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> Posted by Center Staff
The Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) has devoted the last several weeks to efforts spanning Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and beyond. Here are some of the highlights:
In India, the Council of Microfinance Equity Funds (CMEF) coordinators and the Smart Campaign’s team participated in meetings designed to re-tool the Indian microfinance industry. The meetings were organized by Sa-Dhan, ACCESS and CMEF itself.
In other Smart Campaign action, staff members met in Addis Ababa to train prospective client protection trainers and assessors from 11 African networks. Campaign staff also took part in an IDB event on coordinating client protection initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean. Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Josh Goldstein, Principal Director for Economic Citizenship & Disability Inclusion, Center for Financial Inclusion, and Michael Stein, Executive Director, Harvard Law School Project on Disability
The Smart Campaign has taken a remarkable step forward in protecting the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), as well as other vulnerable and marginalized populations, by drafting revisions to its Client Protection Principles to include specific language prohibiting discrimination. Leaving no room for ambiguity, the new principle on Responsible Treatment of Clients stipulates that “client selection and treatment should not involve discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, political affiliation, disability, religion or orientation. Non-discriminatory treatment is important for providing access to financial services to all clients who can use them and builds their confidence in the fairness of the provider.” Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Mary Dakim, Intern, Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities Program
Josh Goldstein’s paper. “A New Financial Access Frontier: People with Disabilities,” raises awareness of inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in financial services to the poor. He reminds us of how we might learn from the fear and skepticism of the early days of the microfinance industry regarding lending to the poor, as we look towards similar hesitation and uncertainty with persons with disabilities.
As he sets forth in his paper, the poor have proven to be bankable and have contributed to the fast growth, profits, and economies of scale microfinance institutions enjoy. The UN paved the legal and political path towards inclusion with its 2006 passing of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) .
As a young professional intent on creating inclusion of PWDs, I laud Mr. Goldstein’s efforts to initiate and foster a dialogue about “how-to” implications of serving PWDs in the industry of financial services to the poor. And as Nigerian national, I offer a few reflections on Mr. Goldstein’s concept note that take into account my personal experiences accessing finance as a person who is deaf from a developing country. Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Jon Pattee
Today, the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, is a time for those of us in the microfinance industry to reflect on this question: How can MFIs and disability organizations boost access to financial services for poor people with disabilities worldwide?
The question is in step with the day’s aim of promoting a better understanding of disability issues, with a focus on the rights of persons with disabilities and gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.
Experts on disability rights and microfinance analysts tackled this question at a roundtable earlier this year in Washington, DC. The event was convened by the Center for Financial Inclusion and the Disability and Development Team of the World Bank. Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Michelle Romeu
When we think of people with disabilities, our minds may not jump straight to financial inclusion. And despite the fact that over 80 percent of people with disabilities live in developing countries, it’s estimated that they account for less than half a percent of all microfinance clients.
The idea of providing financial services to poor people with disabilities today can be compared with the concept of microfinance itself in the 1970s. Providers are skeptical because of misconceptions and a lack of knowledge about how to serve people with disabilities.
But this analogy has a bright side too. As Josh Goldstein, Principal Director for Economic Citizenship & Disability Inclusion, points out in this month’s Equity E-Newsletter feature, “The lessons from the early days of microfinance…are both instructive and a cause for optimism.”
Just as the success of microfinance demonstrated to the world that the poor can use and need financial services, so, too, we need to make the business case for financial inclusion of people with disabilities. Where do we start? Learn more about this call to action by reading (“Making International Microfinance Institutions Disability Inclusive: A Call to Action”).
It is indisputable that commercial microfinance institutions (MFI) have largely failed to reach a significant segment of the poor: persons with disabilities (PWD). With the clearly stated mission of providing the self employed poor in the informal sector with small loans and other financial products, this market failure is unacceptable and one that the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International (CFI), in partnership with disability organizations worldwide, are committed to remedy. Not doing so would make a mockery of the Millennium Development goals since disability is so heavily concentrated among the poor. Indeed, of the estimated 650 million persons with disability, 525 million are in developing countries. The legal and moral obligation to address this market failure is clear but that business case is less certain.
