Why Alternative Lending Struggles to Scale in Emerging Markets — And What Fintech Companies Can Do About It

A new FIBR Briefing Note, “Alternative Lending: Landscaping the Funding Models for Lending Fintech Companies, surveys the emerging landscape of alternative lending with a view especially to informing tech and fintech companies which are already in — or plan to enter — this space in developing countries. The main message of the Briefing Note is that fintech companies intending to lend need to ensure that they have a robust funding strategy that will help them get to the necessary scale. This strategy includes a review of the regulatory requirements for lending and data sharing in the domestic market. 

Read the FIBR Briefing Note.

The Rise of a New Asset Class: Can ‘PAYGo Finance’ Connect Investors to Low-Income Customers?

Photo: Raju Haria, CEO of Raj Ushanga House (left), Daniel Goldfarb, CEO of Lendable (second from left), and Sharon Arungu-Olende, head of East Africa for Lendable (right), provide a PAYGo solar system to a customer.

Photo: Raju Haria, CEO of Raj Ushanga House (left), Daniel Goldfarb, CEO of Lendable (second from left), and Sharon Arungu-Olende, head of East Africa for Lendable (right), provide a PAYGo solar system to a customer.

The latest FIBR Briefing Note “Lendable: Case Study of a Marketplace Lending Platform in East Africa” elaborates further on the new platform and PAYGo financing as a new asset class. In the past months, we have been working with Lendable through FIBR, a project by global consulting firm BFA, in partnership with MasterCard Foundation. FIBR brings together FinTechs and banks to partner on using networks of small businesses to deliver digital financial services to low-income customers. The PAYGo sector and the data generated could advance fintech solutions for low-income customers using the FIBR approach. Thus, we will continue to explore PAYGo finance in the coming months. More...

Download the FIBR Briefing Note here

The author, Jim Kaddaras, is an international lawyer and consultant in the development finance field.


How Flexible Financing, Solar Panels and Data Could Be Key to Financial Inclusion

Photo: FIBR team members Javi Linares and Sushmita Meka in the field with PEG.

Photo: FIBR team members Javi Linares and Sushmita Meka in the field with PEG.

A new FIBR Briefing Note, “PAYGo Solar: Lighting the way for flexible financing and services” examines four key industry challenges from a financial inclusion perspective that serve as the foundation for FIBR’s PAYGo solar learning agenda: 1) unlocking local capital; 2) building data-driven financial operations; 3) tackling customer payment frictions; and 4) driving smarter agent network management. FIBR expects to conduct research and make project investments aligned with these four industry challenges in the sector. FIBR is currently working with CGAP to explore how PAYGo solar fits into the financial lives of low-income consumers across Africa, published a case study on Lendable, an alternative lending platform that is pioneering asset-backed lending for PAYGo solar and other leasing companies in Africa. More...

Download the FIBR Briefing Note here.

The author, Jacob Winiecki, a senior associate at BFA, is an off-grid energy and digital finance specialist.


The FIBR project, supported by The MasterCard Foundation, will harness smartphone data to connect underserved customers to financial services


BOSTON, February 25, 2016 — BFA, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, today launched FIBR (Financial Inclusion on Business Runways), a multi-million dollar, four-year project in Ghana and Tanzania to demonstrate how to better connect poor people to financial services by capturing and digitizing the data of business transactions in the informal economy.

By 2020, smartphone ownership is projected to rise from about 18% to over 50% in Africa, generating large amounts of new customer data. Thus, FIBR sets out to support technology, business and financial partners that can use this data to design and develop new ways to make savings, credit and insurance products available to underserved customers.

“FIBR is exploring different types of relationships, or links, between financial service providers and poor customers,” said David Porteous, CEO of BFA.  “The smartphone now makes it possible to propose new and more targeted solutions by a new range of players. How this happens and what will succeed is largely untested but it will be a transformative contribution to the financial services sector and how the poor better manage their money.”

FIBR further broaches new territory by:

●      Experimenting with predictive algorithms on this data so financial service providers can make better decisions about potential customers in underserved markets, and

●      Cultivating an active learning agenda that is supported with practical examples, and sharing insights with the broader financial inclusion field.

Two billion people worldwide lack access to regulated financial services yet the traditional way financial institutions cater to underserved customers is limited, resulting in low adoption and usage of services. Experimenting with the data from a poor person’s interactions with businesses as an employee, customer or supplier, and using it as a financial track record, opens up new possibilities in what a bank can offer, fund or underwrite. 

“These business-based relationships, such as a shopkeeper extending customer credit, an employer setting aside savings for employees or a club providing micro-insurance to its members represent an untapped, indirect source of financial data about a person,” said Mark Wensley, Senior Program Manager, Financial Inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation. “With this data, banks and microfinance institutions, even mobile network operators, can offer a wide range of new financial services to poor customers whom they currently cannot serve directly.”

At the official project launch in Accra, Ghana, on February 25, BFA announced that several local organizations were already engaged in pre-qualifying projects for FIBR, and two major Ghanaian banks were partnering as financial service providers. By June 2016, the first selection of partners is scheduled to go through the program.

For more information about FIBR, please visit: www.fibrproject.org


BFA is a global consulting firm specializing in financial services for low income people. Our approach is to seek out, create and implement financial solutions to help people manage challenges and seize opportunities. We partner with cutting-edge organizations that touch the lives of low income consumers such as financial institutions, fintech companies and information providers. In creating solutions, we integrate our deep expertise in customer insights, business strategy, new technology, and growth-enabling policy and regulation. Founded in 2006, BFA’s clients include donors, investors, financial institutions, policymakers, insurers and payment service providers. BFA has offices in Boston, New York, Nairobi and Medellín. For more information, please visit: www.bfaglobal.com.


The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org or follow us on Twitter @MCFoundation


Media Contacts: 

Jane Del Ser
Communications Manager
+34 608 375 760

Roger Morier
Senior Manager, Communications
The MasterCard Foundation
+1 647 837 5290