Tweet: #MasterCard joins @sgSMU to create new Social and# FinancialInclusion Program for #AsiaPacific

Singapore, 23 September 2015MasterCard and Singapore Management University (SMU) today announced their partnership in a novel Social and Financial Inclusion Program.  The multi-faceted two-year program will catalyse important research on social entrepreneurship, innovation and financial inclusion.  It also features an annual Forum, a seminar series, funding towards student projects, as well as the establishment of the MasterCard Professorship of Social Entrepreneurship and Financial Inclusion, where a designated SMU faculty member will provide academic leadership for the Program alongside Professor Howard Thomas, the Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB) Distinguished Term Professor of Strategic Management and Director of SMU’s Academic Strategy and Management Education Unit.

Photo1_SMU-MasterCard partnership (photo credit - SMU)

(L-R) Professor Arnoud De Meyer, SMU President and Ari Sarker, Co-President, Asia Pacific, MasterCard

With an emphasis on the Southeast Asia and South Asia regions, the Program’s research focus will include identifying scalable and sustainable social entrepreneurship and innovation business models; advancing financial inclusion for marginalised communities and micro-entrepreneurs; developing innovative financial products and services for those at the base of the pyramid; as well as studying the roles of public-private partnership and philanthropy, the macroeconomic impacts of financial and social inclusion, and the policy and regulatory environments that enable financial inclusion.

The research outcomes will be presented at an annual MasterCard–SMU Forum on social inclusion and economic value creation, the first of which will be held in mid-2016.  In addition, a seminar series will provide advanced training on the approaches and best practices of social and financial inclusion for senior government officials, central bankers, regulators and senior business executives in Asia Pacific.

Under the Program, SMU students also stand to benefit as they will be able to tap on MasterCard’s funding and support towards their student consulting projects on social and financial inclusion in select Asia Pacific countries.

In addition to the MasterCard Professorship of Social Entrepreneurship and Financial Inclusion, MasterCard and SMU also announced the Board of Advisors which will provide the overall direction and guidance for the Program.  The three members who form the Board are: Professor Howard Thomas; Professor David Lee, Executive/Academic Director of Sim Kee Boon Institute for Financial Economics, SMU; and Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Chief Economist, MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, and Global Economic Advisor, MasterCard.

This new initiative is just the latest collaboration between MasterCard and SMU.  Over the last five years, MasterCard has supported 13 postgraduate students in the SMU MBA programme as part of the MasterCard MBA Scholarships for Women.

Professor Gerard George, Dean of SMU LKCSB and Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said, “LKCSB is glad to partner with MasterCard in this meaningful initiative to create upward social mobility opportunities for those who are unbanked or in poverty.  With our faculty expertise in research on social inclusion and innovation combined with MasterCard’s expertise in payment systems, we will explore how we could create novel business models and encourage saving behaviours.  This project is a clear example of how industry can work together with academia to create positive social change and impact.”

Professor Howard Thomas said, “I am convinced that this important research programme will produce meaningful, practical and impactful research findings that will stimulate innovators in emerging economies in Asia to build critical expertise in social entrepreneurship and financial inclusion to facilitate economic growth.”

Ari Sarker, Co-President, Asia Pacific, MasterCard, said, “An overwhelming body of evidence shows that providing people with the ability to save and borrow efficiently and securely improves well-being and encourages enterprise, ultimately reducing global poverty and increasing economic growth. Yet two billion people around the world remain unbanked. By partnering with SMU to establish a Social and Financial Inclusion Program, we hope that new, innovative solutions will be discovered that will help us bring the benefits of products and services to Asia Pacific’s unbanked population.”

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About Singapore Management University

Singapore Management University (SMU) is internationally recognised for its world-class research and distinguished teaching.  Established in 2000, SMU’s mission is to generate leading-edge research with global impact and produce broad-based, creative and entrepreneurial leaders for the knowledge-based economy.  SMU education is known for its highly interactive, collaborative and project-based approach to learning, and for its technologically enabled pedagogy of seminar-style teaching in small class sizes.

Comprised of six schools specialising in Accountancy, Business, Economics, Information Systems, Law and Social Sciences, it offers a wide range of bachelors’, masters’ and PhD degree programmes and is home to 8,800 students.  With an emphasis on generating relevant multi-disciplinary research that addresses Asian issues, and being Singapore’s only university in the city, SMU enjoys strategic linkages with business, government and the wider community through its research institutes, centres and labs.

About MasterCard

MasterCard (NYSE: MA),, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardAP and @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.


Media contacts:

Georgette Tan, MasterCard, +65 6390 5971,

Samantha Yong, Weber Shandwick, +65 6825 8053,

Huang Peiling, SMU, +65 6828 0964,