How relationships with telcos are helping achieve financial inclusion

African market

“Unless we can understand that — unless we can start from the viewpoint of what the customer needs,” explains Richard Leftley, CEO of MicroEnsure, “then it’s not sufficient to just provide access to these financial services, they actually have to be tailored around the needs of the customers.” (Photo credit: MicroEnsure)

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>>Authored by Richard Leftley, CEO, MicroEnsure

A period of reflection

Read MicroEnsure’s Commitment letter
Read their announcement blog post

When considering our commitments for the Microcredit Summit Campaign last year, I wanted to address the very real key issues faced by middle-to-low income families across Africa when bad things happen to them. I wanted to work towards providing some kind of safety-net to help ensure they don’t fall into poverty when these events occur.

With that in mind, we committed to reaching 10 million customers with insurance services and expanding our reach into 15 countries over the course of the year. This, I felt, would be a suitably significant commitment to make, one that would show just how serious we as a company take this issue and reflect the level of work we are putting in.

Twelve months on and I’m reflecting on some astonishing numbers. MicroEnsure is now serving over 15 million customers and has a presence in 17 countries globally; this is no mean feat by any stretch of the imagination, especially when you consider that we are growing at a rate of 1 million new customers every month.

Needs, not assumptions

At MicroEnsure we’ve been really lucky to work with some large organisations — some really large partners — organisations like Airtel. We found that partnership is the best way to provide access to the working poor because it enables us to significantly reduce the costs of selling and administering these policies on behalf of the poor.

I think a lot of us have assumed that people just need access to financial services and that if as “an industry” we come along and provide access, then that that’s sufficient — it’s enough just to provide access.

Actually, if you think about the way it’s presented, “the financial inclusion landscape” is about including people and that, somehow, that will meet the needs that they have.

In reality, I think that we have to go one step further than that; we need to understand what it is that consumers need, what are the risks that they face in their everyday lives, and how do they want to deal with those risks?

Unless we can understand that — unless we can start from the viewpoint of what the customer needs — then it’s not sufficient to just provide access to these financial services, they actually have to be tailored around the needs of the customers.

Reflecting on these numbers, it prompted me to think about how all this has been possible in what really is such a short period of time.

Creating access

What’s certain is that access to the products we offer is a need and not a wish. When we visited the countries and the communities we were trying to help, we started to understand what low-income customers can afford, and started to get the costs in line with that price point.

Mobile phone menuWe immediately thought of distribution via mobile networks, eliminating the high cost of insurance sales reps and making our offering more obtainable. Mobile telecom is ubiquitous in Africa and Asia, and telecommunications companies (or “telcos”) have “mobile wallet” apps like M-Pesa, Easypaisa, and Airtel Money that allow users to transfer money to one another via mobile phones. We figured that if we put our product in the mobile wallet — and made it even more affordable by offering payments in small installments– low-income families would enrol. Not so. One potential customer even told us, “It’s easier to sign up and pay in small installments, but I don’t trust insurance!”

Furthermore, it was hard to figure out which mobile wallet to appear in, as most mobile users had multiple SIM cards for multiple networks and spread their airtime minute purchases, or “top ups,” across them all.

Another access issue cropped up early: the need for product adaptation. We had to make sure that there were no complicated instructions or processes, but intuitive ones that fit with the way low-income people proceed about their lives. And, the benefits have to be readily apparent if someone is risking scarce resources on them.

In our case, we noticed that even when we did get insurance into the hands of a low-income family, they weren’t taking full advantage of it. We had to strip down the typical insurance process — filling out detailed forms, providing personal information — and create a simpler, easy-to-follow process for enrolling, which meant registering via text rather than a paper form. For claims, we decided to accept an imam’s word as proof of a death, or a claim written on a napkin, and we had to turn them around fast. We paid health insurance claims, via mobile transfers, in as short as one hour. Once initial customers saw the product working — quickly receiving benefits when they filed claims — word travelled.

Airtel claim 3

Photo credit: MicroEnsure

Rewarding relationships

Whilst we know that no one really wakes up in the morning thinking about — or wanting to buy — insurance, they do wake up worrying about the risks and problems they face should something happen to them. We also know that mobile phone companies have a problem in terms of customer loyalty in these markets, with many consumers often switching between different mobile phone networks.

The opportunity therefore presented itself for us to develop relationships with key telco companies in Africa and Asia, relationships that allowed us to try the idea of giving away free insurance in return for customer loyalty; if the customer remains loyal to the network, then they get access to free insurance.

We used behavioural economics to help us understand why someone would change their behaviour; what would be the driving force to make someone decide that actually now is the time to buy insurance, usually for the first time in their life. We needed to understand what the alternatives are, and understanding that actually the alternatives — indeed our greatest competitor…is doing nothing.

So, in many of the markets we work in, we have been able to provide something more compelling to consumers than just doing nothing, and this has really helped us to rethink the way in we’re going to engage with the consumer.

We realised that mobile phone companies actually had an issue with loyalty, so we convinced them that they should give away free insurance alongside airtime purchases so that the more customers spent with their network, the more free insurance they received.

What happened was that customers really enjoyed these products. They do wake up worrying about the risks they face, and if someone was willing to mitigate those risks, for free, then they were willing to change their consumer behaviour.

We found that customers started spending more and more of their airtime reload on those networks that offered free insurance. So when people come along with very simple products that are easy to understand, easy to access through a brand that customers trust — whether that-s their bank or their mobile phone company — and that financial access is made extremely easy, as easy as buying a ringtone, then there is a phenomenal demand and interest in having insurance.

This is especially true if this insurance can be offered free of charge, as a promotion that shows people how it works, that claims will be paid and paid quickly, and that the products do work for them. We’re finding that millions of people are coming forward and saying that, now they see that the product works, then they are willing to pay a small amount to keep that product and even add members of their family to it.

For the mobile phone companies, this not only increases customer volumes, but more importantly, it improves customer retention rates, creating a rewarding relationship for all involved.


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Voices from the Field: Beth Porter

Financial inclusion to end extreme poverty

“By reducing vulnerability to economic shocks and boosting job creation, financial inclusion can be a key driver of poverty reduction and economic growth and at the same time contribute to promoting greater equality,” explains Beth Porter, policy adviser for financial inclusion at UNCDF.

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In preparation for our 18th Microcredit Summit, the Campaign conducted a Listening Tour from December 2014 through February 2015. The Listening Tour was our time to listen — and your time to speak — on the issues that the microfinance and financial inclusion sector face and served two purposes. First, it was our hope to find out how our audience (you) felt about the World Bank’s goal of eradicating poverty by 2030, and equally important, we wished to consult you in identifying the topics that were most pressing and urgent.

We collected your feedback through an online survey and organized conversations with 27 leaders in the microfinance and financial inclusion sector. We heard from them on how financial inclusion can contribute to the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and the role of microfinance in the post-2015 agenda. The results of this consultation will be reflected in the 2015 State of the Campaign Report, the 18th Microcredit Summit, and Campaign Commitments.

Below is a short excerpt from our conversation with Beth Porter, policy adviser for financial inclusion at the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in New York.

Q: What is the role of microfinance and financial inclusion in the post-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)/ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) era?

Beth Porter

Over the course of 2015, the Open Working Group, comprised of 30 member states, discussed the shape of the post-2015 agenda. The post-2015 agenda set out to build upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, 2000-2015) and incorporate some of the broader global stewardship goals that came out of the Monterrey Consensus. To do so, they proposed a set of 17 goals and 169 targets (the MDGs had 8 goals with 10 targets each) to the UN General Assembly in September 2014 — a document which was adopted as a “zero draft.”

