Financial inclusion in emerging economies: Follow the conversations that count

By Team: Private Sector Engagement 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

Gerry Boyle is CARE International UK's Senior Policy Adviser on Private Sector Engagement. He has previously been Head of Business Relations at Oxfam GB, and before that was a management consultant for 30 years, including being a Consulting Partner at Deloitte and leader of their UK Consumer Business Consulting Team for several years.

He has worked extensively with global blue chip organisations on both mainstream commercial projects and on development issues, with a particular focus on financial inclusion and value chains.

He has an MA in Law from Oxford University and an MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy from LSE.

Follow Gerry on Twitter: twitter.com/GerryBoyle10

Email: boyle@careinternational.org