Fintech Innovation Challenge

Making finance work for women

In its third year, Women’s World Banking’s Fintech Innovation Challenge provides a global stage to highlight Fintech innovations serving unbanked and underserved women in order to build their security and prosperity in the face of global inequalities.

Despite years of progress in advancing financial inclusion, nearly 1 billion women around the world still remain excluded from formal financial services, and there is a persistent 9% gender gap across emerging markets. Moreover, the economic toll of COVID-19 has fallen disproportionately on women, exposing their particular vulnerability to global shocks. While the pandemic has accelerated the digitization of financial services, low-income women remain at risk of being left behind given the unique barriers they face to adoption and usage of digital financial services.

Combined with broader inequalities for women such as rising unemployment, disparities in access to healthcare, and the effects of climate change, it is more imperative than ever that gender equality is at the center of recovery and growth.

Now more than ever, Fintechs are a crucial driver of women’s financial inclusion.


Our past Fintech Innovation Challenge winners – Aflore, Pula Advisors, Tyme, and myAgro – were given the exciting opportunity to compete in the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Global FinTech Hackcelerator during the Singapore FinTech Festival. Our 2019 Challenge winner, Pula Advisors, was one of their three winners!

Who should apply?

  • Startup Fintechs based anywhere that are leveraging technology to provide financial services for unbanked and underserved women in emerging markets. Solutions do not need to be exclusively for unbanked and underserved women but must show deliberate intent to be inclusive of reaching the segment.
  • Fintechs should also demonstrate a commitment to developing women leaders through the presence of women in their senior management team and Board of Directors.
  • Solutions should focus on building women’s security or prosperity, particularly in supporting resilience and recovery from global economic shocks.
  • Applicants can be pre-revenue but must demonstrate a viable value proposition to reach unbanked and underserved women.



Fintechs must submit solutions in either of one of two categories:

Build Security and Resiliency

How might we enable unbanked and underserved women to build resilience through convenient, secure, and reliable access to safety nets to ensure greater equality in a post-COVID-19 world?


Build Economic Prosperity

How might we enable unbanked and underserved women to build their business and household income and drive economic growth to ensure greater equality in a post-COVID-19 world?

Announcing the Female Founder Award

Women’s World Banking will honor a female founder whose fintech qualifies for the Fintech Innovation Challenge, and who demonstrates exemplary leadership in building an inclusive workplace while working as a crucial driver for women’s financial inclusion. As fintechs continue to innovate financial services and work towards financial inclusion, it’s important to also recognize gender equality within those fintechs. According to Deloitte, the number of global fintech founders is still dominated by men, with women founders making up just 7% of the total. It’s time to pave the way for more female representation in fintech.


Selection Criteria

Relevance & Reach

  • How many unbanked and underserved women does the solution reach?
  • What strategies are being deploying to reach unbanked and underserved women?


  • How does the solution address systemic barriers for unbanked and underserved women in a unique and differentiated way from your competitors?


  • What is the desired long-term impact of this solution? Is there a vision to drive towards women’s economic empowerment?
  • How will the long-term impact be measured?


  • Does the business model demonstrate a path to financial sustainability?


  • What is the strategy for growth, and how this solution will scale across markets?

Gender Diversity

  • How is the institution promoting gender diversity and inclusive leadership within the organization?


  • Does the solution focus on employing best practices in consumer protection and transparency?



  • MAY 6: Applications Open – Applications are submitted through online form.
  • JUNE 11: Application Deadline – Applications and all supporting materials must be submitted no later than June 11th, 11:59 EDT.
  • MID-JULY: Shortlist Candidates Selected for Interviews – The Advisory Committee will review applications and select a shortlist of applicants for interviews.
  • EARLY SEPTEMBER: Finalists Announced – Finalists will have the opportunity to receive mentoring to refine their solution and pitch.
  • OCTOBER: Winners Announced – Finalists will pitch to a panel of judges at the virtual Fintech Innovation Challenge.


June 11, 2021
Program dates Jul 12 - Oct 31, 2021
Organizer Women’s World Banking
Website Visit website
Africa, Antarctica Region, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Europe, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Micronesia, Nicaragua, Northern America, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela
Sectors EdTech, Financial services, Fintech, HealthTech