- Egypt-based fintech Stryve, which offers unbanked businesses financial products, has won first place at the Arab Financial Inclusion Innovation Prize (AFIIP). Tunisia’s Ahmini, which offers social security and insurance to women in rural areas came second followed by Egypt-based Syndo, a crowd-funding platform for SMEs.
AFIIP is missioned to equip promising innovators in Mena with the funding and support they need to realise their potential to further financial inclusion. The winning fintech startups will receive grant funding and technical assistance to help scale their innovations.
This year, AFIIP allocated a green prize for financial innovations that can generate green outcomes, which was granted to Egypt-based Mozare3 and Plastic E-wallet.
The Arab Financial Inclusion Innovation Prize (AFIIP, www.afiip.org) has announced its 2021 winners. AFIIP has become one of the Arab world’s lead scouts for innovations in the field of financial inclusion, and this year AFIIP ran two prizes: their main prize focused on financial inclusion and a second prize for green financial innovation, to bring the environment to the forefront of the entrepreneurial discussion.
From over 120 applications, a panel of ten judges with extensive and varied experiences in innovation, financial services and sustainable development chose five winners based on the AFIIP criteria of impact, innovation, implementation, marketability and team- three for the main prize and two for the green prize. The winners will now receive grant funding and technical assistance to help scale their innovations.
First-prize-winner Stryve provides unbanked SMEs in Egypt with digital banking products, with a focus on invoice financing. Stryve plans to use their innovative model to bring a buy-now-pay-later solution to small businesses, through strong partnerships with both suppliers and buyers. In such a way, Stryve will address the country’s sizeable SME finance gap and improve the efficiency of B2B purchases.
The second prize of the mainstream was won by Tunisian start-up Ahmini. Ahmini is tackling the critical issue of social protection and insurance by acting as an intermediary for rural women in Tunisia to seamlessly and remotely onboard them onto the national social security system (CNSS). In addition to the onboarding process, Ahmini links women to mobile payment providers and allows them to break up their premiums into instalments. 80% of rural women in Tunisia lack access to health insurance and the CNSS, drastically reducing their ability to recover from unanticipated shocks. Ahmini’s offering addresses this shortfall, which is a barrier to economic stability not just in Tunisia but across the Arab world and beyond.
Third-prize-winner Syndo is a crowdfunding platform that provides SMEs in Egypt with access to finance through a peer-to-peer solution. It allows SMEs to get loans while allowing individuals to invest their money in an alternative way. If successfully implemented, the solution will empower savers in the Egyptian market to get directly engaged in SME financing. SMEs can also use the platform to market their services and products.
Mozare3 is a solution that digitises the agricultural value chain in Egypt, working with smallholder farmers to provide access to finance, access to market and technical assistance. Along the way, they encourage sustainable and carbon-efficient farming practices.
Plastic e-wallet is building trust in financial services through cleaning up the Nile. The Plastic E-wallet team work directly with fishermen, providing them with income based on the amount of plastic they remove from the Nile. Their solution customises already existing cashless payment systems to the fishermen’s context, thereby providing a cashless payment system to previously unbanked informal micro-entrepreneurs.
Of the green prize, AFIIP co-founder Alexander Reviakin commented: “There is a growing interest in green finance, but it is still at a nascent stage and action is mostly being taken at a governmental level We wanted to get the ball rolling in the entrepreneurial space, and it is exciting to see these trailblazers who we look forward to supporting and who we hope can inspire others to do the same.”
This year was the most competitive year for AFIIP so far. It is worth mentioning the 2021 finalists:
Main prize: Tanda, Finllect, Digital Dinar, PowerCARD Microfinance, Fundbot SAS, Kashat, ZainCash, Clickfunding, Egypt, Hagbad, EyePay Network, ONE Cash, Wesharish, Attadamoune and Verofax.
“It was a great opportunity to participate as a judge in the AFIIP competition this year”, says Mayada el-Zoghbi, one of this year's judges. “The programme uncovers the latest innovations emanating from the MENA region, a region where a lot of entrepreneurship and innovation is happening but is often neglected in global events.”