Not Your Typical Win: UC Berkeley’s SCET Collider Cup
#4 on stage, #1 in our heart
Five months ago, six UC Berkeley students joined a Challenge Lab where the objective was to solve six problems that face Meghalaya, a North-East state in India. The challenges were Rainwater Harvesting, Horticulture, Turmeric, ECO Tourism, Healthcare and Financial Inclusion. Although, Financial Inclusion was not our first choice, it was the best thing that could’ve happened!
The six of us felt an instant connection and that is one of the main reasons we stayed so close and invested so much time into our project. Going into this semester, we didn’t expect anything revolutionary to come out of this project.
Our challenge was to find a way to create a solution for financial inclusion for citizens in Meghalaya, a state in India. Here are the facts:
- Currently, 2.3 billion people in the world are unbanked (not served by a bank)
- 190 million people in India are unbanked
- 63% of the Meghalaya population is unbanked
- There are only 16 bank branches per 1000 square kilometers in Meghalaya compared to the national average of 30.4 bank branches per 1000 square kilometers
Our challenge was find a way to get the unbanked people in Meghalaya into the rural banking system. After going through many ideas we decided that the best way to help this problem was to build upon the existing system, not replace it. Instead of trying to implement a complicated system for handling financial transactions, we decided to utilize the Meghalayan methodology of community based lending as our product. Motivated by this new idea, we did further research with existing bankers in India and asked our mentors for help.
The idea evolved into MeghaScore, a platform that leverages the social connection between villagers, allowing them to vouch for each other’s credibility and to connect to lenders by providing them qualified leads, a digital credit history, and federated credit score to evaluate risk and match them with capital.
Meet the Team
Tony Flores, CEO
Tony Flores is currently a Master of Public Policy candidate at the Goldman School of Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley. He is studying the intersection of technology and public policy and has been involved in projects related to artificial intelligence, bots, cybersecurity, and fintech across campus.
Shivani Patel, COO
Shivani Patel is currently a sophomore at UC Berkeley studying Cognitive Science and Data Science. She has big aspirations for education pathways and is currently involved in various programs on campus. A few include Curriculum Developer for the Data Science Division, Program Committee Chair for Splash at Berkeley, and Facilitator for BROCA (a decal on campus).
Denesh Chandrahasan, CPO
Denesh Chandrahasan is a senior at UC Berkeley studying Political Economics and Data Science, with an emphasis on development. He has interest in understanding how technology, policy, and education can be leveraged for economic development. He is currently involved in programs on campus such as Berkeley Economic Review, Berkeley Political Review, Cal Alumni Association, and Amnesty International.
Sophie Han, CMO
Sophie Han is currently an exchange student from Hong Kong. She spent one semester at UC Berkeley working towards her Certificate for Technology and Entrepreneurship from SCET. In her years of study, she is focusing on Technology and Finance.
Dhriti Hampapur, CFO
Dhriti Hampapur is a junior at UC Berkeley studying Economics. She is interested in finance and data analytics. She is currently working as an undergraduate research assistant through the UC Berkeley Department of Economics. She also has past experience working on marketing and data science related projects.
Malika Sugathapala, CIO
Malika Sugathapala is a junior at UC Berkeley studying Economics and Data Science. He has a passion for development economics and has worked extensively in Sri Lanka with the UNDP. He is involved in interesting programs on campus such as Theater4Charity and AFX but also cares about using Data Science methodology.
Our product is unique because we take the millions of unseen/undocumented informal financial relationships on the ground, leverage the cultural and societal value that is placed on criteria such as reputation within villages, and streamline it into a standardized credit score to help establish credibility and trust from lender to borrower.
It uses unconventional indicators to determine financial credibility and is designed to provide access to financial institutions for rural populations.
Front End Demo
Let’s take a look at a rural villager named Priya. This is her profile, where all the information is self-reported, including her small Turmeric Powder business. She is looking to take out a traditional loan but does not have a credit score. With our app, she can start building a credit profile.
Potential lenders can also see her overall credit ratings on her profile, as well as the experience of previous lenders. In this case, Priya received a comment from Sonya, who gave her a loan in the past. Priya paid off the loan and Sonya was satisfied with the transaction experience.
The final tab is a private view of Priya’s generated credit score. The score is calculated based on the aggregation of data within the main categories and subcategories.
SCET Collider Cup
After developing and competing with other teams from our class, we were selected to represent our class at the SCET (Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology) Collider Cup. The Collider Cup is a showcase where the top student teams from every semester compete in front of panels of professors, investors, and industry experts. This semester roughly 19 teams competed in four categories: Product Design/Management, Social Impact, General Entrepreneurship & Marketing, and Technical Engineering (Blockchain, AI etc.). From each of the four categories, one team would be chosen to present on stage to compete for the grand prize of $50,000.
We were chosen to represent Social Impact in the final round and while we did not make the top three, we were extremely grateful for the experience. We were able to make a few connections but most importantly, we were presented with lots of feedback from peers, professionals, and investors!
We extend our immense gratitude to Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology for hosting and bringing all of us together to learn and grow!
Through this experience, we were able to learn the importance of being in a technology run community. The latest and greatest technology always surrounds us, whether that’s the airpods in our ears, the apple pencil we use to write, or the apple watch on our wrist. We are run by tech, but places like Meghalaya are not. They don’t have apple watches, airpods, or smartphones, yet they still have businesses, families, and communication.
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