Apply Now: $250,000 Project Funding for FinTech Innovations

More than 90% of companies in the developing countries of Asia and the Pacific are micro, small and medium sized companies (MSMEs) and 40% experience constraints in their efforts to access finance. This limits regional economic growth as MSMEs are a vital source of income and employment and significantly contribute to GDP.
Women-led enterprises face additional gender-specific barriers in access to institutional credit and other financial services, as well as greater vulnerability to the barriers compared with MSMEs owned by men. These barriers include:

  • Limited access to assets to use as collateral
  • Lack of sufficient business and personal documentation
  • Complicated process of meeting know your customer (KYC) regimes
  • Lower levels of technical and financial competence and confidence

Women MSME FinTech Innovation Fund
The Women MSME FinTech Innovation Fund, organized by UNCDF and UNESCAP, seeks digital financial services that are ready for pilot testing with women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in Asia-Pacific.
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Up to 20 shortlisted applicants will present their business models and implementation activities to an Investment Committee. Around 10 selected applicants may receive US $25,000-50,000 of co-funding, extensive technical assistance, mentorship, and introductions to investors. Successful pilots are eligible for additional grant funding for project scale-up.
Apply Now: Deadline is April 30, 2019
Project Funding Eligibility Criteria
Multiple types of eligible organizations can apply for the Innovation Fund, as long as they are ready to pilot their solution with women-led MSMEs in the target countries of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, and Viet Nam:

  • Regulated Financial Institutions
  • Banks, Micro Finance Institutions, Insurance companies
  • Payment Service Providers
  • Agent Banking Aggregators
  • Mobile Network Operators
  • Technology Providers
  • FMCG and Agriculture Companies
  • FinTech Companies
  • Non-governmental organizations

Preferred FinTech Innovations
The Innovation Fund prefers companies with an innovative solution that will lead to increased access to finance for women-led MSMEs, such as solutions that:

  • Present an innovative technological replacement for reengineering credit operations (e.g. P2P lending, alternative credit scoring, automation of loan origination process, credit approval process, disbursement and repayments) which enable women MSMEs to better access financing for running their business.
  • Utilise an emerging technology (e.g. blockchain or distributed ledger technology, with a preferred focus on Big Data analytics for credit assessments, smart contracts and/or trade financing)
  • Leverage a combination of women customer-centric credit products with technology-driven innovations that overcome potential roadblocks (e.g. sales and delivery channels, marketplace lending, supply chain financing, credit assessment, alternatives to collateral and risk management).
  • Tackle the challenges facing inclusive development, such as women’s economic empowerment, access to hard to reach or marginalised groups, and disability sensitive products/services.
  • Couple access to finance with financial literacy, improving digital literacy and/or business management capacity development that can improve the ability of women MSMEs to better manage business operations and funds, e.g. through improved cash-flow management or digital accounting tools, etc

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