Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Growth Platform - Bank of Industry

What is the name of your solution?

Boosting MSME productivity through Financial Inclusion.

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Increasing MSME capacity & productivity through equitable access to finance and financial services for the last mile.

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What specific problem are you solving?

In Nigeria today, poverty is rife as 32% of its over 200 million population lives below the $1.90 poverty line. Of these 71,280,925 million Nigerians equally distributed between the male and female gender, 53% live in rural areas while 9% live in urban areas according to the World Data Lab.  Furthermore, the Nigeria poverty map depicts that 63% (133 million) of Nigerians are multidimensionally poor thereby suffering from one or more of food insecurity,  lack of access to quality education, lack of access to timely healthcare, and habitable accommodations while The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics reports that 33.3% of Nigerians are unemployed, 22.8% are under-employed where 42.5% of the youth are unemployed and 21% of them are under-employed. This makes women and youth the most vulnerable population.

Nigeria's 44 million MSMEs that exist to plug this unemployment gap and significantly reduce poverty have a funding challenge. These MSMEs currently employ 80% of the nation's working population accounting for 50% of its GDP however, only 4% of them have access to credit in Nigeria from banks and other financial institutions. PWC's MSME Survey of 2020 pegs this financing gap at 617.3 billion Naira (i.e., over $1 billion).  This impedes growth and leaves millions of Nigerians trapped in a poverty cycle. 

The financial gap is also layered as among this financially excluded demographic, women are the worst hit as the inequality in accessing funding is gendered. Women and female-led MSMEs are more likely to be financially excluded than men despite having been shown to have significantly better loan performances than men over time. The IMF reports the gender finance access gap worldwide to be 9% while in sub-Saharan Africa, only 37% of women are banked compared with 48% of men who are banked. Africa’s gender gap in access to finance can have a dramatic impact on social and economic progress as it inhibits personal and MSME productivity and affects the livelihood outcomes of women and their dependents.

EFInA's Access to Financial Services in Nigeria Survey 2020 Survey report shows that 55% of Nigerians are unbanked due to several reasons like lack of identity, illiteracy, lack of trust, unemployment, and high cost of accessing existing financial institutions. These impediments create a further barrier for MSMEs and Nigerians living at the bottom of the economic pyramid preventing them from accessing credit that can boost their productivity causing financial exclusion.

What is your solution?

Growth Platform through process innovation, deploys emerging technologies, a field network of 22,000+ agents (human banks), financial tools, and big data, to profile, document, and serve MSMEs in Nigeria directly connecting them with much-needed funding in the form of grants, loans, and technical assistance from its partners. We remove the existing barriers that include lack of digital identification, illiteracy, lack of collateral, lack of credit history, and bank accounts to deliver funding to them wherever they are located across Nigeria. We bridge the gap between MSMEs and the funding they require to grow.

The Growth Platform uses its over 22,000 human banks (agents) to reach these MSMEs which are located in Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital. These human banks are equipped with proprietary hand-held technological software and devices that are used to capture the MSMEs and upload their data to a centralized database where each MSME undergoes a rigorous verification process. Once they pass, the funds are disbursed to their bank accounts or in the case of first-time financial system participants, their mobile wallets. The Growth Platform provides small tranches of capital to these millions of traders, artisans, and farmers, enabling them to raise their productivity, boost their incomes, strengthen the sustainability of their enterprises, and contribute to job creation and economic development with its ultimate focus being to shift from aid for survival to aid for productivity.

With a $473 million portfolio and a strategy to tackle each of the identified barriers that keep commercially capable people in poverty—including education gaps, lack of access to technology & finance, and informality, the Growth Platform has placed particular emphasis on solving the problems of the society's vulnerable, women’s disempowerment and closing the gender funding gap resulting in over 57% of its program beneficiaries being female. This is a closed loop with around-the-clock data on beneficiary applications, disbursements, use of funds, and impact on MSMEs readily available. This data is used to predict beneficiary needs and to provide further solutions for MSME growth. 

