More than half of low-income families in urban Myanmar rely on informal money lending to smooth their irregular daily incomes. And, many will pay 20% more for the same amount of goods each year because they cannot afford to buy in bulk.
While microfinance institutions have explored the issue of poverty penalties and the lack of financial inclusion in developing countries such as Myanmar, they still leave a gap in the market. Labour-intensive processes, unfavourable regulation and nascent tech landscapes are all obstacles that have prevented microfinance from providing the right answer to the problem.
According to CGAP and the World Bank, “Owners of small enterprises in most parts of the world have the ability to make further investment into their assets if they had access to credit facilities. Poor financial inclusion has prevented the growth of businesses and enterprises by people from the informal sector.”
One innovative startup, ZigWay, is focused on eliminating poverty penalties. It makes bulk buying of essential goods and services affordable for low-income families through its monthly subscription box. ZigWay offers its service on short term credit, and by leveraging bulk buying and empowering the community individuals with entrepreneurship opportunities, it puts that 20% poverty penalty back into the pockets of its customers.
Further, ZigWay employs technology to cut costs, through its mobile application and machine-learning-based credit risk model for people without a traditional digital footprint.
Rather than continuing to promote a system that only partially addresses the problem as seen with many microfinance institutions, Zigway has taken a holistic approach to improving financial inclusion with their business model.
Keen to learn more about Zigway? C0-Founder and CEO Miranda Phua will be pitching at Demo Day on 29 August at the Forum Melbourne. She will share her experience throughout the accelerator program and plans to scale the business throughout South East Asia.