Letter From The CEO
Responding to shocks while building for the future
It has now been over a year and a half since a tiny virus changed the lives of every person on the planet in profound ways. In many respects, the past fiscal year has been a time of tremendous setbacks for global development. The World Bank estimates that as many as 97 million people fell back into poverty in 2020, reversing years of progress in the fight against poverty. The people that CGAP aims to serve — poor people in emerging markets, especially women — have seen some of the biggest disruptions to their lives and livelihoods. And with the crisis still unfolding, it could be years before the pandemic is fully under control.
One of the many lessons to come out the past year has been the vital role that financial inclusion plays in times of crisis. Around the world, governments relied on digital payments systems to get help into the hands of people in need. Flexibility in credit sustained micro and small businesses. Savings proved vital to households that lost livelihoods. Countries that had built inclusive financial ecosystems were better positioned to respond than those that had not. Financial services matter. At CGAP the crisis only strengthened our determination to make sure everyone has the financial tools they need to not only ride out crises, but to achieve their goals and improve their lives.
I am proud to say that CGAP has contributed to the global COVID-19 response in a number of ways over the past year, thanks to the tireless work of our staff and consultants. Our global pulse survey of microfinance institutions provided policy makers and funders with the first global and regional picture of how the crisis was unfolding in the microfinance sector — which 140 million low-income clients depend on for savings and credit. Building on our extensive research in government-to-person (G2P) cash transfer schemes and rural agent networks, we assisted several of our members in their work with national governments to deliver digital payments to those in need. We also raised awareness of financial scams, troubling debt moratoria practices, and other consumer protection issues; and mobilized our information sharing platforms, such as the FinDev Gateway, to enable the wider financial inclusion community to share lessons and best practices related to the pandemic response.
Beyond our COVID-19 response, we continued to make our transition away from the “access and usage” paradigm that defined financial inclusion for so long, toward an outcome-based framework for our work that focuses on the ways financial services can actually help poor people, especially women, to do three things: generate income, access essential services, and protect basic standards of living. As I mentioned in last year’s CEO letter, the impetus for this shift was to put poor people at the center of everything we do and ensure financial inclusion translates into not only more accounts and higher transaction volumes, but meaningful impact in people’s lives. Importantly, as part of this strategic shift, we also committed to focusing more on women to help address the persistent gender gap in financial inclusion. The gender gaps COVID-19 exacerbated have confirmed that this is the right direction for us. It enables CGAP to contribute to global efforts to recover from COVID-19 and to help minimize the impact on the poor of the next global crisis, whatever it may be.
We made considerable progress in this direction over the last year, launching a new project to examine the role that financial services can play in improving livelihoods for three types of workers that collectively represent many of the world’s poor: women in rural and agricultural livelihoods, micro and small business owners and employees, and the small but fast-growing number of platform workers. We also put women’s financial inclusion squarely within our broader work agenda by mainstreaming gender into existing projects and ramping up new research on women’s financial inclusion, such as developing diagnostic tools to help funders account for gendered social norms in their financial inclusion programming. By the end of FY21, our community of practice on women's financial inclusion, FinEquity, had grown to reach over 4,000 individuals spanning over 125 countries. 1,500 of these were signed up for direct member-to-member engagement and online discussions. FinEquity links us to a wide network of partners committed to women’s financial inclusion and empowerment.
On a more personal note, this will be my final letter as CEO of CGAP. I am leaving to take on a new role focused on women’s economic empowerment, where I look forward to applying the many lessons I’ve learned from 15 years in the inclusive finance space. Steve Rasmussen, who is well known to many in the CGAP community, will serve as the Interim CEO of CGAP until my successor can be appointed. I would like to thank the entire CGAP community for entrusting me with leading this amazing organization for the last six years. I have been privileged and humbled by my experience here and hope that I have made a small contribution to improving financial inclusion for the world’s poor. I will continue to watch from afar in my new role as a member of the CGAP community rather than as the leader of this organization. I leave you in good hands, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
At the end of 2019, the world was experiencing the longest period of improvement in human welfare ever recorded. From 1999 to 2019, over a billion people escaped extreme poverty. COVID-19 reversed that trend, upending livelihoods across the globe and throwing millions of people back into poverty. Women have been disproportionately affected. Yet because women are more financially excluded than men, it has been harder to reach them with emergency cash transfer programs. In the early months of the pandemic, CGAP mobilized its resources to assist with the global response. We contributed in numerous ways over the last year, with a focus on ensuring that effective support reached the poor, especially women, and the financial institutions that serve them.
