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Reaching the Unbanked: Citi Inclusive Finance Wins Euromoney Award

July 19, 2017

By Edwin Ou - Skoll Foundation

One in four people in the world is unbanked, leaving them completely outside the system of formal financial services which can serve as bridge out of poverty and unlock opportunities that can fundamentally improve their lives.

Over the course of six years, Skoll has built a thriving strategic partnership with Citi Inclusive Finance, a specialist team that works across Citi businesses globally to develop and deliver solutions—in partnership with leading microfinance institutions, corporations, governments, nonprofit organizations, development agencies, investors and service providers—to expand access to financial services and advance economic progress in underserved markets.

As a direct result of its Inclusive Finance efforts—led by Bob Annibale, global director of Citi Community Development and Citi Inclusive Finance—earlier this month Citi won Euromoney’s inaugural award for the world’s best bank for financial inclusion.

Beyond corporate social responsibility or philanthropy, the Citi-Skoll partnership focuses on the strategic intent of multi-sector actors to drive substantive, systemic levels of change, in collaboration with social entrepreneurs. Some of these collaborations have grown out of the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, which Citi Inclusive Finance has long supported.

Examples of such strategic collaborations include Citi’s $2 million in financing to 2005 Skoll Awardee KickStart International, Citi’s first loan within the social enterprise sector, to support smallholder productivity in sub-Saharan Africa by expanding irrigation capacity and improving productivity in a region with some of the lowest agricultural yields in the world. Citi also collaborated with 2008 Skoll Awardee Kiva to help launch Kiva U, a program designed to engage students and educators in experiential learning of financial inclusion.

Finally, as noted by Euromoney in its 2017 Awards for Excellence, Citi partnered with 2010 Skoll Awardee One Acre Fund in Kenya to provide digital payment solutions for smallholder farmers, bringing them into the banking system, increasing efficiencies and transparency, and reducing transaction costs and risks in handling cash. A recent case study from the Better Than Cash Alliance outlined how this intervention contributes to One Acre Fund’s ability to increase Kenyan farmer earnings by nearly 50 percent, providing a powerful tool to break the cycle of poverty.

Join us in offering our congratulations to Bob Annibale and his dedicated team at Citi Inclusive Finance for this well-deserved recognition—a clear signal of a promising trend in finance, particularly in emerging markets worldwide.

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