Washington DC, June 15, 2020 – A group of global organizations driving innovation and investment in financial services for low-income populations announced the launch of the 2020 Inclusive Fintech 50 application period. In its second year, the initiative will identify a cohort of 50 high-potential, early-stage, and innovative fintech startups driving financial inclusion and resilience for the 3 billion financially underserved people worldwide.
Inclusive Fintech 50 creates visibility for the most promising inclusive fintechs with a solution among credit, insurance, payments and remittances, savings and personal financial management, and infrastructure addressing challenges of underserved segments. The initiative brings selected fintechs together with leading investors in the space, and develops industry insights from aggregated and anonymized applicant data.
The selection takes place through a competitive process led by an independent judging panel of experts from venture capital, technology, and financial services firms. The competitive process identifies startups poised for success through four criteria: inclusiveness, innovation, scale potential, and traction. Inclusiveness is determined by the degree to which each applicant’s target market includes underserved people and businesses, and the related problem the startup is aiming to solve.
Selected fintechs will benefit from increased visibility, with the opportunity to connect with peers and position themselves for investment through connections to investors. Two of the selected fintechs will also receive cash prizes of USD 25,000 based on the judging panel’s assessment of their contributions to the financial resilience – or the ability to withstand and recover from shocks – of low-income households and micro-, small- and medium-enterprises (MSMEs).
Inclusive Fintech 50 was founded by MetLife Foundation and Visa Inc., with support from Accion and IFC, and additional funding from BlackRock and Jersey Overseas Aid & Comic Relief. The initiative is implemented by MIX, the global data resource for investors focused on inclusive finance.
“Now more than ever, fintechs play a crucial role in expanding financial services to vulnerable populations,” said Mark Pickens, Senior Director, Social Impact at Visa Inc. “Visa believes in the power of digital payments as an on-ramp for unbanked and underserved people, which is all the more important as we seek to help lower-income communities to mitigate, adapt to, and recover from economic turmoil.”
Particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has slowed fintech startup investment worldwide, many early-stage inclusive fintechs – those that target underserved populations and are self-funded, seed-stage, Series A, or Series B – face difficulties accessing capital and knowledge resources that can help position them for growth. This is partially due to the limited reach of investor networks outside of financial and innovation hubs. At the same time, the wider fintech ecosystem, including donors and incubators, needs market-level insight to inform strategic investment decisions.
“Financial services act as a stabilizing force for low- and moderate-income people, enabling them to build resilience and plan for the future,” said Evelyn Stark, Financial Health Lead at MetLife Foundation. “COVID-19 has further underscored the importance of being prepared for financial shocks. The 2019 edition of Inclusive Fintech 50 confirmed that fintech startups are creating new models that can reduce the vulnerability of households and businesses and facilitate inclusive growth.”
In 2019, Inclusive Fintech 50 attracted eligible applications from 400 fintechs based in 72 countries and with a combined customer base of nearly 70 million people. The 50 selected fintechs stood out from their peers through innovative business models, cost-effective distribution channels and partnerships, and products tailored to the unique needs of their underserved populations. In addition, the 50 fintechs demonstrated strong alignment between their business models and social impact goals.
Interested early-stage fintechs can apply between June 15 and July 10, 2020. Applications will be accepted in English, Spanish, and French. The 2020 cohort will be announced in October. Visit www.inclusivefintech50.com for more information and to learn about each of the independent judges:
- Nejoud Al Mulaik, Director, Fintech Saudi
- Bindu Ananth, Chair, Dvara Trust
- Tarek Assaad, Managing Partner, Algebra Ventures
- Sarah Austrin-Willis, Senior Director, Financial Health Network
- Ginger Baker, Senior Director of Product, Ripple
- William Bao Bean, General Partner, SOSV
- Henry Baye, CEO, Jersey CI, Standard Chartered Bank
- Keith Berry, Executive Director, Moody’s Analytics Accelerator
- Melissa Bradley, Co-Founder, Ureeka
- Maelis Carraro, Director, BFA Catalyst Fund
- Nadine Chehade, Sr. Financial Sector Specialist, CGAP
- Tamara Cook, CEO, FSD Kenya
- Marta Cruz, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, NXTP
- Max Cuvellier, Head of Mobile for Development, GSMA
- Jacqueline Dufie Mpare, Head of Agency Banking, Ecobank
- Bernhard Eikenberg, Partner, Emerging Markets, Community Investment Management
- Marie-Therese Fam, Managing Partner, Flat6Labs
- Buhle Goslar, Africa CEO, Jumo
- Heather Henyon, Founding General Partner, Mindshift Capital
- Brad Jones, CEO, Wave Money
- Zennon Kapron, Founder/Director, Kapronasia
- Machal Karim, Executive, CDC Group
- Dave Kim, Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Helen Lin, Principal, At One Ventures
- Terry Luciani, Vice President, Enterprise Innovation, MetLife
- Jojo Malolos, CEO, Digital Equity Ventures and Data Analytics Ventures
- Robert Mitchnick, Vice President, BlackRock
- Tayo Oviosu, Founder & CEO, Paga
- Mark Pickens, Senior Director, Social Impact, Visa Inc.
