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We’re Launching an Accessible Financial Services Incubator

With a $700,000, 30-month grant from the Ford Foundation, we're launching an accessible financial services incubator to benefit underbanked consumers. The incubator will test, package, and scale innovative, viable financial products that aid low-and-moderate-income US consumers and provide alternatives to predatory products.

We’re looking for dynamic organizations to submit potential product innovations and forward-thinking credit unions to test potential products for an 18-month pilot, beginning in November.

Organizations with potential product innovations for the incubator can learn more and apply here.

Credit unions interested in testing potential incubator products can learn more and apply here.

Watch a webinar recording detailing the incubator project and answering frequently asked questions about it above or download the slides here.

This grant comes as one in five households, or 24 million American homes, are underbanked and lack access to affordable financial services. Mainstream financial institutions consistently fail to improve access for these vulnerable persons to affordable credit and other essential financial products. Consequently, alternative financial services providers have ample opportunity to exploit underbanked individuals.

The incubator will contribute significantly to creating a vibrant financial marketplace. We’ll test, package, and deliver viable financial products through the incubator’s three discrete phases:

  • The lab – testing promising product ideas
  • The factory – manufacturing innovations and packaging products for mass adoption
  • The marketplace – distributing products through in-person and open-source online marketing

The incubator will use credit unions as the proving ground for innovative products to test their viability with mainstream financial institutions. An advisory panel of financial institution staff, researchers, and industry analysts will ensure the viability of the selection, testing, and marketing of the incubator’s product ideas.

A gap exists in the availability of fair and affordable financial products that meet the transaction, savings, and credit needs of low-and moderate-income families and are also profitable for financial institutions, according to Amy Brown, program officer, financial assets, at the Ford Foundation.

This incubator holds the promise of identifying products that fill that gap and bringing them to scale in the marketplace.

Questions? Contact me at 608.661.3743 or

Categorized: 'Policy' 'Updates'

Comments on this Post

What an outstanding opportunity to gather and share innovative financial products that can bridge the banking and other financial products divide. 

As the only urban land-grant University in the United States, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), we look forward to developing financial models that compliment the work you do.  While our program themes are green jobs and green infrastructure, the Center for Sustainable Development, with the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES), stands ready to support your goals and outcomes.

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