About the Program
India’s economy is struggling. In 2019 the country saw its smallest GDP growth rate in the past decade, thanks in part to ‘shock’ moments including demonetisation, flawed implementation of GST and a credit crunch from the NBFC crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has added one more financial shock, as the country underwent an extended lockdown.
This has had a drastic effect on Indian workers, families, communities and small businesses. Finance Forward, a global collaboration for financial health led by Village Capital, MetLife Foundation, and PayPal, is looking to support startups, which are addressing the following key challenges:
Challenges faced by small and medium businesses
India’s economy is driven by its small businesses. The country’s 75 million SMEs contribute 41% to the economy and create 180 million jobs. Many of these businesses are extremely small: 97% employ fewer than four people. SMEs have struggled during the economic slowdown, and are now bearing the brunt of the recent lockdown. Over 80% of Indian businesses report cash flow issues while 60% have seen disruptions in their supply chains.
We are interested in startups building tools to help small and medium businesses with access to capital, income management, payments and help them gain new customers.
Financial health of formal and informal workers
India has 400 million workers, and 93% of them are involved in the unorganized and informal sectors. The past two years have been particularly challenging for workers, and the lockdown is only making things more difficult. The formal workforce is facing tough times too: coronavirus could result in 136 million people facing job losses.
We are interested in startups that are building tools around workforce planning: helping Indians find work, manage their incomes and helping companies engage with their workforce better.
Financial Health of Households
Household debt has surged in India in the past few years, and many families are not prepared financially for a health or other emergency, with little in the way of savings or a nest egg. Insurance penetration was 3% in 2017, which has led India to have region-high out-of-pocket costs for healthcare, especially during emergencies.
We are interested in startups building tools to help people and families plan for their financial future, including saving tools, financial education solutions and innovative insurance solutions.
Challenges faced by women
62% of women in India don’t have a bank account, and women lag behind men in terms of access to financial services. Participation of women in the financial decision making process of the family tends to improve the financial security of a household, and even the country: by one estimate, participation by women in income-generating activities can add up to USD 28 trillion to India’s economy by 2025.