EFSE DF accelerates financial inclusion with fintech competition in Berlin

Source: EFSE DF

Tarfin has won EUR 15,000 sponsored by the EFSE DF and the distinction of becoming the first company to be dubbed champion of the Fincluders Startup Challenge, a competition featuring emerging fintech companies with products designed to reduce the ranks of the world’s 2.5 billion people with no access to banking services.

The Development Facility of the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE DF) organised the competition to attract the best fintech startups whose products encourage financial inclusion for micro and small enterprises and low-income households in the region the fund serves, which covers 16 countries in Southeast Europe and the European Eastern Neighbourhood.

Mehmet Memecan, CEO and founder of Tarfin said: “Farmers provide the daily food on our plates. But despite their importance, they remain an underbanked segment of our society. I am very happy to be able to support them through my team’s work, and the award will help me to strengthen this support by broadening Tarfin’s customer base and by further developing our products.”

Through its cloud-based platform, Tarfin connects retailers’ open credit sales from small-scale farmers with the lending capability of financial institutions. Retailers that use Tarfin minimize their receivable risks and have easy access to a cheap source of working capital. Tarfin also helps member retailers better manage receivable risk with the country’s first farmer credit risk scoring system.

Kenian-based FarmDrive was awarded second place and EUR 10,000 sponsored by Finance in Motion for its idea of connecting smallholder farmers with financial institutions with the help of mobile phone technology, alternative data sets and sophisticated data analysis. Quotanda, whose lending as a service platform enables educational organizations to make their services more affordable made it to third place receiving EUR 5,000 in prize money gifted by pwc, who also acted as mentors for the finalists. A special price went to Optio Al from Georgia, which developed a personal finance assistant based on an artificial intelligence powered chatbot.

An honorary mention went to Taqanu from Norway, which is about to set up a digital bank for refugees enabling them to create an identity to become eligible for regulated financial services. Taqanu will receive further mentoring by KfW and jury member Nasir Zubairi, CEO of the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT).

From nearly 100 entrants from around the world, 15 finalists have emerged with fresh ideas to expand financial inclusion, increase entrepreneurship, and bolster small businesses. During the two-day event in Berlin, competitors discussed with top-flight mentors to craft their businesses plans. For the ultimate event, a pitch-off, competitors tried to sell their ideas to an expert jury in a format similar to those used by the television shows Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank.

EFSE Chairman Christoph Tiskens said: “To engage with the huge opportunities offered by financial technology to deliver broader, more cost effective and transparent financial services, the Fund’s Development Facility has launched the Fincluders Startup Challenge competition to identify innovative Fintech startups who are committed to financial inclusion. This event did inspire and excite as it shows the power of fintech for financial inclusion in our partner countries.”

EFSE DF Committee Chairman Markus Aschendorf said: “Fintech continues to challenge and disrupt the financial sector. With the Fincluders competition we want to identify great ideas and talents in their early stages and helping launch these services to increase access to finance.”

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