FINCA International and USAID PACE have launched FINCA Forward, a fintech innovation platform aimed at bringing early-stage fintechs and microfinance institutions (MFIs) together to accelerate financial inclusion and market-based development.
The two-year pilot of FINCA Forward will be managed by microfinance organisation FINCA International and funded by USAID’s Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) initiative, which catalyses private sector investment into early-stage enterprises.
Its purpose is to test the hypothesis that bringing early-stage fintechs and financial institutions together in a proof-of-concept environment can help small and growing businesses overcome the pioneer gap and enable microfinance institutions to affordably and systematically onboard emerging fintech innovations to better reach underserved and underbanked populations.
FINCA Forward will provide a platform through which microfinance institutions can systematically evaluate new technologies, and fintech startups can test their value propositions with prospective clients, by way of a microfinance institution’s established customer base.
Rupert Scofield, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of FINCA International, said the organisation had long been dedicated to serving unbanked and underbanked populations.
“FINCA Forward represents the next step in this service, drawing on our experience as the founder of a global microfinance network while embracing digital innovations,” he said. “By catalysing support and investment for early-stage fintech enterprises, we aim to help small and growing businesses overcome the pioneer gap and to enable microfinance institutions to bring much-needed financial services to at-risk populations of women, youth and the rural poor.”