Editor’s Note: At the World Economic Forum, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga led a public session on Inclusive Growth in the Digital Age. We’re hosting an Inclusive Growth series on our blog, inviting others to share perspectives.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to be attending this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. There are hundreds of exciting events and speakers on the agenda, many of them relevant to MasterCard and our innovation agenda. In fact, one of the biggest challenges so far has been to decide which sessions to attend!
Struggle For Survival
Of all of the sessions this week, I’m most looking forward to attending the ‘Struggle for Survival’ event. This event is a simulation that allows participants to take a few steps ‘in the shoes’ of those living on $2 a day, or less. This event was developed by NGOs, field workers and people from a range of nationalities who are living, first-hand, with the realities of poverty.
During the session, participants must meet costs for shelter, food, water, medical care and education while battling corruption and poor market practices. After the simulation, attendees can explore ways to harness their company’s or individual strengths to engage with those in need. More than 40,000 people have already participated in this session– and it’s helping increase the sense of urgency in addressing the issues that are surfaced.
Helping Those Living on $2 a Day
Opportunities like this one help us focus on how important it is to enable more people to be active participants in the global marketplace. It’s so important to MasterCard that in addition to the many fantastic Financial Inclusion initiatives that we have going on globally, we’ve recently launched the MasterCard Labs for Financial Inclusion. This lab is based in Nairobi and focused squarely on helping those that are living on $2 a day. With this new initiative, in partnership with the Gates Foundation, we want to make a positive difference to more than 100 million people globally by developing practical and cost-effective financial tools that expand access and help build stable futures over the long-term.
I look forward to the events, the meetings, the dialogue, the networking and of course, the whole experience that comes with the World Economic Forum. I’m going in with a very open mind. I’m looking to learn a lot, enhance my perspective on areas relevant to MasterCard, and hopefully, seed some new partnerships that can shape some of the efforts that we work on going forward.