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Monday, January 23, 2006 

Building Inclusive Financial Sectors for Development Posted by Picasa


Why are so many people and firms in developing countries excluded from full participation in the financial sector? That is the fundamental question that claims the attention of this book and the consultative process that led to it.

The UN General Assembly adopted 2005 as the International Year of Microcredit to "address the constraints that exclude people from full participation in the financial sector." At the World Summit at the United Nations in September 2005, Heads of State and Government recognized "the need for access to financial services, in particular for the poor, including through microfinance and microcredit."
The Monterrey Consensus that Heads of State and Government adopted at the International Conference on Financing for Development in 2002 explicitly recognized that "microfinance and credit for micro-, small and medium enterprises…as well as national savings schemes are important for enhancing the social and economic impact of the financial sector." They further recommended that "development banks, commercial banks and other financial institutions, whether independently or in cooperation, can be effective instruments for facilitating access to finance, including equity financing, for such enterprises…."

Drawing on this mandate, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) undertook a project to analyse the obstacles to financial inclusion and to report on efforts to overcome those obstacles in a variety of countries. DESA and UNCDF also undertook to bring the results of this investigation to the attention of the international community.

As a major part of this process, a series of regional "multi-stakeholder consultations" was organized in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Views of governments, international organizations, financial institutions, the private sector and civil society were gathered in informal roundtable discussions at these meetings.
In addition, UNCDF, the Financing for Development (FfD) office of DESA and the World Bank Institute held a global e-conference in the spring of 2005 in which over 800 people participated.
Material was also gathered from an on-line questionnaire and in-depth interviews with experts in the field. As an example of other significant inputs, Women's World Banking convoked a major global meeting of experts who produced a report as input to this process, Building Domestic Financial Systems that Work for the Majority. The consultation process culminated in a May 2005 Global Meeting on Building Inclusive Financial Sectors, a final multi-stakeholder discussion hosted by the International Labour Organization in Geneva.

The result is this book, Building Inclusive Financial Sectors for Development. The book offers a vision of what inclusive finance could be. It does not dictate policy prescriptions to realize that vision. Even before publication, the book has gained some notoriety in the microfinance industry where it has become known as the "Blue Book" after the colour of the United Nations flag. It is indeed a blue book, but it is not a "blueprint."

While there are areas of consensus, there are also many issues on which there are diverging views and different solutions in different countries. Individual countries need to design their own national strategies for financial inclusion. The Blue Book is intended to be a companion to national dialogues among relevant stakeholders that individual countries may wish to convoke to develop their national strategies.

A multilateral agency group representing the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the International Labour Organization supported the DESA and UNCDF staff team for the Blue Book. This team was further supported by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, the Advisors Group of the International Year of Microcredit, the Group of Friends of the Year of Microcredit, and colleagues at the African Development Bank, the African Microfinance Network, the Asian Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Microcredit Summit Campaign, the United Nations Development Programme Santiago Office, Women's World Banking and the World Savings Banks Institute.
Several prominent experts were pressed into service to read and comment on successive drafts of the Blue Book. Finally, we would like to acknowledge financial support to this project from UNCDF and from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

To all of our friends and partners in this project, who are too numerous to mention individually, we owe a deep debt of gratitude. In particular, however, we would like to thank Kathryn Imboden and Heather Clark of UNCDF and Barry Herman of DESA for their long, patient, and excellent efforts and collaboration in bringing this book to fruition.

José Antonio Ocampo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs United Nations

Kemal Derviş UNDP Administrator, Managing Director of UN Capital Development Fund

Richard Weingarten Executive Secretary UN Capital Development Fund

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