Central to FDC’s pursuit of better development outcomes, prosperity and equitable growth in the region is the belief that effective and lasting poverty alleviation must be based on increased self-reliance. FDC’s first and continuing program – in inclusive finance – is based on our view that the creative and productive capacities of the poor can be liberated by their increased access to financial services, and that the poor are good credit risks and fully ‘bankable’.
FDC champions and promotes linkages between the formal and informal financial sectors to increase access and use of sustainable financial services for people excluded from the formal system.
In 1990, FDC began its pursuit of this ‘linkages’ approach to accelerate more inclusive finance by assembling a disparate group of stakeholders with the skills, capital and infrastructure needed for the task. Such a concept was unheard of in the early years of microfinance, which tended to promote microfinance as a kind of ‘separate development’ or a financial system for the poor. As a consequence, FDC’s successful “Banking with the Poor” program emerged, the intended emphasis being on banking with rather than for the poor (implying a collaborative or business-like relationship between financial institutions and clients, rather than signalling a ‘social-welfare’ or dependent relationship).
FDC notes an increasing recognition around the world of inclusive finance being a dynamic ecosystem of financial system stakeholders – the approach FDC has been championing for close to three decades.
FDC’s program combines action research to prove or demonstrate the merit of an initiative or intervention, and informing and raising awareness of innovations and potential solutions amongst both private and public sector stakeholders across inclusive finance sectors and across the Asia Pacific region.
As a catalyst for inclusive finance, FDC has produced seminal research, convened pre-eminent regional forums, and facilitated the establishment of regional networks. The inclusive finance program has covered policy, regulation, remittances, ICT, e-banking, risk and disaster management, post-conflict situations, HIV/AIDS, financial innovation for the poor, and renewable energy.
FDC continues to bring a broad-base of stakeholders together under one umbrella to a focus on financial inclusion in order to make meaningful contributions to the millions of people who remain excluded from the formal financial system.
Significant differences in the social, cultural and economic circumstances of larger more populous countries of Asia and smaller more remote counties in the South Pacific give rise several distinctive streams of activity – Asia Inclusive Finance, and Pacific Microfinance, with a third focusing on the essential partnership of the private and public sectors in promoting inclusive finance. See the links left for more on these three areas.
While inclusive finance remains a core program, FDC is developing two new programs in Pacific Asia business partnerships, and building prosperity in Asia and the Pacific.