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Financial inclusion. Innovative financial solutions for all.

Credit Suisse has been an active donor and investor in the field of financial inclusion and microfinance for nearly two decades. Our Financial Inclusion Initiative complements our impact investing business and focuses on strengthening microfinance institutions' and other financial services providers' ability to serve the financially excluded.

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 the un/underbanked including microenterprises and individuals, in emerging and developed economies. While not a UN Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) in and of itself, we see financial inclusion as a key enabler to the achievement of the Goals and an important factor in accessing many other essential needs and services in the formal economy, including health care, education and nutritious food.

 

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, MFIs, fintechs, mobile operators and other actors are all actively working towards the realization of financial inclusion for excluded parties.

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 microfinance institutions (MFIs) access to the capital markets through the investment bank, and facilitates market development and innovation through the Financial Inclusion Initiative (FII; formerly the Microfinance Capacity Building Initiative).

Credit Suisse was one of the first financial institutions in Switzerland to recognize the potential of microloans, and has been an active donor and investor 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.

Demand for microfinance investments is rising steadily as they yield both financial and social returns. 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 MFIs 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

Established in 2008, the FII supports the availability of innovative and financially inclusive solutions to help advance progress towards the UN SDGs, by enabling:

  • equitable access to financial services for the un/underbanked
  • the design, evolution and scaling of innovative impact enterprises and financing solutions
  • entrepreneurship and innovation in and through access to financial services

To achieve this, we work with carefully selected partner organizations. 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. Our employees contribute to these efforts through our skills-based volunteering opportunities, including the Global Citizens Program and Skills xChange, through which they leverage their expertise to address the strategic business needs of our partners in the field. Additionally, through the Financial Inclusion Advocates network, employees channel their enthusiasm for financial inclusion to help raise awareness, educate and engage their colleagues on the topic. 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 2021

1008
local employees of microfinance institutions were trained
49474
people have access to new or improved products and services
138
microfinance institutions and fintech start-ups benefited from our support

Our Partners and Programs

  • Accion

  • Opportunity International

  • SDG Impact Finance Initiative

  • 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

  • Principles for Responsible Investment

 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