The number of applications for the inaugural Fincluders Fintech Start-Up Challenge has reached 80, far exceeding initial estimates and proof of a thriving financial technology sector and interest in support for countries served by the contest organizer, the Development Facility of the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE).
Charlotte Rieser, the head of the development facility, described the surprising popularity of the contest. “The response has been phenomenal! And not only in terms of numbers – the geographic diversity of the applicants is also much broader than we expected.” Along with entrants from Southeast Europe and the Caucasus – areas eligible for EFSE investments – entrepreneurs from throughout the rest of Europe, the United States, and Africa have also thrown their hats, and their ideas, into the ring.
Quantity does not always equal quality, but Fincluders has both, adding further gravitas to the fledgling event, according to Petar Chavdarov, who helps oversee fintech developments for Finance in Motion. “We’ve received some top-notch entries. Their high levels of sophistication and excellence will make the competition that much more fierce for the entrants.”
This event is unique because of its focus on using fintech to increase financial inclusion, and it is expected to attract startups from the sector, venture capitalists, regulators, government representatives and development financial institutions. Now comes the hard work of winnowing the vast number of applicants to the 15 who will be invited to Berlin on 28 - 29 November 2016 for the final events:
- Half-day mentoring sessions with start-up coaches
- Half-day startup safari round Berlin to meet start-ups and accelerators
- A networking event with investors, finance and fintech experts, industry and development banks
- A one-day pitching event to a high profile jury of impact investors
- Three finalists will receive cash prizes up to 15.000 €
The competition has secured the expertise of a leading name in fintech, Nasir Zubairi, who help will oversee the mentoring and the jury. He brings more than 15 years of experience in financial services to the contest.