For the first time at Sibos, Innotribe will give the stage (not that we really have a stage, this is just an expression!) to five social entrepreneurs.  This social finance innovation platform will be an intrinsic part of the Future of Doing Good session, which I have spoken about a couple of weeks ago on this same site.  As a follow-up of the Banks for a better World session in Sibos Toronto in 2011, we have decided to run an experiment and gauge the interest of our community for treading new grounds.


What is the Social Finance Innovation Platform?

It is an initiative aiming at connecting innovative social entrepreneurship projects and mainstream banks. It has been organised through a partnership between Ashoka (the global social entrepreneurs’ association) and SWIFT Innotribe. It is its first iteration and is part of an experiment within the broader Banks for a better World initiative. 

It was kicked off as part of the B4BW initiative, which officially started in June 2011 but was discussed with representatives of the mainstream banking industry in March of this year. The conclusion of this first meeting was that the initiative needed to focus, in view of its scale. And the 3 areas of focus are: financial inclusion, collaborative social engagement and interconnecting infrastructure. The platform fits into the overall picture at different levels. Some projects relate to financial literacy, some to financial inclusion and mobile banking, others to potential new instruments such as social bonds or even creating a platform that could help the social investment arm of the banks.

We, Innotribe, decided to partner with Ashoka and take advantage of their Globalizer program because Ashoka gives us access to social entrepreneurs worldwide. And this is how 5 projects were selected. We will give visibility and enable connecting with the banks to these 5 initiatives. 

If this platform proves successful, we will need sponsorhip to repeat it in 2013. 
We are launching the same way we organised the first startup challenge, ie, with Innotribe funding. But to make it sustainable, we will need funding. However, let us be very clear, this is not about charity. These projects can lead to the creation of new financial instruments that the banks can integrate in their offerings from a products and services point of view.
The goal is really to connect the banks with social entrepreneurs that have ideas which could benefit both the banks and society, making the banking system accessible to currently unbanked people and funding available to projects that are struggling to get money to start.

It will benefit the social entrepreneurs, the unbanked, people without access to the financial industry. But it will also benefit the banks opening new customer segments and new markets in the low value area. It also touches upon the future of banking. Issues of regulation, re-intermediation, losing market shares in the high value portion of the market. And the role that banks want to play in the future, serving other types of customers, playing a different and broader role (data, trust, etc.).

At Sibos, we are hoping to attract innovation people, business decision makers and marketing people. These projects can potentially open the door to new products and services as well as to new customers and revenue streams. 

Personally, I am hoping we will be able to scale and make it a standing feature of our Innotribe and SWIFT events. Maybe mix it with the startup challenge.

Only a couple of weeks to find out how this new Innotribe feature will fly!

Dominik De Buyser
Supporting Innotribe from SWIFT's communications team now.

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