Kim Wilson, of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, is a consummate educator who knows that drama leads to learning. That’s why she staged a competitive debate to kick off her Extreme Inclusion conference.
The Proposition: Financial inclusion means formal inclusion.
On the Pro side were myself and my esteemed colleagues Marguerite Robinson, emerita extraordinaire, Lauren Hendricks, of Care’s Access Africa conference, with coaching from Ahmed Dermish of Bankable Frontier Associates.
Taking the Con side were Ahmed’s colleague from BFA, Daryl Collins, together with Ignacio Mas, unaffiliated innovative thinker, and Jenny Aker of Fletcher, coached by Nick Sullivan, author of Money Real Quick: The Story of M-PESA.
Peter Walker of Tufts wielded the gavel with wit and a tiny hint of malice. He symbolized the Pro side with a green spike heeled shoe, and the Con side with a pink flip flop.
Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I took up the last position on the Pro side, with three minutes to make my points. Here’s what I said:
1. Development is about building societies that offer opportunity and connection to everyone. The important word is building. Let’s look where we are going. While many low income people today use and possibly even prefer informal financial services, one cannot consider this the path to the future. If we want to see the bottom 20 percent of the population become economically successful, there must be a path to success. We need only look to the accomplishments of microfinance in bringing microcredit to hundreds of millions in the past two decades to be confident about the prospects for major change in the future.