7 had her arrival and their dad’s win to celebrate last December. 

The Johannesburg based studentpreneur’s idea for Libex secured him a win in the Existing Business – Tech category of the 5th EDHE Entrepreneurship Intervarsity 2023 finals on 1 December, and R20 000. Libex is a platform company (like Airbnb and Uber) that connects a service provider / producer with a product consumer.

Of the overall total of 1266 entries across all categories from 25 of South Africa’s 26 universities, 30 were in the Tech category. Mr Aziz was one of the six finalists in this regard.

Mr Asif Aziz shows off his winning cheque, surrounded to his right by Ms Nontando Mthethwa, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at Allan Gray Orbis Foundation; and to his left by Mr Sandile Shabalala, EDHE’s Senior Student Engagement Officer and Ms Zana Boshoff, EDHE’s Project Officer. 

The event, held just outside Johannesburg, was hosted by Universities South Africa (USAf), through its Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme that is funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).


When his win was announced, a surprised Aziz offered advice to his fellow entrepreneurs: “Entrepreneurship is a difficult road. I’ve been at this for three years while studying. Balancing studying and the business is critically important.”  It had taken him juggling family, work and study life to get here.

After the awards ceremony he said: “I’m delighted to have won. It is confirmation that seven people (the judges) acknowledged that my business model and product have value in the market. While it’s been done in Asia and Europe, it’s a new concept for South Africa.”

Aziz has been in the technology field for the past 10-12 years, having worked in this space for various organisations. 

How Libex works

“We’ve built multiple platforms over the past three years – including NFT marketplaces (a public blockchain platform), an over-the-counter platform; a centralised financial application platform. These applications have various capabilities like micro-lending, staking, borrowing, digital art places. 

“The platform business I am speaking about today is fractionalised ownership, the ability to divide a high value asset into smaller components and offer it into the markets.

“Let’s use a pizza by way of example. If it costs R100, one person with only R20 to spend would not be able to afford that. But five people with R20 each could. We provide the platform where they can come together to buy that high value asset,” he said.

On the market

“We’ve traded already, and – as with our previous platforms – we have a community base of about 25 000 users who trade on the platform.

“We have an asset cap of R2.5-billion in terms of assets that are looking to be raised, of which we’ve been offered R700-million for the raised capacity. When we speak about assets that can go onto a chain, or onto a platform, global management consultants McKinsey recently released a study that says that over the next two decades there should be $500-trillion worth of assets that should be able to be listed on platforms.”

Financial inclusivity

Aziz described Libex’s ‘Northstar’ as financial inclusivity. “In 2023 it is unimaginable that we have a population of 1.7-billion people who are unbanked and underserved.”

He said his team built their platform on a technology stack of modern cloud architecture as well as decentralised finance and offered scalability, security and usability.

“The opportunity at the moment is we currently have a market cap – we are on track to reach about R20-million for this year. We’re looking to get a 5% market share over next 12 – 18 months through adoption of technology.”

He said there was potential for geographic expansion. “We white label our solution to other service providers who want to take the product into their markets.” (White label products are sold by retailers with their own branding and logo but the products themselves are manufactured by a third party.)

Aziz concluded saying that his company was going through a funding round at the moment.

Judges’ questions

Judge Martin Matshego (Head: Investment Readiness): You are currently on $1-million? Is that over lifetime or current financial year?

Response: That referred to the current financial year. And that is across all our various products. Regarding fractional ownership, we’ve only done R1.5-million up until now – and that is on two specific projects in the renewal energy and the real estate space.

Judge Matshego: What does your shareholding look like?

Response: 50% We went through two funding rounds already: pre-seed and seed, and we diluted shares in that instance. I was initially the founder and I diluted shares. I’m currently in a pre-seeding round and I’m speaking to a few investors.

Judge Karen Eksteen, CEO InnoCircle: What does your team look like?

Response: We have 22 at the moment – majority of them developers. Most of them are techies. But we have R2.5-billion worth of projects on the platform including a Hyde Park development in partnership with JW Marriott. So, our team also has some business development members.

Judge Miles Kubheka, CEO of Wakanda Food Accelerator, Entrepreneur: Would that platform allow people in a stokvel to acquire assets?

Response: Yes. I’m speaking to five different white label service providers who have access to market and list it is as their product. One of them is a stokvel platform. They’re using a mobile app to create these pools. They want to list these projects onto the stokvel participants so instead of just saving, they can invest into a Marriot hotel or a renewable energy product.

Judge Miles Kubheka: What happens if I want to exit?

Response: You don’t know who the partners are. In our legal structure we’ve created an en commandite partnership (when parties agree to carry on the partnership in the name of one or some of the partners). An FSP (functional service provider) sits as a general partner and everyone who comes in is an unlimited partner. The cost for you to play is R10 – so you can be a partner in a R2m deal for R10. That’s a lot of people – we are able to manage the masses because of the technology we use. So, if you want to exit, you put your R10 up for sale and a secondary market will buy you out.

Judge Duduzile Mathabela, Enterprise Development at Standard Bank: What is the breakdown of your ask?

Response: So, the ask from this panel is acknowledgement. Libex is in the market. We are trading. We want to do an approach to marketing. 

We have about 25000 community members strong trading with a white label we launched last week. It grows and fluctuates depending on the projects we have to offer. We have webinars, events. Its disruptive tech so we have a large educational component.

Charmain Naidoo is a contract writer for Universities South Africa.