Who is Your “Plus One”?

> Posted by Susy Cheston, Senior Advisor for the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion
This post is part of the Center for Financial Inclusion’s Expert Exchange: Building A Movement Toward Financial Inclusion by 2020, cultivating conversation around the goal of reaching full financial inclusion by 2020. For further questions about this series, write to Sonja E. Kelly, Fellow, Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion.
“Are we talking to ourselves? Who is not represented in this conversation?”
That was the question that Beth Porter from the United Nations Capital Development Fund asked at our first Financial Inclusion Roundtable, held in New York. Many of the participants nodded in agreement, and Bob Kennedy, sitting next to me, whispered, “plus one.”
“Plus one.” It is the shorthand we use when we see an invitation that reads “and guest.” We bring our “plus one” to a party or event, introduce them to our friends, and make them feel welcome. Our “plus ones” expand the community with new energy, new ideas, and new connections.
Since that conversation in New York, I have begun to ask which additional stakeholders should be included in our conversations on financial inclusion by 2020. Our polling has brought up a truly diverse network of actors. Here are some of them, with size roughly indicating number of mentions (click on the image to increase its size):

Since this was just a “plus one” question, many key players are NOT on the list.  For instance, Citi, CGAP, MasterCard, and Gates are not mentioned, because they are already at the table.  Two of the most oft-cited organizations on the list are Visa, which is incorporating financial inclusion into its global strategy, and GSMA, the global association of mobile operators whose members have just surpassed six billion mobile connections.
There are others on the list that are logical entries in a financial inclusion ecosystem, but are not always accessible. An example of that category might be regulators, central banks, and policy-makers. Providers and other actors yearn to engage with them, and don’t always know how. It’s no surprise that technology-related companies are giants on the screen. Everyone knows they are soon to be big players, but, again, many in the financial inclusion community don’t know how to best engage with them. How do we share insights on client needs, address client protection, interact on building financial capability, etc.?
There are those who are already around but may not have a strong voice, and we want to be sure not to leave them out (MFIs, credit bureaus, and, above all, clients).  And, of course, the most fun category is the outliers. People get creative about defining financial inclusion as broadly as possible (pawn shops! payday lenders!), and they show their openness to going beyond our usual circles and learning from others (quality control specialists, a chaos theorist).
What surprises you about the “plus one” list above? Who is missing?
And, back to the “party” analogy for our “plus ones,” the Center for Financial Inclusion is inviting all who play a role in bringing about full inclusion to work with us on building an actionable road map. So, a fundamental question: Are we throwing a party that these “plus ones” want to attend? Is this a hot ticket? I’ll throw you a challenge: pick an actor and describe the value proposition from their perspective. We want them at our table—but why should they want to come?
For more information, sign up for updates from the Financial Inclusion 2020 campaign. 

Susy Cheston is Senior Advisor for the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion and leads the Financial Inclusion 2020 campaign. She previously served as Senior Director for Water, Sanitation & Hygiene; Agriculture; and Economic Development for World Vision. From 1992 through 2010, Susy served in various positions within Opportunity International, most recently as Senior Vice President for Policy. In the early 1990s, Ms. Cheston lived in Costa Rica and El Salvador, where she launched the pilot project of Opportunity’s Women’s Opportunity Fund. Her work in refining a group lending model now called Trust Groups in El Salvador led to Opportunity’s adoption of Trust Groups as its primary lending methodology. She has been active in the leadership of the Microenterprise Coalition since 2003, including helping to lead the microfinance industry in brokering the Microenterprise Results and Accountability Act passed by the US Congress in 2004.  She was a founding member of the steering committee of WAM (Women Advancing Microfinance).
Have you read?
Expert Exchange: Building a Movement Toward Financial Inclusion by 2020
Accessing the Future: Beyond the Traditional Microfinance Space
Financial Inclusion by 2020? Five Global Trends That Will Shape the Answer

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