Learn more about how we contribute to inclusive finance and the SDGs
Despite significant gains in financial inclusion in the last 10 years, 1.4 billion people are still unbanked, either because they don’t have a stable income or live far away from financial institutions or because of other reasons such as lack of documents required for KYC. Women make up 54% of the unbanked, highlighting the gender gap in finance. When people cannot access basic services such as banking or insurance, it means that smallholder farmers cannot always afford the seeds and fertilisers they need for agriculture, low-income parents cannot save for their child’s education, and vulnerable households have no safety net to protect them in case of emergencies, such as sudden illness or natural disasters. According to the IFC, 65 million or 40% of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in developing countries, the engine that powers economic development, have unmet financing needs.
SCBF seeks to address the inclusive finance gap. SCBF enables financial sector partners’ access to the resources and expertise they need to develop and scale financial products, channels and services tailored to the needs of low-income clients, especially women, smallholder farmers, and small businesses as well as rural populations.
Recognising that little to no progress has been made to close the protection gap, for instance in lower- and lower-middle income countries where the protection gap for natural catastrophes exists in excess of 95%, SCBF has fostered insurance innovations to help address this gap. As a result, 62% of the lives our work has touched has been through insurance products, such as health or life or index-based agricultural insurance, enabling vulnerable households and communities to better manage risks without resorting to negative coping strategies.
Although the gender gap in access to financial services has fallen in the past decade, it still persists, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. This is why SCBF prioritises projects that build the resilience of women and other vulnerable groups. So far, a majority (64%) of the clients accessing the products, services or channels supported through SCBF-funded projects are women.
SCBF and the SDGs
Financial inclusion leads to greater economic empowerment and directly impacts many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as gender equality, good health for all and climate action. Since the SDGs launched in 2016, SCBF’s financial inclusion projects globally have contributed to 12 of the 17 SDGs.