*** ----> Bahrain challenges its youth on solutions for financial inclusion in sustainable development | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Bahrain challenges its youth on solutions for financial inclusion in sustainable development

The Ministry of Sustainable Development and Mastercard, announced the launch of the “Mastercard Challenge on Financial Inclusion for the SDGs” under the theme ‘Solving for the Future’, in partnership with BENEFIT, the Labour Fund (Tamkeen) and StartUp Bahrain. Targeted towards university students in Bahrain, this competition serves as a call for innovative solutions driven by Bahrain’s youth, to further unlock the potential of financial inclusion and accelerate progress towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Importance of Financial Inclusion

Financial inclusion is positioned prominently as an enabler of several SDGs, where it is featured as a target in eight of the seventeen goals, including reducing inequalities, improving health and well-being, promoting gender equality, fostering economic growth, and supporting job creation. Given the pivotal role of youth and the importance of fostering youth-led innovations in advancing the SDGs, this competition hopes to provide an opportunity for university students and young change-makers in Bahrain to be curators of the next generation solutions using financial inclusion, digitization and data as powerful tools.

Financial inclusion as enabler of sustainable development

H.E. Noor bint Ali Alkhulaif, Minister of Sustainable Development and Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “Over the years, Bahrain’s inclusive financial system has helped position the Kingdom as a pioneer in digital financial infrastructure innovation, which resulted in the expansion of mobile payments, strengthening regulations, prioritizing financial integrity and stability, and promoting digitization, financial literacy, and financial innovation. Given the role of financial inclusion as an enabler of several SDGs, the Mastercard Challenge seeks to encourage Bahrain’s youth to develop new solutions which can unlock its full potential by creating more economic opportunities, enabling economic diversification, and boosting sustainable growth.”

‘Igniting SDG progress’

Dana Imad Hamzah, the Assistant Undersecretary for Sustainable Development added: The “Mastercard Challenge on Financial Inclusion for the SDGs” is an exciting opportunity and an ideal platform which can enable Bahrain’s youth to design innovative solutions with a disruptive potential to help ignite SDG progress, using financial inclusion, digitization and the power of data as key enablers. This initiative also falls in line with the Ministry of Sustainable Development’s efforts in strengthening strategic partnerships with the private sector in recognition of their pivotal role in advancing the SDGs.”

Benefits for winners

Competition winners will benefit from complimentary enrollment in the Mastercard Academy for one year and will have the chance to visit Mastercard's Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA) headquarters. They will also win a paid internship at BENEFIT to develop and scale their solutions, gain access to technical expertise, mentorship, and training from Mastercard and BENEFIT, including an AI masterclass, 10 mentoring sessions and three online sessions with Mastercard’s experts, and engage with selected Startup Bahrain resources and partners.


Open to all Undergraduate and Postgraduate students in Bahrain from any discipline, the Mastercard Challenge will help university students explore real-life challenges facing the SDGs from a multi-disciplinary perspective in sectors that include education, healthcare, climate, the environment, tourism and business and more. The deadline for applications is July 31st, 2024, at 7 pm Bahrain time. Following this, a panel of distinguished experts with experience in financial services at the frontier of social impact and industry will review the submissions and announce the shortlisted qualifying applicants, who will then be eligible to participate in a three-week intensive Summer Bootcamp program during August 2024 which will be organized by the Labour Fund (Tamkeen) and StartUp Bahrain.

Summer bootcamp

Through the Summer Bootcamp, participants will gain valuable insights on the SDGs, sustainability in the age of AI, success stories from Bahrain’s financial sector’s digital transformation journey, entrepreneurship mentorship, coaching and more. The UN Resident Coordinator's office in Bahrain, will also provide dedicated sessions on the SDGs and the role of digitization, financial inclusion and data as key enablers, delivered by leading UN experts, to help equip participants with the necessary knowledge to tackle developmental challenges through a local lens. Participants will also be awarded certificates by the United Nations Resident Coordinator Office in Bahrain naming them as “Ambassadors for the SDGs.”

The bootcamp will culminate in a semifinals pitch in September 2024, while the Finalists Pitch will be held at the flagship Fintech Forward 2024 conference in October 2024 in Bahrain.

Interested university students in Bahrain can learn more about the challenge and applying at (https://benefit.bh/mastercardChallenge).