Innovation Grants - Application Guidelines - FAQs

What is the time scale of the project?

Set out the proposed start and end dates for the project. The maximum period for Innovation Grant supported projects is 24 months, from receipt of the grant. 

Who are EFInA’s target customers?

For EFInA funding, the target customer must be unbanked and under-banked low income Nigerians. 

Who are the unbanked and under-banked?

The unbanked are people who have no access to formal financial services (including savings, credit, money transfer, insurance, or pensions) through financial organizations such as deposit money banks, microfinance banks, non-bank financial institutions, insurance companies and finance companies. The under-banked have limited access to formal financial services.

Why apply for EFInA funding?

EFInA gives you access to a wide range of information on the Nigerian financial sector, like-minded organisations and to international experts in our key focus sectors.

Description of the project

We are seeking innovative projects which demonstrate the potential for scalable and sustainable business models. Products/services to be offered should be profitable (over the medium and long term), affordable for low income consumers and promote financial inclusion in Nigeria.

Who are your target customers?

You need to specify the types of customers the project will be servicing and how their financial needs will be met.

You need to demonstrate that you understand the characteristics of the customers (what is likely to affect their ability and desire to take up your proposed service?) and that your project has taken this into account.

You need to demonstrate that you have an appropriate strategy to provide customers with an affordable and accessible service. Also that you understand the economic circumstances of the customers, the difficulties they face in accessing financial services and that you have undertaken sufficient research into the demand for your proposed product/service. It is essential that you describe how customers will benefit from using your product/service.

What geographical market will your project be targeting?

Please be as specific as possible about the geographical scope of the proposed project, specifying the geographical reach of the project in Nigeria within the funded period and the intended geographical reach after the funding period is complete.

How have you assessed the market size and demand for your proposed product or service?

The key findings from the EFInA Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2008/2010 surveys provide information on the Nigerian financial sector which can support certain aspects of your business case. However, you still need to demonstrate that you have undertaken sufficient research to define the market opportunity, in order to meet the level of demand projected – within the project period and beyond.

What is your proposed product or service?

In this section you should describe what product or service you propose to develop. You will need to explain how your product/service will be designed, developed and delivered to unbanked and under-banked customers, the key features and the resulting benefits (the value proposition) for these customers.

Grant proposals must include one or more of the following key sectors with the potential to expand access to financial services for the unbanked and under-banked:

  • Branchless banking
  • Payments services
  • Savings

How does financial capability/education fit into your project?

We expect project proposals to describe how the financial capability of potential unbanked clients will be addressed. The proposal should describe the kinds of activities that would be undertaken to ensure that low-income, unbanked clients have enough information to decide whether the product is appropriate, affordable product for their needs.

How does consumer protection fit into your project?

Ensuring that consumers are adequately protected is a key criterion in our selection process. All project proposals must demonstrate knowledge of consumer protection and describe how it will be incorporated into the proposal. EFInA will consider funding consumer protection efforts within branchless banking, savings or payments projects.

Can EFInA funds be used for the provision of credit or on-lending?

EFInA funds CANNOT be used for the provision of credit or on-lending. All applications for credit or on-lending will not be considered.

What aspects of the product or service make it innovative?

Innovation for EFInA means applying new ways of doing business; or, extending existing models to new markets – all of which is intended to meet the financial needs of low income people, particularly their need to safely save small amounts of money on a daily basis.

EFInA will fund innovative products and projects that:

  • Implement new ideas and business models that increase access to financial services for low income customers that are unbanked and under-banked
  • Extend the frontier of knowledge in the provision of inclusive financial services
  • Have the potential for replication

What competition exists in the market?

You need to summarise the competition that exists and may affect the uptake of your proposed product/service.

How will the project be sustained after the utilisation of the Innovation Grant?

Set out your plans for the product or service after the EFInA Innovation Grant has been fully utilised - will your organisation commit funding to continue rolling out the service, or how do you intend to ensure the project is sustainable over the longer term?

What project enablers/obstacles exist in the regulatory environment?

You must demonstrate that you have considered the regulatory environment in your target market and whether this will enable your project, or present obstacles. If obstacles do exist please be specific about what these are, how they might affect your project and how you will manage any impact on the project.

Why are you not able to obtain commercial capital to support the development of this product or service (including your company’s own capital), or other sources of finance?

You will need to explain why commercial finance from a bank or other sources (including internal capital allocation) is not available to fund the project.

Describe how your project team will manage the project and their capacity to implement

We will need to understand how the project will be implemented; that sufficient governance is provided; that a suitably qualified and empowered project manager will be given responsibility for implementing the project; and that you have sufficient systems and processes in place to manage, monitor, and report on all aspects of the project.

If you will be working in a partnership or consortium, what are the roles of other organisations?

If the project involves partners or a consortium you will need to clearly set out the roles of each partner/consortium member in implementing the project. Describe the capabilities of the team to successfully implement the project and if there are partners/consortium members with particular skills, their roles need to be clearly explained.

How will the project result in significant lesson learning and lesson sharing?

A key objective of the Innovation Fund is to support projects that will result in considerable lesson learning and lesson sharing – so that the development of financial services for the unbanked and under-banked is rapidly accelerated.

Grant recipients are expected to support EFInA in our lessons learning and lessons sharing efforts.

Grantees may be required to participate in forums to share their experiences with other grant recipients as well as with other organisations interested in learning about providing financial services to the unbanked and under-banked population.

Grants will be issued in tranches; for grantees to be eligible for subsequent instalments, they must achieve the mutually agreed targets or milestones and submit their reports in a timely manner.