Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Seedstars have launched a new joint initiative: Enhancing Financial Inclusion in Palestine (EFIP), an open call for innovative digital solutions to promote financial inclusion in Palestine.
The program is aimed at nurturing the local fintech landscape and driving sustainable and inclusive financial solutions in the region.
“We are eager to begin this exciting endeavor with Seedstars,” says Anja Gomm, Country Director of GIZ Office Palestine. “Our shared goal is to cultivate an environment that fosters innovation and empowers both consumers and SMEs in Palestine, offering them more inclusive, affordable, and sustainable financial solutions.”
The partnership will concentrate on the Palestinian financial ecosystem, with an emphasis on financial literacy, digital finance products for microfinance, and inclusivity for consumers and SMEs.
In Palestine, financial inclusion is a critical challenge. Although 60% of adults possess bank accounts, a mere 10% utilize credit products, owing to limited financial literacy and inadequate financial offerings (Shihadeh, 2021). Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), making up nearly 95% of all businesses, only contribute to 16.4% of the GDP, indicating a disparity in financial accessibility. The EFIP initiative aims to bridge these gaps, fostering a more inclusive and sustainable financial ecosystem for both individuals and SMEs.
The program comprises two tracks. The first is a local call for solutions focusing on digital finance products in the microfinance industry, while the second invites international solutions aimed at established financial literacy platforms or applications. The initiative hopes to attract a myriad of startups that can provide practical solutions to enhance access to finance, increase financial literacy, and improve the quality of service delivery in the Palestinian territories.
“Globally, Seedstars is committed to identifying and nurturing startups that leverage technology to make a real difference in their communities,” Sabrina Salama, MENA Partnerships Manager at Seedstars. “Partnering with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH for this program enables us to extend that mission into Palestine, a region where fintech holds enormous potential for economic growth and financial inclusivity.”
The initiative’s local track will target Palestinian startups with working MVPs, while the international track invites mature companies interested in entering or penetrating the Palestinian market. Participants from both tracks will be invited to a virtual pitch event, where they will present their solutions to a jury of industry experts. A total of three winning solutions will be awarded, with one from the local track and two from the international track. Winners will receive financial support and go-to-market assistance.