HONG KONG--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Wall Street Journal recognized four winning enterprises of the Financial Inclusion Challenge (The Challenge), sponsored by MetLife Foundation, at an awards presentation ceremony last night held at The Asia Society in Hong Kong.
The Challenge, run by The Wall Street Journal and exclusively sponsored by MetLife Foundation, is a global project launched in Asia to recognize innovative, sustainable, scalable and impactful strategies that are helping to increase access to financial programs, products and services to individuals who historically have not had access to them.
“An estimated 1.2 billion people in Asia, nearly 30% of the region’s population, still do not have access to bank accounts or other formal financial services. The region remains home to two-thirds of the world’s poor, with over 800 million Asians still living on less than $1.25 a day and there is strong evidence pointing to deteriorating income equality in recent years,” said Chris Townsend, president of Asia, MetLife, and a board member of MetLife Foundation. “In today’s increasingly interconnected world, linked by ever growing financial flows, more than a third of the global population is still financially excluded. It is an economic and a moral imperative that we reach them and empower them.”
The Wall Street Journal invited nonprofit and for-profit enterprises from around the world to submit proposals that showcase their solutions to the problems of financial access for the poor and received numerous responses over a three-month period from March to May this year, with entries from organizations in 14 countries. A panel of independent, expert judges scored all submissions and selected one overall winner respectively for the three categories, namely: education; technology; operational effectiveness. The public was also invited to vote for a “People’s Choice Winner” from among the finalists.
In addition to managing The Financial Inclusion Challenge, the Journal presented “Financing the Future”, a major editorial project over the past six months providing news and insights about the more than two billion people around the world who are largely excluded from basic financial services because they are poor.
“By highlighting the barriers these individuals and communities across Asia face, as well as enterprises seeking to fix the problem, we hope to have added valuable insight and perspective through a mix of videos, visuals and stories,” said Paul Beckett, Asia Editor of the Wall Street Journal. “We also congratulate the Challenge winners.”
The Challenge, which capitalized on a robust multi-media platform with social and digital channels, has sparked conversations on twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
In addition, WSJ Custom Studios and MetLife Foundation built the Multipliers of Prosperity hub, which is rich with information and resources on the topic of financial inclusion, has posted over 20 in-depth articles to share stories about financial inclusion with global audience. The program content was also tweeted amongst social media influencers.
“In the Financial Inclusion Challenge, we wanted to support ventures in Asia doing innovative work to advance financial inclusion,” said Dennis White, president and chief executive officer of MetLife Foundation, “And by curating Multipliers of Prosperity we have created a platform to share information, promote discussion and share stories on what’s working and what’s not, in order to stimulate further progress in this critical area."
Currently, MetLife Foundation has 40 ongoing projects distributed across Asia with $27 million in committed grants, underpinning a strong tradition of community and social investments in the markets in which it operates.
Winners of the Financial Inclusion Challenge:
|Award Category||Winner||About the initiative|
|Education||Going to School||Based in New Delhi, the nonprofit group teaches low-income children about financial literacy through books, short films and radio shows in New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai|
|Technology||Shanghai F-road Commercial Services||The organization helps banks provide customers with mobile banking services through secured smart-chips called SIM-overlay cards. This service is particularly helpful in China’s rural villages because it works on basic phones by using SMS channels that can reach areas with weak data signals.|
|Operational Effectiveness||Kiva||Started in 2005, Kiva and its global community of lenders has crowdfunded more than US$705 million in microloans to more than 1.6 million entrepreneurs in 86 countries, all the while maintaining a 98% repayment rate.|
|The People’s Choice||Telenor Pakistan||Telenor Pakistan collaborated with Tameer Micro Finance Bank in 2009 to launch a mobile banking service called Easypaisa. It has more than 60,000 retail outlets across Pakistan and offers financial services including savings programs and health insurance to about six million people.|
For more details, please visit: http://www.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/financialinclusion.html
About MetLife Foundation
MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Since its founding through the end of 2014, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $670 million in grants and $70 million in program-related investments to organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit www.metlife.org.