blake wisz Xn5FbEM9564 unsplash scaled
blake wisz Xn5FbEM9564 unsplash scaled
News Briefs Technology

Women’s World Banking Announces Fintech Innovation Challenge Winners

The third annual global fintech competition celebrates trail-blazing solutions for women's financial inclusion.

Women’s World Banking announced Boost Capital and People’s Pension Trust as the winners of its Third Annual Fintech Innovation Challenge. This Challenge is part of the organization’s Making Finance Work for Women Thought Leadership Series. Each year, the Challenge provides a global stage for fintechs to present innovative solutions and business models that help build economic security and prosperity for unbanked, underserved women. This year’s competition culminated in a live virtual event to honor both recipients. It offered a deeper look into the recipients’ fintech solutions. Guest speakers discussed the role of financial technology in the future of women’s economic empowerment.

“We are thrilled to recognize Boost Capital and People’s Pension Trust and their contribution towards women’s financial inclusion. Both companies clearly demonstrate the game-changing potential of fintechs to advance women’s economic empowerment on a broader scale,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking. “Nearly two years into the pandemic, the compounding economic effects of COVID-19 continue to take a disproportionate toll on women. Now more than ever, it’s important to ensure equal access for 1 billion women worldwide who are still excluded from formal financial services. Fintechs such as Boost Capital and People’s Pension Trust create value in areas where traditional financial service providers have not entered, particularly at the local market level. We trust that this competition’s platform will demonstrate to other fintechs, investors and the wider financial sector that serving low-income women is a unique and profitable opportunity.”

Women’s World Banking celebrates finalists

Boost Capital and People’s Pension Trust were selected from a group of four finalists. The pool of applicants represented 34 countries. Winners presented their winning solutions to a diverse panel of judges and a virtual audience. Fellow finalists hiveonline and Mosabi also participated. Boost Capital and People’s Pension Trust have set out to enable greater economic security and prosperity for low-income women in emerging markets, each addressing a specific issue:

  • Boost Capital enables end-to-end digital microlending technology based on innovative chat-style applications. It allows MSMEs in Cambodia to receive both secured and unsecured loans more conveniently and cheaply using smartphones.
  • People’s Pension Trust offers voluntary, flexible and digitally driven retirement products, particularly for informal workers in Ghana. Products promote financial inclusion by ensuring they have a better tomorrow.

“The Fintech Innovation Challenge has established itself globally as a key platform for attracting equity-minded innovators and encouraging bold solutions to financial exclusion for women. This year’s incredibly talented pool of applicants once again exceeded expectations, and they all deserve recognition for their vision and entrepreneurial efforts,” said Sara Elinson, EY Americas Strategy and Transactions FinTech Leader and one of the competition’s expert judges. “We especially look forward to seeing how our finalists continue to evolve their unique fintech solutions for social equity and inspire future entrepreneurs to follow this path towards financial inclusion.”

A group of expert judges

The complete panel of expert judges represents the global development, business and technology sectors. It included Katharine Budd, Co-Founder and CEO of NOW Money; Dave Kim, Program Officer of Financial Services for the Poor at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Pat Patel, Principle Executive Officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore; Otto Williams, Senior Vice President, Head of Partnerships, Innovation and Digital Solutions at Visa CEMEA; and Mary Ellen Iskenderian, CEO and President of Women’s World Banking.

Earlier, Alexa Varsavsky, CEO and Isabel Oriol, COO of ADA Impacto, received the Women’s World Banking’s Female Founder Award. The award launched this year as part of the global competition to honor a female founder(s) who has shown exemplary leadership in building an inclusive workplace while working towards women’s financial inclusion. Given that only 7 percent of global fintech founders are women, this is an important recognition. The two winners were featured in a fireside chat with Angélica Fuentes, Founder of Muvop. They shared their experiences and insights as female entrepreneurs in a male-dominated industry.

The virtual event also featured a panel discussion entitled “Two Sides of a Coin: How Fintech Innovation and Regulation Impact Financial Inclusion”. Spiros Margaris, Founder of Margaris Ventures moderated the panel. Speakers included Andi Taufan Garuda Putra, CEO and Founder of Amartha; Gerelt Telmen, CEO of Ard Credit JSC; Karen Miller, Global Head, Leadership & Diversity Programs at Women’s World Banking; Pratin Vallabhaneni, DC Financial Services Regulatory Partner at White and Case; and Jo Ann Barefoot, CEO and Co-Founder of the Alliance for Innovative Regulation. Dr. Martin Ihrig, Associate Dean & Clinical Professor at New York University was the Master of Ceremonies.

Providing resources for women in fintech

As the winners of the Fintech Innovation Challenge, Boost Capital and People’s Pension Trust each receive a customized UX design guidance session furnished by Visa Inc., an exclusive pitch meeting and feedback session with the Women’s World Banking Asset Management team, four 1:1 leadership coaching and feedback sessions with one of Women’s World Banking’s executive coaches and up to $4,000 to be applied towards the cost of any NYU School of Professional Studies continuing education courses or certificates. All four finalists also receive membership in the Women’s World Banking’s Global Member Network. The Network offers a collaborative opportunity to connect with other financial service providers. Participants can share best practices in promoting women’s financial inclusion. The winners of the Female Founder Award will receive a 1:1 marketing and PR strategy consult with Anthemis. Anthemis is a leading fintech investment platform.

The Making Finance Work for Women Fintech Innovation Challenge is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Leading Sponsor), Ernst & Young LLP (EY US and Advancing Sponsor) and Novi (Supporting Sponsor). Women’s World Banking’s core funders are Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Visa Foundation.

About Women’s World Banking

Women’s World Banking designs and invests in financial solutions, institutions and policy environments in emerging markets to create greater economic stability and prosperity for women, their families and their communities. The company has a global reach of 57 partners in 32 countries. It serves more than 69 million women clients, Women’s World Banking drives impact through its scalable, market-driven solutions; gender lens private equity fund; and leadership and diversity programs. Visit

Read about Fi991’s new mentorship program for women in the fintech industry.

Check for errors 160x600 1