In 2013, the MetLife Foundation declared that it was making a $200 million commitment over five years toward global financial inclusion, beginning with low-income communities in Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and the U.S. within two years. Around $70 million of that initial pledge was distributed to various organizations working toward the common goal of helping people access affordable financial services and become more knowledgeable about personal finances.
MetLife continued to keep its financial inclusion money train rolling by partnering with the Wall Street Journal to launch the Financial Inclusion Challenge. The two-year global project was initially launched in Asia and is managed by the as part of the paper’s "Financing the Future" program, a major editorial initiative in which the WSJ provides news, statistics, and other financial inclusion insights. Earlier this month, the MetLife Foundation announced that it would remain the exclusive partner for the challenge.
MetLife has once again become the exclusive backer of another financial inclusion challenge, this time with the global social enterprise outfit, Verb.
The MetLife Foundation and Verb are launching Inclusion Plus, a worldwide competition aimed at “entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and companies focused on addressing the financial health needs of low to moderate income households.” The contest, which is managed by Verb, is making its debut in Ireland, with plans to expand to a minimum of 10 countries over the next three years.
The goal, according to president and CEO of the MetLife Foundation, Dennis White, is “to significantly extend beyond the work of traditional financial institutions through a series of competitions with a focus on the unique needs of each location.” The top five winners will receive a $50,000 award from the foundation.
MetLife hasn’t been on the financial inclusion scene for very long, but it’s already made some impressive headway. In addition to partnering with WSJ and Verb, the foundation joined forces with Bankable Frontier Associates and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) to developed Optimizing Performance Through Improved Cross Sell, or OPTIX program. The program is aimed at helping local microfinance institutions (MFIs) better meet the needs of their clients.
MetLife’s drive to bring the over 2 billion people worldwide without access to basic financial services into the fold isn’t all about competitions and helping MFIs better serve their clients. The foundation is also bent on increasing all around global engagement in the financial inclusion field. And one way its accomplishing that task is through its Multipliers of Prosperity website.
Multipliers of Prosperity—a collaboration between the MetLife Foundation and WSJ—is a multi-media content site that includes videos, infographics, and informative content on all matters of financial inclusion with topics ranging from building economic security to saving for retirement. The foundation recently committed to host the website for a second year. And it’s already managed to gain the attentions of likes of Bill Gates, the Gates Foundation, FINCA, and the Tory Burch Foundation. Pretty impressive.
The MetLife Foundation isn’t the only player in the financial inclusion game. It’s not even the biggest player. But, it is one of the more innovative ones that has managed to address the historical and continuing financial inclusion challenges as well as the current roadblocks without going off course.