Microfinance providers (a broad range of institutions that offer vital credit and savings services to low-income segments) serve at least 140 million people — roughly 80% of them women. They came under severe pressure during the pandemic. As the pandemic eroded borrowers’ ability to repay loans, one of the biggest challenges stakeholders faced was the lack of global data on how this was impacting the sector. From June to December 2020, CGAP conducted a pulse survey that reached approximately 400 microfinance providers around the world and gave policy makers, funders, and providers the first global picture of the crisis. We subsequently partnered with Symbiotics, an impact investing platform, to publish regular analyses of how the crisis was affecting over 300 providers in Symbiotics’ portfolio. Together, these efforts showed that the liquidity crisis many had feared did not materialize; however, there are longer-term solvency risks that are still playing out and that should be carefully monitored.
Beyond the global data initiative, CGAP facilitated sustained dialogue among eight leading development finance institutions and other stakeholders to promote a coordinated funder response. To assist government officials, we issued recommendations for regulating microfinance institutions in ways that would mitigate the impact of the pandemic. Finally, CGAP consulted with over 30 microfinance provider networks to better understand providers’ challenges. After identifying an urgent need for comprehensive crisis management guidance, we hosted virtual workshops on the subject and published a crisis roadmap to help providers manage COVID-19 and future crises.
Government-to-person (G2P) digital payment systems, along with the cash-in/cash-out (CICO) networks that support them, are vital for distributing financial assistance to people in need. Working closely with The World Bank, CGAP provided G2P technical assistance to 15 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America to improve G2P delivery of relief and stimulus payments. This work is ongoing. Beyond this direct support, in the early months of the pandemic we published guidance on how countries could rapidly open G2P payments accounts while complying AML/CFT rules. We also coordinated a working group of peer organizations looking at onboarding to rapidly gather best practices amid the pandemic response.
CGAP's work on G2P payments, done in collaboration with the World Bank, organically built on ongoing project work and catalyzed policy reforms...In many countries, such as Peru and the Philippines, the urgency of getting financial aid to people affected by the crisis gave momentum to reforms to reshape G2P delivery at a national scale.
Knowledge sharing plays a critical role in guiding decisions during a time of crisis and it has been an important component of CGAP’s strategic response to COVID-19. At the onset of the pandemic, CGAP launched a global COVID knowledge hub on its FinDev Gateway platform, bringing together the most relevant news and information to help donors and other stakeholders understand and respond to the crisis. The hub has become a critical resource for the financial inclusion community to track developments, share lessons learned, find new opportunities for collaboration and partnerships, and reduce duplication of effort. The knowledge hub received an estimated 395,000 pageviews between March 2020 and June 2021. In addition, over 200 financial inclusion practitioners and experts engaged in dialogue by sharing their insights on the impact of the pandemic through the FinDev Gateway blog and webinar series.
FinDev Gateway simultaneously launched COVID-19 knowledge hubs in Arabic, French, and Spanish to engage in key regions. It also produced a bi-weekly COVID-19 update in four languages, which was consistently opened by over 5,000 subscribers. The updates synthesized findings from new studies and highlighted key developments around the world, helping to shape the sector’s crisis response as it unfolded.
In addition, the CGAP-convened FinEquity community played an important role in raising awareness about the impact of the pandemic on women through a series of discussion forums and events. It also curated knowledge resources for the global community to guide decisions about increasing women’s resiliency during crises.
COVID-19 is a developing story and so learning about what is happening elsewhere is very useful. For instance,...when our central bank introduced a stimulus fund for the financial sector. Partly this was made possible because of the readings from FinDev.
