MetLife Foundation and Visa, Accion and IFC have announced the winners of the Inclusive Fintech 50, a competition launched in February to help early-stage fintech companies attract capital and resources to benefit the world’s 3 billion financially underserved people.
The 50 winners demonstrate the power of financial technology to expand access, usage, and quality of financial services in advanced and emerging markets.
Approximately 30 percent of the winners provide credit products to underserved segments including MSMEs, and approximately 25 percent offer infrastructure solutions like biometrics software that enable financial institutions to expand access to previously excluded groups.
Fintechs offering insurance, payments & remittances services, and savings & personal financial management tools each made up approximately 15 percent of the winners.
“Existing research indicates that investment capital has largely overlooked early-stage and inclusive fintechs in several markets,” said Marianne Mwaniki, Head of Social Impact at Visa, Inc. “This group of winners makes clear that there are high-potential startups with viable products and business models – and they’re ready for investment.”
Nearly 70 percent of the winners are pre-Series A, yet these startups already exhibit strong product-market fit and traction, as demonstrated by their combined 8 million customers. In terms of geographic distribution, nearly one-third operate in more than one region, and another third operate exclusively in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Inclusive Fintech 50 demonstrates that there are lesser-known fintechs able to reach underserved populations with appropriate financial products,” said Sarah Willis, Director of Financial Health & Inclusion at MetLife Foundation. “We want to support startups that are addressing the holistic needs of these target segments with the ultimate goal of improving their financial health.”
The winners are listed below by operating regions:
Middle East & North Africa
- Dinarak (payments & remittances)
- Dopay (payments & remittances)
- ACRE Africa (insurance)
- Apollo Agriculture (credit)
- awamo (infrastructure)
- E-Settlement (infrastructure)
- Hello Paisa (payments & remittances)
- Inclusivity Solutions (insurance)
- Kwara (infrastructure)
- MaTontine (infrastructure)
- Numida (infrastructure)
- OZÉ (infrastructure)
- PEG Africa (credit)
- People’s Pension Trust (savings & personal financial management)
- Pezesha (credit)
- Pula (insurance)
- Riby (infrastructure)
- Tulaa (credit)
- 4Told Fintech (credit)
- AID:Tech (payments & remittances)
- Blockbonds (savings & personal financial management)
- Click2Sure (insurance)
- CreditEnable (credit)
- Everest (infrastructure)
- hiveonline (infrastructure)
- Mosabi (credit)
- Musoni Systems (infrastructure)
- MyCash Online (payments & remittances)
- Peppermint (payments & remittances)
- Stonestep (insurance)
- Teknospire (infrastructure)
- Thunes (payments & remittances)
Inclusive Fintech 50 is implemented by MIX, the global data resource for socially responsible investors and businesses committed to financial inclusion.
The 2019 Inclusive Fintech 50
Scroll down for the full list or click to view winners by product category.
B2C | CREDIT | KENYA
Apollo Agriculture uses machine learning, remote imaging via satellite, and mobile money to provide proven agricultural tools and financing to African farmers in a low-cost and highly-scalable way. Apollo’s innovation is twofold: first, they build credit profiles for unbanked smallholder farmers using machine learning models that process large volumes of customer data, including satellite data of customer fields. Second, they have built automated, digital processes for each step in the customer lifecycle, from customer acquisition, to training, to collecting repayment. Approved customers receive a mobile voucher to their feature phones, which they redeem at their nearby agro-dealer for a customized bundle of inputs on credit. These loans come bundled with insurance and advice, delivered digitally throughout the growing season. Apollo’s approach reduces the cost and complexity of lending to small-scale farmers, and allowed Apollo to grow their customer base 5x in 2018. Apollo’s leadership team brings together expertise in technology, data science, and ag-operations from The Climate Corporation, Uber, the One Acre Fund, and ACRE Africa.
