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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' ability to serve the financially excluded through the development of financial products and services.


What is Financial Inclusion?

Financial Inclusion is the providing of small or very small loans, savings accounts and other financial services in emerging and developed economies to excluded parties, like microenterprises and individuals. It is an effective way of helping people to help themselves and makes an important contribution to fighting poverty through financial inclusion. 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. Microfinance started as an amazingly simple concept: to provide 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. Financially inclusive organizations also often offer interested clients an investment opportunity that generates both a social and a financial return.

For more information on Financial Inclusion, visit the FAQs of the World Bank.


Our Engagement

Credit Suisse offers its clients investment opportunities in the area of financial inclusion and microfinance. It also gives microfinance institutions 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).

Because of the large and constantly growing demand for small loans and other financial services, microfinance institutions (MFI s) need access to refinancing, for example through so-called Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIV). 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. We have been involved in this field at various levels for many years. For example, together with partner banks we founded responsAbility Investments AG in 2001 and now offer a range of microfinance investment funds in conjunction with this company.

By end of March 2018, the responsAbility Micro and SME Finance Fund, which reported more than 1 billion USD in assets under management, had provided loans to over 705,000 microentrepreneurs in 84 countries through more than 290 microfinance institutions (MFI).
A private equity fund that was launched in 2007 also enables investors to participate directly in small and medium-sized enterprises and microfinance institutions. At the same time, we offer various investment and advisory services in the microfinance sector.
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 sponsored various international and regional conferences and symposia in the area of financial inclusion, microfinance and impact investing.


Developing Microfinance Institutions and Innovation

Around the world, only a fraction of those who need financial services are able to access them. 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. Through the Financial Inclusion Initiative (FII), Credit Suisse works with Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) to strengthen their ability to serve the increasingly diverse financial needs of clients living at the base of the income pyramid (BOP). This is done by developing MFIs’ know-how and expertise to better serve clients and innovate at the BOP and also fostering industry knowledge sharing and exchange of expertise.

Financial Inclusion Initiative

The Financial Inclusion Initiative (FII) aims to strengthen the microfinance industry by providing financial and human resources to train the management of MFIs, and to drive further market development.

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

    The FII is the bank's grant and technical assistance initiative for microfinance institutions (MFIs). Launched in 2008, the FII aims to strengthen the microfinance industry, its institutions and their management.

Key Figures for 2019

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

Implementation of the Initiative

Grants fund the implementation of projects with our global partners. Through the FII, partners engage experts and develop new financial products and services in collaboration with Credit Suisse across their global network. They then ensure that the knowledge and expertise built up in one MFI is replicated, adapted and applied in other MFIs in different regions, building on the acquired know-how, in order to achieve even greater impact. Our partners also share their knowledge at industry conferences and events, as well as through publications. In addition, the FII supports industry coordination and development efforts and training and industry thought leadership. The Initiative provides financial and human resources to train and develop management and to drive product and process innovation – enabling organizations to meet their social and financial goals in an efficient and responsible manner. In doing so, in addition to serving the needs of low-income households, the Initiative and our partners are building new market opportunities and mechanisms for innovative microfinance and impact investing efforts at the BOP. Our employees also contribute to this capacity building through our virtual and field volunteering efforts, such as the Global Citizens Program, in which they share their skills and knowledge directly with our partners in the field. The FII is the final 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.

Our Partners and Programs

Credit Suisse works with five carefully selected partner organizations to enable microfinance institutions to develop the people, products and processes they need to meet the increasingly diverse financial needs of people living at the base of the pyramid, including housing, agriculture and education.

  • 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

  • Asian Development Bank

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 firm.

  • 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