Catalyst Fund and Rukula to bring machine learning to financial inclusion

11 January 2018 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



Rukula (Pvt) Ltd announced their selection as a Catalyst Fund company recently, and in doing so establishing itself as the first Sri Lankan company to become part of this global inclusive fintech initiative. 

Rukula is the now three-year-old start-up founded by Reeza Zarook, who inspired Sri Lanka’s e-commerce industry by launching /

Catalyst Fund ( is a philanthropic grant fund providing capital and tailored advisory engagements to fintech companies, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and JP Morgan Chase & Co, with Rockefeller Philanthropy Associates as fiscal sponsor.  Catalyst Fund looks for early-stage startups that have the potential to scale innovative approaches to financial inclusion, and seeks to share lessons from its direct work with fintech companies. Catalyst Fund is managed by BFA, a global consulting firm specialized in using finance to create solutions for low-income populations. To-date, 10 companies have been included in the programme, of which only 2 previously have been in India.

“Rukula is the first company in our portfolio from Sri Lanka and we’re excited about bringing machine learning and artificial intelligence to their credit scoring process,” said David del Ser, Catalyst Fund Programme Director, “Rukula scaled a business in three years without external funding, and in the process garnered real data on 17,000 customers. These rich datasets will lead to insights on scaling fintech approaches in emerging markets.”

Brian Cayce, a venture capitalist from Grey Ghost Ventures, who sponsored Rukula for Catalyst Fund said, “I liked Rukula’s approach, and was particularly intrigued with the opportunity to match some of the artificial intelligence and machine learning tools developed within the Catalyst Fund to the business model developed by Rukula. The combination should be a big win for Rukula’s targeted customers, as it will further lay the foundation for highly-scalable growth going forward.”       

Reeza Zarook, founder CEO said, “To be accepted into Catalyst Fund is a huge stamp of approval from the global social impact community that Rukula’s innovative approach to financial inclusion can make a difference. 

We started Rukula because we saw that a significant segment of the population was excluded from acquiring basic household durables – items that most of us take for granted.  To-date, we have helped over 19,000 people improve their quality of life by being able to buy small goods on installments without the need for payslips, guarantors or collateral.  We hope that the engagement with the Catalyst Fund team at BFA can continue to propel our growth exponentially.”

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