B2B | CREDIT | UNITED STATES
Mosabi drives behavior change in entrepreneurs in India, Kenya, Mexico, Senegal and Sierra Leone through mobile e-learning, incentives and calls-to-action; data harvested through this process is then funneled to financial institutions as a new basis for credit scoring. The financial literacy curriculum is constructed by Mosabi’s local expertise – lessons are customized to users’ environments and available in local languages. Its learners are low-income entrepreneurs in cities, peri-urban areas, villages and slums, many of whom operate in the informal economy with no financial identity or footprint. Partner financial institutions can access the data, including KYC information, e-learning performance insights, questionnaire responses and Mosabi’s alternative credit score via open APIs – and then offer financial products to borrowers. To date, Mosabi has on-boarded 20,000 micro-entrepreneurs across five countries.
B2C | CREDIT | MAURITIUS
PEG Africa is a leader in financing and deploying solar to consumers and SMEs in West Africa, with operations in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal. The founders of PEG Africa have significant experience in combining financing and solar energy in West Africa, having been involved with two similar companies previously. PEG sells products as varied as solar home systems including lights, phone charging, radio and a torch, all the way to solar water irrigation systems for farmers. All of its solar products are integrated with mobile money pay-as-you-go functionality, and bundled with financing options. PEG’s products are designed for underserved communities, often in rural and peri-urban areas, which lack reliable and affordable electricity. Additionally, once a good credit history has been established, PEG ensures that customers can graduate to additional services such as health insurance, larger solar home systems or productive use assets like solar generators. To date, 70,000 customers now have access to electricity.
B2B2C | CREDIT | KENYA
Pezesha addresses the limited coverage of credit bureaus in Kenya by offering ‘credit-decisioning-as-a-service’ for financial institutions through its marketplace platform. Through Patascore, its proprietary credit scoring model that integrates traditional and alternative data with machine learning algorithms, Pezesha calculates scores for thin-file or no-file borrowers. Of the users that seek out its SMS application and trusted third-party services in assessing their credit worthiness, 80 percent are women undertaking informal businesses (MSMEs). Pezesha embraces a hybrid approach, and includes financial literacy education within the SMS application to frame responsible credit as a wider wealth creation tool. Its competitive lending structure ensures transparent, affordable interest rates, while its positive and negative credit data has reduced portfolios’ non-performing loans by up to 20 percent. To date, Pezesha has connected 100,000+ low-income Kenyans to lenders.
B2B2C | CREDIT | KENYA
Tulaa provides smallholder farmers in Kenya with agricultural inputs on credit and brokers the sale of their crops at harvest time through a digital marketplace. The founder of Tulaa has deep experience in the sector; she led a microfinance institution in Tanzania, created the Connected Farmer initiative with Vodafone, and served as Chief Executive Officer at Esoko. Through a credit score that relies on alternative data such as satellite imagery and mobile money records, Tulaa has reduced the loan decision process to minutes. Its customers were previously invisible to financial lenders, with 71% of its borrowers reporting no access to input financing prior to Tulaa. Its role as a digital broker aims to shorten the supply chain and reduce post-harvest losses, which in 2017 amounted to 1.9 million tons of products with USD 1.5 billion. This year Tulaa expects to sell inputs on credit to 4,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya and broker produce sales for at least 2,000 farmers.
B2B2C | INSURANCE | KENYA
ACRE Africa links smallholder farmers in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania to crop, livestock and index insurance products to protect against unpredictable weather. Incubated at Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, ACRE Africa was eventually spun-off into a standalone company that automates weather risk modeling, SMS and USSD channel communication and disbursement of claims in the insurance process. It has acquired a large customer base by using an offline platform where piecemeal premiums collection and claims are rooted in scratch cards and mobile money. Through alternative data like GPS trails, mobile account activity and crop specialization, ACRE Africa can render more smallholder farmers eligible for coverage. As of 2018, over 1,700,000 farmers had cumulatively insured over USD $181 million worth of assets against a variety of weather risks underwritten by six different insurers.
