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Fintech Accelerator aims to build inclusive future

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Center for Accelerating Financial Equity (CAFE)

Six early-stage companies are gearing up for the opportunity to connect with advisors and investors through a new program. | PHOTO COURTESY OF KRISTEN CASTELL

The Center for Accelerating Financial Equity (CAFE) is helping financial technology companies propel financial wellness for low-to-moderate income communities through its first-ever ten-week Fintech Accelerator Program. 

Beginning March 25, six fintech businesses will have the opportunity to meet and connect with advisors, speakers, investors, and other representatives from involved “financial institutions and banks, capital sources, and potential customers,” according to the CAFE website. 

It is here, as CAFE managing director Kristen Castell explains, where founders can gain the tools and resources necessary to not only advance their own company, but also help “[build] the future of finance to be more inclusive.” 

“They have built something really special already that has market validation, and we want to help them get to the next level where they are going to reach that many more customers and people, thus growing their business and also growing their impact for the mission,” Castell said. 

Under the leadership of both Castell and Delaware Technology Park CEO Mike Bowman, and alongside fellow CAFE advisors, the program was developed to support early- to growth stage businesses with products or services that strive to enhance the financial health and well-being for LMI and other underrepresented communities.

Announced in 2023, according to Bowman, the program was designed to match the growing momentum of fintech businesses, which significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“We’re not doing money — we’re doing social impact with companies that can make a good living,” Bowman said. 

According to Castell, the first two days of the program will be in person, with “an incredible agenda” featuring representatives from the University of Delaware Data and Science Institute, Tech Impact, and the Small Business Association, among others.

For the remaining eight weeks in the program, participants will meet virtually to discuss topics such as selling to financial institutions and sales training for institution-level relationships.

According to Independent Community Bankers of America Senior Vice President and CAFE advisor Wayne Miller, each week in the curriculum will be “thematic,” focusing on connecting founders with experts in the field. 

The program will conclude with a demo day showcase on May 30 in the Fintech Innovation Hub, located on UD’s Science, Technology, and Advanced Research campus in Newark. 

Olivia Montes is a contributing writer. 

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