Financial inclusion remains an endemic, often unseen, issue across the world. Globally, it is estimated that 1.7 billion people have no access to a bank account while access to insurance remains chronically low. This remains a primary issue in emerging economies in particular.
However, recent technological developments mean that the financial system is becoming more accessible to low income populations than ever before. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the growth of mobile penetration rates has now risen to over 43%. This provides a crucial platform for the digital expansion of financial services. This, in turn, suggests that technology will remain the bedrock upon which the financial services sector will continue to grow across the region.
With the UK being home to many of the world’s most innovative technology and financial services companies, the Department for International Trade (DIT) has launched its Tech for Growth programme. The programme is designed to help expand financial inclusion across emerging and frontier economies and champion the role of technology in deepening access to financial services.
The first year of Tech for Growth will be piloted across Africa, where access to financial services remains low. There are further plans for the programme to expand globally across South East Asia and Latin America.
UK companies can register now to get involved
If you are a UK-based technology company with a focus on financial services, join our UK-Africa Tech for Growth community, by filling out your details in the survey linked below.
As a member of the Tech for Growth community, you will collaborate with African governments and regulators on the development of their tech sectors – and ultimately improve access to financial services in some of the world’s most underserved communities.
Through this initiative, DIT will connect participating FinTechs directly to commercial opportunities abroad, helping businesses realise where their innovations could deliver the biggest social impact. As one of our UK partners, you will also be able to benefit from exclusive DIT research into emerging market trends in financial services abroad, as well as tailored advice on how to negotiate barriers to successful trade with African markets.
Fill out this short survey to register your interest for the Tech for Growth programme.
DIT also offers webinars and virtual masterclasses for UK companies looking to start exporting or expand their overseas sales. Find out what’s on and register.
African companies can register now for support
If you are a financial services firm based in sub-Saharan Africa and are interested in expanding your current or future operations in the UK, we would also like to hear from you.
We are particularly interested in hearing how operating in the UK might benefit your business – whether that is through proximity to other innovative financial services firms, or through easy access to new, nearby markets, such as Europe.
Fill out this short survey to register for support, and share your experience of trading in the UK.
Hear from leading thinkers on issues of financial inclusion
As part of the programme, DIT has launched its Tech for Growth series of webinars and podcasts, exploring how UK FinTech can provide banking services across Sub-Saharan Africa through interviews with government, industry and market experts.
Produced in partnership with Tedd George, Founder and Chief Narrative Officer of Kleos Advisory, the series includes discussion of key topics from partnerships and mobile banking, to embedded finance and sustainable energy.
New episodes will be released every two weeks across YouTube and Spotify – you can find an up-to-date playlist of all the episodes below.
Episode 1: Opportunities for financial inclusion in Africa – Watch now on YouTube
In the plenary session of the Tech for Growth series, we speak to Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa Emma Wade-Smith and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s Director for International Finance Rachel Turner, about the opportunities to drive financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa.
Episode 2: The importance of partnerships for scaling – Listen now on Spotify
In the second episode of the series, we explore the role played by technology in financial services across sub-Saharan Africa. Speakers include George Odera, of leading mobile payments firm M-PESA, and Josh Jost, CEO of Blu Network.
Episode 3: The future of mobile banking in Africa – Listen now on Spotify
In the third episode of the series, we continue to explore the role technology can play in expanding access to financial services in sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on the future of mobile banking in the region. Speakers include Lesley-Ann Vaughan, Head of Product Strategy at the Mojaloop Foundation; and Kosta Peric, Deputy Director, Financial Services for the Poor at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Episode 4: How AgriTech can transform Africa’s agricultural sector – Listen now on Spotify
In the fourth episode of the series, we explore how AgriTech is steadily revolutionising agricultural sectors, which are crucial to African economies. Featured speakers include Jim McDougall, founder of innovative crop management firm Outfield; and Alia Malik, founder of agricultural app Farmsmart.