Why is it important to provide access to finance to the base of the pyramid?

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In this blog post, we highlight the Inclusive Business Conference that took place at North South University on Sunday 30 September. BFP-B research & data analyst Ben Stevenson participated on the Financial Inclusion for Balancing Benefits to the Base of the Pyramid panel. Let’s take a closer look at what was discussed.

The conference, organised by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation in association with Dutch Bangla Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Social Responsibility Asia Bangladesh, showcased six different sessions all of which focused on opportunities, challenges, and best practices for investment in inclusive business.

Session panelists debated steps to strengthen Bangladesh’s position in inclusive business.

People at the bottom of the pyramid need products that are more suitable to their specific needs.
— Ben Stevenson, Consultant, Research and Data Analytics, BFP-B

Financial Inclusion for achieving Sustainable Development Goals

Also on the panel with Ben were Terra Resources International Chairman Mr. Zia U. Ahmed, LightCastle Partners CEO Mr. Bijon Islam, and United Nations Capital Development Fund Project Coordinator Mr. Ashraful Alam.

The panelists discussed the vital need to focus on sustainably developing economic opportunities for citizens at the base of the pyramid.

Other areas of discussion highlighted were the fact that challenge fund grantees may find regulators are not open to innovation, as well as topics like venture capital, and some of the projects being funded by Bangladesh that are creating a significant impact in the country.

Mr. Ahmed stated the importance of ‘post micro financing’, and challenges businesses too big to qualify for microfinance but too small for conventional bank services face.

In his speech, Ben highlighted four major areas where the BFP-B is supporting development:

  1. Ensuring access to a full range of financial services

    When trying to provide financial solutions to populations, it is important to provide the full range of financial services. Research shows most people have access to payment services, but not to insurance services.

  2. Designing tailored products suitable for the poor

    People at the bottom of the pyramid need products that are more suitable to their specific needs.

  3. Digital disruption

    Working with strategies that must be able to factor in rapid, potentially disruptive changes to technology.

  4. Data analytics

    Working with data analytics to help insulate key financial services from problematic transformations when they arise.

Too big for microfinance, too small for banks.
— Mr. Zia U. Ahmed, Chairman, Terra Resources International Venture Investment Partners BD Ltd

In 2015, the United Nations set out the Sustainable Development Goals to address global challenges like poverty alleviation, climate change, and economic inequality and create a more sustainable future for all.

Though Bangladesh has come a long way when it comes to inclusive business and achieving the UN SDGs, huge potential for growth still exists in many untapped socioeconomic areas. And organisations must work together to take this opportunity and bring about development.

Learn more about Financial inclusion in Bangladesh and South Asia.