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Finding the Firms Putting Clients at the Centre of Financial Inclusion

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Three years ago, the Mastercard Foundation organized the first Clients at the Centre Prize. The intent was simple: to celebrate organizations across the globe that fundamentally base the success of their businesses, products, and services on the depth to which they understand and meet the financial services needs of poor people. These organizations embed client value and protection into everything they do, and we wanted to recognize them.

Each year since then, the Prize has been awarded during our Symposium on Financial Inclusion (SoFI). Three finalists come before the audience and are given six minutes to “pitch” why they should win the Prize. They outline how they operationalize client centricity for the purposes of positively impacting the lives of people with low incomes.

Narrowing the applicants down to these final three “Pitchers” is a somewhat arduous, yet fruitful, task.Every application for the Prize is first reviewed for precision, quality, impact, relevance, scalability and, of course, implementation of client-centric practices.

Applicants are then rigorously scored by innovative leaders across the financial and social impact sectors, as well as by senior staff of the Foundation. The role of the judges is to analyze, rank, and ultimately shorten the applicants down from nearly 100 incredibly innovative organizations to three standout finalists.

The winners were…

Mastercard Foundation has awarded two winners thus far: BIMA and Hello Paisa.

BIMA, the 2015 winner, is a micro-insurance company operating in many parts of the developing world. It used the Prize funds to conduct human-centred design to support its continued drive to contextualize the behaviours of clients with its products. BIMA has developed complimentary services in support of the findings.

Similarly, Hello Paisa, the 2016 winner, leveraged the Clients at the Centre Prize to conduct customer research to build an understanding of their customers’ experiences and needs as a result of being financially excluded. It now employs these results in designing all products and services.

This year we venture into somewhat new territory. We can definitively say that the winner of the prize in 2017 will be working with MSME (Medium, Small, and Micro-Enterprises) clients to further bridge the gap between MSME growth and financial inclusion. These enterprises meet the unmet needs of their clients through data-centric, responsive products that allow for increased access to financing and payment options that make their businesses more effective.

What’s even more exciting is that each finalist empowers their MSME clients — from micro-merchants to medium-sized companies with multiple employees — to leverage their own data to gain access to more and more opportunities.

We are pleased to note the three finalists pitching at SoFI 2017 are:

  • JUMO a platform that uses behavioural data to give people in emerging markets identity and, therefore, greater financial choice. JUMO’s customers are largely MSMEs that use the platform to gain real-time access to working capital and savings products on their mobile phones.
  • Destacame – a free, online platform that empowers users by giving them control over their data to build their financial capabilities and access financial products. Destacame customers build their own credit score based on payment behavior with their own utilities, which demonstrates to financial institutions that they are reliable payers. Customers can also download their own financial report to understand their financial health and how the financial system sees them.
  • ftcashone of India’s fastest-growing financial technology companies, ftcash aims to penetrate and transform the 60+ million underserved micro-merchants in India through financial inclusion using digital payments and loans.

On November 8th, in Accra, Ghana, one of these organizations will be awarded the Mastercard Foundation’s Clients at the Centre Prize. You can follow the entire Symposium on Financial Inclusion, including the pitches by representatives of these three firms, by following @MastercardFdn and #SoFI2017 on Twitter.

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Mike Williams

Mike Williams is an Associate Program Manager on the Financial Inclusion team at the Mastercard Foundation

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