5 Minutes with Patricia Devereux

Patricia Devereux, Group Head, Corporate Philanthropy and Citizenship, MasterCard Worldwide, at the Project Inspire 2011 Grand Finals

There are a lot of conversations and efforts these days to drive financial inclusion. However, for all the discussion, I’m not sure that many people truly understand what financial inclusion is and just how powerful it can be.

Financial inclusion centers on the delivery of financial services at affordable costs – specifically to disadvantaged and low income segments of society. Providing access to financial services has been proven to alleviate poverty. In fact, financial inclusion has become an increasing common objective for many banks within developing nations, giving people the ability to manage the risk and uncertainty in their lives through myriad of services such as savings, insurance and credit.

Financial inclusion is a powerful channel that helps get people into the financial mainstream, connecting them with opportunity, and having a positive ripple effect in families and throughout communities.

In my role as the Corporate Philanthropy and Citizenship lead for MasterCard globally, I’ve had the opportunity to see first-hand the true impact of programs designed to promote financial inclusion.

Our Citizenship efforts at MasterCard are focused on furthering financial inclusion through entrepreneurship. We support many organizations around the world to give people of all ages the skills and resources to help them build a better future. The root goal of our work is empowerment – and that takes shape in financial and business education programs, and in programs that help create and grow new and existing businesses by providing access to capital, technology, training and mentors.  It may be hard to connect these activities to improving lives, but I have seen many of the communities and people that these programs reach, and understand the difference that they make.  What I find most remarkable is that many times, individuals, rather than large organizations, are often the spark to drive social impact in communities.

Project Inspire is a one great example of this philosophy in action.  In August 2011, I was in Singapore as part of a judging panel for Project Inspire – an initiative that brings the phrase “5 minutes to change the world” to life.  Project Inspire is all about easing the plight of women and girls in Asia and empowering individuals on a path to success.  This can be done through a community center that provides training and mentors to help women start and manage their own businesses; by connecting women entrepreneurs to markets; or giving them financial and literacy skills to better understand and navigate the world.

Why get passionate about women’s empowerment in particular?  Because women invest 90% of their income back into their families – nurturing and educating their children and contributing to the vibrancy of their communities.

Project Inspire has caught the attention of over 19,000 people in 157 countries.  Join the conversation and be a part of the change!  Subscribe to the Project Inspire newsletter, ‘like’ us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and get inspired by the stories of change taking place in communities around the world! Check out MasterCard on our in the Community page too, to see how else we’re fostering financial inclusion.

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