Ambassador Toolkit: Advocacy for Financial Inclusion

Why to advocate?

It is both important and urgent that national and EU wide coalitions advocate for ensuring wider and deeper financial inclusion for all citizens. In today’s environment of growing demand for financial services and the imminent stronger dependence on financial services for managing personal finances, it is imperative to achieve greater political and financial commitment to support long-term availability of quality financial services.
Vulnerable populations will experience the most severe consequences of failure to secure adequate financial services and they are the most likely to be excluded from mainstream financial markets.
As such, advocacy messages must be hard hitting and be designed to galvanize policymakers into action, not tomorrow or the day after, but today.

How to advocate?

Advocacy, though big word, can turn out to be a cost effective action.

Example from Greece

Example from Greece

MFC and KEPA talk financial inclusion with Greek government representatives In September 2014, the “Competitiveness – Entrepreneurship” Operational Programme Special Management Authority held a workshop on microfinance for key Greek government stakeholders. The key question on the table was: how can we deepen the financial sector in Greece by improving access to finance for start-ups and small businesses? The MFC presented experience from Poland, Holland, and the UK on different financial service provider models, including cooperatives, community development funds, banks, small and medium enterprise (SME) funds, and microfinance institutions. MFC also presented a cautionary tale against the development of commercial microfinance in terms of potential harm to clients and the broader economy, seen elsewhere in Europe (Bosnia, for example). The current Greek financial sector currently consists of commercial banks and cooperative banks only. By the end of the discussion, most participants were convinced that a modest expansion would be useful, and that the creation of a microfinance NGO law would be appropriate in the Greek context, and discussed changes to the legal framework needed to make this happen. Such a law would extend financial services to start-ups, existing micro-enterprises (where they demonstrate growth potential) and SMEs This would also complement the existing EU/state support system for SMEs, currently being implemented by the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness via the Greek banks. Participants also discussed options for using structural funds for microfinance, and relevant EU regulations guiding their use. This was an important aspect of the meeting for those policy makers that are involved in designing the usage of structural funds for the years 2014 – 2020. If you are interested to organize similar event, please contact MFC. We are glad to help!

Read Guide for advocacy process with more examples>

Whom to engage?

Involving appropriate people is crucial for financial inclusion advocacy process. To support the messages of microfinance importance, MFIs can invite to cooperation local people tasked by European Commission to promote its policy for entrepreneurship and self employment.

POLAND: National Contact Point (NCP) for Financial Instruments of the European Union Programmes is a local one stop shop for all programs of EU targeting micro entrepreneurs, SMEs and financial providers. They welcome both entrepreneurs seeking financial support from EU, as well as MFIs and financial intermediaries willing to use EU funding for providing more finance opportunities.
The NCP offers advice, support in application, as well as takes a lead on organizing promotion and advocacy events.

Find the people who can help!

Check out the list of national contacts at the government level responsible for EaSI Program implementation in your country: EaSI committee members.
Help us build a database of people involved in promoting financial inclusion in your country! Do you know someone, who promotes financial inclusion in your country? Send us the contacts.

What to talk about?

Advocating for increased access and use of financial services demands that advocacy messages be appropriately targeted. This not only requires knowing your audience, but understanding the contextual variables that are affecting the increased financial inclusion in the society.
Below there are five scenarios that often provide challenges to ensuring a deeper and broader financial inclusion. Each of the scenarios is complemented by advocacy messages to help address the challenges.

Scenario 1: Low Understanding and Appreciation of Importance of Financial Inclusion
Scenario 2: Niche Financial Exclusion
Scenario 3: Low Usage of Financial Services
Scenario 4: High Rates of Over-Indebtedness
Scenario 5: Customer Protection in Financial Markets

Ambassadors’ contacts EC & Microfinance