The World Bank believes that the cost of reducing exposure to shocks through prevention is often much lower than the cost of managing a shock when it occurs. Growth Platform's solution to the problem of poverty and exclusion aims to reduce exposure to economic shocks by empowering MSMEs that are key to a thriving & robust economy. Also, by having a ready database of these MSMEs, the Growth Platform ensures that they can be reached speedily with interventions. 

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Our last-mile credit-delivery solution serves everyday hardworking Nigerians who do not shy away from labor but however, find themselves at the bottom of the economic pyramid despite their hard work. They are hardworking and talented beyond compare in tanning, farming, weaving, sewing, trading, plumbing, etc.

Our solution is mostly for the 44 million MSMEs who are subsistent and rely on daily income to survive. They mostly lack means of identification, regular income, access to collateral, and access to banks as these are rarely located away from the urban areas. This demographic also suffers from deliberate institutional exclusion which affects their attitudes and perceptions of formal financial institutions.

We provide these MSMEs with identification & deep profiling, pattern recognition, and intervention program design, which enables them access to financial services like micro-loans, financial literacy, and eventual financial inclusion, to become fully integrated and functioning members of society. 

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Nigeria is a very diverse country with 400 ethnic groups and about 500 languages spoken among its 200 million population of which many are poor. To understand the needs of this demographic the active poor, we conducted an extensive field study (with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), engaging and polling poor communities directly. A total of over 50,000 were polled via randomized sampling. 85% of these individuals and households reported: “access to finance for their business” as their top three challenges. Essentially, if they had this access – they would be able to take better control of their lives and improve their livelihood outcomes.

 Our 22,000-strong agent network is recruited locally and is made up of individuals known to their communities. They are also able to address members of their communities who are future beneficiaries and even the existing beneficiaries in the language they understand.  This gives the Growth Platform a strong presence in the communities across the 36 states of Nigeria and the FCT.

There is a free flow of communication as the applicant and beneficiary queries are communicated immediately via organizational chat messages and the human banks resolve those they can with immediate effect.

The team lead was born and raised in an MSME town Aba in Abia State known for its trading and small-scale manufacturing and therefore understands the scale to which these enterprises can grow with the right support. Team members also visit these communities on monitoring & evaluation visits to get first-hand account of beneficiary experiences and to inspect on-site activities.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Create and/or reduce frictions to scale safe personal identification methods for individuals who have been kept out of the formal financial system due to a lack of formal identification

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?


In what country is your solution team headquartered?

  • Nigeria

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Scale: A sustainable enterprise working in several communities or countries that is focused on increased efficiency

How many people does your solution currently serve?

The Growth Platform currently serves 4.1 million MSMEs, while facilitating access to financial services for 1.9 million mobile wallet users and over 300,000 first-time bank account users. 9 million applicants have been identified in total as the Platform's agents, equipped with our proprietary mobile technologies, are able to work as Human Banks at the lowest level to ensure deep penetration and maximum inclusion. Growth Platform continues to work to identify more applicants and convert them into beneficiaries of credit funding, grants or capacity building.

Why are you applying to Solve?

We are applying to Solve to be a part of a renowned ecosystem that ensures social entrepreneurs achieve their impact goals.

We wish to be supported in achieving our goals of boosting MSME productivity and reducing poverty through,

-Gaining international exposure for our inclusion program.

- Accessing leadership coaching & strategic advice from experts in the Solve & MIT networks.

- Joining a powerful network of impact-minded leaders across industries and sectors with dedicated spaces.

- Increasing our human bank network and training more human banks (agents) in order to capture, enumerate, and financially include new applicants from newly discovered clusters.

- Increasing our capacity in identification & enumeration services.

- Upgrading and maintaining our systems & technology.

- Improved impact evaluation & monitoring activities.