The Challenge In Building Back
COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of inclusive financial systems during times of crisis. Over the last year, millions of people who lost their livelihoods had to rely on savings, remittances, or government payments to survive. But we know that these and other financial tools are also important for helping people to meet their basic needs and thrive during times of relative peace and stability. “Building back better” means making these tools available to everyone. Over the last year, CGAP continued to shift its focus to understanding and supporting financial services that can help poor people, especially women, meet three basic needs: generating income, accessing essential services, and protecting basic standards of living.
The increasingly digital financial sector is intersecting with other areas of the economy to create new opportunities for poor people to earn incomes. It also creates new risks. During FY21, CGAP launched a three-year project to test and scale up financial solutions for three types of workers who together make up the majority of the world’s poor: micro-entrepreneurs and their employees, women in rural and agricultural livelihoods, and the small but rapidly growing number of platform workers. In its first year, the project completed extensive landscaping research on these workers, their needs, and how well existing financial services are meeting them, laying the groundwork for piloting innovative solutions in the coming year.
A growing number of financially excluded women are running businesses over social media platforms to improve their lives. This informal online commerce (IOC) is driven primarily by women as both buyers and sellers and it enables them to pursue livelihoods, often in the face of systemic and normative constraints. CGAP undertook research in three different markets to better understand the characteristics of IOC, map the personas of the women who engage in it, and provide guidance on how funders can support women in IOC.
Accessing Essential Services
Whether it is clean water, electricity, education, or health care, essential services are the foundations of a household’s standard of living and are central to poverty reduction and global development. CGAP’s work on essential services during FY21 focused primarily on the energy sector.
Energizing the off-grid solar industry. The pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) solar industry emerged about ten years ago and has advanced financial inclusion while helping millions of customers escape energy poverty. But the industry is full of young companies that present challenges for investors and it lacked common reporting standards. This has limited its ability to attract capital and scale up its development impact.
To help the industry benchmark its performance and present a more accessible profile to investors, CGAP, GOGLA, and IFC/Lighting Global released the “PAYGo PERFORM” financial reporting framework. This set of 36 key performance indicators was developed through an industry-led process with input from roughly 600 PAYGo executives, investors, and other stakeholders. It represents a significant leap forward for this promising industry. CGAP also developed a credit risk management guide to help innovative companies in PAYGo and the asset finance sector more broadly to provide better and more suitable credit to low-income households.
The standardized KPIs will help companies an investors better understand the risks, rewards, and impact of the PAYGo industry as well as unlock the necessary financing to achieve SDG 7.
Protecting Basic Standards Of Living
Low-income people are especially vulnerable to shocks, from climate change-induced flooding to health emergencies. While digital financial services have created opportunities for people to overcome these challenges, they also present complex risks that must be managed not just by consumers, but by governments, funders, and providers. During FY21, CGAP identified 64 specific consumer risks associated with digital finance and completed research for a market monitoring toolkit. When published later in 2021, the toolkit will guide supervisors in how to use tools ranging from phone surveys to AI-based social media analysis to monitor their markets for these consumer risks. It will also highlight how they can use different tools to gather and analyze gender disaggregated data as part of their monitoring efforts.
CGAP also identified three ways to empower consumers and elevate their voice in financial regulation. Throughout the year we worked with several partners to establish the WAEMU Digital Finance Consumer Protection Lab. When completed it will be a learning forum for regulators, supervisors, digital financial services providers, and other market actors interested in applying market monitoring tools in the WAEMU region and taking actions to improve customer outcomes. Finally, we collaborated with authorities in Peru to set up systems to collect and integrate consumer feedback into financial regulation and supervision.
Strengthening The Foundations Of Inclusive Finance
In addition to our COVID-19 response and pivot toward financial services that help poor people generate income, access essential services, and protect basic standards of living, CGAP continued its work to help lay strong foundations for inclusive financial systems. Through our partnerships and engagement with a wide array of government agencies, funders, financial institutions, fintechs, and other stakeholders, we made substantial contributions to financial policy-making and regulation, efforts to modernize and expand financial infrastructure, and the financial inclusion community’s understanding of the opportunities and risks posed by digital innovations.
