January 20

Isabel Whisson

Seven Wishes from Seven Thought Leaders for Financial Inclusion in 2016

2015 was an important year for the world of financial inclusion. Starting with the publication of the six randomised controlled trials results in January that sparked debate on the impacts of microcredit, the sector went on to celebrate (and question) an increase of 700 million people with access to financial services since 2011, with the publication of the 2014 Global Findex. Access to financial services was also recognised as playing a key, facilitative role in the United Nations’ post-2015 development agenda, mentioned in several of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. (You can review the past 12 months in financial inclusion in more detail in NextBillion’s list of its 12 most popular posts of 2015 – many of which focused on developments in the sector.)

To build on the successes of 2015, we at BRAC approached the Microfinance CEO Working Group, a collaborative effort by leaders from 10 international organisations that promote microfinance around the world, to inquire about their wishes for financial inclusion over the coming year. Here’s what seven of these leaders shared with us.

“My wish for financial inclusion in 2016 is to see microfinance institutions and digital financial service providers working closer together to spread financial inclusion to the bottom of the pyramid.”

– Shameran Abed, director, Microfinance at BRAC


“There is a great sense of injustice when over half of the population – largely in remote rural areas – are as yet unserviced by financial institutions of any description. My wish is that we as an industry find a sustainable way of reaching these people. Digital technology will take centre stage but we must also ensure that clients continue to receive high-quality, personalised advice and guidance.”

– Scott Brown, president and CEO of VisionFund International


“My wish for financial inclusion in 2016: That we finally focus on those living below 70 cents a day PPP by committing to scaling up ultra-poor graduation around the globe.”

– Anne H. Hastings, global advocate and quality assurance advisor at Uplift (and outgoing executive director of the Microfinance CEO Working Group)


“My wish for financial inclusion in 2016 is to close the gender gap once and for all. After all, there’s nothing micro about one billion women.”

– Mary Ellen Iskenderian, president and CEO of Women’s World Banking


“My wish for financial inclusion in 2016 is that we make as much progress on both quality and usage as we have started to make on access.”

– Michael Schlein, president and CEO of ACCION


“Our wish is to make it easier, cheaper and faster for our clients to access our services using, among other tools, smartphones, credit scoring, agent networks and data.”

– Rupert Scofield, president & CEO of FINCA International


“Education is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty, transform lives and strengthen families and communities. Yet 125 million children are not in school, many because their parents can’t afford tuition, the school is too far from their home, or the quality of education offered is low and doesn’t meet student needs. So my wish for the new year is to expand financial inclusion to millions more families across the developing world to enable them to launch and expand businesses, earn income, create jobs and keep their children in quality classrooms to learn, grow and thrive. Education is key to ending poverty and changing the world.”

– David Simms, president and global chief development officer at Opportunity International


Do you have a wish for financial inclusion in 2016? Please leave it in a comment below.


Isabel Whisson is communications and knowledge management officer for the Microfinance Programme at BRAC.


Base of the Pyramid, financial inclusion, microfinance, poverty alleviation