Bharat Inclusion Sprint — Chennai

By Sandeep Koujalgi & Shuchi Yagnik

Post-Event Picture with the Startups, Speakers and Bharat Inclusion Team at CoWrks, OMR, Chennai

We Sprinted with entrepreneurs at CoWrks, OMR, Super Kings City earlier this month. The conversations centered around the emerging platforms of IndiaStack, learnings from a successful entrepreneur’s journey and insights from research studies on financial inclusion.

The first session by Sandeep Koujalgi, VP — Bharat Inclusion Initiative at CIIE, focused on IndiaStack Technology and its impact on digital financial products. The session triggered some interesting conversations around the privacy framework and the roles of Account Aggregators, and the Public Credit Registry. The startups got an opportunity to clarify on questions they had about their products and potential use-cases for which they can develop.

The next session featured Puneet Gupta, Co-founder of Kaleidofin, who shared his entrepreneur journey with the participants. Kaleidofin is a fintech platform that propels under-banked customers towards meeting their real-life goals by providing tailored financial solutions. He discussed how finance can be made simple and intuitive for the customer. “Nudges are personal but being present in the right place at the right time is more important” said Puneet. The keynotes from the session were:

1. Firms dealing in financial services should focus on helping customers meet their real-life goals and not just build market products. Most industries other than finance have tried to embrace this.

2. Only when solutions start to work for customers will the customers start to demand solutions and finance will move away from push sales to being pulled by the customer.

3. While cost and technological advancements can give the firms an edge, businesses are harder to be built unless there are sustainable long-term goals that continue to accrue on these advantages.

4. The industry will be shaped by multiple regulatory changes and events, but it’s important to stay on course and build capabilities that can withstand these shocks.

5. Companies that are more adaptable to industry-wide changes have better chances of success.

6. Entrepreneurs should invest in processes, technologies, and teams that make them more agile. It may seem expensive in the short run, but always pays off later.

The last session of the day was facilitated by Monami Dasgupta, a research analyst from Dvara and also a Bharat Inclusion Research Fellow. Among the many insights shared, Monami identified one of the main challenges expressed by a participant — to align the sales team incentives with a provision of suitable advice and products to low-income households (LIHs). The conversation revolved around how fintechs can solve this problem to some extent by offering ethically sound robot advisory of suitable products to LIHs (after controlling for endogenous discrimination in the algorithm) and aligning incentives to bring down time-cost. Monami also shared an interesting check-list for entrepreneurs innovating a product that aids financial inclusion:

1. Relevance

2. Cost-effectiveness

3. Minimise transaction costs

4. Reaching customer base

5. Scalability and economies of scale

6. Products and services adapted to a different language, cultural, and socio-economic differences

7. User-friendly and non-intimidating platforms

8. Assisted models for LIHs

9. Scope for iterations of product/ service (with support from regulatory bodies)

10. Customer protection and privacy (Online and offline)

11. Competition

12. Grievance Redressal

Sprints enable us to not only learn from the ecosystem but also help us connect better with startups and understand their challenges. See below on what some entrepreneurs had to say during the Sprint:

We look forward to continuing our conversations with the participants at the Sprint. Write to us at bharatinclusion@ciieindia.org or Tweet us if you are interested in engaging with us.


About Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII):

Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII) is an incubator platform at CIIE that provides entrepreneurs the domain knowledge, training, financial support, mentorship, and market access they need to bring inclusive, for profit-business to life. BII’s core design is to promote technology driven entrepreneurship towards the delivery of affordable services to the Bharat Segment- the poorest 200 million households in India who survive on less than $5 per person a day through programs, fellowships, and funding where possible.

The program focuses on solutions leveraging technology open access, inclusive technology platforms such as the India Stack. It integrates financial inclusion research with entrepreneurship and training to transform these solutions into scalable, viable and high impact businesses. We are keen on partnering with entrepreneurs who are driven by building next-generation digital services for India. Reach out to us at bharatinclusion@ciieindia.org or ask your questions in the comments section below.