Last June, the CFI (with the support of the Disability and Development team at the World Bank) , held a “summit” at the World Bank bringing together leaders of the microfinance industry and disability organizations to see if we could coalesce around some common objectives to jumpstart this initiative. A springboard to action was the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first great human rights treaty of the 21st century. Framing the discussion was a concept paper that CFI prepared, “A New Financial Access Frontier: Persons with Disabilities,” (http://www.centerforfinancialinclusion.org/Document.Doc?id=830) based on a year of research and informational interviews. Its conclusions, as discussed below, were widely endorsed by meeting participants. Read more >
For more information, sign up for updates from the Financial Inclusion 2020 campaign.
> Posted by Michelle Romeu
In her latest Huffington Post blog, Elisabeth Rhyne explores the ways in which financial inclusion could be brought to a new demographic: persons with disabilities.
Can a person with a disability living in a developing country become the valued client of a financial institution? According to Harvard Law professor Michael Stein, 650 million people around the world, nearly 10 percent of humanity, have a disability, and over 80 percent of these people live in developing countries. Yet, in research studies, fewer than 1 percent of the clients of microfinance institutions, dedicated to serving the world’s financially excluded people, were found to be persons with disabilities. One of the last great human rights struggles is only now starting to penetrate the world of low-income finance.
But how best to make progress in disability inclusion?
In June, the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION, in conjunction with the Disability and Development team of the World Bank, brought disability activists together with leaders from microfinance in a roundtable entitled, “A New Financial Access Frontier: People with Disabilities” to begin a dialogue. Disability activists and microfinance professionals are two tightly knit communities with their own vocabularies and their own ways of seeing the world so it is not surprising that at times heated debate preceded agreement on clear objectives.
Read more >.
> Posted by Anita Gardeva
Although many of the world’s financially excluded are people with disabilities, this same population segment is underrepresented in the clientele of microfinance institutions around the world.
For this reason, this week, the Center together with the World Bank Disabilities and Development Team will be holding a roundtable on expanding financial services to people with disabilities. “A New Financial Access Frontier: People with Disabilities” will facilitate discussion around the business case, the challenges and opportunities, and successful case studies regarding expanding financial access to people with disabilities. The purpose of the roundtable is to generate an action plan to make microfinance institutions more disability inclusive. To learn more, read the concept paper that provides the context for Friday’s roundtable discussions.
The event will be held this Thursday, June 18th from 9am to 4:30pm at the World Bank. More information about the speakers and the agenda can be found here. The event can be viewed live via webcast here on Friday, June 18th.
For more information, sign up for updates from the Financial Inclusion 2020 campaign.
> Posted by Michael Stein
On Thursday September 3, at the United Nations in New York, the Harvard Law School Project on Disability co-sponsored a side session at the Second Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the first human rights treaty of the twenty first century. The side session was focused on raising awareness and creating a forum to discuss possible avenues for making the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) disability-inclusive.
Although the MDGs relate to disability by referencing poverty, education, health care provision, and Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen has publicly stated that the MDGs cannot achieve their goal without including person with disabilities, to date they do not expressly reference disability. This absence is especially problematic given that persons with disabilities suffer severe poverty at a higher rate than those without disabilities. For example, although 10% of the world’s population has a disability, 20% of those living below the dollar a day standard have a disability.
Microfinance provides one option to States Parties to the CRPD in their duties to provide an adequate standard of living to their citizens with disabilities Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Joshua Goldstein
What role can microfinance organizations play in helping to bring access to financial services to people with disabilities? The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities emphasizes that people with disabilities should not be treated as “objects” of charity but as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of living productive lives and contributing to society.
This shift in perspective sounds remarkably similar to the way that the perspective about the poor transformed in the seventies when the microfinance revolution took off. The poor, long viewed as objects of charity, became “subjects” determining their own destiny, fueled by loans to lift themselves out of poverty, rather than as lifetime wards of first world philanthropists.
Today, the WHO estimates that roughly 10 percent of the world’s population (650 million people) lives with some kind of disability, 80 per cent in low-income countries. There is a clear association between poverty and disability. Yet, the Millennium Development Goals where it is never even mention disabilities. Activists in the disability community are lobbying to rectify this situation. Read the rest of this entry »