- Improved media and marketing services

- Improving our knowledge management activities within the organization  

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Uzoma Nwagba - COO Growth Platform

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Given that our target demographic is the rural and urban poor who lack the basic identification to access financial services. Banks and other financial institutions are known to avoid them due to the prohibitive costs of serving them. The Growth Platform ensures that the barriers to entry which include the lack of identification, and lack of access to banks and financial services are solved. with an existing technology being applied in a new way. 

Using existing technology like Big Data, Behavioral Technology, Software and Mobile Applications, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, GIS & Geospatial technology applied in a new way to identify and cater to MSMEs. Applicants with mobile phones are biometrically identified and enumerated and AI and machine learning are used to process the millions of data points (600 million+) generated in order to gain insight into the MSME behaviors and figure out how to support their enterprises, financially include and provide them with the products and services they need to thrive.

Geofencing & geotagging are used to help formalize their business and give them identifiable, alternative address systems that tie them to their points of trade. This makes them identifiable to organizations that need to provide them with grants, loans or capacity building, or other social intervention programs to aid their productivity. In essence, Growth Platform uses cost-effective technology across the entire value chain of identifying MSMEs and getting them much-needed funding for growing their enterprise. 

Growth Platform's innovation catalyzes the system in that the database provides round-the-clock information about millions of MSMEs that we have identified and interacted with. From their geographic locations to information on the founder, the nature of the business, and possible business growth and expansion metrics. Growth Platform provides these identified MSMEs with funding in terms of loans and helps them build credit histories that allow them to access credit from banks and other financial institutions in the future. We also collaborate with the financial service providers who provide mobile wallets and bank accounts for our beneficiaries to financially include them. KYC, beneficiary consent, fraud checks, face ID checks, and agent management are carried out effectively using the big data collected or generated daily for millions of our applicants. We also utilize this big data to predict loan behaviors and are therefore able to better profile beneficiaries, influence repayment, keep robust customer profiles, and build credit histories to achieve financial inclusion.

This out-of-the-box approach is being adopted by mobile money solutions that identify customers with their registered phone numbers and transact with them using the same form of identification. Innovative Fintech understands that there has to be a workaround solution to waiting for the customers to come to you at the bank, we have to do more and create more tools to reach them where they are in order to successfully include this often-forgotten segment of the economy financially and improve their lives.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

The Growth Platform's overarching mission is to continually drive innovation in field infrastructure, human capital, and technology for the delivery of large-scale interventions for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Africa while its vision is to catalyze sustainable economic growth in emerging markets by empowering MSMEs with capital, skills, and critical resources.

So far, the Growth Platform has enabled and empowered 4.1 million MSMEs with identification, access to funding (loans or grants), and capacity building like financial literacy, bookkeeping, and other skills needed to grow and aims to reach 25 million beneficiaries by 2030. This has been achieved with a 22,000-strong agent network. In the next year, we aim to increase our agent network by 7,000, upskill them and enumerate 4 million more MSMEs, providing them access to much-required capital. 

Our long-term goals/outcomes include;

-              Digitizing the financial inclusion process from top to bottom.

-              Opening more bank accounts and mobile wallets to ease transactions and create records.

-              Creating formalized credit histories that will enable MSMEs access to credit from other lenders like banks.

-              Boosting MSME productivity, increasing employment, and reducing poverty and hunger.

-      Operating with a gender focus to close the widening credit-access gap.

Over the next five years, the Growth Platform purposes to be vital to disaster response and management, provide targeted solutions through rapid disbursements of funds (electronically through mobile wallets and/or agents who pay out cash once beneficiary wallets are credited and they receive notifications through their mobile phones) to Nigerians at scale and expand its partnerships.  At the peak of the global Covid-19 pandemic, the Growth Platform emerged as a powerful data-collection tool in a range of scenarios, including disaster response, and has been used to support two pandemic-related surveys—the 60 Decibels Survey and the COVID-19 Preparedness Survey. There has also been a corresponding evolution in the quality of data gathered. The Growth Platform has also been used to respond to the shocks of COVID-19 by building economic resilience using swift, targeted solutions— including the rapid disbursement of financial assistance to at-risk communities and businesses.

