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Inclusive Financial Services

Inclusive finance has been a key component of MEDA’s mission since its inception over 60 years ago. As an early pioneer of microcredit in the 1960s and 1970s, MEDA offered microloans in agricultural sectors in Africa and Latin America. Maintaining its mission through the decades, MEDA has supported the development of many microfinance institutions through capacity building, investment or transfer of loan capital, and ongoing governance support. Today, MEDA’s financial services programming ranges from savings groups to a full complement of innovative approaches to microfinance services and SME banking.

MEDA’s approach to financial inclusion includes both access to and use of services – where financial inclusion is not defined solely by opening a bank account, using a transactional instrument, or taking a loan. Once accessed, a financial service must enable targeted communities to improve their earning capacity, provide security for their savings, and increase their ability to manage their financial lives. MEDA works with a variety of stakeholders to reach vulnerable populations by designing and deploying appropriate products and services for women, men, and youth while upholding a client-centered approach that focuses on strengthening supply and demand, product design, and using capital to reach underserved markets.

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Supply & Demand Side Strengthening

Strong institutions – community level associations, microfinance institutions, SME banks and other non-banking financial institutions – are critical for the development of sustainable and inclusive financial systems. MEDA offers technical assistance, training and coaching to realize this supply-side goal. On the client side, we assess needs and barriers, and achieve greater inclusion by enhancing awareness, improving financial literacy, and promoting access to more appropriate products and services.

Capital for Financial Inclusion

MEDA facilitates the capitalization of financial institutions and ecosystems. MEDA’s own risk capital fund can be invested directly into financial institutions or indirectly via other investors to expand reach (e.g., Women’s World Banking). Investment approaches may also include mechanisms such as revolving loan funds which provide an opportunity for financial institutions to access loan capital to expand their reach, or loan guarantee funds to mitigate the risk of testing a new market.

Product Design and Development

MEDA specializes in supporting financial institutions to design and develop products that meet the needs of micro, small, and medium businesses. New product development supports institutions to serve lucrative, unbanked and often rural and/or unserved markets including women and youth. Further, MEDA’s expertise in digital finance has allowed our partner institutions to connect with clients normally excluded from financial services.

MEDA's Finance Inclusion Model

Financial inclusion means strengthening supply by building institutional capacity and ecosystem strengthening while also eliminating barriers and increasing financial literacy through the strengthening of demand. These run tandem with developing products like savings, loans, insurance and digital financial services and mobilizing capital through loan guarantee and revolving loan funds.