The Financial Inclusion Lab is an acceleration program in the Bharat Inclusion Initiative of CIIE.CO, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, JP Morgan, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, MetLife Foundation, and Omidyar Network, and is operated in association with MSC Consulting. The lab identifies and supports startups that advance the financial health of low-income communities through mentorship, market research, access to networks, capital, and other forms of support to build and scale their solutions.
Over the past three years, the lab has supported 33 startups across four groups that have cumulatively served more than 20 million clients, and raised more than $50 million in funding since their participation in the lab. For its fifth cohort, the lab selected nine startups that build comprehensive solutions for low and middle income groups. These startups work on credit, savings, insurance, health, market access, and related technology-based financial solutions that benefit underserved sectors such as farmers, artisans, freelancers, small business owners, and feature phone users.
CreditHaat: A technology platform that brings together various lenders (fintech companies and non-bank financial companies) that can serve users in all categories, and ancillary operations model to help users complete the loan application process. The platform helps users get loans from $6.50 to $13,000, with features that enable low and middle income segments across India to access formal credit, especially in small towns. The platform has more than 500,000 registered users, the majority of whom are from non-6 cities.
CreditHaat operates in a B2B manner in allowing partners to integrate their “service” (technology, processes and lender relationships), to offer credit to their users/employees. One such application is to offer CreditHaat as a platform for agents (sahayaks) to generate income by helping people within their social networks to avail loans.
Team: Tanuj Sinha, Udish Tyuri
Connect: A digital health platform that provides services such as instant medical loans, digital health cards for instant discounts on medications and medical bills, electronic lab test reports, insurance claim assistance, and other health related services.
The Manipur-based startup is currently catering to the underserved region of North East India, which has one of the lowest health insurance penetration rates in the country. Most of the players in the field of electronic pharmacy and medical loans have a small presence in this region.
Team: Lian Thangfong, Benod Motum
Flight: FLYK has developed the concept of a Shared Responsibility Network that is used in conjunction with alternative data to offer individual short-term loans to its members. This mechanism links a member’s credit services to the credibility and payment behavior of his/her comprehensive network. Furthermore, the FLYK mobile app guarantees your entire digital loan journey, and has completed more than 1,200 credit cycles in the past year.
By combining alternatives with social capital data, FLYK is able to offer larger ticket size loans at lower interest rates. Its community-led approach to credit underwriting inherently increases the number of customer touch points that improve product knowledge, increase FLYK’s reach, and significantly reduce purchase and default costs.
Team: Ebratim Ganguly, Prafull Jagtap, Akshay Patel
: a Interface for UPI voice payments using a feature phone without peripherals such as POS, QR code, internet or proximity to the merchant/receiver. Currently, half a billion Indians use feature phones. They can only speak or listen so it is difficult for them to read the instructions while making payments.
With the MissCallPay app, the user can transact in 12 local languages without affinity by making a missed call to the merchant’s virtual phone number and then call back to enter the amount and UPI. Previously, the startup was the winner of the NPCI Grand Challenge for feature phone payments.
Team: Mitch Thacker, Harshel Shah
mall: The middle income segment with an annual income of Rs 2 to 5 thousand lacks access to proper financial information which can grow their wealth and suffers from expensive unsecured lending practices and information related thereto.
Mall is a multilingual application that provides savings, investments, credit and insurance solutions for the low and middle income segment. Mool distributes the funds received into different baskets such as savings accounts, liquid funds, insurance and long-term investments as per the needs and requirements of each user. They have cash withdrawal points through kirana stores and in-app financial educational content to increase awareness of financial health and wellness. Currently, Mool has 350 vetted users and has partnered with various banks to provide these financial services.
Team: Abinav Nayyar, Karan Paradwaj
Microfinance.ai: Microfinance.ai is developing a digital platform for preferred users in the local language to take advantage of digital financial services through mobile phone and help micro-lenders. They aim to digitize the entire operations of MFIs that are currently operating with smaller profit margins, do not have the resources to invest in technology, and are mostly driven by huge human power.
The startup plans to have a UI-based loan app in local language and voice assistants for micro-borrowers and a web platform for micro-lenders that will allow them to manage borrowers profile, append alternative underwriting data, integrate credit score and also provide analytics on virtual loan through their own artificial intelligence.
Team: Kapil Patel, Swati Sinha
Arborium: Arboreum enables affordable formal credit access to underserved credit markets by utilizing the structure and data of supply chain networks.
Currently servicing small and marginal farmers, Arboreum offers a scalable anchor-led financing model through a credit union as a service model that leverages concepts of shared responsibility and microfinance.
Team: Gaurav Singhal, Vishal Himrajani
gray matter: Greymatter provides affordable financing and access to high-quality agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers, through a panchayat-wide trade and community finance model.
Greymatter works with agricultural input suppliers and networks of smallholder farmers. It operates through village councils.panchayats) on an innovative commercial and financing model to provide smallholder farmers with access to affordable credit and high-quality agricultural inputs. This enables the beneficiaries to obtain high quality products and services from agricultural inputs which would not otherwise be available to them due to the fragmented demand in rural areas.
Team: Nitesh Singh Thakur
: a A socially engaged digital platform where content, social interaction, and personalization converge to deliver products based on individual tastes and preferences, with the goal of enabling increased incomes and improved socio-economic conditions for artisans.
The startup empowers artisans with market engagement and insights that enable them to better understand customer preferences and demand. For customers, it offers unique features such as personalization, virtual experiences, and assistive purchases that add confidence and improve the overall experience at significantly lower prices.
Team: Raghuram Kochipatla, Meenakshi Dubey
About BII and the Financial Inclusion Lab
Launched in 2018 by IIM Ahmedabad’s CIIE.CO, the Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII) assists technology entrepreneurs through pre-incubation, incorporation and scaling to develop comprehensive solutions. The initiative includes research fellowships, sprints, incubation, accelerators, a founding fund and other support programs to create a comprehensive enabling ecosystem that brings life to inclusive and for-profit businesses.
The Financial Inclusion Lab, a key component of the Bharat Inclusion Initiative, provides customized and differentiated support to each startup, which includes model capital, mentorship of distinguished practitioners and industry experts, partnership opportunities with financial and other institutions, and sponsored training by faculty and experts from IIM Ahmedabad. , and access to expanded capital via the Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund, cloud credits, legal and marketing services, and other ancillary services. MSC Consulting, an international financial inclusion consulting firm, provides startups with in-depth advice and insights on low and middle income segments.