Grid Finance wins inaugural Inclusion Plus competition

Start-up matches small business with investors looking to back community projects

Grid Finance team members Gary Grimes, Andrea Linehan and Derek Butler with Gavin Duffy from ‘Dragons’ Den’.

Grid Finance team members Gary Grimes, Andrea Linehan and Derek Butler with Gavin Duffy from ‘Dragons’ Den’.


Technology start-up Grid Finance has won the inaugural Inclusion Plus competition, which aims to showcase innovative ideas around financial inclusion.

The Dublin-based company runs a funding platform which matches up small businesses with investors looking to back local community projects.

It is brainchild of entrepreneur Derek Butler, who spent several years working in microfinance in Uganda and Haiti.

The platform distinguishes itself from others by awarding companies a credit score for potential investors to assess.

It has already drawn in tens of millions of euro from investors, who enjoy an average return of 9 per cent.

The company, which employs five staff, beat off competition from 40 other entrants to scoop the competition’s top prize of €25,000, which was provided the philanthropic arm of insurance giant MetLife.

“We are delighted to have won the Inclusion Plus competition which will enable us to take our online platform to the next stage. With such a diverse range of creative entries, this was a challenging competition but one we found very rewarding,” Mr Butler said.

Pilot scheme

The competition was run in collaboration with social enterprise group Verb and is being piloted in Ireland before being rolled out abroad.

It is aimed at entrepreneurs, not-for-profits and existing companies that help advance financial inclusion.

A shortlist of finalists vied for the top prize in a Dragons’ Den format earlier this year with the runners-up and semifinalists receiving smaller grants.

Fellow start-up WeSavvy, in second place, won €10,000 while “Basic Banking in Your Hand” by FinTech Innovations, “Manage Your Money” from the National Adult Literacy Agency and Initiative Ireland were each awarded €2,500.

MetLife Europe chief executive Dirk Ostijn said the competition had received an incredible array of creative and innovative submissions.

“Financial knowledge and awareness is extremely important for households and we look forward to seeing continued innovation in the area as the entrants develop their initiatives,” he added.