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Davos Spotlight on Financial Inclusion

I’m back from Davos, and last week seems like a blur.  As I wrote previously, the opportunity for business to align purpose with social good was a hot topic.  Our CEO, Ajay Banga, who spoke on a panel about  “Money and Markets in a Hyper-connected World” made the connection. One might think the focus would be on currency fluctuations or stock market trading, but it was actually about how innovations in payments technology can open doors of economic opportunity for those currently excluded from the financial mainstream.

With half of all adults around the world lacking something as simple as a bank account, there is agreement that something must be done. And addressing financial inclusion was top of mind for many of the attendees, including the President of NFTE, Amy Rosen.  I had the chance to catch up with her while at Davos and she stressed the importance of addressing youth employment as a means towards sustainable economic growth.

Professor Muhammad Yunus, Roy Sosa and Ryan Erenhouse meet while in Davos

Professor Muhammad Yunus, Roy Sosa and Ryan Erenhouse meet while in Davos

Davos is a unique experience – one that is hard to capture completely in words.  Walking down the street I bumped into Senator Patrick Leahy whom I knew from my days working for his former colleague Senator Jim Jeffords; at an event hosted by the Japanese delegation, I enjoyed a lively conversation with representatives from Western Union about the prospect of advancing financial inclusion through remittances; and while attending dinner or breakfast, I found myself across the table from Professor Muhammad Yunus, Bill Gates, or Rajiv Shah from USAID – all leaders in economic development and inclusion.

Davos is a serendipitous place, a place where connections can be made not only to build business, but also to create positive societal change, and in this case, advance financial inclusion.