Lab Fellows are the pioneers of a new financial system – one that works for people and planet. They are innovators who have completed our unique incubation programme Lab Fellowship and have the potential to transform the financial system for the better. Find out more about Lab Fellowship here, and meet the Fellows below.
Lab Fellowship 2019
In 2019, the Lab worked with 14 entrepreneurs harnessing the power of data to build financial innovations that serve people and planet.
Big Society Capital – Nick Benton
Nick is Data & Portfolio director at Big Society Capital. Through Fellowship he worked on an intrapreneurship project to help Big Society Capital to use data to better understand the impact of their investments, and direct more capital towards human flourishing.
Nick is a qualified chartered accountant who previously worked at PwC, and also established a debt counselling centre in Clapham Junction. He has worked for a number of social enterprises, including Resurgo, and is on the advisory board for WellKneaded.
Find out more about Nick on our blog, here.
Bippit – Samuel Lathey
Bippit is a personal finance app that supports the financial health of employees. The app includes a financial health check, intuitive data visualisation tools to give people a clear picture of their financial situation and set achievable goals, and access to financial advisors.
Samuel is the CEO of Bippit and a Chartered Fellow of the CISI, and has a background in wealth management, where he managed portfolios for private clients, trusts, and charities. He has more than 10 years’ experience in financial services and has co-founded Bippit to help make financial vulnerability a thing of the past.
Find out more about Sam and Bippit on our blog, here.
Bristol Pound – Diana Finch
The Bristol Pound is the UK’s largest local currency. Launched in 2012, it aims to create a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive local economy for Bristol by keeping money circulating within Bristol’s independent businesses. Under Diana’s leadership, Bristol Pound is currently transitioning to Bristol Pay – a digital currency and payments platform for Bristol.
Diana brings 30 years’ experience of financial management, mostly in the non-profit sector. She is an experienced project and organisational leader, serving twice as CEO before joining the Bristol Pound in July 2018. She also offers consultancy in financial management, outcomes measurement, quality assurance and systems implementation.
Find out more about Diana and Bristol Pound on our blog, here.
CoGo – Ben Gleisner
CoGo is a free app that uses data on a person’s spending and their environmental/social values to make it easy for them to find businesses doing good in ways that matter to them, and help them use their spending power to drive change in the world they want to see. CoGo’s Carbon Footprint tracker enables users to see and reduce the carbon impact of their spending.
Ben is an economist, environmentalist and social entrepreneur. He has founded several businesses and charities, and launched the Conscious Consumers app in New Zealand in 2011, while working as a senior economist at The Treasury. In July 2018 he moved to the UK to take the app global, under the new brand CoGo.
Find out more about Ben and CoGo on our blog, here.
Equal Care Co-op – Emma Back, Kate Hammon and Fran Watson
Equal Care Co-op is a care and support co-operative platform designed to facilitate caregiving in people’s homes and the community. They are developing an alternative currency – Care Coins – integrated into the platform, which encourages people receiving support and local volunteers to increase the support available to others, putting communities in charge of caring and creating abundant care and support.
Emma has a background in social care and community development. Previously trustee for community-based charity Stepney City Farm, then working for major mental health charity Richmond Fellowship and advocacy charity VoiceAbility, Emma offers insight into how support services are designed, developed and commissioned.
Kate previously ran and transformed a small social enterprise (the Feel Good Bakery) working with ex-offenders getting back into work. She has advocacy experience and has given front-line support in residential care settings. Kate has also had direct experience as a teen carer, being the main carer for her mum for several years before her death in 2007.
Fran gives independent support working with older people and is also experienced in supporting people with learning disabilities. She set up her own support company Hebden Care and managed the Moving into Work project for the social enterprise, Kerbside (Calderdale). Fran has also worked as a support co-ordinator for social services.
Find out more about Emma, Kate and Fran and Equal Care Coop on our blog, here.
