Knight News Challenge

The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding and support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisors to help advance their ideas. The first round of 2013, which opens in February, will invite innovators from all disciplines to focus on tools for open government. In 2012, three challenge rounds, each focused on an emerging trend, drew more than 2,500 entries.

Challenge 1 - on NETWORKS: Winners were announced June 18.

Challenge 2 - on DATA: Winners were announced Sept. 20.

Challenge 3 – on MOBILE: Winners were announced Jan. 17.

Anyone, anywhere can apply for the challenge - whether for-profit start-ups or non-profit ventures. For more information on a variety of topics - from guidelines for for-profits, on intellectual property licensing, open source software and more - visit our FAQ.

FINtegrate: Strengthening Communities by Integrating Micro Entrepreneurs Throughout Brazil

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1. What is your project? [1 sentence]

The FINtegrate project uses mobile technology to connect micro entrepreneurs in Brazil’s informal market to services and products provided by governmental, nongovernmental, and private financial service providers, thus strengthening micro entrepreneurs’ understanding of how well their businesses are performing and how to better price and market their products to meet the needs of their communities, and providing an increased understanding of the kinds of financial products and services providers can offer to better meet the needs of micro entrepreneurs so they can be better integrated into the formal market and the safety nets it provides.

2. How will your project use mobile tools and approaches? [2 sentences]

 FINtegrate will leverage the growth of mobile coverage in Brazil, especially among the poor, by allowing micro entrepreneurs to use their mobile phones to track expenses, register their cash flows, distinguish between their private and commercial budgets, calculate their selling price, and define sales objectives.   This tool, available on all kinds of mobile phones, paired with a comprehensive training program, will provide micro entrepreneurs with an accessible means to organize and digest the information they need to make better decisions and investments, and it will collect and organize data in a way that will help banks and service providers better understand the kinds of services and financial tools the poor need to manage their resources, save, and invest, creating new lines of transparency that are necessary for communities to prosper. 

3. Who will use it and why? [1 sentence]

Micro entrepreneurs, many of whom are business owners by chance rather than choice, will use this tool to obtain succinct overviews of their businesses’ performance, to provide much needed information to financial service providers in pursuit of loans and assistance, and to overcome the challenges they face in running their businesses including the lack the training and skills needed to calculate their selling price, monitor their cash flows, and set revenue and sales objectives.  

4. Please list three ways they would learn about your project. 

·         We are already active across the country and have extensive experience working with the financial needs of micro enterprises, which will facilitate the launch of this tool and training program to a pilot group that consists of a craftswomen network from low income communities.

·         Partners in this endeavor, including a bank, IT firm, and a telecommunications company will also assist in the marketing of the tool after the pilot project is complete and the tool has been refined to meet the needs of micro entrepreneurs and financial service providers.

·         We will leverage Brazil’s strong national network for micro enterprises and a governmental program that focuses specifically on their needs to spread the word about this tool.

5. What connections have you made, or will you make, with others [communities, organizations or networks] about your project? [2 sentences]

We have already built strong relationships with key partners for developing and launching this project: a network of 800 craftswomen who run their own businesses and will be the first beneficiaries of the mobile application, an IT firm that will develop the software, a bank that will assist with the data collection and security, and the governmental institution in charge of supporting microenterprise (a partnership with a telecommunication providers is still in development). 

With over 10 million informal micro entrepreneurs and 6 million in the formal market throughout Brazil, we plan to connect with networks of micro entrepreneurs and other NGOs to adapt the tool to meet the diverse needs of these individuals and offer a wide range of financial services that will help them grow. 

6. What part of the project have you already built? [1-2 sentences, feel free to include links]

We have worked extensively with stakeholders, both beneficiaries and providers, to conceptualize the project and discuss its potential and the challenges.  We have established the necessary partnerships with invested parties to ensure that the project will meet the needs of micro entrepreneurs and have developed a financial literacy training curriculum that can be adapted, but we have yet to develop the mobile tool.  

7. What does success for your project look like? [1-2 sentences]

The success of this project comes in the form of thriving micro entrepreneurs who increase their profits and are better able to understand their own situations and make decisions based on information that was previously unavailable and inaccessible to them, and in the form of more vibrant communities in which service providers and financial institutions have a more acute understanding of what kinds of services and financial products meet the needs of these citizens.   This project aims to develop more than tools and training that provide micro entrepreneurs with the ability to understand their financial well-being and plan for their futures; it strives to provide the framework for providing micro entrepreneurs with an experience that empowers them to become more engaged and active citizens and the information for giving communities an understanding of how to better integrate those most marginalized into a safety net of services and products.

8. What resources do you need to succeed? [1-2 sentences]

We are requesting financial support for the development of this mobile tool, including the software development and the revision/adaptation of the tool to ensure it meets the needs of both micro entrepreneurs and financial service providers.

Additional details:
Please list who is on your team:

The PlaNet Finance Brasil team:

·       A project manager with deep expertise in the sector of micro enterprises in Brazil and the needs of the target population (bottom of the pyramid).

·         An assistant manager assistant in charge of technical assistance, training and follow-up of the pilot test.


An international IT firm in Brazil, with team of informatics technicians, will be responsible for the developing of the software, installing it on mobile phones, monitoring the implementation, and making the necessary adjustments.  

 A Brazilian private bank will provide data collection, presentation, and security.

 A Brazilian telecommunications company will provide the means to transmit data at a low cost.

The Brazilian Agency Supporting Entrepreneur and Micro-entrepreneur will collaborate with the development and implementation of the mobile tool and training curriculum.


Expected number of months to complete project: 18 months
Estimated Project Cost:
USD $400,000 
Maud Chalamet
Email address:
Organization [if applicable]:
PlaNet Finance Brasil
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
How did you learn about the contest?
The contest was referenced on a website for NGO funding.