Build for Bharat podcast: Understanding what it will take to boost digital financial inclusion in India

With economic progress, India has created a huge middle-class segment over the past few decades, making digitising Bharat, one of the world’s most populated countries with 1.3 billion citizens, still a distant dream. However, the urban population benefits from access to technology, education, finance, connectivity, and government services, giving rise to tremendous opportunities with the rapid increase in technology adoption to boost digital financial inclusion. However, there is still a huge segment of the population of over 600 million Indians who lack access to the full range of formal financial services to meet their financial needs, generate wealth, and maximise the overall potential of their money.

While the county continues to expand its footprint globally and demonstrate economic growth, financial inclusion has not yet been addressed at scale. Access to basic financial services enables the less fortunate and the more vulnerable in society to step out of the vicious cycle of poverty and

themselves and their families. As such, it’s important for the ecosystem to support firms and start-ups providing solutions to address this problem.

CIIE.CO, an Indian business incubator established by IIM Ahmedabad, has been focusing on addressing the ever-evolving gaps in this inclusion-focused entrepreneurship space in India. Among its various initiatives, CIIE.CO has launched the Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII) to help entrepreneurs focus on financial inclusion, livelihood, skilling, and health.

About Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII)

Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII) is an effort toward bringing the benefits of technological progress to underserved populations. The Initiative focuses on incubating and backing start-ups that work in areas such as financial inclusion, livelihood, skilling, and health. All start-ups supported by BII are expected to be leveraging technology to increase reach and build products that serve the underserved. For ambitious entrepreneurs working to address problems faced by Bharat, the Bharat Inclusion Initiative provides domain knowledge, training, financial support, mentorship, as well as the market access start-ups need to bring inclusive, for-profit businesses to life. It supports businesses serving the Indian mass market through programs, fellowships, and funding, where possible.

Build for Bharat – A podcast for bright minds who want to build, create, and solve for the country

Build for Bharat Podcast is an extension of the Bharat Inclusion Initiative and aims to highlight and tell the stories of the influencers and makers, who are working towards ensuring financial and technological inclusion through their innovative technology solutions. The podcast is led by Sanjay Jain, Partner at Bharat Innovation Fund and Chief Innovation Officer at CIIE.CO. He is also a volunteer with iSPIRT, the software product industry think tank of India. He has been an active member of the India Stack, Open API, and Cashless teams and has also been working with the NPCI to define the next generation payment systems (the Unified Payment Interface), as well as with regulators and other bodies to help entire processes go paperless. He has been one of the key contributors to help create and evangelise various government open APIs, which are collectively referred to as the India Stack. These APIs have led to a digitisation of various processes, enabling them to go paperless, cashless, and presenceless. Sanjay has been responsible for the development of many large-scale, high-impact systems. He was the Chief Product Manager at the UIDAI, where he led the product development efforts from its early days till well after the launch. He was also responsible for the creation and launch of Google Map Maker – a crowd-sourced mapping product that is responsible for Google Maps data for 170+ countries (including India).

Discover the stories of your interest

The podcast features bite-sized conversations with the builders and makers of Bharat, including Dr. Pramod Varma from EkStep, Dr. Vivek Raghavan from EkStep Foundation, and Sateesh Palagiri from NPCI, among others. So far, the first three episodes have received a tremendous response from listeners. Industry leaders like Nandan Nilekani and Dilip Asbe have also shown their interest in the podcast, taking to their social media handles to highlight the importance of innovation in these spaces.

With India at the cusp of a digital revolution, it is imperative to promote and contribute towards innovations that seek to bring financial and technological inclusion to the larger Indian populace. To this end, the Government has also been actively engaging with and launching multiple initiatives like Make in India and Digital India, among others, but this alone is not enough. Encouraging the new India and upcoming start-ups to solve the real-life challenges of Bharat is of crucial importance. With this aim, CIIE.CO’s Bharat Inclusion Initiative is driven to identify and support start-ups solving India’s toughest problems in financial inclusion, skilling, and livelihood, health, etc. by providing them with an enabling environment and ecosystem that assists entrepreneurs who are building solutions for Bharat. BII provides purpose-driven entrepreneurs with a continuum of support across research, incubation, acceleration, and soft and commercial capital to bring their inclusive, for-profit businesses to life.

Listen to the podcast


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