The World Economic Forum’s white paper, “Advancing Financial Inclusion Metrics: Shifting from access to economic empowerment” asserts that financial inclusion is at a turning point. At the moment, there is an actual possibility to reach out to the 2 billion financially-excluded adults and integrate them into the formal financial system. Key to achieving such an ambitious goal is to measure the advances in financial inclusion and examine its real effects on people’s lives. The document also states that technological breakthroughs as well as greater multistakeholder collaboration have facilitated financial access to the lower-income sector; vulnerable segments which have been traditionally dissociated from traditional banking.
In this sense, the report also stresses that acess to financial products does not automatically translate into an improvement of a person’s well-being. For this to take place, an adequate and responsible use of such products would be necessary. This is why the experts, regulators and civil society that comprise the paper’s working group warn us, “measurement of financial inclusion itself is not the objective, but a tool to encourage economic development”.
Aware of this, the BBVA Microfinance Foundation annually measures its results to design strategies that contribute to fulfilling its mission: to nurture the economic and social development of the vulnerable population. It employs solid statistical data to understand the entrepreneurs it serves, have a deeper grasp on their needs and learn from their experiences. All these, thanks to the information it collects relating to: gender, educational background, residence (rural or urban), economic activity, etc. This important study allows the BBVAMF to probe how financial inclusion affects the lives of the people it serves across 5 countries in the Latin American region.