Village Capital and MetLife Foundation launched an investment readiness program for Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Turkey-based startups that are using tech to help low-income individuals and families manage their day-to-day finances, build short- and long-term savings and wealth. The programme is called Finance Forward MENA. Village Capital recently announced the twelve early-stage fintech startups selected to take part in Finance Forward MENA 2020.
The accelerator is a collaboration between Village Capital, MetLife Foundation, and PayPal. Finance Forward MENA aims to provide startups with five weeks of online and in-person training focused on improving their business models and making their financial health solutions available to those who need them most in the current economic climate.
Here are the twelve companies that have been selected for Finance Forward MENA 2020 (listed on their country of primary operation):
EGYPT (THREE COMPANIES):
Khazna Tech – Salary-backed loan product that allows users to receive the earned part of their salary at any time throughout the month.
PayMint(Egypt) – Financial services platform for small businesses, providing services including payroll, cashless payment, insurance, lending, and money transfers to small businesses and their employees.
Valify Solutions – Enables those in rural areas to access formal financial services through digital identification services.
JORDAN (ONE COMPANY):
Bilforon – Marketplace application that connects customers with home-cooks who make and sell food from their homes
LEBANON (ONE COMPANY):
Markit – On-demand grocery delivery service that allows small and medium-sized grocers to offer their inventory and delivery services to customers through an online platform
TUNISIA (ONE COMPANY):
We-Settle – Cloud-based solution for businesses to easily create, monitor, and collect invoices
TURKEY (TWO COMPANIES):
E-Bursum – Education financing platform that guides students through the process by connecting them with scholarship, crowdfunding, and educational loan options, helping avoid taking on unnecessary debt.
WorqCompany – One-stop-shop for small businesses, providing high quality vendors and partners with key business services such as human resources, accounting and office space.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (FOUR COMPANIES):
Buyback Bazaar Technology – Online portal that facilitates emergency access to cash in exchange for personal items, which users can ‘buyback’ within a specified period.
Datacultr Fintech Limited – Platform that allows lending institutions to use smartphones as collateral for loans to new-to-credit customers while allowing devices to remain in the users’ possession.
Distichain – E-commerce and e-procurement platform that facilitates open trade between companies, regardless of geography or size, by partnering with banks to evaluate transaction risk in real-time.
HubPay – Digital wallet for the remittance community which aims to lower the cost of remittances while creating a digital wallet that fosters financial inclusion.
According to Village Capital’s website, they have encouraged applications from entrepreneurs building high-growth, scalable solutions focused on the following regional challenges:
Gender inequality. 1.2 billion adults have secured a bank account since 2011 according to The World Bank. With the 380 million people living in the Middle East and North Africa, 52% of men and only 35% of women have an account with a financial institution or mobile money provider.
Youth Unemployment. 60% of the population in Middle East & North Africa (MENA) is under 25 years old, and the region suffers from the highest rate of youth unemployment in the world, meaning that by 2025, more than 20 million jobs will be need to be created in order to stabilise youth unemployment.
Access to finance for MSMEs. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) account for 96% of registered companies and about half of employment in the region, yet only receive 7% of total bank lending – the lowest in the world.
Digital Identity. Displacement patterns in the MENA region have become increasingly more complex, with many populations having been uprooted and displaced over multiple borders. For instance, the per-capita refugee populations of Lebanon and Jordan have become three to six times greater than any other country in the world.