The 2021 winners of the Arab Financial Inclusion Innovation Prize (AFIIP), which provides promising innovators with the funding and support they need to achieve their potential and advance financial inclusion in the Arab world, have been announced.
AFIIP has established itself as one of the Arab world’s leading scouts for financial inclusion innovations, and this year they offered two prizes: one for financial inclusion and another for green financial innovation, with the goal of bringing the environment to the forefront of the entrepreneurial discussion.
First-prize-winner Stryve offers digital banking products to Egypt’s unbanked SMEs, with a concentration on invoice finance. Through solid ties with both suppliers and buyers, Stryve hopes to use their revolutionary concept to deliver a buy-now-pay-later solution to small businesses. Stryve will close the country’s large SME finance gap and increase the efficiency of B2B purchases in this way.
Ahmini, a Tunisian start-up, won the second prize in the mainstream category. Ahmini is addressing the essential issue of social protection and insurance by acting as a mediator for rural women in Tunisia, onboarding them into the national social security system in a seamless and distant manner (CNSS). Aside from the onboarding procedure, Ahmini connects women with mobile payment providers and allows them to pay their premiums in installments. In Tunisia,80% women do not have access to health insurance or the CNSS, severely limiting their ability to recover from unexpected shocks. Ahmini’s proposal addresses this deficiency, which is an impediment to economic stability not just in Tunisia but throughout the Arab continent.
Third-prize-winner Syndo is a peer-to-peer crowdfunding website that helps Egyptian SMEs get cash. It enables SMEs to obtain loans while also allowing individuals to spend their money in other ways. The solution, if implemented effectively, will enable Egyptian savers to participate directly in SME financing. The site can also be used by SMEs to promote their services and products.
Mozare3 is an Egyptian solution that helps smallholder farmers gain access to finance, market access, and technical assistance by digitizing the agricultural value chain. They promote sustainable and carbon-efficient farming techniques along the way.
Cleaning up the Nile with a plastic e-wallet is increasing trust in financial services. The Plastic E-wallet team works with fishermen directly, paying them based on how much plastic they collect from the Nile. Their solution adapts existing cashless payment systems to the needs of fishermen, giving previously unbanked informal micro-entrepreneurs access to a cashless payment system.
Of the green prize, AFIIP co-founder Alexander Reviakin commented: “There is a growing interest in green finance, but it is still at a nascent stage and action is mostly being taken at a governmental level We wanted to get the ball rolling in the entrepreneurial space, and it is exciting to see these trailblazers who we look forward to supporting and who we hope can inspire others to do the same.”
This year was AFIIP’s most competitive year to date. The finalists for 2021 are as follows:
Tanda, Finllect, Digital Dinar, PowerCARD Microfinance, Fundbot SAS, Kashat, ZainCash, Clickfunding, Egypt, Hagbad, EyePay Network, ONE Cash, Wesharish, Attadamoune, and Verofax were among the winners of the main prize.
“It was a great opportunity to participate as a judge in the AFIIP competition this year”, says Mayada el-Zoghbi, one of this year’s judges. “The programme uncovers the latest innovations emanating from the MENA region, a region where a lot of entrepreneurship and innovation is happening but is often neglected in global events.”