An astounding two billion people around the world still lack access to modern financial services. Up to 70 percent of women-owned businesses globally do not have access to financial products and services, such as savings accounts and loans. While the finance gap is most acute in the developing world, communities and businesses across the United States also lack adequate access to finance, or have limited financial capability. Financial inclusion and financial wellness of employees, consumers, and the community have grown as important issues for business and for the global economy as a whole. The private and public sectors are working on innovative strategies to address these issues and the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals include the universal access to financial services as an essential enabler for job creation.
Why does business engage this issue?
There is a huge underserved population out there. Businesses have the opportunity to reach up to two billion people by designing financial tools and resources to reach unbanked and under-banked communities. By working to seize this market opportunity, business can also ensure that the underserved are able to generate incomes, save for the future and accumulate assets.
Employees and stakeholders are demanding it. In addition to financal inclusion, financial wellness has also grown as an important issue for business. According to a recent Harris poll, 86 percent of employees surveyed said it was important for employers to offer financial wellness programs. According to benefits consulting firm, Aon Hewitt, about 93 percent of big employers want to do more to help their employees understand finances, and 55 percent already offer programs. Many employers are now involved not only in promoting the financial well-being of workers, but also of their suppliers, distributors and ecosystem players. Financial inclusion and financial wellness programs are now extending beyond retirement and insurance benefits to include support with budgeting, savings, debt management, credit, digital financial inclusion, and even physical and emotional well-being.
Business is good at this. Finding new ways to connect people to the economy, empowering consumers, entrepreneurs, and creating markets – these are all areas in which business excels. Although financial services companies are in a unique position to help, many other industries, such as technology and telecommunications, can also play a huge role in overcoming barriers.
The U.S. Chamber Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center (CCC) is a leading and trusted resource for business in support of their social and philanthropic endeavors. We believe that access to financial services and financial wellness are key to growth. Many of our supporting companies are working on expanding access to finance, as well as building financial capability and wellness programs. As they are doing so, they are looking for ways to innovate in financial products and services as well as trying to be more focused on the needs and wellbeing of employees, consumers and the community. They are also focusing on innovating at the nexus of technology and finance which have already opened up new paths for under-served people throughout the world.
Supported by multiple Shape Leaders, we help our supporting companies learn from each other about how to expand their innovative and game changing strategies, and partner for greater impact.
In helping companies learn from their peers, we often focus on innovations which can be scaled to benefit consumers, employees, communities and small businesses as well as support the company’s bottom line. These are the innovations which are bound to be more successful and sustainable in the long run. Our recent case study report showcases innovations in financial literacy, digital finance, social sector partnerships, as well as qualitative and quantitative outcomes including changes in financial behavior: spending, savings, use of bank accounts, and uptake of new technologies.
Our supporting companies understand that financial inclusion as well as financial wellness can lift entire communities, especially women. With increased financial opportunity, people can manage risk, grow their businesses, create jobs, and drive global economic growth.
Shape Leader quote:
"Partnering with the Chamber of Commerce Foundation has helped JPMorgan Chase share insights from our global efforts to promote financial health and connect with other leaders in this field to enhance the impact of our work.” --Colleen Briggs, Director of Community Innovation, JPMorgan Chase and Company and Shape Leader for Financial Wellness & Inclusion
CCC has a long history of executing high quality programming to stimulate rich dialogue and accelerate collective action and co-investment by companies on pressing economic empowerment challenges.
In 2017, we conducted a survey on financial wellness programs of employers and launched an innovation roundtable and webinar series designed to help companies learn about the best programs. We have been convening a broad community of stakeholders including businesses, customers, NGOs, multilaterals, and government stakeholders active in this area.
Discussions have focused on:
- Innovations in financial inclusion and financial wellness targeted at employees, communities and supply chain stakeholders (domestic and global focus)
- Behavioral insights and usage of accounts and tools
- Barriers to uptake of financial wellness programs
- Emerging issues in appropriate financial inclusion and wellness technologies
- Impact measurement, metrics and ROI
- Leveraging data and analytics
- Reseach, innovation and partnerships
- Creating an enabling environment for financial inclusion in emerging markets
Please contact us to learn more and to get involved in the program: Lawrence Bowdish, Director of Research and Issue Networks