Shivani Siroya had a successful career in investment banking when she learned an alarming statistic: only about 30 percent of the adult population worldwide is covered by a credit bureau. Thinking about the billions of people around the world who didn’t have a financial identity felt wrong to Shivani—and she was determined to do something about.
With seed funding from Echoing Green, Shivani founded Tala in 2011. Tala is a smartphone lending app that offers instant credit scores to people in underrepresented markets such as Kenya, Tanzania, India, Mexico, and the Philippines.
Users’ credit scores are based on smartphone data from their daily lives. Tala also acts as a lender, granting loans between $10 and $500 USD to a mobile wallet. As of 2019, it has granted more than $225M in microloans, serves 4 million customers, and has a repayment rate of 90 percent. Tala is also investing in its underwriting platform, studying algorithmic bias to ensure their models do not evaluate customers unfairly. Shivani is a TED Senior Fellow, Aspen Institute Finance Leader, WEF Young Global Leader, and Ashoka Fellow. She is a 2011 Echoing Green Fellow.