I’m coming off a week in Mumbai, where we kicked off the Village Capital Fintech India 2015 program, sponsored by DBS Foundation and Paypal. I joined Vilcap after 3 years with a fintech startup in India, so it was thrilling to go back to India and

We’ve spent months sourcing and vetting fintech companies from across India, looking for the best early stage companies using tech to solve India’s financial inclusion challenges for consumers and small businesses. After reviewing over 70 applications and conducting extensive interviews, we chose 12 promising companies for the program.

It was pretty exciting to finally bring the teams together this week in Mumbai for four days of collaboration, mentorship, and networking, culminating in a launch event co-hosted by Zone Startups on Sep 22, where the companies introduced themselves to over 100 professionals from investment firms, leading financial institutions, and fintech entrepreneurs.

We at Village Capital see entrepreneurship as a powerful tool for solving major global challenges. In India, where 60% of the Indian population is unbanked and 90% of small businesses have no links to formal financial institutions, the market is primed for tech innovation to extend access to critical financial services. Eighty percent of Indians own mobile phones and 32 percent are projected to own a smartphone by 2017.  The Government of India recently issued landmark payment bank licenses and small bank licenses, a potentially transformative move to open up access to financial services through entities such as major mobile operators. This follows a range of financial inclusion schemes, including Jan Dhan (bank accounts for the unbanked), Aadhaar enrollment, and a move to direct bank transfers for public benefits.

This confluence of trends occurs at a time when fintech entrepreneurs are changing the face of financial services across the world. Global fintech investments topped $12 billion in 2014, increasing over 200% from 2013.  With its market size and immense demand for financial services, Indian entrepreneurs have the opportunity to become a major player in this global fintech landscape.

Over the next 3 months, the 12 entrepreneur teams will help each other refine their value propositions, validate their business models, and define strategies for scale. Along with our partners Accion Venture Lab and Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund, we’ll surround the entrepreneurs with a curated community of mentors. At the end of the program, the entrepreneurs themselves will choose the top two companies to receive pre-committed investment from Vilcap Investments and our co-investor, Asha Impact.

We welcome you to become part of the Vilcap India 2015 community. This was the first of 3 workshops, so we’ll be reconvening in Bangalore in October for Workshop II and Mumbai in December for Workshop III. Take a couple hours of your day to come get to know the companies as a mentor at one of our workshops. Join us for the Venture Forum on December 17 in Mumbai to hear these companies pitch, and network with stakeholders from across India’s fintech ecosystem. We guarantee it’ll be worth your time.

Upcoming Workshops:

Workshop II: October 28-31 in Bangalore

Workshop III: December 15-18 in Mumbai

 Village Capital Fintech India 2015 cohort

Airtime Up provides an optimized and cost-effective solution for village retailers to perform mobile top ups and additional services for village consumers.

Catalyst Labs securely connects bulk produce buyers to farmer groups and producer organizations.

FineTrain assists small businesses’ growth by enabling access to formal and institutional finance and providing insightful information about new business opportunities.

FTCash enables micro merchant to offer payments and promotions to customers through a mobile based platform.

GyanDhan enables education financing for deserving students by using predictive analytics and alternative credit structures to increase lender comfort.

Hummingbill increases the rate of on-time payments for services companies and FMCG suppliers/distributors through a web application and gmail extension.

Kyash provides the simple and secure automated method to collect cash payments throughout India.

Marketfinance is a P2P invoice-factoring platform for small and medium businesses to obtain working loans.

ProfitBooks is a online accounting software designed for non-accountant.

Shiksha Financial Services is a finance company that provides school student education loans and loans to educational institutions for asset creation and infrastructure.

StoreKey makes PoS systems for small stores to modernize their operations and better aggregate their collective demand, resulting in better pricing.

Vote for Cash is an online lending platform where loans are provided based on a social score, without collateral or guarantor.