MetLife Taps Another Big Player in Financial Inclusion

At the outset of the MetLife Foundation’s five-year, $200 million financial inclusion initiative, it didn’t surprise us that it tapped big organizations like ACCION International and Corporation for Enterprise Development in its first round of grantmaking. Both organizations are leaders in international microfinance and important actors in global financial inclusion.

Things got a little more interesting when the MetLife Foundation partnered with the Wall Street Journal to launch the Financial Inclusion Challenge. The foundation partnered with the Journal again to launch Multipliers of Prosperity, which takes a deep look at the most pressing global challenges in financial inclusion.

Related: MetLife Foundation Launches $200 Million Program to Bring Financial Services to Low-Income Communities

When we spoke with Nandika Madgavkar, assistant vice president of corporate responsibility at MetLife, she described the Multipliers of Prosperity program as a platform on which the MetLife Foundation’s nonprofit partners “can talk about the things that they’re doing in the financial inclusion space.” Though the program is relatively new, Madgavkar has witnessed Multipliers of Prosperity become a “really rich hub of content on financial inclusion from a number of different perspectives.”

    The MetLife Foundation has once again piqued our interest by partnering with Kiva, another powerful player in the financial inclusion space. Kiva is arguably one of the most well-known micro-lending organizations out there. Since it was established in 2005, it’s attracted over 1.3 million lenders who have given over $725 million in loans, which start at as little as $25.

    What makes the foundation’s partnership with Kiva even more interesting is that it’s getting its 5,200 employees in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) regions involved. Michel Khalaf, MetLife EMEA President said it offers employees “a unique, innovative and engaging opportunity to get involved and help build financial inclusion in countries that often lack access to formal financial services of any kind.”

    The MetLife Foundation has supported Kiva in the past with grants toward efforts in capacity building and other programmatic issues, but this is the first time the foundation has worked an employment engagement angle into its relationship with Kiva. When we spoke with Nandika Madgavkar about the program, she noted how fianical inclusion can very a “very dry” and “complicated topic to understand.” And we, like many, tend to agree.

    By working employee engagement into its relationship with Kiva, the foundation is encouraging its EMEA employees to look over the thousands of loan seekers profiled on the Kiva website. This allows them to really see how far an amount as small as $25 can go, and Madgavkar added, “They learn a little bit about what it means for folks to be included, and what impact it can have.” The MetLife Foundation is hoping to expand its relationship with Kiva to Latin America this fall and slowly make its way around the world from there.

    Since launching its $200 million financial inclusion initiative, the MetLife Foundation has already committed nearly $70 million to toward its goal of helping people access affordable financial services while also increasing their personal finance knowledge.