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  • Foto del escritorThe Corporate Reviews

Jacqueline Talledo Sanchez

Economic Advisor, Inka Money, Peru


 


Creating Shared Value for Financial Inclusion.


Kramer and Porter’s article about creating shared value, that is, having a positive impact on society while boosting profits1, was interesting to say the least. In the early 2010s, corporate social responsibility (CSR) had been the norm, with companies establishing programs with social purposes that worked mainly outside of business. However, nowadays, a shift has been made towards ingraining environmental, ethical, and economic responsibilities in business2; with varying CSR programs underway in philanthropy, operational improvements, and business-model transformations, getting close to the creation of the shared value3. Financial inclusion is one of the areas that could further benefit from creating shared value, using the advances of technology in line with the digital era.


What is financial inclusion? Most definitions coincide in financial inclusion as the access to useful and affordable financial products and services by households and businesses, which has the potential to enable and accelerate economic growth and development, by smoothing household consumption; increasing productivity through payments and credit; and accessing safety nets through insurance.


Who are the financially excluded? The Global Findex Database 2021 showed that nearly a billion and a half people remained unbanked, being commonly women, of lower income and education levels, and living in rural areas4. These characteristics, together with high levels of informality, add to the vulnerability of these segments to adverse macroeconomic shocks. In the case of credit or insurance products, the higher risk and vulnerability faced by these segments also translate to higher interest rates and insurance premiums. In addition, despite an improvement of financial access for women, a gender gap persists, with men owning 55 percent more deposit accounts on average, a gap that furthers if loans are considered5.


How does this segment work then? Financially excluded rely mainly on informal financial services, which are more costly and can even be unsafe; however, these are fast and do not require documentation, collateral or formal registration of property or other assets. In some cases, there is the question of trusting traditional financial institutions, which are perceived as costly and complex, leading in some cases to self-exclusion from formal financial services. 


How does CSR and shared value play a role in promoting financial inclusion? Some banks have allocated philanthropic resources to promote the financial inclusion of small businesses through microcredit. One example relates to the BBVA Microfinance Foundation. Since 2007, this Foundation has invested an initial endowment of 200 million EUR to consolidate a group of microfinance institutions in Latin America, relying on its profits to continue providing financial services to small low-income entrepreneurs. Other important initiatives come from international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Interamerican Development Bank , which have been working on channeling funds to financing small and micro enterprises, some of which are targeted at women entrepreneurs.


More recently, shared value has been created using digital financial services. The pandemic boosted the use of accounts and digital payments due to their readiness and for health issues6. Given the large segment of the population, that still lacks access to financial services, especially of those at the bottom of the income pyramid, there is a potential to create value in a largely untapped market7. This increase in financial access could act as an initial way to access other financial services, such as savings, credit, and insurance. 

While initial advancements in financial inclusion considered a primary role for mobile providers, mainly because of digital payments and e-money accounts, the emergence of fintech companies has bolstered the potential to accelerate access to financial services8. With the use of technology, fintech companies may be equipped with the ability to lower costs while gaining scalability faster, which is required to fulfil both social impact and profitability.


There are still several challenges ahead. On the one hand, some building blocks need to be consolidated, such as the increase in financial literacy and in access to internet and mobile access. On the other hand, businesses and governments need to work on building and improving a digital financial infrastructure, which can take the form of an ecosystem with e-commerce platforms, payment mechanisms, mobile providers, among others, to generate synergies in data creation, assessment, and provision of financial services to underserved segments of the population.


Footnotes:

  1. Porter, Michael E., and Mark R. Kramer. “Creating Shared Value”. Harvard Business Review 89, nos.

  2. What is corporate social responsibility? 4 types. Available HERE. 

  3. The truth about CSR. Available HERE.

  4. Unveiling the Global Findex database 2021 in five charts. Available HERE.

  5. IMF Releases the 2023 Financial Access Survey Results. Available HERE

  6. COVID-19 boosted the adoption of digital financial services. Available HERE.

  7.  What is financial inclusion? Available HERE

  8. On fintech and financial inclusion. Available HERE.


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