The 2018 Award intends to highlight how financial services providers can use technology innovations to expand outreach, broaden product offerings, improve the client experience, and increase operating efficiency, all guided by an unwavering focus on socially responsible finance.




Advans Côte d’Ivoire (CI) is a non-bank financial institution which offers credit, voluntary saving, insurance and payment services to SMEs and cocoa producers (15% of total clients). In addition, training on mobile banking and loan management is provided.

In Ivory Coast, less than 10% of the small cocoa farmers have an account at a financial institution, due to the risk and cost of serving them. Cooperatives are therefore often obliged to pay their farmers in cash, creating traceability and safety issues.
Forty percent cocoa producers have to send their children to school 2 months late in the school year because funds are not available at the beginning of the year.

In this context, Advans CI offers digital savings and payment solution, with wallet-to-bank and bank-to-wallet transfer services, enabling producers’ cooperatives to make digital payments to farmers for their crop revenue. Farmers in rural areas can withdraw or deposit funds on their Advans accounts through local MTN mobile money agents, or make other digital payments and transfers.
Advans CI also provides small digital school loans, based on an algorithm reflecting farmers’ cashflows.

Advans Côte d'Ivoire was awarded the prize of €100,000 on November15th in recognition for its innovative digital payment and savings solution for cocoa farmers and cooperatives in Ivory Coast.




ESAF Small Finance Bank is a bank concentrated in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, India.

India is experiencing a spectacular penetration of mobile phones with 85% of the population having a subscription; nevertheless, internet outreach is still moderate (29%) due to limited connectivity and poor reliability of the network, especially in rural areas. Despite the constant growth in outreach, more than 50% of the population, in particular women and rural populations, remain excluded from the formal financial sector. Microfinance clients have always been served by labour-intensive hard paper documentations.

ESAF decided to digitise a wide range of its lending processes, in particular customer onboarding, electronic applications, customer financial training, credit appraisal, in-field verification, mandatory customer identity and address verification using eKYC, as well as opening of accounts, cashless disbursement and paperless collections of loan repayments.
ESAF’s field officers use Internet-connected tablets with biometric identity verification and its clients have QR-enabled Aadhaar Cards – with Government-issued 12-digit unique identification numbers based on biometric and demographic data. Their details are automatically transmitted for credit bureau verification, and clients are given ATM cards to withdraw money in convenient tranches from any ATM.

ESAF Small Finance Bank, as runner-up, received €10,000 in recognition for its range of back and front end digital solutions for staff and clients alike.




KMF is a credit-only financial institution originally founded by an NGO before being transformed into a microcredit organisation in 2006. It is one of the 3 largest microfinance institutions in Central Asia.

Kazakhstan is among the least densely populated countries in the world, with 0-10 persons per km2. The long distances and low population density represent an important cost barrier to expand financial outreach in the rural areas of Kazakhstan, where 47% of the population lives. The mobile cellular subscription rate (150 per 100 people) and percentage of individuals using internet (77%) are high, even if the telecom network in remote areas is sometimes unstable.
Digital technologies represent an important opportunity to enable deeper outreach to remote areas in this context.

KMF uses a tablet software, developed in-house, that communicates remotely with its core banking system to ensure that loan officers, management, loan recovery and internal control teams can schedule loan officers’ work, capture loan applications, make loan approval decisions, monitor and recover late loans, and conduct internal control visits in the field.
Crucially this software can be used both on- and offline, allowing management to monitor field activities in close to real time even over long distances.

KMF, as runner-up, received €10,000 in recognition for its in-house software and tablets to serve clients in extremely remote areas of Kazakhstan.