Village Capital

Finance Forward: India 2020

This program has concluded. Learn more about Finance Forward India 2020 below.


Finance Forward Partners

About the Program

India’s economy is struggling. In 2019 the country saw its smallest GDP growth rate in the past decade, thanks in part to ‘shock’ moments including demonetisation, flawed implementation of GST and a credit crunch from the NBFC crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has added one more financial shock, as the country underwent an extended lockdown.

This has had a drastic effect on Indian workers, families, communities and small businesses. Finance Forward, a global collaboration for financial health led by Village Capital, MetLife Foundation, and PayPal, is looking to support startups, which are addressing the following key challenges:

Challenges faced by small and medium businesses

India’s economy is driven by its small businesses. The country’s 75 million SMEs contribute 41% to the economy and create 180 million jobs. Many of these businesses are extremely small: 97% employ fewer than four people. SMEs have struggled during the economic slowdown, and are now bearing the brunt of the recent lockdown. Over 80% of Indian businesses report cash flow issues while 60% have seen disruptions in their supply chains.

We are interested in startups building tools to help small and medium businesses with access to capital, income management, payments and help them gain new customers. 

Financial health of formal and informal workers

India has 400 million workers, and  93% of them are involved in the unorganized and informal sectors. The past two years have been particularly challenging for workers, and the lockdown is only making things more difficult. The formal workforce is facing tough times too: coronavirus could result in 136 million people facing job losses.  

We are interested in startups that are building tools around workforce planning: helping Indians find work, manage their incomes and helping companies engage with their workforce better. 

Financial Health of Households 

Household debt has surged in India in the past few years, and many families are not prepared financially for a health or other emergency, with little in the way of savings or a nest egg. Insurance penetration was 3% in 2017, which has led India to have region-high out-of-pocket costs for healthcare, especially during emergencies. 

We are interested in startups building tools to help people and families plan for their financial future, including saving tools, financial education solutions and innovative insurance solutions. 

Challenges faced by women 

62% of women in India don’t have a bank account, and women lag behind men in terms of access to financial services. Participation of women in the financial decision making process of the family tends to improve the financial security of a household, and even the country: by one estimate, participation by women in income-generating activities can add up to USD 28 trillion to India’s economy by 2025.

We are looking for startups building tools to help women access the formal economy, gain (and use) a bank account, improve their financial education, help them save, and improve their financial resiliency and economic mobility.

Program Timeline

Application Launch

June 22, 2020


Applications Close

August 1, 2020

Apply by 11:59 PM!

Cohort Announcements

September 6, 2020

Selection of top 12!

Virtual Sessions

October, 2020 - November, 2020

Online sessions - Engagement with Village Capital team, stakeholders, investors, corporate partners for investment readiness

Eligibility Criteria

• Legal incorporation as a for-profit entity

• Market-based solution that tackles a financial health challenge for low-to-moderate income communities in India

• Have at least a minimum viable product (MVP) and some traction under their belt. Relaxation may be made for products in development if value proposition showcased is considered strong

• Have meaningful customer or business validation (not limited to revenue, can also be successful pilot studies, number of users, and/or strategic partnerships)

Eligibility criteria may be relaxed for entrepreneurs who are pivoting to develop products relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please reach out to


• Ability to network and receive mentorship from potential strategic partners, customers, and founders and investors

• We will review closer to the dates whether an in-person participation will be possible for this program. If yes, travel and residential costs will be reimbursed.

• Access to an investment analyst who will coach you 1:1 on building a financial model, identifying unit economics, and on using financial metrics to drive both their business and investor diligence

• Participate in mock board meetings with representatives from financial institutions, corporates, fintechs, and investors that can help your organization scale

• Exposure on Village Capital’s program website and other communications collateral

Advisory Board