EFInA to Boost Financial Inclusion with $2m FinTech Challenge Fund

Paul Arkwright

Emma Okonji

Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) says it will use the occasion of the recent visit of the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, to Nigeria to introduce a new challenge fund focusing on financial technology (Fintech) companies to enhance the uptake and usage of financial services by the low income population in Nigeria.

At a business networking event hosted by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright, EFInA’s Board Chair, Mr. Segun Akerele, introduced EFInA as a financial sector development organisation that promotes financial inclusion in Nigeria. The company’s mission is to make the financial
sector work better for the poor.

He explained further that EFInA is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. DFID is a United Kingdom government department responsible for administering overseas aid.

Speaking at the launch of the fund, a board member of EFInA, Mrs. Bunmi Lawson, said: “Following our recent request for information at our Fintech Outreach Forum, it gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of a new $2 million fund for start-up and growth stage Fintech firms looking to increase access to financial products and services for the poor as well as reduce the rate of financial exclusion in the country.”

She said the essence is to pilot and support the development of innovative financial products and services through the use of digital technology. In addition, the new fund will support projects that help strengthen financial resilience in Nigeria by aligning innovation and modern technology with the needs of the target audience.

“As we see changes happening faster and faster in our environment, we have to anticipate and step up our pace as well. There is immense opportunity in this market and our aim is to see to it that Nigerians are well placed to take advantage of these new opportunities and in the process reduce poverty and boost our GDP,” she said.

She further stated that the grants would cover a range of between $50,000.00, up to $200,000.00 for the “Fintech Challenge 1 Grant” and a range of between $200,000.00 to $500,000.00 for the Fintech Challenge 2 Grant,” adding that more information about the grants will be made available to prospective applicants at the formal Request for Proposal event to be held by the company in the near future.

The event was held at the FMDQ Exchange Place in Victoria Island and it was attended by the British Prime Minister and various UK government officials and a high level delegation of UK-based CEOs and their Nigerian counterparts.