> Posted by Sumaiya Sajjad, Program Manager, Financial Inclusion, The MasterCard Foundation

In Luxembourg recently, I took part in the European Microfinance Week, whose theme this year was “Developing Markets Better”. The event brought together an excellent group of people from various organizations around the world involved in financial inclusion. On the evening before the formal opening of the conference, Accion’s Center for Financial Inclusion hosted a special cocktail reception where I helped to launch the Accion Africa Board Fellowship program – proudly supported by The MasterCard Foundation.

This program aligns strongly with our Foundation’s goal of promoting financial inclusion in order to help catalyze prosperity and reduce inequality in developing countries. As part of that work, we recognize the critical importance of building capacity at all levels of the financial services industry – especially in that segment of the industry serving the poor. We’ve found that strong, committed, and capable leadership can have the most catalyzing effect on entire organizations, improving the quality of their work, and benefiting the clients they serve.

That is why we’re honored to be working with the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion to strengthen capacity at the highest levels of institutions through this program. In our view, financial services providers need to operate professionally and sustainably in order to reach the hundreds of millions of people in Africa who do not have the financial products and services that many of us already have and, more importantly, reach them with the best and the most appropriate financial services.

I’m especially excited about the program’s innovative design and implementation plan. The Fellowship will promote peer learning and exchanges among board directors and CEOs specifically from the sector, and from across Africa. Rather than a traditional classroom approach, the program is built upon a virtual network – one that will offer a seamless and immediate opportunity for board members and CEOs to connect, exchange, and learn from one another. Equally compelling is that the Fellows themselves identify their objectives for the program, based on the specific needs of their organization. Then, they work with a program advisor toward achieving those goals. Ultimately, success of the program will be demonstrated when participants of the program become change agents at their institutions. As change agents, Fellows will provide strategic insight to all areas within their own institution to think of the value proposition of products and services to clients.

The Foundation is thrilled to be working with Accion’s CFI on this program, a leader in the space of governance and client-centered financial inclusion, and we’re impatient to see the influence and impact it will have.

Have you read?

Growth Makes Governance More Critical in Sub-Saharan Africa

CFI and The MasterCard Foundation Launch the Accion Africa Board Fellowship Program

Strengthening Governance in Africa: Accion’s Africa Board Fellowship Paves the Way