In 2015, member states began to consider the overarching vision for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), examine more closely the goals and targets, set forth the means of implementation, and identify indicators. While such a large number of goals and targets are certainly unwieldy, many member states want to ensure that the SDGs are truly comprehensive and feel that further whittling them down would leave out important parts of the development agenda. So the targets are being examined to ensure that they are consistent with other global agreements and commitments and that are measurable, but the targets themselves have not, to date, been opened up for major changes or reduction in number.

Financial inclusion figures prominently amongst the targets. Financial Inclusion is achieved when individuals and enterprises have access to a wide range of financial services provided responsibly and at reasonable cost by diverse and sustainable institutions in a well-regulated environment. By reducing vulnerability to economic shocks and boosting job creation, financial inclusion can be a key driver of poverty reduction and economic growth and at the same time contribute to promoting greater equality — and, indeed, it is a target in all three of these goal areas (poverty eradication, economic growth and job creation, and reducing inequality). Financial inclusion also figures as targets under goals on food security, women’s economic empowerment, health, etc. This is consistent with financial inclusion being a means to achieving broader development goals. As a result, we hope that it will continue to be embedded in the targets under the eight goals where it is mentioned.

Q: What do you think will be needed to achieve the goal of global financial inclusion by 2020 and how can this contribute to the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030?

In regard to the link between the goals of financial inclusion by 2020 and eradicating extreme poverty by 2030, let me say that while I believe that we can go far towards providing financial access by 2020, any declaration of reaching that goal will be based largely on transactional accounts. The fastest growing part of financial inclusion is in the area of payments: people using a phone to send or receive money to/from family or friends, to receive social transfer payments from governments or development organizations, or to pay bills more conveniently. Digital channels are opening up the possibilities for a large array of products and services.

But, where there will likely still be gaps by 2020 is going beyond access to usage. Providing a payment option or opening a bank account is a starting point but not enough; people must use those payment options or accounts in order to benefit from them and to be fully included financially. To drive usage, these payment services must be designed based on client needs and preferences. Furthermore, payments are just one aspect of the kinds of products and services that people want and need. They may be the entry point, but it will be critical that other products and services such as savings, credit, and insurance are layered on the payment services.

That takes us to the link between financial inclusion and eradicating extreme poverty. I am amongst the many who believe that financial inclusion is a critical factor in addressing poverty. We all know that the causes of poverty are complex, however, and the solutions are not simple either. Financial inclusion is necessary, but not sufficient, to eradicate poverty.

One of the things that we at the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) are particularly focused on, given our mandate to work first and foremost in least developed countries (LDCs), is to look at ways that greater financial inclusion can help contribute not only to better developmental outcomes for people, but also contribute to more vibrant economies and greater availability of domestic resources.

We recognize a clear link between national financial inclusion strategies—and the ensuing implementation plans—and higher levels of financial inclusion. We believe that this in turn leads to both poverty alleviation and economic growth. As a result, we are stepping up our efforts to support the development, implementation, and monitoring of such plans through the Making Access Possible (MAP) initiative.

We have seen tremendous leverage from small amounts of “smart” overseas development assistance (ODA) and philanthropic funding used to help financial service providers (FSPs) to develop the business models that will help them meet the real needs of women and men. Such investments can help encourage private sector players move into riskier markets and demonstrate the potential of these markets to be profitable, and thereby “crowd in” domestic and South-South capital to scale up and replicate these models.

When people have convenient access to formal accounts, individuals and households of even limited means as well as micro- and small enterprises (MSMEs) will place their savings in institutions where their money is safe and accessible, as we have seen through the MicroLead initiative, amongst others. Such savings, when taken cumulatively, can then be directed into financial services that promote local markets, small-holder agriculture, MSME development, education for girls, and so on.

Q: In relation to our host region, what are the challenges and opportunities facing Africa & the Middle East in regards to microfinance and financial inclusion?

The Ebola crisis has forced a recognition that a public health crisis has many other dimensions, and one of those is related to the payments infrastructure—and, more broadly, how financial services can be relevant in the response, recovery, and rehabilitation stages in natural disasters and post-conflict situations. Given the number of countries in the region that are affected by these humanitarian crises, it is critical that governments, development organizations, and providers know when and how to use financial services to get through and beyond the crisis to secure, healthy, and productive lives. We are working on a policy guidance note on this topic, based in part on our experience supporting the Ebola response, and there are many others who are doing terrific work in this space.

