Inclusive fintechs that are innovating across the lending value chain 

Out of the 400 eligible applicants to the Inclusive Fintech 50, 113 early-stage inclusive fintechs fell into the credit category. Based on our analysis, though most of the 15 winners can be segmented into micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) lending, asset financing, or consumer credit, the common denominator is that many are innovating through new credit scoring models or distribution channels – or both – to deliver financial services to underserved populations around the world.

Unlocking capital for small and medium enterprises

CreditEnable, for example, has built a digital marketplace for SME lending to offer businesses an alternative to the informal credit markets they often depend on. Through analytics, sector benchmarking, and statistical anomaly detection, CreditEnable’s cloud-based platform allows SME lenders to expedite decision-making processes while maintaining portfolio quality.

TaniFund, meanwhile, developed a peer-to-peer platform to connect smallholder farmers to investors. By leveraging data from sister company TaniHub, an e-commerce site that allows smallholder farmers to sell their produce directly to buyers, TaniFund can price unsecured loans and facilitate an online credit marketplace. AwanTunai, meanwhile, solves not only the liquidity obstacles of micro-retailers in Indonesia with the provision of point-of-sale consumer credit, but also addresses working capital constraints through digital invoice and purchase financing.

Innovating through existing distribution channels

Happy, a digital lender specializing in working capital loans for mom and pop retailers in India, originates loans through point-of-sale networks, online payment gateways, and e-commerce platforms through its APIs. Jai Kisan underwrites assets like agricultural and dairy equipment through its unique network of rural channel partners including retailers, petrol pumps, and agricultural produce buyers. Providers of input loans for smallholder farmers - like Kenyan fintechs Apollo Agriculture and Tulaa - have a similar approach, and heavily depend on agro-dealers to redeem generated mobile money vouchers. Apollo Agriculture brings together machine learning, remote satellite imaging and mobile money to deliver vouchers to farmers for purchasing customized bundles of inputs. Tulaa, on the other hand, uses alternative data including mobile money records to reduce the loan decision process to minutes, and also brokers the sale of crops at harvest time.

Three Wheels United, which funds electric tuk-tuks in India, boasts repayment rates comparable to that of microfinance institutions. It accomplishes this by deploying field agents to ensure the appropriate balance of technology and human interaction. PEG Africa is the only winner to utilize a pay-as-you-go model to provide solar products to people lacking reliable and affordable electricity. The products are integrated with mobile money and, as users build credit history, they can graduate to additional services like health insurance, larger solar systems, or even solar generators.

Leveraging data for credit scoring

In Kenya, Pezesha uses its online marketplace to address the limited coverage of credit bureaus in the country through a proprietary credit scoring model that combines traditional and alternative data with machine learning algorithms. Of those that actively seek out Pezesha’s services on the borrower side, 80 percent are women building informal businesses. 4Told Fintech helps to reduce default risks for financial service providers by inserting artificial intelligence into the lending value chain, while JULO is able to determine creditworthiness for borrowers without credit histories by utilizing third-party data streams. Operating in Indonesia, the fintech is able to approve mobile-only loans to unbanked individuals nearly instantaneously and offer competitive interest rates. CreditVidya’s products uses alternative data and artificial intelligence to help financial institutions price thin-file borrowers.

In India, SmartCoin digests billions of data points spanning transactional and behavioral attributes to create profiles for underserved segments via mobile. Mosabi takes a different approach to assessing creditworthiness, using mobile e-learning modules to connect fintech with financial education for micro-entrepreneurs in several countries across three regions. Small business owners can engage with a tailored financial literacy curriculum, converting educational achievements into inputs to credit scoring algorithms and provided to financial institutions.

What we learned from reviewing the eligible applicants in this category is that the credit market in fintech is sophisticated and not restricted to consumer credit. There are several points along the lending value chain that are ripe for disruption to ensure financially underserved populations are able to benefit from these financial tools and resources. And we’re glad to see the winners of Inclusive Fintech 50 leading the way. 


Inclusive Fintech 50 is funded by MetLife Foundation and Visa Inc. with support from Accion and IFC. Click here to see the full list of winners across categories.


Nikhil Gehani