Events such as a workplace injury, unexpected loss of a job, or divorce, can derail even the best laid financial plans. While studies show that about half of Canadians practice some kind of budgeting or have a financial plan, 60% feel unprepared to deal with the financial ramification of these kinds of major life events. For low-income and financially vulnerable Canadians, the major events that can lead to cycles of bad debt can be lurking around every corner: a broken down car, kids home sick resulting in missed work shifts, or a stolen phone. Over the last two and a half years, Canadians have been grappling with these day-to-day and potentially life-altering financial realities in the context of an unprecedented global pandemic, and the uncertain financial impacts of public health measures on communities, families, and businesses.
Fintech Cadence is a national non-profit that is advancing technology solutions that address the critical issues Canadians face in their day-to-day financial lives. We are proud to announce that applications are once again open for our 6-month Innovate Financial Health (IFH) Lab program for startups focused on improving the financial lives of Canadians. Through this equity-free and fee-free program, mission-driven entrepreneurs are provided the access to mentors, resources, capital, and partners required to scale their impact across Canada.
This year will be the 3rd iteration of the IFH Lab cohort. In our previous two cohorts, we have worked with 12 startups that have gone on to raise an additional $11 million, added 50+ jobs, and helped 25,000 Canadians build emergency funds, access insurances, avoid payday lenders, and more. After graduating the program, these startups have been named Fintech Magazine’s Top 100 Women in Fintech, Future of Good’s 21 Social Purpose Founders to Watch, Center for Financial Inclusion’s Inclusive Fintech 50, Bay Street Bull’s 50 Most Impactful Companies, Globe and Mail’s 50 Emerging Leaders, and more.
This year, we are again seeking 6 – 8 startups from across Canada to participate in the program. The program provides access to 100+ industry experts, capacity-building sessions, $100,000+ in service provider credits, and the opportunity to win cash prizes. It will consist of a 3-day in-person kickoff, an in-person Demo Day, and an additional 2-4 hours of virtual commitment/month. Travel reimbursements are available. We want these startups to be dealing with the critical issues that face the financial lives of Canadians today including but not limited to:
- Access to appropriate and affordable Insurance
Insurance can provide critical financial protection in the case of unexpected illness or disability, property damage, and the loss of a spouse/partner. While the pandemic has gotten more people talking about insurance and their family’s financial futures, between 30 – 35% of Canadians don’t have any life insurance and 23% of Canadians say their families will not manage financially if they were to pass away prematurely. In our previous cohorts, PolicyMe made the insurance process simpler & more affordable through its digital processes while Bounc3 focused on a specific underinsured segment, the self-employed.
- Methods to build emergency funds & short term savings
According to Statistics Canada, in 2019 over 35% of Canadians do not have an emergency fund covering 3 months of living expenses. A number of startups including IFH Lab alumni QUBER and MICC are working to make saving easier and more accessible by using savings challenges, getting employers to implement matched-based savings programs, and empowering individuals to leverage their local communities to support their savings goals.
- Tools to help Canadians manage their housing
For Canadians, it has become increasingly difficult to rent and even more difficult to access the housing market. Mortgage debt in Canada has grown twice as fast as GDP over the last 10 years and many young Canadians don’t think they can ever afford a home. This is a critical issue as home ownership is a pathway towards the middle class. There is a need for new technologies and business models that help Canadians afford rent, build wealth, and access home ownership.
This is just a small snapshot of the exciting areas that financial technology startups can address. We are also looking for solutions that help Canadians build their financial literacy, access financial planning, stabilize income, and more. The need for these new approaches to old problems is clear, as younger generations demand digital solutions and COVID continues to make the necessity of offering virtual services unignorable.
The IFH Lab by Fintech Cadence is recruiting for our 3rd cohort. If you want to learn more about the program or know of a promising startup, please visit the IFH Lab web page for more information.
The 2022 cohort is supported by JPMorgan Chase, Meridian Credit Union, Canadian Bankers Association, and the City of Toronto.