The MasterCard Foundation: Why we’re signing the Linking for Change Savings Charter

by 04th Nov 2014
Members of the Dabani Village Savings and Loan Association in Uganda Members of the Dabani Village Savings and Loan Association in Uganda © CARE/Tine Frank

From time to time here at The MasterCard Foundation, we are asked to support a statement of principles or a code of conduct, writes Ann Miles, Director, Financial Inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation.

Often, these requests fall outside of our areas of operation, so we politely decline. Every now and then, though, we’re asked to sign such a document that aligns so well with our own vision and mission that we are pleased to do so.

That’s the case with the Linking for Change Savings Charter, developed by international organisations CARE and Plan, as well as by Barclays Bank in the United Kingdom.

Briefly, the Charter sets out a series of principles that can guide those of us working in financial inclusion. From “people come first” to “no one can do it alone”, the six principles serve to remind us of how we should be working to provide secure, affordable, and appropriate financial products and services to some of the 2.5 billion adults in the world today who are financially excluded.

Doing more in developing and emerging economies

We’re also signing this Charter (on 31 October 2014) because the date has special symbolic significance: 31 October is World Savings Day. Begun in Germany 90 years ago to encourage consumer savings and thrift, World Savings Day has expanded to encourage policy-makers and retail banks in developing and emerging economies to do more to enable people to access everyday financial products and services.

In particular, the Linking for Change Savings Charter focuses on ways to “effectively and responsibly link informal groups of savers to formal banking products and services” to transform the lives of economically disadvantaged people.

An historic opportunity

At the Foundation, we’ve also focused on these informal savings groups, as my colleague Prabhat Labh outlined in a blog post earlier this year. As he noted, we may be witnessing an historic opportunity to enable millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa, where we concentrate our efforts, to finally have access to the commonplace financial products and services that many of us in more developed economies take for granted.

So yes, we’re happy to sign the Charter. We’re happy to join other major international organisations that have also endorsed the Charter.

And we’re happy to spread the word that expanding financial inclusion can be a gateway to increased prosperity and improved lives for many of those at or near the bottom of the economic pyramid.

Ann Miles is Director, Financial Inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation. This blog was first published on 31 October 2014 on The MasterCard Foundation website.

Ann Miles

Ann Miles is Director, Financial Inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation.