51 million adults in America are currently disconnected from the financial system, with 15.6 million of those individuals having no bank accounts at all (FDIC 2015). Even including Americans with bank accounts, many are not able to successfully save; according to the Federal Reserve, 55% of Americans can’t pay for an unexpected $400 expense through savings or credit cards without selling something or borrowing money.

At Access Ventures, we care about broader access for disconnected citizens. Whether that is better credit, reasonable rates on small business loans, alternatives to, or more equitable options for, payday lending, or better equipment warranty options, we are interested in exploring better options in financial services that solve real community problems.

For the third year in a row, we pre-committed $50,000 ($25,000 to each) to the top-two peer selected companies within the financial technologies cohort of Village Capital. The two peer-selected investees were unveiled by Village Capital earlier this month, and we are excited to announce that the companies selected were Finix and PayKii.

Village Capital puts the power of investment in the hands of the entrepreneurs through the peer-selection process. For every program, a group—or “cohort”—of approximately 12 companies working to solve different problems in a particular sector (agriculture, education, energy, water, financial inclusion, or health) is assembled. After each program workshop, the entrepreneurs rank each other according to six criteria, and, after the final ranking, the two top-ranked companies receive $50,000+ in investment.

Village Capital and its program sponsors have capital investments in more than 60 ventures picked by their peers, 43% of which are led by female founders and 24% by founders of color, through this program. Participating ventures–88% of which are based outside of CA, MA, and NY–have created over 6,000 jobs, served over 290,000 low income patients and 250,000 low income students, and raised over $158 million in capital. The success of the model has lead to recognition by thought leading institutions, including the McKinsey/Harvard Business Review M-Prize for innovation.

Each cohort company ranks the other teams based on the following:

  • Team
  • Product
  • Customer Validation
  • Financials
  • Scale and Impact
  • Return of Capital

The final workshop took place in San Francisco, with sessions on building a team, negotiating a term sheet, and managing a board, among others. The companies also took the “hot seat” where others in the cohort had time to ask questions and evaluate company progress. We were pleased to be present during this last week of the program, seeing the cohort in action alongside our partners at PayPal, Blackrock, and Orange.

Congratulations to the winners and every company that participated over the past three months. You can learn more about Finix and PayKii and our other investments over on our portfolio.

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