Banking For The Poor: Will This Be Bill Gates’ Greatest Philanthropic Achievement?
Friday, August 1, 2014
By the time he has donated the rest, he may well have the elimination of polio and drastic reduction of child malaria on his epitaph.
Yet, providing access to financial services to the one-third of the world’s people that are currently unbanked might just be on there too.
Banks are hardly the most popular institutions in Western developed countries right now among both individuals and small businesses. Insurers don’t rank much higher.
However, the 2.5 billion people who do not have access to bank accounts, loans and insurance might think differently – especially if the access that they do gain is much more benign than the way that banks and insurers in the West have traditionally treated their customers.
That is probably not how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would describe it but it is nonetheless ploughing $65m into the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), an organisation it helped set up to tackle the problem.
Alfred Hannig, AFI’s executive director, says: “This started as an idea in 2006 when I was working in Indonesia in a financial development co-operation organisation and got an email and then a call from the Gates Foundation.