DLabs at ISB Launches 'Build for Billions', Startup Accelerator To Address Issues Of Informal Economy

By Team Marcomm Jan 12, 2024

Launched in partnership with the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) and Union Bank of India, the programme aims to bridge the gap between financial services and the informal economy, thus addressing livelihood issues for gig workers, migrant workers, domestic workers, street vendors, etc.

DLabs at the Indian School of Business (ISB) has announced the launch of ‘Build for Billions’, a startup accelerator programme, themed around financial inclusion for the informal economy, in partnership with Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) and Union Bank of India.

Gig workers, migrant workers, domestic workers, street vendors, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and construction labourers — representing the informal economy -- face multifaceted challenges. These include low and volatile income; irregular income streams; limited access to credit and savings; and a lack of social security nets. Recognising these hurdles, Build for Billions is poised to support visionary fintech startups dedicated to addressing these issues.

The 50-day, equity-free accelerator by the business incubator DLabs, offers comprehensive support, including mentorship, capacity building, resources, networking opportunities, the chance to pitch to banks and investors, and a unique piloting opportunity with Union Bank.

"Empowering the informal economy is our commitment for a future where everyone, regardless of their occupation, enjoys seamless access to financial services,” Rajesh Bansal, CEO, Reserve Bank Innovation Hub, said about the accelerator programme.

He added, “The Reserve Bank Innovation Hub is excited to partner with DLabs and Union Bank for the launch of 'Build for Billions’, an accelerator aimed at supporting visionary fintech startups addressing challenges faced by gig workers, migrant workers, domestic workers, and others in the informal sector. This initiative holds the promise of bringing forth solutions that contribute to a more inclusive and robust financial ecosystem."

Professor Bhagwan Chowdhry, Faculty Director, I-Venture@ISB, under the aegis of which DLabs operates, said, “A skilled labour force is the backbone of building a robust economy. Building and supporting finance infrastructure that can assist in the development of such a workforce should be our top priority.”

Nitesh Ranjan, Executive Director, Union Bank of India, said, This collaboration of Union Bank with DLabs and RBIH seeks to find innovative solutions for formalising the informal workforce. We are excited and looking forward to new ideas.”

Startups building towards enhancing access, usage and quality of financial services, including payments, credit and savings, for the informal economy are encouraged to apply for this programme by January 21, 2024. After the submission period, applications will be evaluated; and tailored goals will be set for each selected startup.

For more details and to apply, please visit: https://i-venture.org/build-for-billions-accelerator | Contact information: contact@isbdlabs.org  / nagaraj_bolakatti@isbdlabs.org

The Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India, focuses on promoting and facilitating an environment that accelerates innovation across the financial sector, while DLabs, a business incubator at the Indian School of Business (ISB), specialises in incubation, acceleration, and funding for startups.