India’s fintech star is on the rise. According to a report by KPMG, the Indian fintech software market is poised to touch $2.4 billion by 2020. However, to say that the balance of growth is skewed is a serious understatement. A study by IIMA-CIIE and Consulting firm MicroSave says that 80 percent of fintech companies in India are present in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi, and benefit only 23 percent of the overall population, which is largely affluent, tech-
literate and English-speaking. This means that approximately 470 million customers in the low- and middle-income (LMI) segments remain unserved. Empowering the entire country to participate in the formal economy is an important goal, and entrepreneurship is a powerful tool to achieve this. However, largely because the startups looking to serve this segment lack the support they need to build the right products and take them to market.
Working for Inclusion
This is where IIMA-CIIE’s Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII) is helping fill the gap. The Initiative provides entrepreneurs with the domain knowledge, training, financial support, mentorship and market access they need to bring inclusive, for-profit businesses to life. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, J. P. Morgan Chase, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the Omidyar Network, BII offers a continuum of solutions to inclusion focused tech entrepreneurs across the pre-incubation, seed and scale-up stage. It comprises research fellowships, sprints, incubators, accelerators, seed fund and more to create an end-to-end enabling ecosystem for inclusion focused entrepreneurship.
With the Financial Inclusion Lab, BII will accelerate select early-stage startups that are focused on developing technologies which can be used for the benefit of underserved communities in the areas of financial inclusion, skilling and livelihoods. The Lab will support the development of a minimum viable product (MVP) through field studies supported by LMI experts, intensive workshops, mentorship, and financial support – to help test the startup’s key assumptions, ascertain problem-solution fit, and prepare its product for a successful pilot and scale up.
Speaking with YourStory, Priyanka Chopra, COO, CIIE, said, “The Financial Inclusion Lab is a critical component of the Bharat Inclusion Initiative continuum and will build upon CIIE’s decade-long experience of running incubators, accelerators and impact funds to provide inclusion focused tech entrepreneurs the comprehensive support required to turbocharge their journeys.” MicroSave, a strategic partner to the Lab, will provide start-ups with high- touch consulting and LMI segment insights among other things.
Winning through Inclusion
Each startup which is selected to be a part of the 20-week-long Financial Inclusion Lab will get customised and differentiated support worth over $70,000, which includes
– Prototype capital of up to $30,000
– Mentoring by distinguished LMI-focused practitioners and sector experts
– High-touch, immersive, customized consulting worth ~$15,000 to build LMI understanding
– Opportunities to partner with financial and other institutions to build and test products
– Access to scale-up capital via Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund
– Curated sessions on essential business skills by faculty and experts from IIM- Ahmedabad
– Cloud credits, legal, marketing, and other ancillary services worth over $30,000 and much more.
Who can apply
To be one of the 10 startups selected for the Lab, you must be in the proof of concept (PoC) stage till the early-revenue stage, and offer scalable solutions that leverage ICT, especially open-access inclusive platforms such as India Stack and others. The startup should ideally have a strong team with complementary skillsets and full-time members working on LMI- focused innovations that target financial inclusion, skill development, and livelihood generation.