An area in which Africa is leading the way globally is in mobile money. Indeed, mobile money was the major contributor to the increase of financial inclusion in Africa, according to Global FinDex. More people in Africa have phones than bank accounts. And, increasingly, mobile network operators are taking advantage of that—often in partnership with financial institutions—to offer people not only payment services, but also other products using the mobile platform. There is still much work to be done, however, to realize the promise of digital finance (i.e., mobile money and other services including the use of electronic vouchers, debit and credit cards, etc. in conjunction with ATMs, POS [point-of-sale], and other devices), but it has great potential in connecting low income and rural customers with the services that they need, not only financial services, but health, education, energy, water and many more.

We believe — and particularly at the Better Than Cash Alliance and the Mobile Money for the Poor initiative — that taking an “ecosystem approach” to digital finance will be essential to realizing that promise. Such an approach involves policymakers and regulators, the various providers of digital financial services, as well as retailers and others in the acceptance networks, and it requires the support of development partners and must take as its starting point the wants and needs and capabilities of the consumer. We are encouraged to see such approaches start to take root in a number of countries in the region.

Related reading

About the United Nations Capital Development Fund

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs). UNCDF uses its capital mandate to help LDCs pursue inclusive growth. UNCDF uses “smart” Official Development Assistance (ODA) to unlock and leverage public and private domestic resources; it promotes financial inclusion, including through digital finance, as a key enabler of poverty reduction and inclusive growth; and it demonstrates how localizing finance outside the capital cities can accelerate growth in local economies, promote sustainable and climate resilient infrastructure development, and empower local communities. Using capital grants, loans, and credit enhancements, UNCDF tests financial models in inclusive finance and local development finance; de-risks” the local investment space; and proves concept, paving the way for larger and more risk-averse investors to come in and scale up.

About Beth Porter

Beth Porter has over 20 years of experience in microfinance and organizational development in 30 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. As a policy adviser at the UNCDF, Beth provides policy guidance and support to the global team on financial inclusion. She previously launched and directed the YFS-Link initiative at Making Cents International to build the capabilities of financial services providers and youth-serving organizations in youth-inclusive financial services.

At Freedom from Hunger, Beth led program strategy and managed delivery of integrated microfinance services to 1.2 million women and their families in 16 countries. She has provided technical assistance and training in strategic and business planning, product design, and organizational effectiveness and operational efficiency, and is experienced in program appraisal, design and evaluation. In addition, Beth is on the boards of the SEEP Network, the Bolivian MFI CRECER, the SMART Campaign in Microfinance, Child and Youth Finance International, and was a founder of Women Advancing Microfinance (WAM)-International and past Chair of WAM-Northern California.

Visit the UNCDF website: http://www.uncdf.org/

Voices from the Field: William Derban

Pathways: financial inclusion to end extreme poverty | Find out what we heard from the industry in this year’s Listening Tour

We’ll be bringing you articles throughout April that reflect the results of this year’s Listening Tour
Photo credit: by Geoff (originally posted to Flickr as Pilgrim’s path) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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April is the Month of MicrofinanceLearn more

April is the Month of Microfinance
Learn more

In preparation for our 18th Microcredit Summit, the Campaign conducted a Listening Tour from December 2014 through February 2015. The Listening Tour served two purposes. First, it was our hope to find out how our audience (you) felt about the World Bank’s goal of eradicating poverty by 2030, and equally important, we wished to consult you in identifying the topics that were at the top of everyone’s mind.

The Listening Tour is our time to listen — and your time to speak — on the issues that the microfinance and financial inclusion sector face. We collected your feedback through an online survey and organized conversations with 27 leaders in the microfinance and financial inclusion sector. We heard from them on how financial inclusion can contribute to the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and the role of microfinance in the post-2015 agenda. The results of this consultation will be reflected in the 2015 State of the Campaign Report, the 18th Microcredit Summit, and Campaign Commitments.

