MasterCard Foundation Clients at the Centre Prize 2017

MasterCard Foundation Clients at the Centre Prize 2017

Deadline: June 5, 2017

For the third consecutive year MasterCard Foundation is looking for the world’s most impactful and sustainable financial services provider that puts “clients at the centre” of its thinking and operations for the benefit of poor people in developing countries. The Clients at the Centre Prize prioritises the client centricity theme. Although the number of unbanked people has fallen to two billion worldwide, a 20% decrease from three years ago, over a quarter of the world’s population still lacks access to formal financial services. In the current landscape, financial products and services often do not meet the needs of many low income demographic groups because they are not fully relevant and responsive to their goals and aspirations.

The MasterCard Foundation puts clients at the centre of its work. The Foundation believes strongly that it is only when an organisation deeply understands the needs and expectations of the people it serves that it can provide appropriate products and services to those people. That deep understanding, in turn, can also offer financial service providers a competitive edge, implying that there is a business case for client centricity. The Foundation has worked with a range of partners to generate research and advance thought leadership in this area. It hosts the annual Symposium on Financial Inclusion on this same theme.

In 2016, the competition’s top three finalists presented their proposals to leading industry professionals at The MasterCard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion held in Kigali, Rwanda. This year, the top five applicants will be invited to attend The MasterCard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion in Accra, Ghana, on November 8-9, 2017. The top three finalists will present on their client-centric practices to the audience, which will decide who wins the Prize.


  • The Prize consists of a US$150,000 award to expand or reinforce client-centric practices within the winning organisation.


The Prize is open to registered organisations operating anywhere in the world that provide financial products and services to low-income populations in developing countries. The following points further clarify eligibility:

  • Eligible organisations must provide access to financial products and services, such as loans, savings, insurance, etc. The organisations could include: direct providers such as banks, microfinance institutions, and cooperatives, mobile network operators, as well as indirect providers such as leasing companies, agricultural input suppliers, and technology companies who offer innovative solutions to direct providers. In applications from this latter type of organisation, the partner(s) (i.e. a direct provider of financial services) must also be included in the application;
  • Applicants must demonstrate a tangible impact on low-income populations that can be measured and reported;
  • Applicants do not need to be registered or incorporated in one of the listed developing countries, but they must already operate and serve low-income populations in one of those countries. The application to the Prize must also describe how the organisation focuses its operations in these countries;
  • Applications that target poor communities in developed countries are not eligible;
  • Only organisations, not individuals, are eligible to apply for the Prize;
  • Government ministries, departments or agencies are not eligible to apply for the Prize;
  • Applicant organisations that entered past years of the Prize are eligible to enter again. In addition, partners of The MasterCard Foundation are eligible to apply for the Prize.

Judging Process

The Judging Process is divided into 2 stages:

  • Stage 1 – Pre-Symposium: Eligible applications will be evaluated and scored against a set of judging criteria by staff of The MasterCard Foundation and other industry experts. This process will lead to the determination of finalists to be invited to the Symposium;
  • Stage 2 – Symposium: At the Symposium, the top three finalists will make presentations to the audience on the business practices they highlighted in their application. To determine the winner of the US$150,000 Prize, audience members will vote on the presentation that they feel best describes a successful client-centric organisation.

Application Process

  • To begin your application, you will need to create an account by clicking the “Register to Apply” button on the Prize homepage ( After you have entered the information requested, you will receive a confirmation email. You must confirm your registration by clicking on the link that you receive in that email. The confirmation email will be sent from InnoCentive Custom Challenges as soon as you register. Please check your spam or junk mail if you do not receive it within one day of your submission;
  • Applicants from the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Prize do not need to create a new account and can use the same log-in details;
  • When you log into your account, you will be taken to your dashboard. You can start your application by clicking the “Enter the Prize” button on your dashboard. You will be asked to agree to the Prize’s Terms and Conditions. Please read these carefully;
  • You will then access the application form. You can start completing the form and save your answers as you go. You are able to save what you have entered and return at another time to edit or complete your application;
  • Please read carefully the guide below for the completion of the application form. Following these instructions can be crucial for the success of your application;
  • When your application is completed, you can submit by clicking the “Enter the Prize” button. Once you have done this, you will not be allowed to make further changes to your application. After you have submitted your application, you will be able to view your entry and answers by clicking on ‘My Dashboard’ at the top of the page;
  • If you experience any technical difficulties, please contact [email protected]


Please note the following key dates:

  • The Prize is open for applications as of April 3. After this date, applicants can register on the website and start completing the application form;
  • The deadline to complete and submit an application is June 5, 2017 at 23:59 Greenwich Mean Time. No applications will be accepted after this time;
  • The announcement of all finalists who will be invited to attend and (the top three) present their proposal for the US$150,000 award at The MasterCard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion will be made in September, 2017;
  • The 2017 MasterCard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion will take place on November 8-9, 2017 in Accra, Ghana. Flights and accommodation for the invited finalists will be paid for by The MasterCard Foundation

For more information, visit MasterCard Foundation Clients at the Centre Prize 2017.