Speakers at the European Development Day’s panel on Making Finance Work for Inclusive Development. Photo courtesy of the European Union.
Speakers at the European Development Day’s panel on Making Finance Work for Inclusive Development. Photo courtesy of the European Union.

Making Finance Work for Inclusive Development

The IDDC organized a joint high level panel during the European Development Days focused on inclusive microfinance. In addition to IDDC, the panel was sponsored by the European Microfinance Platform, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) from the World Bank group. Panelists included Imoni Akpofure, Director, Western Europe, IFC; Flavia Bwire, Program Coordinator Micro Finance and Disability Program, Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda; Henri Dommel, Director, Financial Inclusion Division, UNCDF; Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, Coordinator, Office for Disability and Inclusive Development, United States Agency of International Development (USAID); Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director General, Directorate General for Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid, European Commission; Roberto Vellutini, Vice President for Countries, Inter-American Development Bank; and was moderated by Chris Burns, Euronews.

The panel was very important for IDDC since it effectively promoted putting disability rights on the development agenda. Today, about 2.7 billion people and 400 million businesses around the world lack basic access to financial services, impeding the development of individuals, businesses, and economies. Access to financial services provides stability and accelerates equitable development and growth for households and businesses. This is especially true for vulnerable and excluded groups, such as persons with disabilities — over 1 billion people worldwide. Consequently, making financial and microfinance programs inclusive of everyone has great social and economic impact. This gap in inclusion is a global challenge, but also an opportunity. New business models are making it possible to provide financial services to those once thought unreachable, thus tackling pervasive development challenges.

The High Level Panel showcased how finance can work for inclusive development, and highlighted innovative approaches to tackle the needs of specific vulnerable groups and sectors of society in developing countries. Panelists made specific policy recommendations on what further actions are needed to close the financial inclusion gap. Some key points were addressed by the panelists during the discussion.

Microfinance has encouraged entrepreneurs and could be used to enable many marginalised persons with disabilities to become entrepreneurs, thereby offering these one billion individuals access new sources of finance.

Innovation using new-technology (such as smart cards) could also greatly improve the outreach of financial services, but one must acknowledge that these are not the only possible solutions, as they must be accessible for all people with disabilities, such as visually impaired individuals.

It is necessary to convince the private sector that working with small businesses, including those run by persons with disabilities, is a win-win situation for everyone, and provides them with access to a whole new range of clients.

The government plays an important role in creating a regulatory environment and creating stability that allows small business to thrive. Additionally, the EU’s Agenda for Change is a sign of the change of direction in development aid as it has a focus on using the private sector to help sustainable development occur.

There are over one billion people worldwide with disabilities. This is a huge untapped market opportunity for providers of financial services, as well as an important arena where the rights of persons with disabilities should be championed. Everyone should have access to financial services, and microfinance contributes significantly to this development. The financial sector makes an important contribution to development challenges. We need a shift in our strategies from our traditional understanding to a more integrated approach that includes the new drivers of financial inclusion, from policy making to distribution channels and retail institutions, in order to achieve financial access for all.

Source Article from IDDC

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