Book summary: Financial Inclusion for Poverty Alleviation – Issues and Case Studies for Sustainable Development

IIED's Essam Yassin Mohammed and Zenebe Bashaw Uraguchi, of the Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, Switzerland co-edit the book 'Financial Inclusion for Poverty Alleviation: Issues and Case Studies for Sustainable Development'.

Article, 21 February 2018
Cover of the Financial Inclusion for Poverty Alleviation book

Financial Inclusion for Poverty Alleviation

Essam Yassin Mohammed, Zenebe Bashaw Uraguchi (Eds.)
Routledge, 2017 – Book, 260 pages
Financial Inclusion for Poverty Alleviation

More than one billion people still live below the poverty line – most of them in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Financial inclusion is a major issue, as more than three quarters of poor and disadvantaged women and men do not have access to financial products and services, such as bank accounts, affordable and suitable loans, and insurance.

In a video interview, Dr Mohammed explains how this book challenges current academic debates such as the ideological basis of promoting microfinance: "What makes this book different from the current discourse on financial inclusion is the way the concept is understood. The common approach is that financial inclusion is simply about having a a bank account or being able to access micro credit.

"In this book, Dr Uraguchi and I take a more holistic view, one that goes beyond bank accounts and microfinance. It underlines the need to understand the heterogeneity of the market, particularly low-income groups of society. We need to understand, and cater for, the needs of these groups as well as the constraints they face day to day."

Mohammed explains that financial products and services are not tailored to the needs of millions of the world's poor. "Too often, financial services are designed in the high streets of London, Paris or New York, without understanding the reality on the ground for marginalised sections of society," he said.

"Being unable to access these services and products has forced them to depend on very expensive or even extortionate financial service providers. Not only does this leave them unable to withstand economic shocks, it prevents them from propelling themselves out of poverty."

The book provides rich examples of how building inclusive financial systems can empower the world's poor by increasing income and employment opportunities, securing livelihoods and reducing poverty.

Financial inclusion as a concept is receiving increasing attention by developing practitioners and policymakers, and is identified as one of the key targets in the Sustainable Development Goals. As such, the book uses the recently adopted goals as an overall framing of the issues it tackles.

Financial Inclusion for Poverty Alleviation: Issues and Case Studies for Sustainable Development, edited by Essam Yassin Mohammed and Zenebe Bashaw Uraguchi (2017), available to purchase from Routledge, 260 pages, paperback (ISBN: 9781138102767), hardback (ISBN: 9781138102750), eBook (ISBN: 9781315103457).