The MetLife Foundation is backing Village Capital’s latest financial tech program in Dubai later this month.
Eleven startups have been selected from across the Middle East. Jordan-based Solfeh provides Islamic finance-compliant cash advances to low-income workers. Lendflo is a blockchain-based peer-to-peer lending platform (see full list of the 11 selected companies below, courtesy of Village Capital)
The Dubai program will focus on financial services for the migrant community, says VilCap’s Heather Matranga. “Many lack access to formal banking systems, or pay high fees to send money back home.” (See, “In the Middle East and North Africa, the 2030 global goals are a $600 billion opportunity.”)
MetLife and VilCap are partnering on future fintech cohorts in Poland, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Description: Bankroll is a digital platform, launching in early 2018, that will use machine learning to help banks more effectively understand their existing customers, decrease costs and defaults, and offer appropriate products to new customer segments
Description: Bridg provides a software application called OneConnect (patent pending) that allows users to make easy, safe, wireless payments using their bluetooth-enabled smartphones. OneConnect allows a transaction to occur between two devices even if only one of the phones has connection to the internet, enabling the 50% of smartphone users that don’t have data plans to make payments using their technology.
Description: Ennota is a cloud-based financial management tool that provides analysis on key business financials, such as cash flows, profitability statements and balance sheets, as well as lessons in financial education. Ennota uses the latest data visualization techniques to bypass technical and financial education barriers in the market.
Description: Lendflo is a peer-to-peer invoice financing platform built on the Ethereum Blockchain (similar to Bitcoin). Their vision is to create more efficient use of the working capital currently tied up in outstanding invoices in the UK economy, in order to increase access to credit for small businesses. Lendflo is based in London, and is working with the Dubai government and partners to launch a pilot in the UAE.
Description: Maliyya provides a P2P marketplace offering Sharia-compliant financial products that directly link investors with borrowers. The marketplace aims to bring together regional and global financiers and borrowers, providing lower costs, higher profits, and access to a larger pool of potential investors and borrowers.
MyMoneySouq, Umm al-Quwain
Description: MyMoneySouq is a comparison platform for life insurance, personal loans, car loans, credit cards, bank savings accounts, and other products that are available in the UAE. The company also offers various calculators for checking affordability, and financial education articles, helping consumers select the right financial product at the right price.
One Clique Systems, Dubai
Description: One Clique Systems is a cloud-based HR system specifically tailored for SMEs in the MENA region. A large portion of HR systems are one-size-fits-all, including complex software solutions, and don’t have small business owners in mind. One Clique Systems simplifies and streamlines employee administration for the small business owner while also providing advanced features that are normally only available to larger corporations.
Description: Qlikcash aims to increase access to financial services by providing a comprehensive digital money management and payments ecosystem that is low cost, user-friendly and does not require a bricks and mortar bank account (i.e. anyone with a national ID can open an account in under 10 minutes). The company offers a unique combination of mobile money and mobile wallet functionality — allowing customers to make payments with a prepaid card and/or the customer’s own debit/credit cards.
Smart Crowd, Dubai
Description: Smart Crowd is a digital real estate investment platform that provides the opportunity to buy and sell shares in properties, reducing the barriers to entry for low-middle income individuals to build financial assets and generate investment income. Unlike current real-estate investment vehicles, Smart Crowd provides users with active management of their shares, transparency on what properties they are actually investing in and very low minimum investment levels (~USD $1,500).
Description: Solfeh aims to address the cash flow volatility faced by many low-income individuals by providing Sharia-compliant, same-day cash advances with competitive interest rates. The company offers micro loans that have a flexible repayment schedule, and because the service integrates with employers’ payroll systems, loan payments are automatically deducted from an employee’s salary, likely improving repayment rates and reducing defaults.
Uhoncho, Abu Dhabi
Description: Freelancing is a growing opportunity, as seven in 10 MENA professionals consider it a viable option. However, the constraints of time, resources and a failure to segregate personal and business finances intensify financial burden. Freelancers spend on average 24 days per year on administrative tasks, and they face problems ranging from poor working capital management to poor tracking of expenses. Uhoncho aims to tackle these pain points with a mobile-first platform that provides freelancers with insights on the financial health of their business.