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MasterCard Foundation launches competition for financial inclusion in rural Africa

The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity has launched a new competition to find and support providers of innovative financial products and services that deepen financial inclusion for poor people in rural areas of Africa. 

The 2017 competition will also support selected solutions that have already been successfully implemented and are being scaled to a new sector, a new geographic area, or for a new use, according to a statement released on Tuesday.

“Our Fund for Rural Prosperity has already met its initial objective of improving the lives of one million smallholder farmers and poor people in rural Africa,” said Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion at The Mastercard Foundation. “We have seen financial services providers step up with truly innovative and scalable ideas to drive financial inclusion for this group of people.”

The 2017 competition will accept applications from any financial services provider in any country in the world provided that the proposed solution is implemented in some specific countries of Africa. These countries are: Burundi, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, DRC, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.

The competition has been designed to follow a rolling format in which applications will be accepted throughout the year, with evaluations carried out periodically. The first submission period will close for judging on August 10, 2017. Unsuccessful applicants will be able to refine and resubmit their applications subsequently, along with new entrants in the competition.

With this new model of competition, The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity expects to receive a high number of quality proposals focused on enabling people living in poverty to participate in the formal financial sector of their country.

The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity is a $50 million challenge fund established by The MasterCard Foundation. Since its launch in 2015, the Fund has held four competitions and 19 projects across Sub-Saharan Africa have been supported with $23.8 million. The 2017 competition launch coincides with the announcement of the 2016 Innovation Competition winners, who have been granted up to $3 million.

“We hope that other actors in this space are taking note so that they, too, can emulate or support success and bring the benefits of financial inclusion to millions more people,” Miles said.

The MasterCard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity Launches New Funding Opportunity for Financial Services Providers to Improve the Lives of Poor People in Rural Africa

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