Felipe Bannitz

Ashoka Fellow
Sao Paolo, Brazil
Fellow Since 2013


This profile was prepared when Felipe Bannitz was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
Felipe is transforming how major universities, their students and faculty engage with the social sector while also filling a critical need among emerging micro financial institutions for management assistance, capital, and technical support. His work bridges academic disciplines that encompass finance, microfinance, technology and innovation on one hand, and microfinance institutions with few technological resources to leverage sustainable and scalable businesses. Felipe has created a powerful partnership among universities, their supporters (including corporations and foundations) and the government, with community-based microfinance institutions providing for the financial inclusion of Brazil’s poorest communities. With the launch of Bank for Inclusive Businesses (BNI), Felipe has started a network-based expansion of his idea to many of Brazil’s leading schools of economics, business, and law.

BNI carries out a research and community outreach program that allows academic knowledge to travel beyond university institutions and engage the community at-large. It is a way to equip all beneficiaries with knowledge that may give them the potential to transform their social reality. As recent university graduates enter the labor market with a new vigor for local development, they become key multipliers of Felipe’s vision, and microentrepreneurs can sustain their inclusive business.

Other prestigious Brazilian universities in the areas of business, economics, accounting, and law are now assembling the conditions and resources necessary to create their own BNIs. Among them, 70 have launched their own technological incubators to provide full support to microentrepreneurs. Felipe dreams of these banks becoming staple features of Brazil’s higher education experience.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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