Banking the bottom billions – new research and discussion at the European Development Days on 3 June

by 14th May 2015
A customer at a Barclays bank in Uganda A customer at a Barclays bank in Uganda

2015 is the European Year for Development, and European Development Days (EDD 15) will be its flagship event. CARE International will be there discussing the role of banks in financial inclusion in developing countries.

Access to savings is key to the economic empowerment of women, and many wider development objectives, yet over 2 billion people lack access to a bank account. Long engagement in financial inclusion has taught CARE International that even people on very low incomes can save, and that banks need to be part of the solution to financial inclusion.

While banks are working with mobile providers, NGOs and governments to design new products and services that meet poor customers’ needs, people living on less than $2 per day are still badly served by formal financial institutions.

CARE International and Accenture are looking at the barriers to financial inclusion which poor people face and have been finding that banks have many of the capabilities to overcome these barriers, but very few are currently seriously addressing the bottom of the pyramid as a market segment. Common work on this could lead to a win-win for everyone.

So on 3 June in Brussels, CARE International are bringing together Accenture, Barclays, the European Commission, and financial inclusion experts to look at:

  • What does our recent research from 12 developing countries tell us?
  • Can financial inclusion of the poorest create more inclusive growth?
  • Is a market-led solution key to inclusion or will the poorest be exploited?
  • What is the role for donors in supporting market-led financial inclusion?

The session will take place on 3 June from 18.00 in Brussels (at “Tour & Taxis”, Avenue du Port 86). Register here. (Please note: registration closes on 18 May.)

Gerry Boyle

I lead CARE International UK’s policy analysis and advocacy around value chains and dignified work. I originally joined CARE as the Senior Policy Adviser on Private Sector Engagement. With the advent of our new Global Programme Strategy which put a particular emphasis on women’s economic empowerment, my focus changed a little, although I still work extensively with issues in the private sector and with CARE’s corporate partners.

Until recently I spent a lot of my time on financial inclusion, now looked after by my colleague Fiona Jarden. I also co-chair the Bond Private Sector Working Group.  Immediately before I joined CARE I worked for Oxfam as Head of Business Relations for about three years, but the vast majority of my career was spent as a management consultant including being a consulting Partner at Deloitte, where for a time I led Deloitte UK’s Consumer Business consulting practice, serving many major multinationals. My original degree was in Law from Oxford University, and in 2008 when I left Deloitte I did an MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy at LSE.

One good thing I've read

Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom. It provides a framework for many people’s modern understanding of what is development, based on a profoundly human-centred approach rather than anything instrumental. And to check whether one personally is doing enough to fight poverty, I recommend Peter Singer’s The life you can save: Acting now to end world poverty – it’s very clear and easy to read but very challenging! Finally, Ha-Joon Chang’s Bad Samaritans: Rich nations, poor policies, and the threat to the developing world is a very readable guide to economic development which argues strongly against many of the prevailing orthodoxies.

Email: boyle@careinternational.org

Twitter: @gerryboyle10