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  • Writer's pictureLena Mc Elheron

Three days of workshops, networking and conferences: Re-live the Fintech For Inclusion Summit 2021

The Fintech For Inclusion programme is co-organised by Shaping Horizons, alongside Global Shapers Buenos Aires, UNDP Accelerator Labs CoLabAr, UNDP Argentina, UN Volunteers ROLAC with the support of Ashoka and UNDP Mexico. Both the Fintech For Inclusion programme and the summit focused on savings, methods of payments, loans and financial education, which the various teams have been working on for months. Months of hard work and effort recently culminated in the Shaping Horizons Fintech For Inclusion Summit. International participants and experts came together to exchange experiences, knowledge and ideas in this exciting and informative event. If you attended the event and want to relive the experience, or if you missed out and would like to find out more about it, read on!

As some events were open to the public, both participants and members of the public benefitted from the experience of the summit, encouraging greater participation and synergy. These events included two keynote speakers: Diana Mejia, who discussed ‘Gender gaps in financial inclusion and education in Latin America’, and Professor Michael Barrett, who spoke about ‘Scaling mobile money to address financial inclusion: The need for local innovation.’ Diana Mejia is a senior specialist in Development and Financial Inclusion at the Development Bank of Latin America and Michael Barrett is a professor of Service and Digital Innovation and FinTech specialist at the University of Cambridge. Both presentations were followed by Q&A sessions.

In his presentation, Michael Barrett highlighted the growth of mobile money in Latin America in 2020. There was a 39% growth of registered digital accounts, and a 67% growth of active accounts in Latin America. This compares to a global growth of 13% of registered accounts and an increase of just 17% of active accounts. This growth is positive, but it is even more significant in 2020, he explains, as contactless payments allowed the ongoing support of business during the Covid pandemic.

One of the important points he made is that products and services should always be adapted for the users, making considerations for local and cultural variations. He gave the example of developing a peer loan app in Kenya. Prior to the development of the app, communities held meetings in which repayments could be made and finances could be discussed. However, with the introduction of an app, people stopped attending the meetings, which caused a disruption to the social order, resulting in a loss of community support and accountability for financial services. This highlights the importance of the compatibility of interventions with the local context, which can be only ensured by an adaptation of products and ideas to local practices. Although this example comes from his work in Kenya, it applies to developing any social innovation project, and it is great advice to bear in mind. For more advice from Professor Barrett, check out the full presentation on Youtube.

Diana Mejia presented a gendered analysis of the financial world, focusing on the differences between men and women in terms of financial activity and behaviour. Her presentation revealed that, on average, women have less confidence in relation to making financial decisions and are more alert to risk. However, when women are responsible for managing the household finances, they usually make better financial decisions. An interesting difference between men and women’s saving habits is that women are more likely to save money at home, while men are more likely to save in financial institutions. Another notable difference relates to budgeting: in extreme situations, women tend to look for ways to reduce their spending, for example by cutting down on expenses. Men, on the other hand, look for ways to increase their income by finding other sources of income or new ways to earn money. The points raised in this talk demonstrate how important it is to take a gendered perspective on financial inclusion and social innovation. For more information on the differences between men and women’s financial attitudes and behaviour, the full presentation is available on Shaping Horizons’ Youtube channel.

As well as these fascinating keynote speaker events, the participants of the programme got the opportunity to participate in specially designed workshops, including advice on developing pitching skills and strategies for branding. Finally, the teams pitched their own projects to an expert jury. Stay tuned for the next article to find out more about the second stage of the programme from the perspective of the participants, as well as their project designs!

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