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Financial inclusion. Innovative financial solutions for all.

Credit Suisse is a leader in the field of financial inclusion and microfinance. Our Financial Inclusion Initiative focuses on strengthening microfinance institutions' and other financial services providers' ability to serve the financially excluded through the development of innovative financial products and services.

The bank also collaborates with specialized asset managers to offer a range of microfinance investment funds, and has been pioneering the development of new funds and products in-house, as well as IPOs and bond issuances to finance microfinance institutions.

 

What is financial inclusion?

Around the world, only a fraction of those who need financial services are able to access them. Financial Inclusion encompasses the provision of small or very small loans, savings accounts and other financial services to excluded parties, such as microenterprises and individuals, in emerging and developed economies. Financial services such as these are key in accessing many other essential needs and services in the formal economy, including health care, education and nutritional food. Access to financial services is therefore an effective way of empowering people and makes an important contribution to fighting poverty and achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Financial Inclusion can be reached through microfinance organizations as well as fintechs, mobile operators and other actors.

How financial inclusion started

Financial inclusion started with microfinance. This relatively simple concept involves providing working capital loans as small as USD 100 or less to the poor – who have little or no collateral – in groups, so that members guarantee repayments.

Over time, the services have expanded from these group loans to individual lending, and from loans to insurance, savings and fund transfers. These traditional microcredits and savings programs have proven to be effective solutions for micro-entrepreneurs and low-income households in developing countries. However, as their financial needs evolve, so does the demand for more sophisticated products and services from microfinance institutions (MFIs). Today, microfinance organizations, fintechs, mobile operators and other actors are all actively working towards the realization of financial inclusion for those at the base of the income pyramid (BOP).

For more information on financial inclusion, visit the FAQs of the World Bank.

 

Our Commitment

Credit Suisse offers its clients investment opportunities in the area of financial inclusion. It also gives MFIs access to the capital markets through the investment bank, and facilitates market development and innovation through the philanthropically-funded Financial Inclusion Initiative (FII; formerly the Microfinance Capacity Building Initiative).
Because of the large and constantly growing demand for small loans and other financial services, MFIs need access to refinancing, through so-called Microfinance Investment Vehicles, for example. Demand for microfinance investments is rising steadily as they yield both financial and social returns. Credit Suisse was one of the first financial institutions in Switzerland to recognize the potential of microloans, and has been a leader in the field for nearly two decades. Together with a small number of early movers, Credit Suisse founded responsAbility Investments AG in 2003 and today collaborates with them and other specialized asset managers to offer a range of microfinance investment funds.
By end of March 2020, the responsAbility Global Micro and SME Finance Fund, which reported more than 750 million USD in assets under management, had provided loans to hundreds of thousands of microentrepreneurs in 61 countries through more than 170 MFIs.
A private equity fund that was launched in 2007 also enables investors to participate directly in small and medium-sized enterprises and MFIs.
In addition, Credit Suisse has pioneered the development of new funds and products in-house, as well as IPOs and bond issuances to finance microfinance institutions through our capital markets groups.
Credit Suisse has also collaborated to meet the industry’s larger capital needs by providing a variety of advisory services through its investment bank, including the landmark IPO for Banco Compartamos in April 2007 and the Indian microfinance institution SKS in July 2010. Credit Suisse regularly sponsors various international and regional conferences and symposia in the area of financial inclusion, microfinance and impact investing.

 

Financial Inclusion Initiative

The Financial Inclusion Initiative is Credit Suisse's grant and technical assistance initiative for microfinance institutions, fintechs and other financial services providers at the base of the pyramid. Established in 2008, the FII aims to strengthen the financial inclusion sector by providing financial and human resources to train the management of MFIs, and to drive further market development to serve the increasingly diverse financial needs of clients living at the BOP.

This is done by:

  • Enabling product and services development and innovation across sectors
  • Developing strong industry partnerships and knowledge sharing
  • Effectively leveraging Credit Suisse’s skills, expertise, financial and social capital
  • Continuous measurement and optimization of impact

Grants made through the Credit Suisse Foundation fund the implementation of projects with our global partner organizations, and are complemented by the skills and expertise of Credit Suisse employees. Through our partnerships we strive to build the capacity of these organizations and in doing so aim to not only serve the needs of low-income households and individuals, but to build new market opportunities and mechanisms for innovative microfinance and impact investing efforts at the BOP. Our employees contribute to these efforts through our skills-based volunteering opportunities, including the Global Citizens Program, through which they leverage their skills and knowledge to address the strategic business needs of our partners in the field, as well as our Virtual Volunteering projects. The FII is the link between Credit Suisse's clients, experts and employees and the base of the economic pyramid. Together with our partners, we are finding new ways of facilitating poor people's access to financial services and advice.

Key Figures for 2019

1140
local employees of microfinance institutions trained
372
thousand people with access to new or improved products and services
134
microfinance institutions and fintech start-ups benefited from our support

Our Partners and Programs

Credit Suisse works with five carefully selected partner organizations.

  • Accion

  • Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP)

  • Opportunity International

  • Swisscontact

  • Women's World Banking

 

Industry Initiatives and Thought Leadership

Credit Suisse participates in key industry initiatives and networks to foster the exchange of knowledge, stimulate innovation and provide thought leadership.


Credit Suisse is Part of Key Networks and Industry Initiatives

  • Global Impact Investing Network

  • European Microfinance Platform

  • Swiss Capacity Building Facility

  • The Smart Campaign

  • Principles for Responsible Investment

Sharing Expertise

A key objective of the FII is to leverage the skills and enthusiasm of employees in order to build partner capacity, raise awareness and advance financial inclusion, microfinance and impact investing at the bank.

  • Global Citizens Program

  • Virtual Volunteering

  • Financial Inclusion Advocates Network

 Corporate Citizenship. Empowering People.

Together with our employees we work with selected partner organizations to help strengthen our society and to address social issues. Together, we strive to build a more inclusive future where all people can access the resources and develop the financial, entrepreneurial and other skills to thrive in the economy and society. As part of this commitment we set three focus themes: Financial Inclusion, Financial Education and Future Skills.

Focus Themes