We will continually monitor and evaluate our impact using output-based measurement measuring the number of loans or grants disbursed, the amount of funding provided, and the number of micro-enterprises that received funding, and outcome-based measurement measuring the impact of funding on the performance, growth, and sustainability of micro-enterprises using metrics such as revenue growth, job creation, and profitability.

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 10. Reduced Inequalities
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

We are measuring our impact against stated targets & indicators and aim to eradicate or visibly impact Nigeria's poverty rate by 2030 and eradicate poverty for people everywhere.


-  reduce the proportion of the population living below the poverty line by sex, age, employment status, and geographical location in Nigeria.

- reduce the proportion of women, men, and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions.

- increase the proportion of the population living in households with access to basic services.

- increase the proportion of the total adult population with secure tenure rates to land, a) with legally recognized documentation, and b) who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and the type of tenure.


- to ensure significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources including through enhanced development cooperation in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries. This we are currently doing in partnership with development banks and governments to pull resources and much-needed capital to MSMEs.

- to create sound policy frameworks at the regional and international levels based on proper and gender-sensitive developmental strategies to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication.

Tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which are specific metrics that can be used to track the organization's performance against its goals e.g., tracking the number of jobs created, the percentage of micro-enterprises that increased their revenue, and the rate of loan repayment as well as surveys and interviews with the Growth Platform conducting surveys and interviews with beneficiary micro-enterprises that received funding to gather feedback on the impact of the funding will help us measure progress and achieve our impact goals. Surveys can include questions about the challenges they faced before and after receiving funding, the impact on their business operations, and their plans for the future. Answers to these questions will help us to continue to iterate in order to better serve our target demographic and achieve the best outcomes.

What is your theory of change?

Growth Platform's primary goal is to facilitate the flow of capital from partners such as banks, investors, and government agencies to micro-enterprises that lack the resources and credit history to access traditional financing.

Our theory of change includes several key assumptions. Firstly, we assume that by providing funding to micro-enterprises, we can create jobs, increase income, and stimulate local economies. Secondly, we assume that by partnering with banks and other financial institutions, we can leverage our expertise and networks to identify and support the most viable micro-businesses, building up our database with valuable MSME data and mining several data points. Thirdly, we assume that by providing training, mentoring, and other support services, we can help micro-enterprises become more sustainable and profitable, thus reducing the risk of default and increasing the likelihood of repayment.

Ultimately, the Growth Platform's theory of change is based on the belief that by empowering micro-enterprises with access to capital and support, we can drive economic development, reduce poverty, and promote social and financial inclusion through humanizing and identifying this often-forgotten demographic and equipping them with tools like digital identification which can act as collateral to receive funding.

We input technology, human banks, funding, and human capital development with our identification, enumeration, verification, and financial literacy services to produce enterprise growth, digital and financial inclusion, job creation, credit histories, access to financial services, and improved financial literacy outcomes. These in turn lead to our impact goals of reduced inequalities, access to credit and funding for the last mile, economic growth of MSMEs, reduced unemployment, and reduced poverty and hunger.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The Growth Platform relies heavily on facial recognition and geofencing/geospatial technology to identify our applicants and ensure that they are who they say they are and are located where they say they are located.

We capture field data using hand-held technologies deployed nationwide across 774 local governments through 22,000 human banks and verify the data captured across national databases. We triangulate across multiple data sources using an algorithm that delivers 99.7% accuracy on the verification and truth of candidate records. The national databases include National ID (if the candidate is available in the database), immigration records, voter registration, and driver's license mostly for transport workers). When there is no record for the applicant, we enroll them in the national Bank Verification Number (BVN) program where they are issued a permanent unique identity with which they are identified for financial transaction purposes.

