Up to 50,000 USD in prizes and the chance to present your idea at the 2018 Sanabel conference in Amman, Jordan


 The Arab Financial Inclusion Innovation Prize champions a dynamic vision for financial inclusion. By capitalizing on the fast-moving digital world, innovation can facilitate a forward-looking and efficient sector.

AFIIP is created to reward such innovations which can increase the outreach and reduce the costs of financial services to better serve low-income businesses and individuals. In collaboration with Sanabel, winning applicants will receive up to 50,000 USD in prizes, including a cash grant, consulting services and the chance to present their idea at the 2018 Sanabel conference in Amman, Jordan.

Our Vision

Year on year, AFIIP seeks to create a synergy between financial inclusion and innovation. The ideas which arise will strengthen and diversify both sectors and harness the new and adaptive technologies defining our world. 

The Winners

<p>In its inaugural year, AFIIP received nearly 100 applications from across the Arab world. These were judged in a rigorous two-stage process by our ten judges, according to our winning criteria. Eight finalists were chosen to present their ideas at the Sanabel conference in Amman, Jordan, where three winners were chosen.&nbsp;</p>

First Prize - IFIN Services

AFIIP 2018's first prize of $30,000 went to IFIN Services, for their innovative approach to facilitating Islamic finance. By reducing transactional costs and operational delays, they have solved a key obstacle in the sector and demonstrated a clear executable plan going forwards.

Second Prize - CIWA

AFIIP 2018's second prize of $15,000 went to CIWA, a mobile app that provides a secured and powerful tool to create, organize and manage rotative savings and credit communities. By digitalizing secular savings and credit habits, Ciwa ensure a multi-level system to prevent fraud and robbery in unofficial financial practices. Through increasing the efficiency of providing access to financial services and decreasing times and costs CIWA will enable and empower a larger customer base.

Third Prize - Al Majmoua

AFIIP 2018's third prize of $10,000 went to Al Majmoua. Al Majmoua aims to leverage further geographical data and the growth of mobile phones allowing them to reach new clients, increase our efficiencies and improve clients’ interactions. Clients will be able to manage all services from their mobile phones on Al Majmoua’s app.


Criteria For Winning


Proposals will be evaluated on their potential impact on AFIIP’s three core objectives to further financial inclusion: increasing outreach, reducing costs and better serving end-clients. A preference will be given to innovations that have a direct measurable impact on the end clients.


The prize is looking for new and more efficient ways to maximize financial inclusion. Winning proposals must therefore be innovative. AFIIP has a broad definition of innovation, which can be found below. Winning proposals should consider these fields during their application.


Winning proposals must be feasible. Successful applicants will demonstrate how their innovation can be effectively implemented in the Arab world within a defined timeframe.


Winning proposals must have a significant probability of finding a market in the Arab world.

Are you Eligible?


Eligible innovations must be by Arabs for the Arab world. Residency in an Arab country is not required, but at least one member of the team must hold an Arab nationality. The proposed innovation must be for implementation in the Arab world, defined as the member countries of the Arab league.

Stage of Development

Innovative proposals at all stages of development are welcome. Applicants must be able to show that their innovation can be successfully applied to the sector. Microfinance and financial inclusion are defined in their broadest sense to encompass a wide range of fields, including but not limited to: credit, savings, insurance, payment services, Islamic finance, fund transfers, responsible investment, collective banking, and business development services of micro-enterprises.


We welcome applicants of many types to apply for the prize, including individuals, small businesses, MFIs, NGOs, students, cooperatives, commercial banks, local development banks, leasing firms, insurance companies, and fintech enterprises.



Fields of innovation

Innovation is necessary to adapt to the modern world. It is a way to creatively solve existing problems and make processes more efficient. Based on best practices, AFIIP fields of innovation are divided into three types:

Core innovation

Core innovations simplify and update processes inside the existing ecosystem. They innovate from within through incremental changes.

Adjacent innovation

Adjacent innovations apply successful products and services to new markets or develop new products for an existing domain. Best practices from the private sectors such as marketing and client management can thus be implemented in a new sector.

Transformational innovation

Transformational innovations contrast with adjacent and core innovations. They create a new offering for new markets. Blockchain and fintech have shown their capacity for this kind of innovation in their ability to create new fields of operation.

Innovation in microfinance

Microfinance has made great strides in the past 15 years, across the region and globally. In the Arab region nearly 3 million clients are currently served with an outstanding portfolio of $1.7 billon according to the latest studies. But progress must not stop.