Mortar – George Unsworth
Mortar is a finance platform for the property sector. Mortar’s technology enables the delivery of better products and services to residential and commercial tenants, including intelligent arrears detection, tenant-led arrears management, and flexible rent payments.
George is the founder of Mortar. As an academic, he explored alternative models of cultural regeneration in London resulting in the development of over 15,000 square feet of derelict property. His work has involved the founding and operation of multiple catering and hospitality venues, as well as supporting a growing community of residential tenants and private property owners.
Find out more about George and Mortar on our blog, here.
NestEgg – Ben Breen and Adrian Davies
NestEgg is a software solution streamlining lending from responsible finance providers, with both a B2B and B2C offering. Their digital tools empower individuals to take control of their own financial identities using data relevant to their circumstances, and enables responsible lenders to streamline their processes and grow. Nestegg was a finalist in Nesta’s Affordable Credit Challenge for their work with Central Liverpool Credit Union.
Ben has been delivering business-transformational technology solutions at companies from start-ups to Fortune 100s since 1985, including at JP Morgan, Barclays, Bank of America, Xerox, Nortel, Reuters, UBS and many others. Ben advises start-ups and growth-minded companies on pragmatic growth strategy, tools and tactics. Ben co-founded NestEgg to provide the opportunity for as many as possible to transform their financial wellbeing.
Adrian has spent the past 20 years promoting financial inclusion. Starting out in money advice, he then set up seven credit unions. Adrian has extensive experience of start-ups, business development, IT, target operating models and regulatory compliance. In 2016 he co-founded NestEgg to promote credit justice and increase take-up of community finance.
Find out more about Adrian, Ben and NestEgg on our blog, here.
Open Credit Network – Dave Darby and Dil Green
The Open Credit Network is an association of SMEs designed to help them to sell more and save cash through ‘trade credit’ – a quantification of the value of members’ available goods and services – on the basis of which members can exchange with each other.
Dave founded lowimpact.org in 2001, and NonCorporate.org in 2018. He is interested in helping to develop co-operative economic institutions that engender trust among their users, keep value in the communities in which it’s generated, and prevent the wealth concentration that is so damaging to democracy.
Dil is a designer, systems thinker, and pragmatic utopian. He worked for 20 years as an architect and was principal of his own practice. He is fascinated by the digital world, about which he writes a blog, and is chair of the Dadamac Foundation, a charity connecting grassroots change-makers in the developing world to supporters globally.
Find out more about Dave, Dil and the Open Credit Network on our blog, here.
TEEK TAKA – Thaslima Begum
TEEK TAKA seeks to revolutionise transparency and accountability in global supply chains. The platform incentivises factories in Bangladesh to adopt ethical and sustainable behaviours, by rewarding them with access to cheaper and faster financing. It also provides garment workers with digital identities, making it easier to verify fair wage payments, contract hours and safe working conditions.
Thaslima is founder and CEO of TEEK TAKA. She is a human rights journalist and social entrepreneur, interested in leveraging technology to address worker exploitation. She writes for leading publications including The Guardian and The Times, and was recently nominated for Britain’s Orwell Prize. She previously managed the risk and sustainability portfolio at BSI, the UK’s national standards body, where she helped businesses gain unparalleled visibility into their global supply chains.
Find out more about Thaslima and TEEK TAKA on our blog, here.
Tumelo – Georgia Stewart
Tumelo is a software platform offering pension providers and asset managers a suite of tools to engage their clients in issues that matter to them. Their platform includes a portfolio transparency database so users know exactly where their money is invested. The platform also empowers users to take action through a shareholder voting system, so users can have their voices heard at the companies they own on issues related to climate, gender, governance and more.
Georgia is co-founder of Tumelo. She is passionate about climate change and conservation and believes that positive investment coupled with shareholder engagement is the best way to affect global change. During her Cambridge degree, she sat on the Positive Investment Committee, tasked with improving the way the University invested its £5bn endowment. She’s worked for multiple ‘green’ investment houses, such as Jupiter, and the Natural Capital Coalition for Fauna & Flora. Georgia was highlighted at a ‘standout star’ in Innovate Finance’s 2019 Women in Fintech Powerlist.
