Financial Inclusion: From exclusion to empowerment

Cross-sector partnerships create opportunities for millions to access financial services as banks serve developing economies in new ways


Two billion people around the world lack access to formal financial services. Unable to save, borrow or invest money or protect themselves from financial risk, they are denied the fundamentals of economic empowerment. Accenture Development Partnerships is working with the international development community and the financial services industry to change this. The focus: to make a positive impact on people’s financial well-being by scaling financial inclusion opportunities in developing economies.

Cross-sector partnerships are at the heart of financial inclusion. Development organizations see the power of connecting their on-the-ground knowledge to private sector skills. Banks want to expand into new markets while making a positive social impact. And digital technologies enable new business models and affordable, breakthrough access. When these interests and issues converge, true transformation happens.

Social impact and commercial growth reinforce each other. And financial inclusion depends on how they come together. Because every player offers unique strengths. By harnessing these mutually-beneficial strengths—from financial players, telecommunications providers, NGOs and government institutions—financial inclusion can become a reality.


Financial services institutions need to look at partnering with others in the public and non-profit sector to provide services to underbanked individuals. NGOs know these consumers. We’ve seen banks fail when they haven’t taken the time to understand the customer base.


Managing Director

Accenture Development Partnerships

Conversations That COUNT


A lively discussion at the World Economic Forum between Dr. Wolfgang Jamann, Secretary General and CEO of CARE International; Stephen van Coller, CEO Corporate and Investment Banking, Barclays Africa; and Louise James, Managing Director, Accenture Development Partnerships centered on opportunities in emerging economies to grow profitable and inclusive financial services. These opportunities are within reach. But financial institutions are not adapting their business models fast enough to tap into the $380 billion unbanked market. Enablers like digital technologies, which eliminate cost and access barriers, and cross-sector partnerships can help banks break through.

Business and NGO leaders participated in the discussion and overwhelmingly agree that financial inclusion does not have one sector solution. But for cross-sector partnerships to succeed, all players must work differently. Banks must move beyond the “feel good factor” and connect financial inclusion to the long-term business strategy. Governments must rethink regulation that makes it hard and costly for banks to develop programs. NGOs must become co-creators—acting like business partners, not solely grant recipients. Such changes are essential because financial inclusion is the starting point to address all developing world challenges—from gender inequality to healthcare.

Hear the presenters’ insights.


Listen to the audience discussion.