Data is obtained from multiple sources by implementing integrations to source DB via APIs where integration capabilities exist. File transfer protocol systems have also been implemented for data sources that have no direct integration capabilities. In addition to our linear and non-linear machine learning algorithms, relevant context-dependent algorithms are provided for data sets based on expected data characteristics and possible values, for example, we provide constraint/data-quality telephone number validation algorithms to check that a mobile number is a valid Nigerian telephone number, beyond just being a number, or looking like a plausible Nigerian number.

Using prebuilt and data-set-tested algorithms, we ensure each unit of our solution delivers accurate and reliable intelligence. 

Growth Platform uses Big Data, AI/Machine Learning, Geospatial Technology, Audiovisual Media, Software Applications, and Mobile technology as well as Behavioral Technology to successfully identify and deliver financial inclusion to our teeming beneficiaries.

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Audiovisual Media
  • Behavioral Technology
  • Big Data
  • GIS and Geospatial Technology
  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Nigeria

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Nigeria
  • Rwanda
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

How many people work on your solution team?

Our team is made of 30 full time staff and an outsourced network of 22,000 agents or human banks

How long have you been working on your solution?

We have been working on financially including and empowering MSMEs in Nigeria since 2016. The COO has been on the project since its inception as have been some pioneer staff members.

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Growth Platform's leadership team is diverse and is made up of both men and women who are well-trained academically and have a wealth of experience in successfully creating and delivering credit programs to the most vulnerable in our society. Our human banks are recruited from all 36 states plus the FCT in order for them to have close ties to their communities. This ensures that Nigerians from different states, tribes, and ethnic groups are included fully in the work that Growth Platform does to enable MSMEs. This also ensures the full participation of most tribes and ethnic groups as beneficiaries of the Platform's programs.

In delivering economic empowerment and growth to our MSMEs, we work with a gender focus seeking out women-led enterprises to empower in order to close the existing gender credit-access gap. We also focus on the youth to provide employment for them through our human-bank network while also empowering youth-led enterprises to create significant growth and impact in our society, reduce youth unemployment and help secure their future.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Growth Platform addresses a clearly defined need for the identification, provision of digital collateral, and the means through which MSMEs who were excluded financially prior are able to access much-needed capital for their growth. We provide this economic support by first identifying these MSMEs, enumerating them, and providing them with bank accounts or mobile wallets based on phone connectivity with which they have been availed of funding in the form of loans, grants, or capacity building.

We operate as the go-between for partners seeking to fund development and social interventions for MSMEs in Nigeria guaranteed to reach the last mile. We also collaborate with other organizations in the financial services space like banks and fintech to reduce the cost of providing bank accounts, mobile wallets, and bank verification numbers (bvn/digital ID) which are used to secure loans for applicants.  This collaborative system helps us reduce duplication, reduce costs and deliver our service to our partners and beneficiaries at the best price points.

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

Our revenue is currently obtained from grants, management fees, administration fees, and technical assistance from development partners.

Vertically, we have scaled across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and continue to grow our beneficiary base however, there is a plan to scale horizontally to the rest of Africa to deliver MSME growth in the continent and pull millions more out of poverty.

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

Currently, Growth Platform has received grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is being advised by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. We also currently partner with the World Bank on the CARES (Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Program) and with the African Development Bank on the IDICE (Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises) program.

We also partner with the Federal Government of Nigeria in the delivery of its social intervention programs like GEEP (Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme) where MSMEs were financially included and empowered through the Trader-Moni, Market-Moni, and Farmer-Moni credit-delivery programs as well as the NSITF(Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund) Covid-relief program where cash was transferred to the staff of small businesses across Nigeria to stem the effect of Covid-19 lockdown.

Solution Team

  • EN EN
    Elizabeth Nwosu Research & Partnerships Consultant, Growth Platform
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