AFI celebrates over 100 members

The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) surpassed more than 100 member institutions in the spring of 2013. The figure represents an important milestone for the AFI Network as its presence continues to grow across the globe with representation in every region worldwide.

AFI member institutions now represent more than 95 per cent of the world's unbanked population, highlighting both the rapid growth of the AFI Network from its six founding member institutions in 2008 and an ever-strengthening commitment to the promotion of inclusive financial policies in developing and emerging economies.

"The institutions that comprise the AFI Network have pioneered some of the most innovative policy approaches to extending the financial system to the unbanked while balancing safety and stability," said Jwala Rambarran, Governor at Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, which became the 100th member of the AFI Network in March. "We are heartened to become a part of that tradition."

AFI was founded in 2008 as a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project to advance the development of smart financial inclusion policy in developing and emerging countries.

Bank of Indonesia (BI), Bank of Thailand (BOT), Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Superintendencia de Banca, Seguros (SBS) y AFP de Peru and Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (CNBV) of Mexico made up the core group of six AFI members that believed financial inclusion could be advanced through peer-to-peer exchanges and knowledge sharing. The idea of a group of equals coming together to find the best methods to lift 2.5 billion impoverished, unbanked people out of poverty quickly caught on, and the AFI Network soon established itself as the world’s largest alliance of financial inclusion policymakers.

In 2011 AFI members collectively adopted the Maya Declaration, a statement of intent to make financial inclusion a centerpiece of national efforts for poverty reduction and economic stability. More than 30 AFI members then went a step further by announcing specific and measurable commitments. In recognition of these developments, both the G20 and G24 highlighted the AFI learning model and the Maya Declaration as key steps toward global economic development.

“Financial inclusion is no longer a side issue in the global economic debate,” said Alfred Hannig, Executive Director at AFI. "It now has a permanent and important place in the global discussion on economic development and stability. And through AFI, those nations with the biggest stakes in that discussion now have a stronger voice”.

AFI has grown into something larger than its founders expected and the next stage of AFI’s evolution is already underway. At the 2012 Global Policy Forum (GPF), the members of the AFI Network began the process to transform AFI from a short-term project into a permanent member-funded international organization.

Now with more than 100 member institutions and an established, global presence, much has changed from the early days of the original six AFI members. However, the core mission of AFI remains the same, adopting and expanding smart financial inclusion policy to raise the world’s unbanked out of poverty.