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Financial Inclusion at the Base of the Pyramid: Key Actors, Concepts, and Trends at the Intersection of Profit and Purpose

Over the past three decades, billions of people have been lifted from poverty. Despite great progress, however, nearly two billion still lack access to basic financial services. They have no checking account, savings account, or credit. They have no insurance or financial identity. In short, they have no financial security. Financial exclusion—or the lack of access to formal financial services—detrimentally impacts a person’s quality of life, denying the person access to the same opportunities, benefits, and choices many of us take for granted.

A wide range of public, nonprofit, and private entities undertake initiatives to deliver financial services to the base of the pyramid,1 often with mixed results. Nevertheless, financial inclusion2 is one of the levers with the greatest potential to improve the daily lives of the unbanked and underbanked, while also advancing global economic and social development goals.

This course will shine a spotlight on financial inclusion by dissecting the ecosystem of entities delivering financial services at the base of the pyramid. It will assess the strategies and approaches used to promote financial inclusion (including what has worked and what hasn’t). The course will also analyze the tools and technologies with the greatest potential to support financial inclusion efforts. Finally, we’ll close the course by exploring how emerging trends, including COVID-19, are affecting financial inclusion efforts globally.

1. For the purposes of this course, “base of the pyramid” refers to individuals living at the bottom of the economic pyramid in terms of their wealth and income ownership.
2. “Financial inclusion” means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs (transactions, payments, savings, credit, and insurance) delivered in a responsible and sustainable way (World Bank definition).

More details

You'll Walk Away with

  • A critical understanding of financial inclusion, the forces shaping the landscape, and the challenges that must be overcome to achieve it universally
  • The tools to evaluate the public, nonprofit, and private entities comprising the financial inclusion ecosystem by critically assessing their motivations, strategies, and achievements
  • An understanding of key trends driving change in the international community’s approaches to financial inclusion efforts and the ability to assess the potential efficacy of new financial inclusion tools and technologies

Ideal for

  • Students who want to know more about financial inclusion
  • Professionals who want to further their knowledge regarding financial inclusion
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.