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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

PayPal, MetLife, Village Capital launch Finance Forward

Village Capital, a global venture capital firm focused on helping fledgling businesses, has joined with PayPal Holdings Inc. and the MetLife Foundation to cultivate early-stage entrepreneurs. The joint program, called Finance Forward, is rolling out in select regions in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and India. Its mission is to democratize the system by improving access to funding and education to startups everywhere.

“Our mission is to reinvent the system to back the entrepreneurs of the future,” Village Capital stated on the company’s website. “Our vision is a future where business creates equity and long-term prosperity.”

Finance Forward will provide participants with $25,000 to $75,000 in capital through grants and direct investments, funding millions to program participants over the next five years. Program administrators are planning nine regional accelerator programs and boot camps, including Miami and New York workshops to be held Oct. 14 to 18 and Nov. 18 to 22, 2019, respectively. Qualifying applicants must have solutions designed to support the growth of their communities, they stated.

Toward financial inclusion

Allie Burns, chief executive at Village Capital, observed that mobile phones, changing regulations and emerging technologies have improved financial inclusion but suggested there is room for improvement, stating, “now that people are in the system, we need to make sure they can actually use the system to build their financial health: the ability to manage your income, get a loan when you need it, and plan for your financial future.”

Tyler Spalding, corporate affairs director at PayPal, added, “Even with the rapid increase in bank accounts in emerging markets, many people remain significantly underserved by the financial system today.

Burns additionally noted that Finance Forward project managers will meet with industry leaders in each market, publish reports on regional trends and host a global alumni summit for Village Capital program graduates. The alliance is actively seeking 100 fintech entrepreneurs to participate in the program, she stated. While the application deadline closed July 8, 2019, extensions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, according to company representatives.

Not ‘one-size-fits-all’

Rob Tashima, vice president and head of innovations at Village Capital, would like to change the way that business owners and investors see each other. In his Aug. 8, 2019, blog post on Medium, titled “Venture Capital is Like Skinny Jeans (Or Why We Need a New Language for Capital,” he invited readers to join the ongoing effort to create a common language and investment strategy.

“Viewing the world through the lens of venture capital not only limits the types of companies that can access funding to grow, but it also limits the range of opportunities investors can access for returns,” Tashima wrote. “Good businesses miss out on critical support and good investors miss out on needed opportunities. Combine that with the geographic and demographic biases inherent in investment decision-making, and you end up further limiting access for both investors and entrepreneurs.”

In addition to changing legacy investment models, Village Capital, MetLife Foundation, and PayPal are actively seeking to invest in fintech startups that are building outside-the-box solutions to help people and families achieve financial health, Tashima noted. end of article

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