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ING, Unicef launch ‘Fintech for Impact’ initiative to support startups in PH

ING Bank and UN children’s agency Unicef have launched an initiative in the Philippines called “Fintech for Impact” to support startups developing digital solutions that aim to empower young people, children, and families.

Five startups that are building financial technology (fintech) solutions will receive equity-free investments, as well as technical and business mentorship from Unicef, ING, and other experts for one year.

“In the Philippines, over nine million children live below the poverty line. They not only suffer from poor health and nutrition but also miss out on opportunities later in life such as education, training, work, and entrepreneurial opportunities,” said Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov of Unicef Philippines. “The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated these existing challenges for the most vulnerable. Health systems are overwhelmed, borders have closed, and families have been struggling to stay afloat.”

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As the world starts thinking about how to build back better after the pandemic, investments in fintech solutions for the most impacted communities present both challenges and opportunities. New digital financial tools need to be designed responsibly and address the specific needs of young people, children, and families, to help build economic security, encourage more equitable access to services, and lift the financial barriers to opportunities for improving their lives.

“Financial services have been expanding quickly. Governments are also pushing for greater inclusivity in financial services including families and young people. Digital financial platforms allow for wider financial services while providing social protection,” said Hans B. Sicat, country manager, ING Philippines. “This is why we have partnered with UNICEF to help develop fintech solutions by providing an equity-free investment, and mentoring early-stage open-source startups in the Philippines.”

The investment supports open source solutions that contribute to a growing body of digital public goods that can advance society.

The five startups selected are:

  1. Agrabah is building a digital platform that connects farmers and fisherfolk directly to buyers and loans, providing them greater autonomy, and their families improved financial resiliency.
  2. BeamAndGo is adding to the functionality of its remittance-based platform to help migrant workers (including Overseas Foreign Workers or OFWs) and their families better manage their finances and make responsible spending decisions for the household.
  3. Educ4All connects students to educational loans and will be producing a set of financial education and transition-to-adulthood courses that will guide graduates into meaningful employment and financial stability.
  4. Reach52 is expanding its set of apps that provide affordable microinsurance, healthcare, and health products to rural communities, as well as livelihood opportunities to local women.
  5. Saphron will be empowering grassroots microinsurance agents to collect accurate, efficient data with a powerful new AI-enabled platform. All investments are in open source technology and content, to allow the tools to be adapted and reused in other contexts.

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