USAID W-GDP Women’s Employment for Economic Recovery (WEER) Project DFS Innovation Prize

Funding for Eswatini Financial Service Providers

Grameen Foundation, through funding from the USAID W-GDP WEER Project, is excited to announce the launch of its Eswatini Digital Financial Services (DFS) Innovation Prize! The DFS Innovation Prize will provide up to $40,000 in matching funds to financial service providers in Eswatini to pilot or scale up financial products and services that meet the needs of women entrepreneurs. The goals of the DFS Innovation Prize are to:

  1. Increase underserved women entrepreneurs’ access to financial products and services for business growth, through the development or scale-up of financial products and services that enable them to start new businesses, expand their existing businesses, and/or effectively sustain their existing businesses through crises and shocks.
  2. Demonstrate to other financial service providers in the local market that rural and low-income entrepreneurs can be active, reliable users of digital financial services (DFS).

The DFS Innovation Prize is open to any financial product that serves and supports women clients, but we prioritize products that utilize DFS or digital platforms and tools because of their potential to reach underserved rural women at scale.

Who is eligible to apply?

Any legally registered Eswatini institution providing financial products/services in Eswatini is eligible to apply. The applicant has to be licensed and conform to all regulations relevant to their operations.

This includes commercial banks, MFIs, Micro-deposit taking Institutions, Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Stokvels, SACCOs and others), Finance Trusts, Development Credit Providers, Self Help Groups and Facilitating Organizations, Input Finance Provides, Asset Finance Providers, Mobile Network Operators and any other legally registered financial service providers.

What is the duration of funded Innovation Prize projects?

Funded projects will run for 12 months.

What kind of solutions will be prioritized for this call for proposals?

The DFS Innovation Prize is seeking applications that pilot or scale up financial products and solutions in any of the following solution areas:

  • Financial Products for Smallholder Producers, Small-Scale Traders and Input Suppliers in the Livestock (Beef, Leather, Dairy, Goat, Pig/Pork, Indigenous Chicken, Beekeeping) or Horticulture (Vegetable Production) Value Chains
  • Financial Products and Solutions that Address Women Entrepreneurs Needs for Short-Term Working Capital
  • Alternative Collateral Financial Products and Solutions that Enable Women Entrepreneurs Without Formal Collateral to Access Business Loans
  • Alternative Credit Scoring and Loan Assessment Financial Products and Solutions that Enable Women Entrepreneurs Without Formal Credit Histories to Access Business Loans
  • New DFS Delivery Channels to Increase Underserved Women Entrepreneurs’ Access to a Range of Appropriate Savings, Credit, Insurance and Other Financial Products.
  • Digital Financial Products, Platforms and Delivery Channels to Increase the Number of Women Reached by and/or Quality of the Services Provided by Savings Group, Stokvels, MFI and Cooperatives
  • Financial Products and Solutions that Address Rural Women Entrepreneurs Reluctance to Adopt Formal Financial Products
  • Needs-Appropriate Business Skills Training Bundled With Finance

Financial Education Requirement: All Innovation Prize projects must include a component of financial education on the product being offered, and how to safely use financial services for business growth.

How can I learn more about the DFS Innovation Prize Priority Areas and Women Entrepreneurs’ financial inclusion needs?

All applicants should read the DFS slide deck, Request for Applications (RFA), and Financial Ecosystem Gap Analysis Summary documents on this webpage BEFORE preparing your applications. Applicants that are not responsive to the RFA or the gaps identified in the Financial Ecosystem Gap Analysis will not be considered.

How can I submit questions regarding the Innovation Prize?

Anyone with questions about the Innovation Prize process or application should email with the email subject "Women’s Financial Inclusion Innovation Prize." All questions and answers will be posted on this website so all applicants can see. Grameen will not be replying to questions directly by email, so please check back on the website for answers to your questions.

What do I need to submit to apply for the Innovation Prize?

Interested applicants should complete and submit all sections of the application form, including Annex 1: Declaration Letter, Annex 2: Concept Note, Annex 3: Workplan and Budget, and Annex 4: Supporting Documents; using the formats provided on this website.

Grameen reserves the right to reject incomplete applications, and/or request additional supporting documentation if some documents are missing.

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