B2B2C | INSURANCE | SOUTH AFRICA
Founded in 2016, Click2Sure is a full-stack digital platform through which retailers, service providers, distributors and brokers can offer specialized insurance products to customers – at the point-of-sale. Click2Sure has digitized the process of insurance distribution, administration, and claims with full reporting capability. Click2Sure utilizes both online and offline distribution channels to increase accessibility and, together, the features decrease the cost of on-boarding and serving previously difficult-to-reach customer segments. Click2Sure’s platform and API enables partners to offer more competitive premiums to the customer while seeing greater profitability compared to traditional insurance models. Click2Sure aims to do things simply, focusing on three fundamental aspects of the insurance value-chain: distribution, administration, and reporting.
B2B2C | INSURANCE | SOUTH AFRICA
Inclusivity Solutions designs, builds, and operates digital insurance solutions on top of the rails of mobile network operators, banks, microfinance institutions and other distribution partners in Cotê d’Ivoire, Kenya and Rwanda. The founder, who has an extensive footprint in the microinsurance sector, previously held executive roles at Bankable Frontier Associates, FinMark Trust and Hollard Insurance Group. Its insurance products are customized from product development to distribution and administration though its cloud-based, agile technology platform. The product portfolio is most concentrated in hospitalization insurance, from Orange’s Indemnité Hospitalisation in Cotê d’Ivoire to Equitel’s Riziki Cover in Kenya. Policy holders, who are predominately vulnerable low-to-middle income workers from sectors such as agriculture or education, can purchase insurance, submit claims and receive reimbursements through their feature phone. To date, Inclusivity Solutions has over 520,000 registered customers across three countries.
B2B2C | INSURANCE | KENYA
Pula bundles affordable area-yield index insurance with tailored advice for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia. The three founders have expertise in insurance, actuarial accounting, agriculture, and mobile technology. By integrating insurance with agricultural inputs (a “pull product” that farmers actively demand and purchase) into the operations of rural agro-dealers, Pula overcomes the challenges of distribution and client acquisition. Informed by remote-sensing and satellite images, Pula underwrites agricultural supplies like seeds and fertilizer against environmental irregularities; this is complemented by an adaptive SMS messaging advisory platform that tailors messages with a high degree of specificity and timeliness. In 2018, Pula facilitated coverage for over 800,000 smallholder farmers, with the average customer owning less than one acre.
Payments & Remittances
B2B2C | PAYMENTS & REMITTANCES | IRELAND
AID:Tech manages the transfer of digital assets such as international aid, welfare, remittances, and health entitlements, while generating a permanent and traceable transaction record through blockchain technologies. AID:Tech’s platform acts as a transparency engine for governmental bodies, development agencies, NGOs, charities, corporations and individuals. With digital identity at the core, users gain control and power over personal transactional data in a way that is trackable and, in the future, could be collateralized. The end-beneficiaries, or those who lack basic access to governmental social services, access the unique digital identity through either online accounts or physical smart cards in the case of weak mobile penetration. To date, AID:Tech has personalized five proprietary use case solutions that are deployed across Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
B2B2C | PAYMENTS & REMITTANCES | UNITED KINGDOM
Dopay provides employers a unified solution to digitize payroll in Egypt, regardless of whether their employees have access to a bank account. Through Dopay’s technology stack – developed by the former operational lead of the national interbank transactions clearinghouse of Egypt – employers have access to an online portal for the disbursement of salaries, in addition to a digital document exchange that captures materials requisite for eKYC. In instances where the employee is unbanked, a Dopay account is assigned. This account, coupled with a retail mobile application and debit card, becomes the de facto primary account for the employee. Dopay’s architecture allows it to scale quickly – even into new markets. Its target end-users are the two billion jobholders worldwide that are without a bank account. To date, 1,600 businesses in Egypt have signed up with a cumulative 26,500 employees on the platform.