Promoting Basic Regulatory Enablers And Preparing Emerging Markets For Next-Generation Challenges
CGAP worked with regulators, supervisors, and standard-setting bodies around the world to scale up the basic regulatory enablers of digital financial services. With our assistance, supervisors in four countries — El Salvador, Ghana, Jordan, and Pakistan — made significant progress last year. The Bank of Ghana established a new licensing category for fintechs and payment service providers and incorporated our recommendations into their supervision framework for these providers. Additionally, our research and workshops on regulatory sandboxes and other next-generation issues better equipped regulators in nearly 40 countries to respond to innovations in digital finance, such as open banking, digital ID, and central bank digital currencies. Many of these innovations originate in advanced economies and eventually affect emerging markets.
As a non-expert on regulatory sandboxes, I found CGAP's technical guide extremely useful. We will certainly be sharing this guide with all financial sector regulators in Uganda.
Expanding Critical Financial Infrastructure All The Way To The Last Mile
Financial infrastructure that reaches everyone and promotes an open, safe, and competitive market for financial services is essential for financial inclusion.
Modernizing government-to-person (G2P) payments systems. G2P systems facilitate payments to low-income groups and often women, making them important levers for closing the gender gap in financial inclusion. CGAP continued to champion “G2P choice”: the idea that when multiple payment providers are allowed to distribute payments and compete for transactions, it results in greater convenience, better service, and lower costs for beneficiaries. Thanks in part to our work, Indonesia committed to G2P choice reform as a high priority in its five-year development plan.
Expanding agent networks into rural areas. Agent networks are the bridge between the cash economy and digital financial services, including G2P payments, but they are notoriously difficult to establish and operate in remote areas. CGAP published detailed guidance on how to address these challenges and build viable rural agent networks, and we launched initiatives to expand networks in six countries: Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, India, Indonesia, Morocco and Pakistan.
Advancing interoperability in instant payments systems. When financial services are interoperable, they deliver more value to users. Capping off two years of research, CGAP published detailed guidance on how to build an interoperable system and helped actors to develop or improve such systems in Jordan, DRC, Yemen, and the West Africa region.
Connecting innovators to financial infrastructure via open APIs. Our work to promote open APIs resulted in three partners — MTN, Wave Money, and Tilt Africa — launching APIs that enabled other companies to integrate financial services into a broad range of solutions, ranging from cross-border remittances to bike-hailing. Over 300 partners are now actively using MTN’s APIs in 12 countries across Africa, significantly broadening the uses cases for financial services.
Identifying, Supporting And Scaling Up The Innovations That Really Matter
The breakneck pace of innovation can make it difficult to identify and effectively support new business models that have real potential to advance financial inclusion. Based on two years of research and engagements with nearly 90 development funders and fintechs, CGAP published “Fintech and Financial Inclusion: A Funders’ Guide to Greater Impact,” which contains practical guidance on how funders can identify promising fintech solutions and maximize the impact of their support. We also published resources demystifying the latest advances in digital banking and their connection to financial inclusion, including case studies on inclusive digital banks in India, the Philippines, and South Africa.
Looking Ahead To 2021-2022
Emerging Topics. Beyond CGAP’s ongoing project work, in any given year we conduct exploratory work on new topics to better understand their linkages with financial inclusion and identify knowledge gaps where CGAP (and others) can make a meaningful contribution. During FY22, CGAP is focusing its exploratory work on four areas:
1. Climate Change – it is abundantly clear that a climate transition is underway. It will require the world’s poor to adapt to both the physical changes in their local climate systems and the global transition to decarbonized economic systems. CGAP will engage with the wider climate change and financial inclusion communities to advance a joint agenda around the role of financial services in providing the tools the world’s poor will need to manage these transitions.
2. Essential Services – as one of CGAP’s three priority impact areas, we will seek to build upon CGAP’s past work in the energy, water, and education sectors to better understand how financial services can play a role in expanding access to, and improving the quality of, essential services. We will identify a handful of priority areas in order to shape our own work and to raise broader awareness of opportunities and needs.
3. Resilience – Building resilience is a complex and long-term undertaking and poor people face a range of economic, natural, health, political, social, and technological risks. Across all these types of risks, women are particularly impacted. We will continue to deepen our understanding of the most important risks that poor people face, how they manage them, and the role financial services can play in building their resilience.
