FI2020: Financial Inclusion leaders come to London

What is FI2020?

by Lisa Wong, WAM UK

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The global forum Financial Inclusion 2020 (FI2020) is coming to London this October. A landmark event bringing together a wide range of stakeholders from around the world to commit to achieving full – yes, that’s right, full financial inclusion by 2020.  With approximately half of the global adult population still unbanked this is no small task – but this one-time invitation only event sets to mobilize leaders internationally in policymaking, financial services, technology, NGOs and the private sector to meet the challenge.

Organised by Accion’s well regarded Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) in partnership with Citi, Visa Inc, MasterCard Worldwide, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Western Union Foundation, and the Financial Times, participants will use their experience, data and vision to build the case for full financial inclusion and  the accompanying roadmap.

Full financial inclusion is defined by CFI as:

“A state in which everyone who can use them has access to a full suite of quality financial services, provided at affordable prices, in a convenient manner, with respect and dignity. Financial services are delivered by a range of providers, in a stable, competitive market, to clients who are financially capable”.

Quite the mouthful, but the definition is an ambitious goal. Those familiar with the challenges of providing financial services to the under and unbanked will know of problems such as balancing pricing for consumer protection and organisational sustainability, outreach in often isolated and unsecure areas, poor financial literacy or cultural barriers to finance. So called “soft”-challenges of low-income persons daunted by the physical brick and mortar of a bank, or attitudes that women are not to be trusted with money remain a credible threat to financial inclusion.

Although considerable gains have been made in financial inclusion, particularly with the rise and establishment of microfinance, FI2020 estimates that a further 2 billion people globally need to be reached before the world can reach full financial inclusion. The impact of which would change the global landscape remarkably – 2 billion people able to manage their financial lives formally. This is a great opportunity for both global development and business: the ability to unlock the power of the “invisible market”.  There is still much to be known and understood about the under and unbanked, and FI202 seeks to find ways to explore how major trends will influence the evolution of financial inclusion over the next decade. CFI has also published a list of resources associated with the event, ranging from data sets to analytical papers which can be accessed here.

Women Advancing Microfinance UK strongly supports the efforts of FI2020 and eagerly awaits the results. We are pleased to announce that we are co-hosting an event with Citi and Microfinance Club UK with the Microfinance CEO Working Group (MCWG) to share the FI2020 project with a wider audience than that of the forum on the 30th October in London.

On the night, we will be hosting a panel with the executives of the Grameen Foundation, Freedom from Hunger, Pro Mujer, Accion, Microfinance CEO Working Group and Citi Microfinance.  The CEOs will have just participated in FI2020 and will share their key takeaways from the forum and the strategic process that will shape the future of financial services at the bottom of the economic pyramid. Places are limited, and as we anticipate high demand we will be running a ticket lottery and those selected will be informed in advance. Enter the draw by signing up for a free ticket here.

You can also follow the events on Twitter with the #FI2020 or follow@CFI_ACCION.  We will be. In the meantime share your thoughts with @WAM_UK!

Event Speaker Details

The Microfinance CEO Working Group, sponsored by Citigroup, is a collaborative effort by numerous leading international organizations that promote microfinance around the world. The Working Group seeks to work together to support the positive development of its member organizations and the microfinance industry at large.  Its members advocate in favour of responsible microfinance practices and commit to upholding their organizations to the highest standards.

Alex Counts founded Grameen Foundation and became its President and CEO in 1997, after having worked in microfinance and poverty reduction for 10 years. A Cornell University graduate, Counts’ commitment to poverty eradication deepened as a Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh, where he witnessed innovative poverty solutions being developed by Grameen Bank. He trained under Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Since its modest beginnings, sparked by a $6,000 seed grant provided by Prof. Yunus (who was a founding board member and continues as director emeritus), Grameen Foundation has grown to a leading international humanitarian organization with an annual budget of approximately $25 million.

Steve Hollingworth has served as President of Freedom from Hunger since September 2011. An expert in international development, his fields of expertise include: microenterprise and microfinance, health, education, agriculture, environment, civil society strengthening, local capacity-building, governance and emergency relief and rehabilitation. Prior to joining Freedom from Hunger, Hollingworth spent 26 years with CARE, most recently as Chief Operating Officer, based in Atlanta, GA. In this capacity, he was instrumental in developing and implementing organization-wide strategy and was responsible for direct line management of global operations and programs with a total of 13,000 employees and a budget of $650 million.

Rosario Pérez, based at Pro Mujer’s international headquarters in New York City, leads the organization’s executive team in providing hands-on technical expertise and strategic support to more than 1,900 employees who serve more than 270,000 clients across Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru. Rosario was appointed to this position in 2008 following a distinguished 21-year career in private banking where she led multinational businesses and teams, and executed organizational transformations. Prior to joining Pro Mujer, she spent more than two decades in a number of senior leadership positions for J.P. Morgan Chase, culminating in becoming the executive in charge of its Private Bank Latin American division. Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Rosario received her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Universidad de las Américas (Mexico) and a Master’s degree in European History from Yale University.

Michael Schlein is the president and CEO of Accion, a global nonprofit dedicated to building a financially inclusive world. A world pioneer in microfinance, Accion has helped build 63 microfinance institutions in 32 countries, which currently reach millions of clients and provide them with the financial tools that can help improve their lives. Mr. Schlein brings nearly 30 years of extensive international banking, management and public service experience to his role as president and CEO of Accion. As president of Citigroup’s International Franchise Management, Mr. Schlein managed the bank’s network of 100 Chief Country Officers. Before that, Michael ran communications, philanthropy, government relations, branding, and human resources for Citigroup. He served as chief of staff at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the Clinton Administration and in New York’s City Hall in the Dinkins and Koch Administrations. He began his career in investment banking.

Anne Hastings, Manager of the Microfinance CEO Working Group, has been the Executive Director of Fonkoze since May 1996. Under her leadership, the Fonkoze has grown from 2 volunteer employees to over 750 full-time employees and is now the largest Microfinance Institution in Haiti. Fonkoze now has 36 branches throughout rural Haiti, with over 165,000 clients, more than 50,000 of whom have microcredit loans. In July 2004, Fonkoze spun off its financial services component to form a commercial financial institution. Ms. Hastings also serves on the board of directors of that institution. Before coming to Haiti, Anne had fifteen years of experience in providing strategic management services to executives and in managing young organizations for high performance and steady growth. Anne holds a PhD from the University of Virginia. She completed research fellowships at the Brookings Institute and the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, both in Washington, DC.

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