As a schoolboy in Somaliland, Ismail Ahmed’s brother was one of the tens of thousands of men who crossed the Red Sea to work in the Gulf states. “It was kind of a gold rush, and I became a recipient of remittances from my brother, who would send money back. Then, when I came to the UK to study on a scholarship, I became a sender. I saw remittances from both sides.”

This early exposure to the business of money transfers led Ahmed to later set up WorldRemit. Today he is both Founder and CEO of a business that handles a growing share of the USD $600 billion remittance market.

The key to the company’s success has been Ahmed’s insight and understanding early on, into how the remittances model was ripe for digitization. He observed senders and receivers traveling hours to reach a remittance agent. This required out-of-pockets expenses for travel, as well as time spent away from work.

His response was to build a business that not only offered traditional means to transfer and receive money: bank deposit, cash pickup, but as a digital disrupter, also includes mobile and airtime top-up, reaching emerging consumers with fast, secure, low-cost remittance services

The company is a trailblazer in international transfers to mobile money accounts, dramatically reducing both corruption and costs faced by low-income consumers. Sending from over 50 countries to 148 destinations across Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and the Americas is possible via WorldRemit.

With an estimated two billion people worldwide still classified as unbanked, but owning a mobile phone, there remains a significant growth opportunity for online and mobile remittances services to disrupt the industry and reach emerging consumers. 90% of WorldRemit’s customers use smartphones for their transactions. In fact, it has become the a key driver to owning a phone in the first place.

LeapFrog invested in WorldRemit in December 2017. The investment will support the company’s plans to reach 10 million customers connected to emerging markets by 2020. This will be achieved through expansion into new markets, continuing to deliver innovative products and services, and scaling the technology that underpins its mobile-first, digital model.

Stewart Langdon, Partner at LeapFrog Investments, adds: “This investment is an opportunity to bring a global leader in digital remittances into the LeapFrog portfolio. WorldRemit’s model is uniquely suited to scale and offers a best in class service that is vital to the livelihood of millions of consumers in LeapFrog’s core markets. The company also has a huge potential to expand globally – a combination that puts it at the heart of our profit with purpose philosophy. I’m delighted that a world-class fintech company like WorldRemit is choosing LeapFrog as its partner for growth in the emerging markets.”


The Indian Government’s ambitious drive for financial inclusion was recently included in the Guinness Book of World Records for number of bank accounts opened in the shortest period of time. Yet universal inclusion still remains elusive with the World Bank estimating that to-date only six per cent of Indian adults over the age of 15 have borrowed from a financial institution.

According to India’s 2011 census, approximately 70 per cent of India’s population live in rural communities. Extending financial inclusion to this segment can truly make the difference for the lives of individuals and future prosperity of the country.

At the heart of the drive to extend the reach and access of financial tools is Fincare. As one of the largest and fastest-growing microfinance platforms in India, it currently provides financial services to over 5.8 million emerging consumers, the majority of whom are women in rural areas – both of which comprise two of the most underserved segments. The company has achieved a 79 per cent annual growth rate in its assets under management over the last three years, a testament to why Fincare sits firmly at the intersection of profit with purpose.

It is one of only ten institutions granted a small bank license by the Indian government, in 2017 the company launched its banking operations at over 25 locations with plans to increase the number to 500 by year end. These institutions guarantee at least 50 per cent of loan portfolios are comprised of loans and advances up to $37,500. Small finance banks can perform all the operations of normal commercial banks, but target a low-income segment providing access to smaller sums of credit and the ability to make deposits.

‘[The investment] will enable us to continue to build the infrastructure required to accelerate our growth, in line with our mission to facilitate a lifetime of progress at the base of the pyramid through financial and social inclusion,’ says Rajeev Yadav, Group CEO of Fincare.

With a deep history in financial inclusion in India gained through partnering with some of the country’s preeminent financial institutions, the LeapFrog team are set to back Fincare by helping the Company make history and an outsize contribution to India’s goal of universal financial inclusion.


From a no-frills office behind one of the many bustling, palm-lined streets of Chennai, India’s jewel of the South, the Shriram Group began its story.

Founded in 1974, Shriram has grown to become one of India’s most respected and trusted business houses, serving the mass-market with essential services. It is a business that can convincingly claim that “the bottom of the pyramid is the top of our agenda” and has been for 40 years.

In 2011, LeapFrog invested in a Shriram subsidiary, Shriram CCL, a distribution group offering unique access to the consumer growth story across India.

Shriram stands out for its deep integrity, community-based business model, committed management team, and emphasis on the importance of long-term strategy over short-term wins. It’s there for the long haul. This is perhaps one reason it reaches 7 million people with insurance and savings today, of which 5 million are low income.

For many of its customers, Shriram CCL is also one of the first points of contact they have with the formal financial system. The company reaches people through a smart and low-cost distribution strategy, using large agency forces in local villages. It sells into traditional ‘Chit’ programs – or rotating credit and saving schemes – as well as direct to new customers in towns and villages across the country’s mind-stirring canvas.

Says G.S. Sundararajan, Managing Director of Shriram Capital, “Our strategic partnership with LeapFrog is redefining financial inclusion in India.”

In 2017, LeapFrog successfully exited its investment in Shriram CCL, after significant value-add and impact.

Reliance Capital Management

The world’s fourth most populous nation, Indonesia’s emerging middle class alone is expected to grow to 140 million in the next 10 years. With exceptionally low insurance penetration (2.1% of GDP) and only 36% of adults with a bank account, the need for financial inclusion is great.

LeapFrog’s investment in Reliance Capital Management is aimed precisely at meeting this social need and business opportunity. A home-grown company, Reliance intends to become the financial supermarket for Indonesia’s mass-market. Founded by entrepreneur Anton Budidjaja, the group includes Indonesia’s fourth largest group health insurer, a fast growing life and general insurer insurance operations, and a listed retail-focused securities arm.

