February 19, 2013
The majority of the world’s poor have no access to formal financial services. They must rely on friends and family to help them in hard times, or the proverbial mattress to save for a rainy day or to ensure they have enough to pay school fees.
The World Bank’s New Microfinance Handbook—edited by Joanna Ledgerwood, who is joining DAI’s Financial Services team in the coming months—addresses the need for increased financial inclusion by examining the financial market system, beginning with client needs.
Historically, the focus of microfinance has been on improving the supply side, primarily building institutions. Framing the book with the client as the central element recognizes the emerging awareness that the financial service needs of poor people, like those not so poor, are many.
“We now appreciate the importance of understanding demand, acknowledging the variety of financial service providers, and the need for rules and support services to sustainably deepen outreach,” says Ledgerwood. “For financial markets to work better for the poor, a multitude of market actors need to work together.”
Efforts to increase financial inclusion reflect the multidisciplinary intersection of finance, technology, and development, where new ideas are changing the art of what is possible. The actors reflect this diverse ecosystem and include everything from policy makers to mobile operators to community networks.
The New Microfinance Handbook brings together leading industry thinkers and organizes their ideas into a concise reference for all development finance stakeholders. The book methodically outlines the actors and functions within a financial market system and details what is needed to increase financial inclusion with a particular focus on addressing the needs of poor households.
The book is available here.
Ledgerwood will join DAI from the Aga Khan Foundation, where she leads access to finance activities. Prior to Aga Khan, she was based in Uganda working with nongovernmental organizations transforming to deposit-taking institutions and in the Philippines, working with rural banks to deepen their outreach to the poor. She has written numerous papers and books, including Transforming MFIs with Victoria White (2006) and the Microfinance Handbook (1998), both published by the World Bank.
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