Zooming in on Financial Inclusion

14 December 2017

How do you photograph asset financing? Or a mobile money transaction?

The photographers in CGAP’s 2017 Photo Contest tackled this challenge, telling the stories of financial inclusion around the world in way that was narratively and aesthetically compelling – stories that rose above the outdated notion of financial inclusion as charity, instead illustrating how the clear economic case for inclusion takes shape in people’s everyday lives.

As a juror for the 2017 contest, my job was to select those images that communicated the impact of financial inclusion into visual form. We jurors looked for the aesthetic qualities that make a good photo — composition, light, color, they all had to work. But the narrative was central: How does expanding access to financial services benefit individuals, families and their communities? We had to see and understand the story in order to include the photo in the group of finalists.

In “Fish Finder,” for instance, the use of a smartphone app to improve fishing yields is clear. And the photo itself—fishermen in shadow on the water, the bright phone screen a focal point—is well composed.

Fish finder

Photo: Afriadi Hikmal, 2017 CGAP Photo Contest

In “Give Us Sunshine,” which depicts a boutique run by women disfigured by acid attacks, the women’s scars are startlingly contextualized within the vivid colors of the shop interior.

Give us sunshine

Photo: Sourav Karmakar, 2017 CGAP Photo Contest

And in the grand prize winner, “Honey Collectors,” we are immersed in a full enveloping, dangerous activity. It looks otherworldly.

Honey hunters

Photo: Muhammad Mostafigur Rahman, 2017 CGAP Photo Contest

The photos in this contest break us away from technical, abstract, data-heavy descriptions of the challenges that unbanked people face. They take us into the businesses, homes and daily lives of those who are still too often not reached by traditional financial services and products.

Citi has partnered with CGAP to support financial access for more than a decade, building opportunities through financial inclusion that create social impact that benefits families and entire communities globally. It is a pleasure to take part in bringing the stories of the people who are building better lives for their families and communities to the world.

See all the winning photos from this year's photo contest.

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