The Financial Inclusion Lab is an accelerator programme at CIIE.CO’s Bharat Inclusion Initiative, supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, J. P. Morgan, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, MetLife Foundation, and the Omidyar Network, and run in collaboration with MSC Consulting. The Lab identifies and supports startups that enhance the financial health of lower-income communities with mentoring, market research, access to networks, capital and other support to build and scale their solutions. Over the last year, the Lab supported 18 startups in two cohorts that have cumulatively served over 350,000 customers and raised nearly $10 million in funding since their participation in the Lab.
For its third cohort, the Lab has selected nine innovative startups building inclusive fintech solutions for the low-and-middle income segments. These startups are working on credit, savings, insurance and related technology-driven financial solutions that benefit underserved segments such as low-income workers, micro businesses, auto drivers, farmers and agri-businesses.
Blue-collar workers are considered a high-risk segment for financial institutions due to their contractual employment, non-uniform cash flows, and expensive underwriting of small ticket loans. Through an app that leverages the Joint Liability Group lending model, Adhikosh allows underserved borrower segments to apply for lower-interest rate loans in groups with friends, family or co-workers, thus leveraging social relationships for sourcing, underwriting and collections.
Team: Aayush Goel and Sahil Bansal
Aggois Business Solutions
Aggois provides hassle-free, affordable and transparent financing to farmers against post-harvest receivables by partnering with financial institutions (Banks/NBFCs). Currently focused on minimum support price (MSP) receivable financing, it helps small and marginal farmers mitigate cash crunch arising from MSP payment delays because of procedural and bureaucratic reasons.
Team: Prathmesh Kant and Akhil Sharma
Awaaz De Infosystems
Financial institutions face credit and fraud risks and miss opportunities for cross-selling and retaining customers as communication relies heavily on field staff. Awaaz De’s SaaS platform gives financial institutions a 360° customer connect, using automated, interactive voice tech in 11 vernacular languages that enables transaction-level customisation and storified communication. Additionally, Awaaz De’s analytics platform provides uniquely rich data on customer’s financial and mobile behaviour to financial institutions.
Team - Dr. Neil Patel, Sonali Mehta Rao, and Elliot Rosenberg
MSMEs are highly credit-starved due to the limited capabilities of lenders to capture and measure business transactions and underlying cash flows of business. Credochain is a lending marketplace that enables flow-based lending for specific MSME clusters and completely automates credit decision-making through its integrated platform. Lenders increase their pool of borrowers and refer to specific credit and fraud analytics on a real-time basis, enabling enhanced financial inclusion of more qualified borrowers. The platform also offers data-driven digital credit advisory to MSME borrowers to improve access and affordability of credit.
Team - Vaibhav Anand and Shivani Sharma
Low-wage workers suffer financial stress because of limited financial knowledge and lack of access to formal financial services. To help the workers lead better lives, Entitled partners with employers to offer financial advisory and salary-linked financial wellness tools such as health insurance and emergency loans to the workers. Entitled is unique in its use of employment information to build alternate credit profiles of workers to enable access to relevant financial services.
Team - Anshul Khurana, Krishna Yadav, and Arpan Jain
Frontier Markets Consulting
Customers in rural India want to purchase high-quality consumer goods and digital financial services, but lack access to them. Frontier Markets has built an assisted e-commerce platform that aims at leveraging local women entrepreneurs to allow rural customers to purchase financial products and access credit to purchase consumer goods. Frontier Markets is unique in that it provides doorstep delivery of products to the last-mile rural customers, after-sales service and at the same time gathers insights on user consumption behaviour.
Team - Ajaita Shah, Amrit Mohan, and Anjali Balakrishna
Lakshy Inclusion Services
Formal financial services are an alternative and not the primary choice for the low-income segments. With applied financial literacy at its core, Lakshya’s mobile app takes a savings-first approach to improve the financial health of urban underserved and increased acceptance of formal financial products. The app has been specially built for gig workers such as auto drivers and enables them to save as they earn.
Team - Nishant Kumar and Ashwin Philip Kurian
Whrrl Fintech Solutions
Whrrl is an agri-fintech startup that uses digitised Warehouse Receipts to elevate farmers' income and enable access to finance. Using innovative Blockchain and IoT solutions, Whrrl's digital lending platform decreases underwriting risks for the lenders, improves process efficiency, and makes loans available to farmers on a tap in five minutes vs. the previous five-day wait.
Team - Ashish Anand, Falguni Pandit, Abhishek Bhattacharya, and Paul Scott
Financial institutions have traditionally struggled to engage with Agri Businesses owing to low visibility on utilisation and high risk of recovery. NXTFIN by XaasTag is an Agri Fintech Platform making it easy for Banks and Insurance companies to participate directly with end-use visibility of finance and underwriting risks by creating revenue opportunities for Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO) and farmers.
Team - Shivkumar Jagannath and Gaurav Sharma
About BII & the Financial Inclusion Lab
Launched in 2018 by IIM Ahmedabad's CIIE.CO, the Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII) helps tech entrepreneurs across the pre-incubation, seed and scale-up stage to develop inclusive solutions. The Initiative includes research fellowships, sprints, incubation, accelerators, seed fund and other support programmes to create an end-to-end enabling ecosystem that brings inclusive and for-profit businesses to life.
The Financial Inclusion Lab, a key component of the Bharat Inclusion Initiative, offers customised and differentiated support to each startup, which includes prototype capital, mentoring by distinguished practitioners and sector experts, partnering opportunities with financial and other organizations, curated training by faculty members and experts from IIM Ahmedabad, access to scale-up capital via the Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund, cloud credits, legal, marketing, and other ancillary services. MSC Consulting, an international financial inclusion consultancy firm, provides the startups with high-touch consulting and insights into the low and middle-income segments.
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