Apon Wellbeing Ltd. wins MetLife Foundation Financial Innovation Competition powered by Verb, secures $50,000 Grant

DHAKA, Bangladesh, May 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- MetLife Foundation and Verb today announced Apon Wellbeing Ltd. as winner of the MetLife Foundation Inclusion Plus competition in Bangladesh. The competition was open to entrepreneurs, nonprofits and other social impact organizations focused on addressing the financial health needs of low- to moderate-income people.  Standing out among more than 50 entries, Apon Wellbeing Ltd. won the grand prize and received a grant of $50,000 USD.

Apon Wellbeing strives for better health and wellbeing of ready-made garment (RMG) workers by increasing workers real income, providing access to health insurance and creating awareness and access to financial services. The innovative model centers around Apon's factory and community based discounted shops where workers can access quality health, hygiene and nutrition products at a lower price as well as health and life insurance schemes at no additional cost. The platform also offers awareness on these issues.

MetLife Foundation is proud to support this first-of-its-kind innovation competition that supports organizations at the forefront of financial inclusion in Bangladesh. More than 60 MetLife volunteers acted as mentors and judges, providing advice, support and partnership that will help the ventures develop and grow.  

"This was a great learning experience for me. We had awesome mentors from MetLife Bangladesh office who walked us through different stages of this competition. Even the grand finale judges, who are industry leaders in their own sectors ranging from finance, innovation, development and IT, have given us a lot of feedback to help us rethink of our project design and how to make them sustainable and effective," said Mr. Saif, Rashi, founder of Apon Wellbeing.

ShopUp, in second place, won $25,000. Green Delta Insurance Company Ltd., in third place, took home $12,000 and Shakti Foundation and Sajida Foundation were each awarded $5,000 as runners-up.

As the chief guest, K M Abdus Salam, director general at NGO Affairs Bureau of Bangladesh said, "Financial inclusion is important as we are advancing towards a digital Bangladesh. We all know about the MetLife company as a leading life insurer, but little did we know about its CSR activities done through its Foundation. I am pleased to see that MetLife Foundation has been contributing immensely by funding and collaborating with development partners in different countries to ensure financial well-being of its people. I also congratulate initiatives like Inclusion Plus that I believe, will have positive impact in the economic empowerment of this country through this innovative venture ideas."

"It is very encouraging to see how corporate foundations and multinational businesses can partner with social entrepreneurs to fuel innovation and impact. MetLife Foundation and MetLife Bangladesh have come together to demonstrate how competitions can be a powerful engine to help address some of the world's biggest economic problems," said Verb Co-Founder and CEO, Suzi Sosa. "We congratulate the winners who have developed a powerful new way to include more people in planning for their financial futures."

The Inclusion Plus Bangladesh competition is part of a broader program that was developed in partnership between MetLife Foundation and Verb and is running across ten countries over a three-year period. Competitions have already concluded in Ireland, China, India, Mexico, Egypt and Lebanon. These competitions help advance financial inclusion for the estimated two billion people globally who do not currently have access to formal financial services. To learn more about the competitions, visit inclusionplus.com.

About MetLife
MetLife, Inc., through its subsidiaries and affiliates ("MetLife"), is one of the world's leading financial services companies, providing insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management to help its individual and institutional customers navigate their changing world. Founded in 1868, MetLife has operations in more than 40 countries and holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit www.metlife.com.

About MetLife Foundation
MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife's long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Since its founding through the end of 2017, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $783 million in grants and $70 million in program-related investments to organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. In 2013, the Foundation committed $200 million to financial inclusion, and our work to date has reached more than 3.5 million low-income individuals in 42 countries. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit metlife.org.

About Verb, Inc.
Verb is a social enterprise that produces global social entrepreneurship competitions and delivers employee engagement in partnership with companies, foundations and governments. Verb competitions mobilize thousands of teams from around the world to solve the planet's most pressing social and environmental problems. Founded in 2013 by Austin entrepreneurs Suzi Sosa and Tom Meredith, Verb leverages its online platform, innovation expertise, and entrepreneur network to produce a social innovation engagement experience unlike any other. For more information, visit www.verb.net/.