Affordable access to quality, basic financial services is a key enabler of several development priorities, including entrepreneurship and enterprise development, women’s empowerment, investment in education and preventative healthcare, and productivity growth. In short, financial inclusion is an important pathway for lifting struggling households out of poverty.
As a result, financial inclusion is a growing priority globally, where an estimated 2 billion people still lack access to basic financial services. Mobile technologies have significantly reduced the costs of reaching the unbanked, but also introduce new regulatory challenges. The scale of the need, the potential development payoffs from increased access, and the rapid pace of innovation requires regulators and policymakers in developing countries to maintain a delicate balance: providing enough market freedom and flexibility to allow potentially viable financial products and services to take hold, while also ensuring consumer protection and stability of the overall financial system. Furthermore, basic access is just the first hurdle. As countries expand access they also need to confront issues related to service quality – convenience, reliability, affordability, privacy, and security – and move beyond basic payment products to more advanced services, like savings, credit and insurance.
GivingWorks has supported two organizations working at the forefront of this complex and rapidly evolving field, the Alliance for Financial Inclusion and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) is a network of central bankers and financial regulators from developing and emerging economies. In a relatively short period of time, AFI has built a membership of institutions from more than 90 developing countries, covering the vast majority of the world's unbanked. GivingWorks has provided strategic support at various stages of AFI’s evolution into a respected and influential global voice on financial inclusion policy and regulatory topics.
Following AFI’s initial period of rapid member growth, GivingWorks helped AFI frame the most critical strategic issues and opportunities facing the network, identify key strengths and achievements to build upon, and to articulate a strategic direction for its second phase. AFI later engaged GivingWorks to provide counsel on several strategic challenges, including the design of AFI's membership policies and fees structure as it transitioned to an independent, member-owned institution, as well as strategies to revitalize AFI's working groups and capacity building program, two of its most important member offerings. Most recently, GivingWorks supported the development of AFI’s Phase III (2019-2024) strategy which builds on members’ accumulated knowledge and experience, and AFI’s stature to play a stronger role in technical excellence and leadership at the global level.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has utilized innovation and investment to broaden the reach of digital payment systems and financial services. Recognizing the significant scale of investments still required to expand digital financial services globally, BMGF engaged GivingWorks to help inform its global advocacy and resource mobilization efforts. GivingWorks identified and quantified key categories of investment needs to expand digital financial services, mapped the landscape of bilateral and multilateral donors and their existing investment priorities, and recommended opportunities for BMGF to engage key players in the space, through partnership and advocacy, to improve investment tracking and to mobilize additional resources for digital financial inclusion.