Call for Expressions of Interest: Innovative Digital Finance for MSEs

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 31, 2022 – CGAP today launched a call for expressions of interest for partners to pilot technology-enabled business models for advancing excluded or underserved micro and small enterprises' (MSEs') access to responsible credit.

MSEs are one of the strongest drivers of economic development and employment creation. Access to finance remains a significant constraint for MSEs globally to survive shocks or grow their business. Despite decades of investments and a vibrant financial inclusion industry, the MSE credit gap, now estimated at almost US$5 trillion globally, has proven to be a structural feature, even in countries that boost supportive financial inclusion policies and regulations.

Advances in technology, such as mobile connectivity, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and application programming interfaces (APIs), have disrupted the financial services industry, resulting in the emergence of new business models and digital financial products for MSEs. These technological advances show promise in overcoming traditional supply-side barriers to serving excluded MSEs. MSEs can also experiencing significant benefits through increased access to affordable, responsible and tailored credit products.

CGAP aims to support up to six firms that are using technology in innovative ways to serve MSEs. The pilots will test technology enabled innovations which will allow the firms to introduce, improve or expand responsible digital credit offerings to underserved or excluded MSE segments. This should result in significant impact for the targeted MSEs, measured in terms of improved cost of credit, loan terms tailored to the needs of individual MSEs, product diversification and increased accessibility, client centric product design, etc. The pilots aim to understand how technology can push the barriers of financial inclusion in a scalable manner.

CGAP will provide financial support for this project, which can be used towards either: (1) technical assistance delivered through an external expert or group of experts jointly selected by the firm and CGAP to support the development of the new products or processes; or 2) project delivery by a dedicated team from within the firm, which will take the lead on developing and implementing the pilot.

Additionally, the project will involve client research at two stages. The focus of the initial research will be on whether the envisioned offering will create value for the target segment and on how the firm can serve the target segment better. After the new offering has been launched, research will focus on measuring whether goals were achieved in terms of MSE impact. CGAP has hired an internationally renowned company to execute this work, which will collaborate with the firm in designing client surveys.

Selection criteria

CGAP is seeking to partner with fintechs, traditional financial services providers and retail firms that offer technology-enabled financial or non-financial services or intend to do so. These firms must aim to improve, expand or introduce responsible, affordable, tailored digital credit offerings to a target group of underserved and excluded MSE segments. The target group should be MSEs with less than, or in the range of, five full-time employees, and that are currently underserved or excluded from responsible and affordable business loans. Within this target group, CGAP is particularly (but not exclusively) interested in reaching women-owned businesses.

Partners must be committed to the success of the project and willing to draw on internal resources as required. Preference will be given to partners that are ready to start the project within one to two months of being selected and are open to sharing non-sensitive data and lessons learned from the project. CGAP will not disclose any information without the consent of partners.

Timeline

  • Call for expressions of interest: Submission deadline: March 6, 2022 (midnight EST)
  • Selection: Screening, assessment, and selection: March 7 – March 18, 2022
  • Interviews: March 21 - March 25, 2022
  • Implementation: Support: April 2022 – June 2023

Key documents

  • Terms of reference: detailed information about the call for expressions of interest, including selection criteria and application process (also available in French and Spanish). 
  • FAQ: a list of frequently asked questions that will be updated as questions are submitted (also available in French and Spanish). 
  • Expression of interest form: interested organizations can apply using this form (clicking this link will download a Word document) (also available in French and Spanish).

Please submit any questions to [email protected].