Financial inclusion in emerging economies: Follow the conversations that count

by 21st Jul 2016
The discussion on financial inclusion co-hosted by CARE and Accenture Development Partners The discussion on financial inclusion co-hosted by CARE and Accenture Development Partners

Are financial institutions in emerging economies adapting their business models fast enough to tap into the market of the currently unbanked? And if not, why not?

Earlier this year, I reported on CARE International’s planned participation at Davos. We co-hosted a discussion event with Accenture Development Partners on the role of banks within financial inclusion, pointing to our Within Reach report which demonstrates the strength of the business case for banks to engage in financial inclusion, but also highlighting from CARE’s perspective the key role that financial inclusion plays in the empowerment of women, and the imperative for banks to step up to the challenge.

As now documented on Accenture’s website,  there was  a lively discussion between Dr Wolfgang Jamann, Secretary General and CEO of CARE International; Stephen van Coller, CEO Corporate and Investment Banking, Barclays Africa; and Louise James, Managing Director, Accenture Development Partnerships. The discussion covered the opportunities in emerging economies to grow profitable and inclusive financial services, but also highlighted that financial institutions are not adapting their business models fast enough to tap into the market of the currently unbanked, despite the existence of digital technologies, which eliminate cost and access barriers.

The wider discussion among the participants overwhelmingly agreed that financial inclusion does not have one sector solution, and for the necessary cross-sector partnerships to succeed, all players must work differently. Banks must connect financial inclusion to the long-term business strategy. Governments must rethink regulation that makes it hard and costly for banks to reach out. And NGOs must act more like business partners, co-creating solutions. Such changes are essential because financial inclusion is the starting point to address all developing world challenges — from gender inequality to healthcare.

Read more, follow the presentations and discussions on video and audio, or download a transcript at the Accenture website.

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