ISB's DLabs launches 'Build for Billions': Startup accelerator to address issues of informal economy

The programme is a 50-day, equity-free accelerator that would provide startups with mentorship, capacity building, resources, networking opportunities, and a chance to pitch to banks and investors.

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HYDERABAD: The Indian School of Business's startup accelerator DLabs has launched a new programme called "Build for Billions" in partnership with the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) and Union Bank of India. The programme is designed to help startups that are working to address the financial needs of the informal economy, which includes gig workers, migrant workers, domestic workers, street vendors, and other groups.

The Build for Billions programme is a 50-day, equity-free accelerator that would provide startups with mentorship, capacity building, resources, networking opportunities, and the chance to pitch to banks and investors. The programme would also give startups a unique opportunity to pilot their products or services with the Union Bank of India.

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Reserve Bank Innovation Hub's CEO Rajesh Bansal said that the programme was part of the RBIH's commitment to "empowering the informal economy." He added that the RBIH is excited to partner with DLabs and Union Bank on this initiative, which he believes has the potential to "bring forth solutions that contribute to a more inclusive and robust financial ecosystem."

Professor Bhagwan Chowdhry, Faculty Director of I-Venture@ISB, which oversees DLabs, said that the programme as important because "a skilled labour force is the backbone of building a robust economy." He added that "Building and supporting finance infrastructure that can assist in the development of such a workforce should be our top priority."

Nitesh Ranjan, executive director, Union Bank of India, said that the bank is "excited and looking forward to new ideas" that come out of the programme. He added that the bank is committed to finding "innovative solutions for formalising the informal workforce."

Startups that are interested in applying for the Build for Billions programme can do so by January 21, 2024. The programme would begin in February 2024.

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