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Khalti, a homegrown financial technology startup in Nepal, has won the Fintech Innovation Fund from the United Nations. The fund was jointly launched by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) earlier this year. Along with Khalti, a total of 10 companies from across Asia-Pacific region have won the Innovation Fund.
After being announced the winner for the Fintech Innovation Fund, Khalti is rolling out a special project within July 2019. The project will support women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in 12 different districts across the nation, from Sankhuwasabha in the east to Darchula in the west. The Project will also support women involved in Dhaka Weaving to Allo Processing and Weaving to Food Processing. With this project, Khalti aims to solve gaps between production and sales of goods produced by 3500 women involved in MSMEs in Nepal.
The project intends to deliver financial and digital literacy and skills to women-owned, managed or led MSMEs by bringing all the MSMEs to a digital platform and upgrade their current style of working. Khalti will be providing the necessary training to be self-sufficient and help them in expanding their business and resources. Khalti is partnering with SAARC Business Association of Home Based Workers (SABAH Nepal) to implement the project. Furthermore, Khalti is also mobilizing Smart Chhoris to assist the MSMEs.
Over the next year, UNESCAP and UNCDF will provide financial and technical support for Khalti to conduct the project and introduce digital and financial solutions that improve access to finance and enhance the operational efficiency of these women-led MSMEs.
Elated by this achievement, Arvind Sah, Director of Khalti shared,
“Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are a vital source of employment and a significant contributor to the country’s GDP in Nepal. However, most MSMEs have been facing difficulty in accessing loans and other financial services.
“We are building a hyperlocal market in Khalti platform and conducting marketing and sales of goods produced by the women and enabling payments of goods directly through Khalti app. And, on the basis of their monthly income level, we will recommend the loan from our partner bank so that they can expand their business. This project offers payment solutions and improved access to finance to the women-led MSMEs in Nepal.”
Through Khalti’s innovations: hyperlocal market and bulk payment processing system, the women-led MSMEs will be able to connect with their end users directly and receive payments on their mobile phone. The project seeks to uplift the livelihood of women involved in MSMEs in Nepal.
Launched in January 2017, Khalti is an emerging mobile payment solution in Nepal. During this very short period of time, Khalti has emerged as one of the most preferred payment choices amongst customers in Nepal. Khalti allows users to top-up their mobile balance, pay DTH bills, internet bills, various utility bills, book movie tickets, flight tickets, hotel rooms, top up Tootle balance, make payments for food ordered online at Foodmandu, and pay at various online shopping sites in Nepal. Users can avail all these services through its app and website.
SAARC Business Association of Home Based Workers (SABAH Nepal) is a social business organization which works toward strengthening the livelihoods of financially deprived and marginalized women home-based workers in Nepal. It has been zeroing in on its mission of empowering the rural and urban poor women working in the informal sector through economic self-sufficiency.
SABAH Nepal currently has a strong network of more than 3500 women home-based workers, spread all over the country. They have been producing different handicrafts and food-based products.
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) launched the Women MSME FinTech Innovation Fund in March 2019 in partnership with the Australian Government (DFAT), the Dutch Development Bank (FMO), and Visa Inc, with the financial support from the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.
The Fintech Innovation Fund was launched to identify and support solutions to overcome the access to financial barriers faced by women-owned, managed or led enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region. The Innovation Fund invited companies to submit a proposal for a project to pilot an innovative solution that would help to meet this challenge which is supply-side, demand-side, enabling environment constraints in their access to finance and gender-specific barriers in access to institutional credit and other financial services, as well as greater vulnerability to the barriers compared with MSMEs owned by men.
As per the World Bank’s statistics, more than 90% of enterprises in developing Asia-Pacific region are MSMEs, making them a vital source of income and employment. However, more than 45% of micro, small and medium-sized companies (MSMEs) in Asia and the Pacific experience access to finance as a constraint. The constraints faced by MSMEs limits regional economic growth.
To address the issues that female business owners face, entrepreneur-centric solutions are needed that will allow her to grow her business. It will also help reach her full potential. For the same reason, UNCDF and UNESCAP launched the women MSME fintech innovation fund to stimulate entrepreneurs to innovate and find scalable and impactful business models. This fund will also support start-up ecosystems blossom, and to focus on the challenges that MSMEs face.