Ten financial literacy innovations were awarded grants and support from PhilDev Foundation and Cebuana Lhuillier Foundation, Inc. (CLFI) to boost financial literacy in underserved communities in the Philippines.

Launched last April, the Financial Literacy Innovation Challenge by PhilDev and Cebuana Lhuillier Foundation challenged innovators across the country to answer the question, “How might we increase the level of financial literacy in underserved communities in the Philippines?”

Over 50 teams responded and went on a three-week journey learning from seasoned innovators and entrepreneurs, financial literacy and inclusion experts, and youth advocates to help them develop their solutions. They were also mentored by industry leaders from the combined network of PhilDev and CLFI to further refine their projects before the pitch competition held last Monday, May 17, 2021.

Exploring financial literacy innovations

Tackling the Challenge statement, the winning student teams stepped back and focused on the basics of financial literacy when they developed their projects. The winning ideas came from Team Project Southland Ugyon, +Ventures, The Salazars, Centavion, and PitaKabataan.

Nixsun Casuncad from Team Project Southland Ugyon shared how the competition provided them an opportunity to create a solution that complements their college’s livelihood program for the residents of Sitio Bakyas in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.

“Our idea came about when we talked to the [Sitio’s] community leader and found out that they don’t have enough knowledge about running a business nor basic bookkeeping and record keeping. This is why our team focused on financial education and mentorship in our idea,” said Casuncad.

Teaching financial literacy basics to the community is also a key strategy of +Ventures in their fintech startup called Nubank PH. +Ventures’ Founder, Clarence Janna Nieva adds, “tackling the basics that are practical yet impactful can provide the communities a solid financial foundation, and from there, they can build more.”

Meanwhile, a team of students from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) called The Salazars, pitched a multi-level intervention called FILEx or “Financial Inclusivity and Literacy Express” to emphasize the importance of sustained engagement with the community.

“A big part of our experience leading in the [student] council was applied in our initiative. We know that if we want to help a certain community, one exposure is not enough. It’s important for us to immerse with them and get that community development experience, and have our initiative come across to them,” Gabriella Javier from The Salazars shared.

Centavion and PitaKabataan, on the other hand, focused on gamification and creating engaging learning content to educate young people on financial literacy.

The five teams were awarded a PHP20,000 grant each and an opportunity to access further support from PhilDev and CLFI should they wish to implement their innovations in their target communities.

Scaling solutions for greater impact

Three teams from the professional track, on the other hand, emerged as winners in the challenge. Each team was awarded a PhP 100,000 ($2,100) grant to help them scale their existing solutions and enable them to reach more underserved communities. Winners further have an opportunity to access support from PhilDev and CLFI for implementation assistance.

The first winner is Agrabah Ventures for their implementation of “an online financial product comparison and matching platform that is tailored specifically for farmers and fisherfolks with unique risk rating algorithm (credit scoring) capabilities.”

Hyperlokal Kapital, a joint project between Kids Who Farm and Golden Age of Life Society, received the second prize for adopting a community savings club model that also provides communities a “hyperlocal access” to capital for their small businesses and financial services.

The third winning team is Spare for developing a mobile application that digitizes customers’ loose change and allows them to access a digital piggy bank that also serves as a microsavings platform.

Team Wealth Jar and The Budget Squad finished as the competition’s runners-up, awarding them PHP20,000 each for their innovation.

Innovating for lasting change

In his message, PhilDev’s Chairman Dr. Francisco “Paco” Sandejas emphasized the role of innovation in eradicating poverty in the country.

“This has been our vision since the beginning: to see more and more innovators and entrepreneurs coming together and discovering ways to enable the success of Filipinos. This [innovation challenge] is a testament that in order to effectively work towards greater financial inclusion and literacy in the country, there is a need for participation from more stakeholders and key ecosystem players,” said Dr. Sandejas.

The Financial Literacy Innovation Challenge is the third and biggest innovation challenge yet by PhilDev. First launched in 2020, PhilDev’s Innovation Challenges seek to discover and support sustainable enterprise solutions in response to operational gaps shared by organizations while fostering a human-centered design approach and mindset among participants.

Jann Adriel Nisperos is Communications Coordinator at PhilDev. For more information and future collaborations, contact PhilDev at [email protected].

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