- Liliana Pozzo, Advisory Services Manager, IFC
- Maria Puch Herreros de Tejada, Institutional Development Director, New Ventures Mexico
- Amir Rizwan, Senior Advisor, Social Investment & Innovation, Comic Relief
- Rocio Robles, Partner, Tenet Consultores, S.C.
- Shwetank Verma, Co-Founder and General Partner, Leo Capital
- Graham Wright, Managing Director, MicroSave
- Zia Zaman, Innovator
- Gabriela Zapata Alvarez, Independent Consultant (Financial Inclusion)
Please direct media inquiries to:
Nikhil Gehani, MIX
+1 248 388 1630
Katie Mounts, Accion
+1 202 280 5859
About Inclusive Fintech 50
Inclusive Fintech 50 elevates promising early-stage fintechs driving financial inclusion and resilience around the globe through a competitive process led by an independent panel of judges from venture capital, technology, and financial services. Applicants are assessed on the degree to which their target market includes underserved people or businesses, and whether their innovation offers a new value proposition, shows early-stage traction, and can have a noticeable impact on the more than 3 billion financially undeserved people globally. Inclusive Fintech 50 was founded by MetLife Foundation and Visa, with support from Accion and IFC, and additional funding from BlackRock and Jersey Overseas Aid & Comic Relief. The initiative is implemented by MIX, the global data resource for investors focused on inclusive finance. Learn more at www.inclusivefintech50.com.
About MetLife Foundation
At MetLife Foundation, we believe financial health belongs to everyone. We bring together bold solutions, deep financial expertise and meaningful grants to build financial health for people and communities that are underserved and aspire for more. We partner with organizations around the world to create financial health solutions and build stronger communities, engaging MetLife employee volunteers to help drive impact. To date, our financial health work has reached more 9.9 million low-income individuals in 42 countries. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit metlife.org.
About Visa Inc.
Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network – enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of connected commerce on any device, and a driving force behind the dream of a cashless future for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce. For more information visit About Visa and @VisaNews.
BlackRock’s purpose is to help more and more people experience financial well-being. As a fiduciary to investors and a leading provider of financial technology, our clients turn to us for the solutions they need when planning for their most important goals. As of March 31, 2020, the firm managed approximately $6.47 trillion in assets on behalf of investors worldwide. For additional information on BlackRock, please visit www.blackrock.com | Twitter: @blackrock | Blog: www.blackrockblog.com | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/blackrock.
About Jersey Overseas Aid & Comic Relief’s Branching Out: Financial Inclusion at the Margins program
In 2018, Comic Relief and Jersey Overseas Aid announced a four-year £8 million partnership called ‘Branching Out: Financial Inclusion at the Margins’ to improve access to affordable financial services for those at the margins of society in in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Zambia. Comic Relief and Jersey Overseas Aid believe that one of the best ways to do this is by transferring knowledge to build responsible and inclusive financial systems, incubating FinTech, and focusing on service delivery to increase bottom-of-the-pyramid access to financial services including bank accounts, savings, insurance and credit, providing low-income households with the means to plan for the future as well as unexpected events. The partnership grants support a diverse set of organisations, made up of international and local NGOs, with each grantee delivering programmes designed to meet different community and national needs in addressing financial inclusion.
Accion’s seed-stage investment initiative Accion Venture Lab provides capital and extensive support to innovative fintech startups that improve the reach, quality, and affordability of financial services for the underserved and have the potential to scale. Backed by commercial and impact investors since the launch of its third-party fund in 2019, Venture Lab has invested in more than 40 early-stage startups that operate in 30 countries worldwide. Venture Lab is a part of Accion, a global nonprofit committed to creating a financially inclusive world, with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. Accion catalyzes financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions at scale for the three billion people who are left out of – or poorly served by – the financial sector. For more than 50 years, Accion has helped tens of millions of people through our work with more than 110 partners in 50 countries. For further information, visit https://www.accion.org/venturelab.
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In fiscal year 2019, we delivered more than $19 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org
MIX is the leading global data resource for socially responsible investors and businesses focused on inclusive finance. As a unit within the Center for Financial Inclusion, MIX’s data initiatives encourage the growth of inclusive markets and support informed thinking on the future of financial services. MIX convenes stakeholders to build common data standards that create transparency and develops strategic insight from complex data to help sectors flourish. Founded in 2002, MIX has served as a trusted data partner for socially responsible investors who move USD 10 billion annually. Learn more at www.themix.org.