4. Fragile Countries – in 2020, fragile contexts were home to 23% of the world’s population and more than 75% of those living in extreme poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, and conflict have likely made the situation worse. Our work will focus on beginning to understand the interconnections between fragility and financial inclusion within the local contexts of Ethiopia, Iraq, and Lebanon.
Global Reach And Influence
Throughout FY21, CGAP continued to increase the global reach and influence of its knowledge and insights. With face-to-face presentations and events curtailed due to the pandemic, CGAP increased its investment in virtual events to supplement the reach of its websites, newsletters, social media, and media activities.
The Economist (1.6 million readers)
“Today the lending portfolios of microfinance institutions (mfis) are worth a combined $124bn. But the industry is in trouble. Covid-19 is straining its finances… More than two-thirds of mfis have cut lending, often by at least half, according to cgap, a think-tank in Washington. Nearly one-third do not have enough cash to meet outflows this quarter.”
Wall Street Journal (2.8 million readers)
“Antonique Koning, a financial-sector specialist at the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said the hit to the informal economy took many governments by surprise because it had been more resilient to previous economic shocks… “The problem was the shock hit everyone, and replacing one type of livelihood with another was impossible.”
Business Daily Africa (190,000 readers)
“Despite the gig economy being the working model of the future, it continues to face challenges. Current labour laws are still not conducive… In its report, Africa’s Gig Economy and the Role of Digital Finance, CGAP… cites access to capital as another challenge. Gig workers in Kenya cite savings, loans and medical insurance as top financial services they would like to access.”
Le Monde (390,000 readers)
“The crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the risk of debt distress for the 140 million micro-borrowers… "Women are the most affected," emphasizes Antonique Koning, specialist in financial inclusion for the Consultative Group for Assistance to Poor (CGAP) … because they work in sectors such as personal service or retail, which were crippled by lockdowns, and their household chores also increased during this time.”
Fiscal Year 2021 Financial Statements
CGAP is a trust-funded consortium of 34 members with a mandate of advancing access to financial services to the world’s poor. It is housed in the World Bank’s Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions Global Practice. The Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions Global Practice (EFI), on behalf of other member donors, has legal, financial, and administrative oversight of CGAP. CGAP’s initiatives span more than one fiscal year. CGAP follows the World Bank’s fiscal year, which ends on June 30.
These financial statements include a FY21 Financial Update, FY21 Member Contribution Update and accompanying notes. They are unaudited. Internal audits are performed by World Bank Group Quality Assurance. CGAP also participates in the World Bank Group’s single audit exercise annually.
Key Highlights for Fiscal Year 2021
Donor Contributions. Total donor contributions in FY21 were $27.2 million, a significant increase from $20.4 million received in FY20. CGAP bilateral members provided 39% of the total FY21 contributions, while foundations provided 43%. Multilaterals provided 16%, and DFIs provided 2% the total funds required to implement CGAP work program in FY21.
Operating Expenses. CGAP’s FY21-end expenses were $24.6 million, or 2% over the approved budget of $24.2 million. Staff costs represented 57% of the total costs, same as in FY20. In FY21 CGAP’s expenses were funded 87% from the Core funding, and 13% from the Designated funds.
Financial Position. CGAP maintained a strong financial position and ended FY21 with $24.4 million in cash on hand funding available for FY22. Additional receivables (based on the signed member agreements) were $26.8 million, totaling $51.2 million available in cash and signed donor agreements for the start of FY22. In addition, there were also $1.5 million in funding where members already approved, or communicated their intention to contribute, but formal agreements are yet to be signed. Combined, that represents $52.7 million in secured or pledged funding available for the CGAP VI Strategy cycle in FY22 and FY23.
1. Basis of Accounting
CGAP financial update is prepared on cash accounting basis.
Revenue from donor pledges is recognized when written notification of a donor’s intent to process the grant is received. In most cases, pledges are fulfilled during the fiscal year in which they were made. Sometimes they are received in the following year(s).
These (unaudited) financial statements are prepared on a historical cost convention and are denominated in United States dollars.