Find out more about Georgia and Tumelo on our blog, here.
Financial Health Fellows 2017
In 2017, the Lab partnered with anti-poverty charity Toynbee Hall on the Financial Health Fellowship, supporting the best innovations for improving financial health. We selected 10 Fellows working on projects that could support financial wellbeing by offering access to fairly priced financial products that take a holistic view of financial health.
Avon Mutual – Fionn Travers-Smith
Avon Mutual is a co-operative bank for Bristol and the surrounding areas, focused on financially underserved businesses and individuals in the region.
Fionn is a consultant, campaigner, and researcher. He has previously worked with the New Economics Foundation, Positive Money, the RSA and the Move Your Money campaign. During Fellowship, Fionn worked on Greater London Mutual, a community bank for London. After Fellowship, he continued his work within the community banking movement, and now consults Avon Mutual.
Elifinty – Maysam Rizvi
Elifinty is a financial app that uses AI to improve financial wellbeing. Building on the secure access to people’s data that Open Banking enables, Elifinty uses the information to predict the financial challenges people will face. It then uses its advanced algorithm to identify an appropriate financial solution for them, which could be commercial or social/charitable.
Maysam is CEO and founder of Elifinty. He has two decades’ experience in banking, including at National Bank of Dubai and JP Morgan, and as Vice President at United Overseas Bank. He is a Board trustee of Toynbee Hall and a non-exec Director of Spendable.
Stork – Andres Korin
Stork is the first financial marketplace to use AI to help parents navigate the costly adventure of raising a family. Stork anticipates the specific financial needs of parents, at each stage of their child’s life, and provides them with the best services according to their circumstances including the UK’s first joint account designed specifically for parents.
Andres is the co-founder of Stork and a finance professional with nearly 14 years’ experience in investment banking, risk management and international development, including more than two years working as a microfinance specialist in the Dominican Republic.
Spendable – Nick Lee
Spendable (formerly Harmoney) is a not-for-profit organisation with a mission to make money straightforward. Initially offering free advice to people struggling with unmanageable debt, Spendable is developing a digital money management service making it easier to budget your spending money, save money on your bills, and afford big expenses coming up through the year.
Nick is the founder of Spendable and has extensive experience in money advice including leading two Citizens Advice Bureaux, directing three credit unions, and running a microfinance project. He has tutored in Professionalism, Ethics and Regulation at the Chartered Banker Institute, and has previously taught personal finance at the Open University.
Other Fellows and their projects included:
- Audrey Giroud – a product manager who worked on the gamification of savings
- Sam Bedford and Laura McCullagh – intrapreneurs who set up an affordable housing project at St Luke’s Hub in South London
- Alasdair Blackwell, Sam Grainge and Peter Sach – who collaborated on a social network for buildings enabling tenants to save through collective bargaining power
Lab Fellowship 2016
In 2016 we piloted our first Fellowship with 16 financial innovators working on a wide range of social and environmental causes.
Community Reinvest – Joel Benjamin
Community Reinvest works with the fossil free divestment movement, NGOs, community energy organisations and civic institutions, such as local authorities and universities, to facilitate divestment from fossil fuels and reinvestment into the local economy for social, economic and environmental benefit.
Joel is an environmental campaigner and the co-founder of Community Reinvest. His professional experience includes researching and campaigning for Move Your Money UK, Debt Resistance UK and the Carbon Tracker Initiative, where he works currently.
Credscope – Freda Owusu
Credscope (formerly Insight Report) is an alternative, bottom-up credit reference agency with a vision to enable more people to become financially included through credit scoring. It is a credit scoring system using alternative data, which is centred on the consumer as a person, rather than on their transactions alone.
