The world has changed dramatically in the last few years: climate shocks, political unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic have already left millions of people in a more vulnerable state. These crises are affecting nearly everyone on our planet, but their impact on people living in poverty is more pronounced and have already left millions of people in a more vulnerable state. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has put parts of the financial inclusion ecosystem at risk, coupled with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have alone reversed three decades of progress in reducing poverty, according to the World Bank.
Fragile and conflict-affected states, home to 1 billion people, are at particular risk of economic uncertainty. By 2030, an estimated 59% of global extreme poor will be in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence, where financial exclusion levels are some of the highest in the world. Every year, millions of people are forced to leave their homes as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order. Women are more likely to lose their livelihoods, experience displacement, and have education interrupted during times of fragility, conflict and violence and are less likely to have a formal bank account.
What insights for inclusive finance have we gathered from COVID-19? What role can inclusive finance play in building resilience for people facing recurring crises and in providing opportunities for those living in fragile contexts? How can inclusive financial service providers—both formal and informal—play a role in channeling humanitarian aid beyond immediate priorities to build resilient, long-term solutions?