Below is a short excerpt from our conversation with Dr. William Derban, director of financial inclusion (CSR & PMO) at Fidelity Bank in Ghana.

Q: What do you think will be needed to achieve the goal of global financial inclusion by 2020 and how can this contribute to the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030?

William DerbanGovernments are trying to create a good environment, and while MFIs and SACCOs have stepped in to fill a gap, it seems banks have been left out. We need to include them [banks], looking at this not as corporate social responsibility, but as an opportunity for businesses to expand their client base and a responsibility that they have to the people. The key question is, “How can microfinance and the financial inclusion sector better partner with banks and help improve their by creating linkages?” This should not be about competition, but a way that we can collaborate to provide financial services that they [clients] can graduate into as part of this value-chain of financial services.

Q: In relation to our host region, what are the challenges and opportunities facing Africa & the Middle East in regards to microfinance and financial inclusion?

We need more awareness and campaigning of the issues especially in the countries most affected by poverty. In Africa, there is a lack of awareness among the poor about the benefits of having formal financial services. There is a need for financial education so that they understand what impact this can really have on their lives. People need to understand that this is not about financial services for the sake of it, but that a bank account can help you manage your finances and it can serve as a safe place to save for your child’s educations and this can all help you live a better life. In this way, financial education can create empowerment and change.

Q: What are key themes to consider or important debate topics we need to address in the microfinance & financial inclusion sector in the coming year?

Innovation is key! We cannot get to full financial inclusion without technology, but we need to actually develop new ideas and not just replicate what may have worked in one specific country or environment. When innovating in mobile technology, we cannot just work with telecommunications companies but need to include mobile phone manufacturers, app developers, and retail shops. We must find a way to ensure that the public is educated on new innovations and make sure they learn how to use this new technology.

We also need to find ways to scale down or “bank downwards” where banks work on a model that works for the poor. However, we need to create the appropriate partnership in order to do this. Banks can decide to “scale down” [i.e., target poorer populations], but if they do it by themselves, there are certain services they won’t be able to provide.

Related resources

About Fidelity Bank

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) lies at the heart of the vision and mission of Fidelity Bank, Ghana’s largest private indigenous bank. Since inception, CSR at Fidelity has mostly focused on philanthropic endeavors, but now, as a bank that is consolidating its world class status, it has become imperative to align our CSR with our corporate strategy, allowing us to leverage our collective expertise and resources for maximum impact.

Under the theme “Building Lives through Finance,” Fidelity’s CSR work is being led by the director for financial inclusion and CSR, Dr. William Derban. Dr. Derban’s areas of focus are microfinance, payment services, and running the first agency banking service in the country. He is also responsible for aligning the Bank’s corporate responsibility strategy to its core business strategy. In the past 14 years, he has focused on providing sustainable, market based, financial services to the unbanked within the financial industry in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Dr. Derban earned his doctorate in Microfinance and Development Finance from the Nottingham Business School, UK. He provides lectures on sustainability and financial inclusion and is also a passionate speaker at various conferences on development across Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Prior to working for Fidelity Bank, Dr. Derban was the head of community relations with Barclays Africa and Emerging Markets where he managed the community investment strategy across 14 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Subsequently, he led the strategy of downscaling to informal groups with a £10m project working with savings groups across Africa, Asia, and Latin America with CARE international and Plan. In addition to financial inclusion, he has established successful projects on youth entrepreneurship, preventative health, clean energy solutions, female empowerment, and integrated rural development programs.

Learn more about Fidelity Bank.

Partnership building to reduce the Philippines’ maternal mortality rate

health-education_HMHB-PH_Oct2014_Courtesy-of-CARD-MRI

Women learn about family planning techniques while they wait for their exams at October’s community health fair.

