The 9 fintechs selected for the second cohort of the Financial Inclusion Lab are gearing to scale technology-based solutions for small businesses, MSMEs, farmers, low-literate individuals and chit funds while continuing to focus on low and middle income and underserved populations.
The Financial Inclusion Lab, a part of IIMA-CIIE’s Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII), is a collaboration between BII, J.P. Morgan, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and global consulting firm MSC, to help scale early-stage fintech startups that address the unique needs of lower- and middle-income people. The US$9.5 million initiative will provide the start-ups with the necessary support, capital, strategic guidance, market access and mentorship to build and test their products in twelve months.
After the success of the first cohort this second group of the Lab is designed to help post-MVP stage startups to develop and validate sustainable go-to-market and scale-up strategies.
Over 30,000 registered chit funds have been playing a stellar role in the financial inclusion of India. They are easy to understand and participate for the low and middle income (LMI) segments. However, lack of trust and operational challenges in administering the funds are plaguing the industry. ChitMonks’ blockchain based solution works with state registrars to solve some of these issues.
It helps registered chit fund business digitize their operations and compliance requirements. Taking an ecosystem approach, it also works with banks and other stakeholders to make chit fund operations more efficient, trustworthy and transparent, which ultimately makes chit funds safer and more rewarding for their members.
Founders: Pavan Adipuram, Malla Reddy Ch, Sridhar, Veera Praveen
Over 7.5 lakh engineering students graduate every year from 3500+ colleges of India. More than 80 percent, especially those from rural areas, are not employable due to inadequate skills, lack of exposure and guidance. Guvi is an online platform that enables people to build relevant and in-demand technical skills through proprietary gamified content in vernacular languages to reduce friction in learning and make it meaningful.
Guvi employs a full stack ‘phygital’ approach involving learning, mentoring, assessment and placement services. It ties up with IT product companies looking to hire technical talent that helps its users find a job, irrespective of their physical location.
Founders: SP Balamurugan, Arun Prakash M, Sridevi M
Currently ~500 million low-and-middle income individuals of Tier 2 and 3 cities are relying on local instruments such as chits, committees, and money lenders for their savings, borrowing and investment needs, which are unsafe, prone to leakages and unreliable.
KyePot was started with an aim to digitise chit funds for users to promote it as an asset class in annual household financial planning. KyePot is India’s first and only end-to-end digital platform built from the ground up for group savings and borrowing. It is run with full regulatory compliance where users get the safety & security of their funds and can also operate in the comfort of their current environment 24x7 with their friends, family, social contacts and with trusted individuals who have been verified by KyePot.
Founders: Sidd Gandhi, Dr. Kiran Lakhotia
Bridge2Capital empowers small shopkeepers with a simple and easy-to-use three click mobile application, which assists them in accessing on-demand affordable working capital credit from formal financial institutions. The UVP of the solution is its cash flow based short-term working capital assistance linked to the GSTN data of a shopkeeper. The model is shopkeeper-centric, enabling the store owners to deal with suppliers of their choice.
The business processes are designed to ensure rapid disbursement, controlled end utilisation of the loan, and positive repayment behaviour which results in a steady increase in the available limits for the shopkeeper. Over time, Bridge2Capital looks to help India’s 14+ million shopkeepers trust technology to increase the efficiency of their business and move from unorganised to organised business behaviour.
Founders: Mohammed Riaz, Nishant Singh
Navana Tech empowers businesses to build user-friendly digital interfaces for the next billion. The founders observed that the current smartphone operating systems, apps and services are not designed for the 300 million+ low-literate Indians because of the heavy reliance on text and widespread use of western iconography.
Navana Tech is building a design language and voice technology stack in local languages for businesses and independent developers to create understandable interfaces for their low literate customers. This includes domain-specific speech-to-text in Indian languages, a contextual voice assistant to guide users through complex interfaces, a repository of illustrative iconography, and plug & play user flows for common functionality like sign-in, make a payment, check out and others. The startup believes that simplifying interfaces will encourage low-literate users to independently learn to use and trust new technology.
Founders: Raoul Nanavati, Jai Nanavati
Financial institutions struggle to lend to India’s 102+ million small and marginal farmers due to non-availability of reliable data of their cash-based transactions. This results in a shortage of liquidity for farmers during the pre-harvest period leading to increased cost of capital and further distress. PayAgri is building a cashless ecosystem in the agri-value chain by enabling farmers to transact without middlemen on its platform and capture real-time transaction data to build financial profiles for the farmers.
PayAgri’s model provides forward and backward linkages to farmers by aggregating orders through Farmer Producer Organizations to enable bulk transactions with institutional buyers and agri input companies. The startup believes that this model will optimize returns and create value for every player in the value chain by leveraging technology and agri expertise.
Founders: K.V.M. Rajkumar, Rajeev G. Kaimal
Riskcovry is re-imagining Insurance for India’s increasingly digital-friendly MSMEs. Despite owning a variety of insurable assets like auto, home, and business, there is no single insurance solution that speaks to these 64+ million MSMEs uniquely, across channels. The problem is further aggravated with lack of personalization that results in poor customer experience.
The startup brings together an Insurance-Distribution-Data-Tech platform, to partner with Financial and Digital businesses like Consumer Internet and FinTechs to solve for unique insurance use cases associated with their MSME customers via a combination of API-delivered sachet/modular insurance products, smart algorithms and intuitive distribution SaaS technology. Riskcovry differentiates itself through its simplified workflow to discover unique risks, provide a personalized cover, and offer recover services with digital first claims intimation and policy management tools.
Founders: Suvendu Prustry, Sorabh Bhandari, Vidya Sridharan, Chiranth Patil
MIMO acts as a catalyst for established enterprises to expand into semi-urban and rural India. It provides a temporary workforce in the form of agents who perform last mile delivery, collections and other micro-tasks for large enterprises such as financial institutions, government, marketing, distribution companies and other organizations. MIMO has been up-skilling and creating employment for youth in rural areas across 10 states in India. Most of the field officers are primary school dropouts, residing in their hometown and are given initial training after being on-boarded.
The startup believes that the low-educated and unemployed can be financially included only if they earn digitally with a dignified job and can work around the lack of education. By engaging the local communities, enterprises are able to solve several issues at one time and in addition provide customized services/ products to people.
Founder: Lathika Regunathan
There are more than 525 million underbanked and unbanked individuals in India. RupeeCircle is helping the underbanked population, especially those without a credit score, to access credit through formal channels. The startup is a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending marketplace that connects creditworthy borrowers with investors looking for attractive returns on their investments.
RupeeCircle’s proprietary credit scoring model uses new age technology and a variety of alternative data points to effectively assess borrower’s credibility even when they lack traditional credit history. The platform completely manages the complete loan cycle on behalf of the investors (screening, verification, underwriting, collections) and in doing so it offers a new investment asset class for them to diversify their portfolios beyond conventional stocks and bonds.
Founders: Ajit Kumar, Abhishek Gandhi, Ashish Mehta, Piyush Saurabh