Help make financial exclusion a thing of the past

Written by Rebecca O'Connor on 13th Mar 2017

Are you working to make the financial system fairer and more inclusive?

Businesses that are focused on tackling financial exclusion and exploitation are invited to apply for a new fellowship.

Launched today, the Finance Innovation Lab is continuing its successful fellowship programme with the 2017 fellowship, designed to support enterprises that aim to improve financial health.

The scale of the problem is significant. Around 1.7 million adults in the UK are “unbanked”, which means they are not eligible for a regular bank account.  Meanwhile, only 41% of British households are saving, while around 12 million people lack access to affordable credit.

There are social issues caused by financial exclusion, such as poor mental and physical health, problematic social relationships and the ability of households to fulfil basic needs such as food and heating.

Anna Laycock, executive director of the Finance Innovation Lab, said: “Current approaches to tackling these issues often result in products designed from the top-down, with a focus on providing access to products that don’t work for the reality of many people’s lives. We want to support innovations that work from the bottom-up, with a focus on what people need and want, and an understanding of the wider factors that drive financial ill-health.”

Who can take part?

The Lab is looking for ideas that address financial exclusion and exploitation, offering access to fairly priced financial products that are easy to understand and control, and support people’s financial welfare. These ideas might be at an early stage, but they should have the potential to positively disrupt the financial system and challenge the rules of the game in financial health.

The programme is designed for start-up businesses, but applications are also welcomed from later-stage innovators facing significant change and innovators within existing financial organisations who want to repurpose a product or service to support financial health.

Lab Fellowship is a six-month programme developing the leadership capacity and business skills of innovators focussed on financial health. It runs from May to November 2017 and includes monthly business strategy sessions, peer coaching sessions, mentoring, specialist workshops and two residential leadership retreats.

This unique programme, delivered in partnership with anti-poverty charity Toynbee Hall, will boost your strategic know-how, transform your leadership skills and prepare you to scale your business.

You can find out more about the programme structure here.

Unlike intensive classroom-based incubators, the Fellowship programme is focused on action learning, community development and collaborative leadership. The sessions will build your knowledge of the causes of financial ill-health and your confidence in dealing with the wider financial system.

Applications close 10 April 2017.


What will I gain?

Become a Financial Health Fellow and you’ll:

  • Build your strategy for scaling your business
  • Deepen your knowledge of the root causes of financial ill-health
  • Transform your self-awareness and leadership abilities
  • Become part of a community of peers who are passionate about improving financial
  • health
  • Connect with influentials across the financial system
  • Access support from an experienced business mentor
  • Gain feedback from community experts – people with lived experience of financial ill-
  • health.

How much does it cost?

We ask you to contribute to the cost of the programme depending on your ability to pay. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we’re able to offer some places completely free of charge.

How can I apply to be a Fellow?

To apply, you need to complete a short form and send it to the Lab online or by post.

About The Finance Innovation Lab and Toynbee Hall

The Lab was founded in 2009 by WWF-UK and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, and became an independent charity in July 2015.

Toynbee Hall is a community organisation that pioneers ways to reduce poverty and disadvantage. Based in the East End of London, it has been a catalyst for social reform in the UK for almost 130 years. Toynbee Hall’s Financial Health Exchange is a network for professionals and organisations working on issues around financial health and inclusion. We work to identify the root causes of financial difficulty and work in partnership with multiple sectors to tackle them effectively.

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