To provide further access to financial services, innovation is necessary to improve efficiency and competitiveness of the sector. Each level of the market-value chain can benefit from innovation, as can the relationship between these levels. AFIIP welcomes proposals from micro-fintech to marketing; blockchain to logistics which can innovate at any of these levels. More information on microfinance can be found here.


Regulations drive the type of organisation that can offer financial services. But innovation can be disruptive by transforming the nature of existing service suppliers, or introducing new operators not yet present in the sector of microfinance.


Financial inclusion is founded on a high-contact relationship with the end clients and therefore constrained when there is a lack of information about them. Innovations to increase information about the client would upgrade trust and efficiency in the sector.


Due to its high-contact nature, microfinance is labour and process intensive. Innovations to create superior methods for delivering the product or service by reinventing cost structure or operationality would streamline processes, reduce costs and increase efficiency.


Many of the products on offer in the sector of microfinance are derivatives of each other. The very large majority are group loans or individual loans, based on similar risk profiling and delivery. Recently, microfinance has expanded to include other products and services such as micro insurance, payment systems and savings. The world of fintech, block chain and big data is primed to improve the current offerings and create new high-tech, high-contact products and services.


Financial Inclusion depends on trust between stakeholders at all levels of the market value-chain. From the financial service provider to the government authority to the wholesale funder, strong relationships are vital. These stakeholders often work with partner service providers to manage cash payments, warranting creative and implementable innovations to improve trust and efficiency.

The 2018 call for proposals is now closed.

Who we are

Reda Maamari

A pioneer in the field of micro-finance in the region, as a founding member of Al Majmoua and Sanabel, Reda has focused his attention over the last decade on innovation in the private sector across the fields of insurance and finance.

Alexander Reviakin

A linguist by training, Alexander has worked in a wide range of organisations, from multi-nationals to NGOs. He moved to Beirut in 2017 to learn Arabic and pursue his interest in the region.

Dana Hamdan

Dana is a Macro Economic instructor at AUB. She is interested in the fields of finance and development.

The Judges

Jenny Atout Ahlzén

Lowell Campbell

Bashar Chalabi

Petar Chavdarov

Nadine Chehade

Jake Kendall

Reda Mamaari

Peter McConaghy

Nidal Qanadilo

Sarah Willis

The Sponsors

Media Partners

Want to receive the news first?

Sign up to our mailing list

frequently asked questions

Who can I contact for firsthand information about microfinance in the region?

We encourage applicants to contact microfinance institutions in the region to discuss the situation first-hand. A list can be found here.

When will the application be available?

The application is available as of the opening of the prize and until the deadline of 15/08/2018 at 23:59 (GMT+2)

Can I get an extension on the application deadline?

No. To be fair to all applicants and to meet our timeline for the judging process all applications must be submitted online by the stated deadline.

Can I submit more than one idea?


Regarding the main contact information, must this person be inside the nominee's organization?

Yes. The main contact person will be the person representing the organization or team vis-à-vis AFIIP. This person must therefore have the relevant authority from their team, in order to be presented as the main contact point.

I completed my application in Word - can I email it?

No. You must submit your application via the online form. If you have any issues using the online form, simply email

We'd like to supplement our application with our brochure - how can I send that to you?

To ensure we are equitable to all applicants we base judging decisions solely on the content of the online application form and do not accept additional documents as part of the application. Short-listed candidates will have the opportunity to submit supplementary documents in the second round.

I submitted my application but now realize I omitted important information - how do I edit it?

You may resubmit your application in its entirety prior to the deadline and we will put forward the application with the latest submission date/time for judging consideration.

I submitted my online application form but didn't get a confirmation - did you receive it?

If you did not receive a confirmation email, please first check your spam/junk folder for an email from If no confirmation is there, please email us at and we can verify receipt.

How will I know if we are shortlisted?

If your proposal has been shortlisted, the main contact listed on your application will be contacted by 3rd September. An email announcement will be sent to all applicants to announce the shortlisted proposals.

Can we change our project/idea if we are shortlisted?

No. Finalists must maintain the same project/idea in their final submission as they did in their first application form. The team must also remain the same in the event of a group application.

Do applicants maintain the intellectual property rights for their ideas?

YES. All IP presented as part of an application to AFIIP, remains the ownership of the applicant. Applicants give the right to AFIIP to use their name and ideas as part of general AFIIP promotion and communication.

What can I do with my prize money?

Prizes money awarded will have no restrictions or conditions, although the winners will be encouraged to remain engaged with the AFIIP network. Moreover, in-kind consulting and support services offered to winners as part of the prize, will be contingent upon clear engagement and progress by applicants

Is tax due on the prize money?

AFIIP reserves the right to withhold tax if applicable.