Financial Inclusion

Overview

Roughly 2 billion individuals and tens of millions of enterprises around the world lack access to basic financial services. For the 50% of poor households who are “unbanked,” this represents an incredible economic barrier that prevents them from accessing the credit, savings and insurance services essential to the well-being of their families and businesses. For small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who struggle to secure capital, this creates critical obstacles to their own growth, as well as the economic and employment potential they represent.

The global community is increasingly aware of the critical role financial inclusion plays in reducing poverty, promoting economic prosperity and catalyzing enterprise, and has made notable strides in promoting access to finance around the world. However, large scale innovation is still needed to ensure products, services and capital are available, accessible and appropriate to the needs of underrepresented individuals, enterprises and communities.

The Challenge

The challenge for this track is to propose novel products, services, tools or mechanisms that either address unmet needs of the financially underserved, or help extend existing services to populations at the unbanked “last mile.”

The challenge for this track is to propose novel products, services, tools or mechanisms that either address unmet needs of the financially underserved, or help extend existing services to populations at the unbanked “last mile.”

Past Winners and Examples

Examples of proposals include (but are not limited to):

  • Programs to support SMEs to access or manage capital
  • Innovative credit or savings products/services for smallholder farmers
  • Mobile applications that increase access to financial services for low-income populations
  • Financial literacy programming for underserved communities
  • Measurement tools to track and monitor financial inclusion
  • Infrastructure (physical or electronic) that promotes widespread accessibility
2017 1st Place - Homeslice
mak_team
2016 1st Place - MÄk
2017 2nd Place - Solstice: Solar for Every American
2016 2nd Place - SocialForce
2017 3rd Place - HingiCredit
pictokit_team
2016 3rd Place - PictoKit: Retirement Toolkit

Homeslice

Team Members:

Anna Roumiantseva, Anne Ready, PJ O’Neil

School:

UC Berkeley

Housing has gotten unaffordable across much of the US. With home prices having gone from 2X to 4X the median family income over the past 40 years, 53-77% of the population can’t afford to buy today in metro areas across the country. This means that they are forced to rent for years on end instead of building their assets, perpetuating the cycle of being locked out of the market. HomeSlice is putting home ownership within reach for people who can’t afford to own today by making it easy to buy homes in groups. By removing the current barriers to fractional ownership – from the creation of co-owner agreements to the elimination of liability for co-owner default – it is making shared home ownership a viable and attractive option for millions of Americans. Its mission is to democratize home ownership.

Farmview: New Power for Tenant Farmers

Team Members:

Adam Calo, Karin Goh, Natalia Lyson

School:

UC Berkeley

In California, just as low-income residents struggle to find affordable housing, farmers also face a cutthroat farmland rental market. If beginning farmers can’t find land for agriculture, then the ‘young farmer movement’ is a pipe dream. In California, 41 percent of all farmland is rented out to others, and new tenants face exorbitant rental prices, lands of poor quality, and predatory leases. There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage emerging data science and geographic information system methods to address the land access issue. In collaboration with California Farmlink, a farming direct service provider, Farmview is a tool that assists beginning farmers in the acquisition of farmland. Farmview combines public data about land ownership with local knowledge contributed by farmers to show farmers the location of available land and its associated attributes. This project will run workshops with farmers in California, conduct user testing, and roll out a statewide tool.

Solstice: Solar for Every American

Team Members:

Steph Speirs

School:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Solar is booming and the price is lower than ever. Yet, 80% of America is locked out of the rooftop solar market. Solstice radically expands access to clean energy by providing community-shared solar power to underserved American households. This model enables any resident to enjoy clean energy at no upfront cost and save money on their electric bill every year. Our project will put affordable solar in the hands of low- to moderate-income Americans by offering the country’s first short-term community solar contract, by working with trusted community organizations to enroll social networks together and by qualifying customers using metrics other than FICO credit scores (unprecedented in the industry).

PictoKit: Retirement Toolkit

Team Members:

Olivia Zhao, Amanda Zhao, Lynn Wang, Terrie Yang

School:

UC Berkeley

The Retirement Toolkit is a reproducible workshop kit that through the innovative use of co-design seeks to address the gap in retirement financial literacy for low income, young working adults. The Toolkit’s application of co-design for education allows the participants to actively shape their learning experience as opposed to conventional, one-sided forms of teaching. Through creative discussion, design activities, and active visual learning, the program not only teaches, but also empowers participants to secure their own financial futures. Furthermore, the project is highly scalable because the workshop guide and toolkit can be easily reproduced to allow third parties to hold their own retirement workshops beyond the Bay Area. Additionally, the individualized curriculum will allow participants to tailor the material to their needs. The project thus addresses the lack of effective financial literacy programs for low income, young working adults in an innovative application of co-design.

HingiCredit

Team Members:

Jarvin Mutatiina, Kamulegeya Grace B, Musimire Mary, Buluma Lynette Wabwire, Akankwasa Brian

School:

Makerere University

Financial institutions face a big challenge when offering agricultural financial credit. They have inefficient mechanisms to evaluate a farmer’s credit worthiness in relation to the sector-specific risks such as production, price and market risks. Most financial institutions do not have reliable credit risk analysis models to guide them in best evaluating farmers. Without a proper method or approach to credit risk analysis, farmers face the risk of being denied the credit they require because of the potentially inaccurate credit risk scores generated for them. Financial institutions also stand the risk of making losses when they give loans basing on the potentially inaccurate credit risk scores. HingiCredit will provide an automated credit risk analysis system that can be used to assess the credit-worthiness of farmers requesting loans from financial institutions. HingiCredit will reflect the risk factors that influence production and market and as a result will match farmers to financial institutions that are willing to provide the loans within the calculated risk.

PictoKit

Team Members:

 Olivia Zhao, Amanda Zhao, Lynn Wang, Terrie Yang

School:

UC Berkeley

The Retirement Toolkit is a reproducible workshop kit that through the innovative use of co-design seeks to address the gap in retirement financial literacy for low income, young working adults. The Toolkit’s application of co-design for education allows the participants to actively shape their learning experience as opposed to conventional, one-sided forms of teaching. Through creative discussion, design activities, and active visual learning, the program not only teaches, but also empowers participants to secure their own financial futures. Furthermore, the project is highly scalable because the workshop guide and toolkit can be easily reproduced to allow third parties to hold their own retirement workshops beyond the Bay Area. Additionally, the individualized curriculum will allow participants to tailor the material to their needs. The project thus addresses the lack of effective financial literacy programs for low income, young working adults in an innovative application of co-design.