Social Finance Innovation Challenge

Submitted on Sat, October 13, 2012

There are two billion people without a bank account, and many more without access to credit, $167bn of unsafe remittances, small and medium enterprises without working capital, cities unable to fund their social problems. When at their best, banks help more people achieve more. Throughout their history, banks have developed markets from social innovations, driving inclusion and development. Now is the time to write the next chapter in that history, and to pioneer ideas that will empower individuals and communities across the world through new banking services, products, and partnerships.

For the first time, Ashoka and its global network of 3,000 leading social entrepreneurs are joining hands with Swift and the global platform of banks, to identify how we can connect social innovations to long-term business cases. With Swift's Innotribe think thank, the Ashoka Globalizer team have launched a collaborative challenge to showcase groups of Ashoka Fellows around the world who are working on social finance innovations that could greatly benefit from partnerships with the world’s major banks.

We have identified 5 major innovations that may be key to building better banks for a better world.

Providing young people in developing countries with financial education and bank accounts – tomorrow’s future customers
• Developing mobile banking to reach the word’s unbanked communities
• Building partnerships between specialist community lenders and mainstream banks to improve access to finance
• Providing Working Capital funding to high growth SMEs and social impact organizations
• Issuing municipal Impact Bonds to finance high impact social projects

We have brought together world-renowned Ashoka Fellows to lead each of these themes and develop a coalition to build it – people such as Jeroo Billimoria, founder of Childline India, and Faisel Rahman, CEO of Fair Finance.

In a first step, we will bring together these Fellows with experts and mentors like Sir Ronald Cohen (founder of APAX and Ashoka Support Network member) in a working meeting in London, October 12th and 13th.

In a next step, on November 1st, we will present these ideas to a global banking audience at the SIBOS conference in Osaka, Japan ( alongside Muhammad Yunnus (Nobel Prize Winner and Ashoka Global Academy member), and coming out of that we would then seek to launch these programs in 2013 with a coalition of banking partners.

If you would like to know more, please email