Financial Inclusion Lab

Apply by 27th August, 2018

We all know that India is a large underserved market. But, did you know that only 27% have health insurance? That 60% of MSMEs lack access to formal credit? And less than 5% of Indians are invested in equity markets? Do you have what it takes to serve a large, under penetrated market? Can you make the lives of a billion people better - through better financial products or helping people improve their livelihoods. Have you been struggling to find the right platform to build your idea?

If the answers to these questions are yes, then we are looking for you!

We invite you to be a part of a one-of-its-kind 'Financial Inclusion Lab' dedicated to startups that are interested in serving the low- and middle-income (LMI) segments in India – the largest market for such a population.

About the lab

Although there are more than 1,500 fintechs in India, their focus is highly skewed towards the affluent, tech-literate english speaking customers in the larger cities. This leaves over 470 million among the addressable LMI market untapped. Further, most incubator and accelerator programmes in India offer standardised, light-touch support with no focus specifically on the LMI segment.

We are setting up the Financial Inclusion Lab to support startups that are developing innovative, technology-enabled solutions for the benefit of underserved communities in the areas of Financial inclusion, Livelihoods and Skilling. MicroSave, an international financial inclusion consultancy firm, will provide startups with high-touch consulting and insights into the LMI segments. Thus the Lab will bring together an unparalleled combination of domain experts, thought leaders, LMI mentors, and the best management brains in the country to help build and scale inclusive innovations.

We are currently accepting applications for the first phase of our lab, that is, the 'Build' phase. This phase is designed to accelerate the development of your minimum viable product through field studies supported by LMI experts, prototype designing workshops, mentorship and financial support. It will help you test your assumptions, ascertain problem-solution fit and prepare your product for a successful pilot and scale up.

Only up to 10 start-ups will be selected through a rigorous selection process for the 20-week long acceleration programme.

Our offerings

Each selected start-up will receive a customised and differentiated bouquet of services worth ~USD 70,000.

This includes:

  • Prototype capital of up to INR 2 million (~USD 30,000)

  • Mentoring by distinguished LMI-focused practitioners, sector experts and policymakers, up to 50 hours

  • High-touch, expert advisory worth INR 1 million (~USD 15,000) to build LMI understanding and suitable products

  • LMI-focused field research to gather customer insights

  • Behavioural and human-centred design (HCD) inputs that help tailor your solutions for the specific target segments

  • Customised diagnostics and clinics to address your startup's urgent and critical challenges

  • Dedicated portfolio managers to help you achieve challenging milestones and connect with investors

  • Curated sessions on essential business skills by faculty and experts at IIM-Ahmedabad

  • Extensive visibility to showcase your product through our marketing channels and showcase events

  • Access to cloud credits, legal, marketing and other ancillary services worth over USD 30,000

  • Opportunity to access scale-up capital via Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund

  • And much more...

Start-ups we seek

  • Start-ups in the Proof of Concept (PoC) to early-revenue stage

  • Solutions leveraging ICT, especially open-access inclusive platforms like IndiaStack and with significant potential to scale

  • LMI-focused innovations that target financial inclusion, skill development, and livelihood generation

  • Strong teams with complementary skill sets and full-time members working on the solutions

  • Original products! Teams with products/solutions that infringe upon someone else's patent, copyright, or license will not be considered for the program

Program Phases


Has your MVP been designed after rigorous research with the intended LMI customers? Are many of your customers recommending your product to other customers? Are your operations sustainable? Are you facing a problem of plenty (too many customers and investors chasing you)? If no, then there is probably room for improvement. You should apply.
Startups in the following sectors and targeting the non-affluent customers will be preferred -

1. Fintech – Payments and Remittances, Insurance, Savings and Investments, Credit and Lending, Accounting and Taxation etc.

2. Livelihood Enhancement

3. Skilling and Education

Startups and Individuals in the idea stage and building solutions around IndiaStack are supported via the Bharat Inclusion Champions program. We recommend that you apply for that program separately.
Only Founder or Co-founders may register on behalf of the startup.
No. The application has to be submitted online via the application form on this website.
All information provided by applicants will be shared with the programs team, evaluators and program partners through a restricted access system for evaluation, administrative and research purposes. If we need to share any startup specific data with other third parties, we will do so only if consented by the applicant. The application should ideally not contain detailed technical or product specifications that might affect the applicant's ability to protect and prevent exploitation of the intellectual property through registered rights. However, do note that the applications with clear, sufficient and verifiable information stand a much better chance of being selected.
Only completed applications received in time will be considered for evaluation. A panel consisting of the programs team, partners, experts and investors will shortlist the most suitable startups based on the opportunity identified, team, innovation, impact, program alignment and other criteria. Decision of the CIIE team in this regard will be final.
No. It is not a residential program. However, the key team members will be required to travel to Ahmedabad for a short period for the bootcamp and diagnostics.
The funds will be made available in tranches based on the needs of the startup and milestones achieved. There will be some restrictions on the use of the funds in keeping with the regulations and to ensure utilization for the intended purpose.

Your query is not listed here? Please write to or tweet us @BharatInclusion with your query.

Apply by 27th August, 2018