Fintech solutions being used in Cambodia and Ghana have been named as winners of a competition set up to highlight innovations that focus on helping unbanked women.
Women’s World Banking, a New York City-based non-profit organisation that has the Swedish and Australian governments’ development agencies among its backers, announced on 12 October that Boost Capital and People’s Pension Trust had won its third annual ‘Making Finance Work for Women Fintech Innovation Challenge’.
Boost Capital enables micro-lending technology based on chat-style applications, allowing micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Cambodia to receive secured and unsecured loans using smartphones.
People’s Pension Trust, meanwhile, offers ‘digitally driven’ retirement products, particularly for informal workers in Ghana.
Mary Ellen Iskenderian, the president and chief executive of Women’s World Banking, said the winning solutions “clearly demonstrate the game-changing potential of fintechs to advance women’s economic empowerment on a broader scale”.
‘Game-changing potential of fintechs’
“Nearly two years into the pandemic, the compounding economic effects of Covid-19 continue to take a disproportionate toll on women,” said Iskenderian. “Now more than ever, it’s important to ensure equal access for one billion women worldwide who are still excluded from formal financial services.”
Fintechs such as the two winners “create value in areas where traditional financial service providers have not entered, particularly at the local market level”, she continued, adding that she hoped that the competition would “demonstrate to other fintechs, investors and the wider financial sector that serving low-income women is a unique and profitable opportunity”.
The two winning organisations were selected from a quartet of finalists that were chosen from applicants representing 34 countries.
The other two finalists were Scandinavia-headquartered Hive Online and Sierra Leone-based Mosabi.
‘Unique fintech solutions for social equity’
Women’s World Banking’s core funders are the Australian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Australia Aid; Sweden’s government agency for development cooperation SIDA; and the Visa Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the US-headquartered financial services company.
The innovation challenge itself is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), professional services company Ernst & Young (EY) and Facebook’s digital wallet brand Novi.
The judging panel included, among others, Pat Patel, principal executive officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS); Dave Kim from the Seattle-headquartered BMGF’s ‘Financial Services for the Poor’ programme; and Sara Elinson, who leads the Americas fintech mergers-and-acquisitions practice at EY.
“We especially look forward to seeing how our finalists continue to evolve their unique fintech solutions for social equity and inspire future entrepreneurs to follow this path towards financial inclusion,” said Elinson.
Boost Capital and People’s Pension Trust each receive prizes including training sessions on user-experience design, leadership coaching and up to $4,000 (about £2,900) towards the cost of any New York University (NYU) School of Professional Studies courses.
The competition culminated in a virtual event that included a panel discussion entitled ‘Two Sides of a Coin: How Fintech Innovation and Regulation Impact Financial Inclusion’.
WATCH 2021 Fintech Innovation Challenge: Finalist Presentations & Winners Announcement (1hr32min)
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