Reliance currently reaches over 4.4 million people via almost 900,000 customers across the country, with deep reach into rural areas and a trusted brand name. The company recently acquired a stake in Bank Kesejahteraan Ekonomi (BKE), a general bank with a focus on financial inclusion, giving it potential to reach a further 2 million addressable customers via cooperative relationships.

LeapFrog led this co-investment with FMO and PartnerRe, creating a partnership that will inject strategic capital and diverse skillsets to help boost Reliance’s reach to millions across the country.

Says Anton, “There is a real need for Indonesia to grow its financial services sector. LeapFrog, FMO and PartnerRe are here to help us grow, and to make an increasing contribution to the industry.”

Magma Fincorp

Magma, a trusted Indian financial services group, helps its customers to “invest in even the smallest dream”. It is currently making more than 650,000 dreams come true across India.

The company reaches emerging consumers across rural and semi-urban India with vehicle finance, housing finance and general insurance. Led by an outstanding entrepreneurial team, Magma is delivering on its original vision: to bring financial services to the unbanked in some of India’s poorest regions. The majority of customers are experiencing formal financial services for the first time.

Rural India represents an enormous market opportunity with a population of over 850 million people, roughly two-thirds of the country’s total population. Two out of five rural households rely on informal credit sources or local money-lenders that often charge usurious interest rates. Within that market, the ‘self-employed’ borrower segment is highly attractive; this group of striving entrepreneurs has generally been overlooked by non-banking financial companies but represents an exciting business opportunity to serve pent-up demand with formal financial services..

Magma is well placed in the non-banking financial services market, with its robust rural distribution network and a large and loyal customer base.

Both LeapFrog and Magma see tremendous opportunity to drive value creation through operational improvements and expansion, in both the lending business and the insurance business. This includes areas such as distribution, product design, and health insurance.

Northern Arc Capital (formerly IFMR Capital)

In India the formal financial services sector has made minuscule inroads into the potential market. Smaller enterprises constitute 99% of all companies and contribute to 30% of GDP, but they lack formal access to finance, with 80% currently self-financed.

A company that is challenging this status quo is LeapFrog investment Northern Arc Capital (formerly IFMR Capital) a non-banking finance corporation. Northern Arc is a dynamic link between debt capital markets and high-quality debt originators who are the last mile link to individuals and businesses that traditionally face challenges in access to finance.

Northern Arc provides efficient and reliable access to debt for such lenders across India, in turn enabling a steady supply of finance for financially excluded families and businesses.

Since inception in 2008, the company has partnered with more than 140 institutions to impact the lives of over 33 million customers across 29 states and 540 districts across of India. The company has enabled debt financing of USD 7 billion across sectors like microfinance, small business loans, affordable housing finance, vehicle finance and agri-finance. It has structured and executed over 400 transactions which have been placed with over 120 investors.

Northern Arc uses a variety of structures to provide financing to its clients, including direct loans, securitization, guarantees, arrangement and placement of commercial paper, bonds, debentures, and other capital markets products. It invests in the debt of its originators ensuring skin-in-the-game. Northern Arc developed and launched the world’s first Multi-Originator Securitization for micro-loans and listed India’s first securitised debt instruments on the BSE. It recently introduced a fund advisory and management platform and India’s first rated (AA) financial inclusion debt fund as a Category I AIF, backed by leading insurance companies, a bank and private wealth investors.

Northern Arc also provides rating enhancement advisory services and helps originators to build better operations, oversight and customer protection. The result? End-borrowers receive quality products and services, providing the very foundation of trust.

This trust works its way back into the capital markets. Northern Arc’s robust risk management systems at the grass roots ensure strong risk-adjusted returns for investors, and an A+ credit rating for the entity.

Northern Arc Capital CEO Kshama Fernandes speaking about the reach and impact of Northern Arc, says “Northern Arc stands for access, change, freedom, growth and prosperity for all. We are the frontier that spans across the world of finance – from those who have little or no access to finance to those who have it in abundance.”


Jumo is a disruptive fintech business that is rapidly reshaping how ethical financial products reach consumers and SMEs in emerging markets. Its mission is to build and operate inclusive digital banking marketplaces to advance financial inclusion for the 80 per cent of the world’s population who are excluded or underserved by traditional financial services.

Advancing inclusive access to and usage of affordable formal financial services is vital to promoting vital financial health, economic empowerment, financial stability and sustainable growth. Yet emerging markets have negligible penetration of formal financial services: savings is chronically underdeveloped and the majority of the world’s 2 billion unbanked adults are found in low- and middle-income emerging markets.

By contrast, digital and mobile network operators offer highways into these markets – a road that JUMO is traveling at high speed. By creating a customer-centric platform that enables the distribution of leading-edge financial offerings instantly and on-mobile, JUMO is generating access at an unprecedented rate. So far JUMO has analysed more than 33 terabytes of data to serve more than nine million customers in seven countries across Africa and Asia, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Zambia and Pakistan. 100% of its customers are estimated to be low-income, earning less than $10 per day PPP, and approximately 80% have never interacted with formal financial offerings before using the platform. The company has extensive expansion plans for both Africa and now Asia, with CEO and Founder, Andrew Watkins-Ball having relocated to Singapore to drive expansion.

As an investor partner, LeapFrog’s financial services expertise is being used for product design and multi-country rollouts, to turbocharge Jumo’s growth and spur financial inclusion across Africa.

In 2017 Jumo won the MasterCard Foundation’s third annual Clients at the Centre Prize. The US$150,000 prize recognises the innovative work of the South African-based company as a large-scale, low-cost financial services marketplace that serves low-income people.