How some Latin American countries are laying the foundation for a thriving fintech economy.

Only 44% of adults in Mexico own a bank account. The World Bank

There’s a real problem in developing economies: People can’t bank. From private individuals to small businesses, many can’t even make payments. According to figures from the World Bank, 66% of sub-Saharan Africa remains completely unbanked. And as for Latin America, which has been credited with rapid growth and dynamism over the past decade, an astonishing 70%, or roughly 400m people, don’t have access to formal banking. The main reason for this, more often than not, is location. The majority of those deemed unbankable tend to live…

Leveraging the gig economy to create a remote income stream for displaced people.

NaTakallam is a startup that pairs refugees and displaced people with those all over the world wanting to learn Arabic. UNHCR

Meara Sharma talks with Aline Sara, founder of a startup called NaTakallam: meaning “we speak” in Arabic. The organization pairs refugees and displaced people, right now mostly Syrian refugees in Lebanon, with people all over the world who want to learn Arabic.

It leverages the gig economy to create a remote income stream for refugees, many of whom aren’t allowed to work, and it also helps language learners practice the kind of conversational Arabic not often taught in formal settings. …

Cryptocurrency and blockchain are helping to reimagine financial systems.

Wala aims to be a financial platform for the next 3.5bn people in emerging markets, powered by the Dala Utility Token

This week on the podcast, we talk with Tricia Martinez. She’s the founder of Wala, a financial services app, and Dala, a cryptocurrency that goes with it. Based in Cape Town and operating in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Uganda, Wala enables people to send digital money — Dala — to family across borders, as well as borrow, make transactions, and save. Many of these consumers haven’t had a formal bank account before, or they conduct their lives primarily in cash — both of which pose challenges to financial freedom.


Using tech-based solutions to deliver reproductive health in emerging markets.

Kasha is an e-commerce platform for women’s health, personal care, and beauty in East Africa. Kasha

This week we talk with Joanna Bichsel, the CEO and co-founder of Kasha, an e-commerce platform based in Rwanda that delivers reproductive health and personal care products to largely rural, low-income women.

The company is committed to helping women in the emerging world access products that are often stigmatized, like birth control and pregnancy tests, through mobile ordering and discreet delivery systems.

Kasha started in Rwanda in 2016 and has recently expanded into Kenya. Producer Meara Sharma talks with Bichsel about her journey to working in tech and health in emerging market countries, the importance of women-centric business models, and East Africa’s exciting startup culture.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The 85% for more great interviews with entrepreneurs and changemakers across the 85 World.

What the story of one Nigerian school tells us about larger narratives from the emerging world.

Makoko Floating School, designed by architect Kunle Adeyemi, has become the community’s most popular and famous building. Andrew Esiebo/The Guardian

Stories of social change in the emerging world tend to involve new and exciting ideas, bold visions, and innovation. But sometimes there’s a disconnect between how a project is shown to the outside world — through press, fundraising, accolades — and how it actually functions on the ground. Like in the case of the Makoko Floating school in Lagos, Nigeria.

Makoko is a massive slum built along the Lagos lagoon — many of its houses are on stilts, and canoe taxis are common…

Will the 2020s be the most disruptive decade in human history?

Tony Seba, co-founder of RethinkX

This week, we bring you a conversation with Tony Seba, a serial entrepreneur, educator, and thought leader on disruption. He’s the author of the book Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation — How Silicon Valley Will Make Oil, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Coal, Electric Utilities and Conventional Cars Obsolete by 2030.

emerge85’s Afshin Molavi recently spoke with Seba at a conference on sustainability at the International Finance Corporation in Washington, DC. They talked about how the way we move around is set to radically change, and the particular impact this will have on the emerging world.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The 85% for more great interviews with entrepreneurs and change makers across the 85 World.

A discussion about those left behind by global trends.

Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group. Inc

This week, host Afshin Molavi talks with Ian Bremmer about his new book, Us Vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism. It’s a clear-eyed, often bleak examination of the fallout from a globalized world: how those who have been left behind are expressing outrage and fighting for survival, and what governments are doing about it.

Bremmer is president and founder of Eurasia Group, a leading global political risk research and consulting firm, as well as a frequent speaker, columnist, and author of several other books including Every Nation for Itself and The End of the Free Market.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The 85% for more great interviews with entrepreneurs and change makers across the 85 World.

How will India manage its youth bulge?

Less than 17% of India’s graduates are immediately employable. Aakash Times

More than half of India’s 1.3bn people are under the age of 25. As the United Nations has noted, “Never before have there been so many young people” and “Never again is there likely to be such potential for economic and social progress.” But the challenge of educating and employing hundreds of millions of young people is staggering, perhaps even inconceivable. At the moment, less than 17% of India’s graduates are immediately employable.

So, this desperate, often frustrated generation of young Indians are charting their own course. This is the generation that…

The 85% speaks with the architect of India’s Aadhaar biometric database.

Nandan Nilekani is the architect of India’s Aadhaar biometric database. Hindustan Times

Nandan Nilekani is one of India’s most successful tech leaders. In 1981, he co-founded Infosys, the massive IT and outsourcing company. After more than 35 years there, he became the architect of the Indian government’s Aadhaar program, the biometric database that has registered more than a billion Indians with an ID number to access a range of government and private services. He’s also invested in several startups and founded the digital education platform EkStep. …

A host of African changemakers are reinventing fintech with the aspiration of building a single digital market across the continent.

African countries are on the cusp of a tech-driven transformation. Mastercard

There’s no denying the “Africa Rising” narrative. Expanding population figures and rapid urbanization are changing the face of the continent and encouraging outside investment. Sometimes lost in the excitement of the impending African century are the litany of challenges that continue to hobble economic and social development in certain parts of the continent.

The financial services sector, and fintech especially, is one area where young entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the demographic opportunity of a growing middle class and also addressing…


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