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Pathway

Microfinance savings and/or borrowing groups linked with health education, health financing, and health product delivery


>>Authored by Camille Rivera, Senior Program Associate, and Sabina Rogers, Communications & Relationships Manager

HMHB_CMYK_English_BeveledWith the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit in the Philippines, we wrote a new chapter in the evolution of the Microcredit Summit Campaign. The 16th Microcredit Summit focused on how public-private partnerships could combine expertise from the field of microfinance with other areas to develop more efficient and sustainable services for the extreme poor.

We have since created one such collaboration in order to address the problem of stubbornly high maternal mortality rates in the Philippines. While the country has experienced strong economic growth in recent years and the government has instituted a national hospital insurance scheme, PhilHealth, maternal mortality is at 221 per 100,000 live births. The Philippines are far off track of their maternal mortality MDG of 52 deaths per 100,000 live births.

It is a long way to go from 221 to 52 in the next few months, but when offered the opportunity to scale up in a short period of time our integrated health and microfinance methodology, we (with Freedom from Hunger) jumped at the chance. In partnership with a local partner CARD MRI (the largest social development organization providing micro-financial services in the Philippines) and with the financial and strategic support of Johnson & Johnson, we are implementing the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies project (HMHB, or “Kalinga Kay Inay” by its name in Tagalog).

Photo credit: Cassie Chandler

Photo credit: Cassie Chandler

How it works

The idea is simple: offer free health check-ups and behavior change education on health topics to pregnant and lactating women to create positive health outcomes. By the end of 2015, CARD and other MFIs will educate 600,000 women to improve maternal health and safe deliveries of infants, birth outcomes, and reduce preventable maternal death; and 8,000 pregnant or lactating women will be directly connected to relevant services and products. CARD and partners have held two community health fairs so far, and for many of these women, it was their very first gynecological exam.

At these health fairs, CARD sets up tents to give shade to those waiting outside. Inside the building, as the women wait for their preliminary exams (and, if necessary, ultrasounds), they learn about family planning. The volunteer health providers (doctors, OB-GYN, midwives, and others) write prescriptions for those who need medications, and BotiCARD (a CARD MRI institution) fill them for free in a tent set up outside.

CARD has found their collaboration with local government and public health units to be vital in getting higher-than-expected turnout to the fairs as well as for identifying local health providers for CARD members. Local administrators of PhilHealth have joined our January health fair and provided services to 179 health fair patients ranging from members’ renewal enrollment, new enrollment, membership updating, and printing of members’ data information.

Making these changes lasting changes

More importantly to us, through this endeavor, we are working to improve the scalability and sustainability of delivery of health education and related services to millions of women and children in the Philippines. Inspired by the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit, the Campaign’s role in the HMHB project is to reach beyond the traditional microfinance actors and facilitate a partnership-building process for the “MFIs for Health” consortium, a group of 18 MFIs who are banding together to increase access for their communities to health-related products and services.

A doctor provides free checkups as part of a health outreach program in the Philippines. Photo by: CARD MRI

A doctor provides free checkups as part of a health outreach program in the Philippines.
Photo by: CARD MRI

We are talking with several foundations, corporations, and associations to identify specific ways that they can work with us and MFIs for Health to increase access to and improve delivery of healthcare services. The Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) and JPHIEGO in the Philippines are two organizations that have joined forces with our alliance — whether formally or informally. They have facilitated introductions to local government units (LGUs) and the Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines to recruit healthcare providers as volunteers for the health fair and get their help spreading the word to their patients. In fact, ZFF and CARD are working with the Rural Health Unit (RHU) in the Visayas to coincide the RHU’s “Buntis Congress” (Pregnant Women’s Congress) with CARD’s April community health fair. Through this coordination, we are pooling resources and thus gain a larger potential impact for the community.

April is the Month of MicrofinanceLearn more

April is the Month of Microfinance
Learn more

This strategy behind HMHB, to facilitate partnerships between microfinance actors and players in other sectors, parallels efforts to create more integrated approaches to solve the most pressing needs of the extreme poor. In this case, we are addressing maternal and child health; in Ethiopia, it could be fistula and, in India, it could be non-communicable diseases.