B2C | PAYMENTS & REMITTANCES | SOUTH AFRICA
Hello Paisa is a digital international money transfer operator aiming to drive down the cost of remittances and provide a safe platform that is accessible to those who need it most. Hello Paisa incorporates fully-digital KYC to promote ease of use with its self-service mobile app. In addition, both the transacting digital platform and face-to-face sales field teams cater to the languages spoken by Hello Paisa end users, who predominantly hail from marginalized migrant communities. To ensure accessibility, Hello Paisa offers a free USSD dial string, along with a call center that services customers in 9 different languages. Hello Paisa boasts a considerable partner network with banks, retailers, post offices and others to operationalize the pay-out leg of the remittance transaction in the 42 corridors it services. To date, over 400,000 remitters have used Hello Paisa and, in 2019, the company launched a digital banking offering.
Savings & Personal Financial Management
B2B2C | SAVINGS & PFM | NORWAY
Through SPENN, a product of Blockbonds, a bank account is accessible to any smartphone user with connectivity in a minute. Veterans and founders of TrustBuddy, the first peer-to-peer lending platform to go public (2011), the founders have deep experience in the fintech industry and a desire to address the fact that the poorest people tend to pay the highest financial transaction fees. In order to roll-out the mobile bank account, Blockbonds provides its SPENN infrastructure to a partner bank in the country. The money that is in circulation on the different user accounts in the SPENN system is then pooled and deposited into a float account with the bank partner, who can generate a return on the capital. The local partnership enables a strong brand presence, as well as expediting regulatory approval. Approved power users – whether retailers or stand-alone agents – facilitate the flow of money in and out of the SPENN system. In combination, these innovations enable the unbanked to access a mobile savings account with added features like payments and investing.
Tez Financial Services
B2C | SAVINGS & PFM | PAKISTAN
B2B | INFRASTRUCTURE | GERMANY
awamo addresses the high operational costs of microfinance institutions through awamo® 360, its software-as-a-service core banking product in Kenya and Uganda, with Tanzania being in a pilot phase. The suite of tools bundled in awamo® 360 includes automated accounting, loan portfolio reporting, eKYCs, interest calculation, permissioning, and workflow management. Its biometric authentication functionality, for example, can reduce the False Positive Ratio to 1:17,000,000 and contributes to better visibility into the borrowers’ identities, thereby empowering microfinance institutions to extend themselves into more remote regions with less infrastructure without an added risk of fraud. Additionally, end-users gain access to new services like insurance and interest earnings for deposits, which will be components of awamo® 360’s offerings (currently in piloting). awamo currently serves more than 200 microfinance institutions with more than 300,000 customers. The founding team all stem from the financial services sector.
B2B2C | INFRASTRUCTURE | NIGERIA
E-Settlement’s agent banking platform, PayCentre, aims to bridge the last mile connectivity gap in Nigeria. The network offers services including cash withdrawal, cash deposit, fund transfers, bill payments and more. PayCentre is harmonized with the Nigerian Central Switch, which allows it to initiate fund transfers or deposits by card and third-party provider payments. With only 18,615 ATMs available to the 36.4 million bank verification number holders, PayCentre reaches the financially un- and under-served in Nigeria. The agent network is made up of 3,000+ small business owners in remote locations and collectively processes transactions worth more than USD $28 million each month. E-Settlement also owns CashEnvoy, an online payment gateway, and PayPad, the first-to-market mPOS solution that provides customers with an alternative mode of payment.
B2B | INFRASTRUCTURE | DENMARK
hiveonline is a layered platform that allows the women of village savings and loans associations in Niger to transact, save, access markets, and incrementally form a credit history. The team has deep experience in finance and technology, having implemented the first online bank for UBS and supported Vulcan, the bank-grade blockchain platform. Through its pilot with CARE, hiveonline uses a microservices architecture to deliver financial products, like credit, directly to individuals’ feature phones while simultaneously capturing reputational data from community transactions, commercial transactions, and phone data. This is powered by hiveonline’s blockchain that is endowed with asynchronous reconciliation via a stablecoin that is pegged to the national fiat currency. hiveonline is supporting unbanked women micro-entrepreneurs in Niger who are living on less than two dollars a day, and is building a solution for primary producers in Kenya.
