Women’s World Banking is running its 2023 Fintech Innovation Challenge, a global competition to highlight and advance solutions to close the gender gap through digital financial services.
New York-based Women’s World Banking is a non-profit organisation that provides strategic support, technical assistance and information to a network of 62 financial service providers in 35 countries that offer credit and other financial services to low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world, with a particular focus on women. Collectively, the network serves more than 138 million women clients.
Now in its fourth year, “the only women-centred competition for fintechs”, according to the organisers, will provide a platform for later stage fintechs that work on addressing the challenges in serving the low-income women’s market.
According to the latest Global Findex Report, there are still 742 million women worldwide that are excluded from the formal financial sector.
Women’s World Banking believes low-income women represent “a large, untapped market opportunity” for digital financial services providers.
“Fintechs are uniquely positioned to help close the digital financial services gap because they have the ability to provide products and services differently and can efficiently meet the needs of low-income women in ways that traditional financial services providers can’t or won’t,” comments Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO of Women’s World Banking.
Applications for the Fintech Innovation Challenge are open until 15 September 2022. Entry categories include, but are not limited to:
- Sending and receiving money
- Credit for women-led micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)
- Safety net products (insurance, savings and pensions)
- Beyond money (financial and digital capabilities, and other business support services)
The top four finalists will participate in an in-person pitch competition next February in Dubai, and be fast-tracked for participation in the Women’s Economic Empowerment Accelerator, powered by the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University.
They will also receive pitch advice and a UX design consultation.
The Grand Prize winner will receive access to fintech events like Point Zero, Elevandi Connects, and the Singapore Fintech Festival, as well as a speaker invitation at a Women’s World Banking Making Finance Work for Women event.
All female-founded fintechs that make it to the top 12 of the competition will be selected for the first-ever Female Founders Circle network. These will be announced on 26 October, with the top four finalists announced on 9 January 2023.
The Grand Prize winner of the Fintech Innovation Challenge will be announced in Dubai, on 16 February 2023 following the pitch competition.
The Fintech Innovation Challenge is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Leading Sponsor) and Ernst & Young LLP (EY US and Advancing Sponsor). Women’s World Banking’s core funders are Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), and Visa Foundation.