Because MFIs meet regularly with large numbers of clients, they serve as an ideal platform to convey health information and services to clients who often build relationships of trust with their loan officers, as well as other members in their group. These exchanges can also have a replicator effect as clients are encouraged to share the information with their family members and others in their community.

By forging partnerships across sectors and bringing in non-traditional actors to microfinance, the Campaign is maximizing the best aspects of each player and (hopefully) helping the Philippines reduce their maternal mortality rate to 52 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Relevant resources

Millennium Development Goal 5: Progress and challenges in maternal mortalitySource: The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Millennium Development Goal 5: Progress and challenges in maternal mortality
Source: The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

Partnering in New Approaches to Old Challenges

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Partnerships against Poverty Summit Banner with logos

Partnerships against Poverty: Why, When, & How to Partner
Date: 
Wednesday, October 9th 

Time: 11:30 – 1:00 PM

Effective partnerships generate synergies between organizations that each supply unique skills, perspectives and resources to devise new ways of approaching old challenges, providing needed products and services on a much wider scale.

PartnershipsPlenary_Picture_204x306

Nicholas Luff, Senior Associate, The Partnering Initiative

The plenary “Partnerships against Poverty: When, Why and How to Partner” centered on the guiding principle for the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit, exploring the manner in which partnerships can be developed, negotiated, leveraged, and managed between actors that come from different sectors while highlighting some of the best practices in the field. This cornerstone session set up the framework for the rest of the Summit agenda to follow.

Nicholas Luff of The Partnering Initiative, serving as the session’s moderator and multi-stakeholder partnership builder, began the session by stressing the characteristics of good partnerships.

He described these strategic relationships as an “engaging two-way dialogue, which moves beyond mere contractual interactions towards transformative missions among value-adding knowledge sharers.” Collaborations founded in this spirit hold great potential for catalyzing the next wave of movement out of extreme poverty.

Rodger Voorhies, director of the Financial Services for the Poor Initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation emphasized the dire need for cutting-edge partnerships in the financial inclusion field. He stressed that “2.5 billion people are currently left out of access to financial services.”

In order to combat this trend, Voorhies advised that “we need to substantially increase access and that will require new kinds of partnerships, new kinds of innovation and new kinds of thinking…We are at the forefront—at a cusp—of rattling changes using technology and new ways of delivering services.” Voorhies discussed the potential of digital services coupled with transformative partnerships to form the next great paradigm shift in helping practitioners reach into untapped communities and leverage their impact.

Bringing a concrete example of a successful cross-sector partnership, Richard Leftley, CEO of MicroEnsure, engaged the audience by showcasing his own company’s collaboration with mobile service providers, which facilitated an expansion of MicroEnsure’s client base.

Leftley summarized the process that MicroEnsure underwent in its quest for a fruitful partnership, describing the challenges associated with being a small, young company and providing a product (i.e., microinsurance) that at the time was relatively unknown. He echoed Luff by pointing out that “a shared sense of necessity where each partner brings something to the table” is vital in developing and negotiating successful relationships with other actors.

Watch the full video of this plenary

On the whole, the plenary displayed a clear sense of optimism for the road ahead by highlighting the manner in which partnerships can create opportunities for people living in poverty where no single actor could provide the multitude of services needed by the poor on their own. Each of the speakers acknowledged that opportunities for collaboration are widening and stakeholder engagement is at an all-time high, making it a perfect time to engage in deep dialogue and work together on the collective mission to eradicate extreme poverty in the near future.

Global Partnerships in the Post-2015 Agenda

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How we can optimize the contribution of the private sector to the achievement of the MDGs and the post-2015 goals? EspañolFrançais Continue reading

Creating a Community of Partnerships to End Poverty

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If your vision is to create a better world, you have to see poverty as a social problem. EspañolFrançais Continue reading