2. Contributions from Donors – Core and Designated
Donor contributions (including pledges that have not yet been received but are being processed by the donor), interest income,
and foreign exchange gains comprise CGAP’s revenues. Per CGAP’s charter, all members are expected to contribute core funding to carry out CGAP’s operations. Once donors have made core (unrestricted) contributions, they can make in exceptional cases a contribution limited to a specific purpose (designated). Amounts of donor contributions to CGAP’s core funds can be found in the table on CGAP Member Donor Contributions.
3. Interest Income
Interest Income is the interest received during the fiscal year on cash balances held.
4. Operating Expenses: Operating expenses are comprised of the following:
Staff Salaries and Benefits of direct-hire CGAP staff.
Consultant fees are costs related to hire of individual CGAP consultants.
Travel are expenses related to delivery of corporate activities including inter alia participation in external events, CGAP-hosted meetings, etc.
Contractual/Firm services related to hiring of external companies.
Other Operating Expenses include all other expenses related to delivery of CGAP’s program, including those related to organization of CG and ExCom Meetings, office and building expenses. telecommunications, office supplies, etc.
5. Operating Reserve
Operating Reserves are funds available for ongoing operations and future commitments. Given that CGAP does not generate revenue, an operating reserve is maintained to cushion potential effects of delays in member contributions and to allow an orderly wind-down of CGAP activities should members decide to discontinue CGAP's operations in its present form. Our practice is to target operating reserves at a level that would sustain at least 6 months of operating costs which is at the moment estimated to $15 million.
Chair: Jason Lamb, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Juliet Anammah, Jumia, at-large
Bindu Ananth, Dvara Trust, at-large
Maha Bahou, Jordan Payments and Clearing Company (JO-PACC), at-large
Henri Dommel, UNCDF
Ola Sahlén, Sida
Fernando Maldonado, USAID
Christine Poursat, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) Group
Mahesh Uttamchandani, World Bank
Greta Bull, ex-officio, CGAP CEO
CGAP COUNCIL OF GOVERNORS & REPRESENTATIVES
Denmark: Ole Dahl Rasmussen, Jørn Olesen and Maike Schäfer
Germany: Florian Henrich, Linnea Kreibohm, Wolfgang Buecker and Judith Frickenstein
Italy: Francesco Capecchi
Norway: Kim Kristmoen, Bjørn Holter Eriksen and Nikolai Østråt Owe
Sweden: Ola Sahlén
Switzerland: Philippe Sas and Lena Gampp
Australia: Peta Mills and Selina Hughes
Canada: John Jacobs
Japan: Makoto Hatano, Yasuha Mikuni and Tomomi Uchikawa
Jersey: Simon Boas and Edward Lewis
Luxembourg: Michel Haas, Thomas Lammar and Paul Weber
The Netherlands: Sandra Louiszoon
Republic of Korea: Sungil Son, Yukyum Kim and Seolri Park
United Kingdom: Rebecca Waghorn and Sian Parkinson
United States: Fernando Maldonado and Paul Nelson
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: Michael Wiegand, Jason Lamb, Daniel Radcliffe, and Deon Woods Bell
Credit Suisse: Laura Hemrika and Andrina Schwartz
Flourish: Arjuna Costa and Stella Klemperer
Mastercard Foundation: Nathalie Gabala
MetLife Foundation: Evelyn J. Stark and Krishna Thacker
Development Finance Institutions
AFD Group: Christine Poursat, Jérémy Brault, Sandrine Bannwarth, Laurence Bottin and Pauline Angoso
CDC Group: Machal Karim
European Investment Bank: Olivier Edelman, Isabelle Van Grunderbeeck and Emma Paul
FMO—Dutch Development Bank: Jeroen Harteveld and Esther Njoroge
IDB Lab: Irene Arias, Sergio Navajas and Fernando de Olloqui
International Finance Corporation: Martin Holtmann
Investment Fund for Developing Countries: Morten Elkjær
KfW Bankengruppe: Matthias Adler and Carmen Colla
African Development Bank: Mohamed Kalif, Stefan Nalletamby and Sheila Okiro
European Commission: Laura Atienza, Efrem Garlando and Christian Crivari
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD): Michael Hamp and Marc de Sousa-Shields
United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) / UNDP: Henri Dommel and John Tucker