Freda worked for ten years as a Loan Fund Manager in London, has a PhD in Social Policy and is also a co-founder of iHealth-Direct, a telemedicine service for health inclusion. Since Fellowship, Freda has continued to grow Credscope and is now focusing on expanding Credscope’s work to West Africa with her new business Truuscore.
Find out more about Freda and Credscope on our blog, here.
Ecosystem Collateral and EnviroMarket – Simon Petley
Ecosystem Collateral was an online platform enabling smallholders in tropical regions to access financial collateral in return for a commitment to build and strengthen natural capital.
Simon worked on Ecosystem Collateral through 2017, putting the development on hold in 2018 to lead the Trillion Tees project at WWF UK. He then founded EnviroMarket Ltd, a finance and risk-management consultancy, pioneering the ‘use of proceeds’ concept which differentiates green bonds from conventional bonds. Alongside his position as director of EnviroMarket, he continues to track developments related to Ecosystem Collateral.
Flip Finance – Kat Davis and David Floyd
Flip Finance is a social investment project transforming the way in which social investment products and services are designed and delivered, and enabling investee-led approaches to social investment creation.
David is Managing Director of Social Spider CIC, a social enterprise providing research, communications and consultancy to support the social sector, and is an expert on the UK social investment market.
Kat is an independent consultant. She works with enterprises, charities and innovative organisations using participative, design thinking processes to support them on organisation development, systems change, business planning and prototype development.
LendLocal – Julian Lewis
LendLocal is an online platform allowing individual social investors to refinance Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) and credit union (CU) loans. Using the Kiva model, LendLocal frees CDFI and credit union lenders to originate further loans – a vital source of capital in disadvantaged communities – and challenge the spread of exploitative high-interest lending.
Julian is an experienced social entrepreneur, journalist and research manager. Since Fellowship, Julian has continued to grow LendLocal’s work as well as founding Green Bonds UK, a green bonds initiative for UK investors.
Rhino Bond – Leonie Kelly
The Rhino Bond is an outcomes-based financing mechanism that directs private and public sector funds to improving management effectiveness of rhino populations. The bond was launched in July 2019.
Leonie is a sustainable finance professional and was formerly Head of Impact Innovation and Investment at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). She now works in sustainable investment in Hong Kong, as well as continuing to chair the Rhino Impact Investment project for ZSL.
Urgentem – Sam Gill
Urgentem (previously Engaged Tracking) provide climate-risk solutions for the finance sector including a ranking of the world’s largest listed companies by their greenhouse gas emissions and disclosure.
Sam is the founder and former CEO of Urgentem. He is now the Executive Director of interDependence Agency, offering climate change strategy consulting and workshops.
Find out more about Sam and Urgentem on our blog, here.
Wayhome – Josef Wasinski
Wayhome (previously Unmortgage) helps people get on the housing ladder without going through the banks. Wayhome provides first-time buyers a gradual, affordable route to home ownership starting with deposits from just 5%.
Josef’s career in fintech started working at Techstars at Barclays. He initially joined Fellowship with Ample, a personal finance app that aimed to empower people to engage with the emotional aspects of money, before co-founding Wayhome.
Other Fellows and their projects included:
- Neil Chandler – an IT architect who developed a digital platform for finance professionals to anonymously share their stories and bring wrongdoing in their institutions to light
- Steve Clarke – a founding member of the Bristol Pound who explored the development of a mutual credit circle for Bristol
- Johnny Denis – a serial social enterprise and co-op founder who developed a community-share model for affordable housing
- Ashley Lewis – an impact investment professional who built an investment management tool for social ventures and investors active in low liquidity markets
- Simon Rowell – a senior strategy professional and lawyer who worked on an intrapreneurship project at Big Society Capital to establish social pension funds
- Olivia Seddon-Daines – a policy analyst who worked on a mapping and visualisation project exploring the links between finance and the real economy
- Ben Warren – an investment professional who was working at Big Society Capital, and developed a fund to match investments made by individuals on crowdfunding platforms to Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR)-eligible charities and social enterprises.