B2B2C | INFRASTRUCTURE | GERMANY
Kwara is a digital banking platform for lenders such as credit unions or savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) in Kenya. By digitizing member accounts, Kwara can achieve up to a 90 percent reduction in operational costs, the savings of which are funneled back to members as dividends. As part of a contract with Kenya’s leading credit reference bureau, Kwara is on-boarding 1,400 of the bureau’s existing cooperative financial institution clients, enabling 2 billion positive credit profile updates. Through an open API, Kwara encourages other innovative start-ups to serve cooperative financial institutions. Using digital touch points via mobile phones, Kwara creates a direct distribution channel to market other financial products to end-users (members).
B2B2C | INFRASTRUCTURE | UNITED STATES
MaTontine automates and digitizes tontines in Senegal – a unique savings group model – and then harvests the behavioral data of individual members in order to risk, price and offer services like microinsurance or microcredit. In Senegal, most adults are unable to access formal credit and instead rely on traditional rotating savings circles, usually managed by women. Because these saving circles are operated manually, the risk of fraud and disputes is high, inherently limiting their scale potential. MaTontine improves tontines’ operations by swapping cash with traceable mobile money. Intertwined into the money management platform are biometric authentication, credit scoring, member oversight and transactional reporting, which all feed into MaTontine’s layered financial service offerings that are often delivered through partnerships. Since its relaunch in early 2018, MaTontine has acquired a 6,000 customers and disbursed USD $200,000 in loans.
B2B | INFRASTRUCTURE | NETHERLANDS
Musoni Systems builds software solutions tailored for the digitalization of microfinance institutions. The founders draw from past experience integrating digital technology into the operations of several financial service providers. The Musoni core banking platform includes integrations with multiple mobile money transfer services, an SMS module for customer communications, a tablet application for field agents, a mobile banking application for end customers, and credit scoring to improve lending decisions. Musoni is licensed on a software-as-a-service basis, with the annual fee dictated by organization size, thereby enabling microfinance institutions to leverage the latest technology at a fraction of the cost associated with typical banking systems. This allows microfinance institutions to serve remote, thin-file borrowers in a sustainable manner. So far 100 financial service providers across 15 countries have employed Musoni’s software, impacting 950,000 end customers.
Numida provides a suite of business management tools that allow MSMEs to manage cash flow, inventory, and employees. Of the 450,000 MSMEs in Uganda, which create 4 out 5 of the country’s new jobs, approximately 75 percent identified access to credit as the greatest growth constraint. The operational data collected by Numida becomes the foundation for customized, unsecured working capital loans that are disbursed within 24 hours via mobile (Numida is also partnering with financial institutions to provide savings accounts to users). All three of Numida’s founders have previous experience founding social enterprises, and have worked with organizations such as the World Bank and Acumen. To date, Numida has connected 750 Ugandan MSMEs to finance, and recorded 600,000+ small business transactions.
B2B2C | INFRASTRUCTURE | GHANA
OZÉ equips small business owners to make data-driven decisions to improve their performance and access capital needed to scale. Through its enterprise portal, financial institutions interested in investments or credit disbursement can find the right SMEs. Its two founders have hands-on experience in SME growth strategies within emerging markets, as two of the principal organizers behind Dare to Innovate, Guinea’s first accelerator. OZÉ’s small business-facing mobile application aggregates and analyzes SME transaction data to push context-specific recommendations, which is complemented by a dedicated business advisor. To date, OZÉ has registered nearly 10,000 Ghanian SMEs.
B2B2C | INFRASTRUCTURE | NIGERIA
Cooperatives are the traditional savings mechanisms of rural and peri-urban Nigeria, and they serve those disconnected from formal banking. Riby automates and digitizes the financial activities of cooperatives, associations and trade groups, with features including cooperative member management (and an accompanying mobile or web application designed for the end-user), loan requests, loan originations and savings, and contributions tracking. All of this is supported by offline, agent-led functionality and payment gateway integrations that make the movement of cooperatives’ money (and their members’ money) more transparent. Led by founders with previous experience at BusinessLab Africa, Venture Garden Group, and VisaCover, Riby has on-boarded 8,000 savings groups that represent more than 1 million members, and over USD $70 million in loans has been transacted through its platform.