Digital Financial Inclusion for Women Entrepreneurs in Nepal

This ADB Fintech Innovation Challenge aims to identify and select a solution that enables a financial institution to i) analyze alternative data points more efficiently, ii) view real time insights seamlessly, and iii) improve existing or establish an alternative credit scoring model with the objective to expand lending to women-owned small- and medium-sized enterprises (WSMEs) in Nepal.


In this challenge, we aim to identify and select the appropriate solution that will enable the partner financial institution to analyze alternative data sets efficiently and establish or evolve an alternative credit scoring model to leverage the data sets.


SMEs and microenterprises constitute 22.0% of Nepal’s GDP, employing 2.8 million people, mainly in the informal sector. The majority (99.7%) of the 923,356 enterprises in Nepal are micro and small, with 95% employing fewer than 10 people. Gender disparities are evident, with men constituting over 60% of employees and a 73:27 male-female ratio in ownership and managerial positions. Women entrepreneurs own only 13.0% of these enterprises. Access to finance is a major challenge for SMEs, with 40% reporting it as a constraint. The Nepal Rastra Bank aims for banks to lend 15% to SMEs by FY2025, but as of FY2022, the average was below 10%. High collateral requirements, procedural complexity, a lack of business data, and high interest rates are part of the issue. Women entrepreneurs face additional obstacles, contributing to an estimated $321 million financing gap. This Fintech Innovation Challenge aims to find solutions to overcome those challenges and improve lending to MSMEs, including women entrepreneurs.


How might we improve women entrepreneurs' access to formal financing by exploring alternative data sources as proxies for credit assessment and credit scoring, mitigating issues of insufficient collateral or limited credit and payment histories?


Join our challenge and provide your solution to make a real impact for women entrepreneurs in Nepal!

This Fintech Innovation Challenge is supported by the High-Level Technology Fund.



    Until February 10, 2024

    Register and submit your proposal.


    February 12-29, 2024

    Selection of up to 8 proposals to be presented at the final event.


    March, 2024

    Final selection virtual event with the selected solution providers presenting (10 mins + 5 mins Q&A) to a jury consisting of experts and financial institution stakeholders.




Selected solutions will have the opportunity to receive US$50,000 seed funding towards evolving the solution to the bank's needs. The finalists and other participating solution providers will be part of ADB's technology solutions portfolio.