Seedstars, a renowned startup community, and investor, is making waves with the launch of a strategic program called Financial Innovations for Women Affected by Migration (FIWAM). This growth program aims to identify and support fintech businesses that are dedicated to promoting financial inclusion, particularly for migrant women and women impacted by migration. The program targets women in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and Sub-Saharan Africa.
In an impressive show of support, FIWAM has garnered backing from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Austrian Development Agency. These organizations are funding the program through the Impact-Linked Fund for Gender Inclusive FinTech (ILF for GIF), which is managed by the Impact-Linked Finance Fund (ILFF). Together, the ILF for GIF and Seedstars are on a mission to improve access and utilization of financial products and services for women affected by migration.
The global landscape is witnessing a significant increase in the number of international migrants and internally displaced persons. With over 281 million international migrants and more than 55 million internally displaced persons worldwide, the need for financial inclusion among migrants is becoming increasingly critical. Women migrants, in particular, face numerous barriers when it comes to accessing financial services. These barriers include legislative constraints, documentation deficiencies, language barriers, cultural differences, and limited mobility. To address these challenges, FIWAM aims to support fintech startups that cater to the unique needs of women migrants and women affected by migration.
What FIWAM's Beneficiaries Stand to Gain
FIWAM's Growth Program will provide selected fintech startups from Asia, MENA, and Sub-Saharan Africa with technical assistance to unlock their investment potential and scale their impact. Each cohort of 10 to 15 fintechs from each region will benefit from the expertise of experts in residence (EIR) and mentors who possess a deep understanding of the challenges faced by women migrants in those regions. Over three months, these startups will receive invaluable guidance and support to refine their products and services.
To be eligible for the FIWAM Growth Program, startups must meet specific criteria. They must be for-profit entities with operations in a Sub-Saharan African, MENA, or Asian country. Furthermore, they must provide a fintech solution that currently serves or has the potential to serve women migrants or women affected by migration. Startups should demonstrate product-market fit, be at the growth stage, and generate a monthly revenue of approximately $10,000. Additionally, the program highly encourages applications from women-led companies and founders who are women migrants.
Susanne Thiard-Laforet, Program Manager of Private Sector & Development at the Austrian Development Agency, expressed enthusiasm for collaborating with Seedstars on this initiative. She highlighted the program's goal of enhancing access and utilization of financial services for women impacted by migration, including migrants themselves, their families, and host communities. Thiard-Laforet emphasized that this program is more than just an acceleration program; it is a catalyst for meaningful change, dismantling barriers and biases to recognize women migrants as a viable market segment. The Austrian Development Agency looks forward to supporting and learning from the innovative solutions that will emerge from this program and the positive strides they will make in fostering financial inclusion.
Elizabeth Jones, Global Lead Program Operations at Seedstars, said “We’re thrilled to launch the Financial Innovations for Women Affected by Migration (FIWAM) Growth Program, as it has the potential to create a lasting impact on the lives of women migrants and women affected by migration. We’re eager to witness the transformative financial inclusion these innovative solutions will bring about in their communities.”
Fintech startups interested in participating in the FIWAM Growth Program can apply through the program's website until July 30, 2023. This is a unique opportunity for startups to contribute to financial inclusion efforts and make a difference in the lives of women affected by migration. Seedstars and its partners are ready to support and empower these startups on their journey toward creating meaningful and sustainable change in the realm of financial inclusion.