Leaders from AFI’s seven working groups convened virtually on 2 March to discuss last year’s achievements and lessons learnt, planned activities for 2021 and to provide strategy updates.
AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig opened the two-hour webinar by underlined the fundamental role of working groups in accelerating the network’s financial inclusion goals.
“As the backbone to driving the implementation and realization of AFI’s Phase III Strategy, your role is of critical importance in finding innovative solutions to progress our work and deliverables as we move ahead,” Dr. Hannig told 20 participants from 16 countries. AFI’s Phase III Strategy focuses on the issuance of regulatory and policy guidance based on peer learning, cooperation and a bottom-up approach.
Underscoring the value of their collective work, Dr. Hannig highlighted AFI’s most recent annual survey on member feedback, which found that satisfaction with working groups remained high at 78 percent. A further 86 percent of respondents agreed that working group were an effective mechanism for knowledge generation on financial inclusion policy.
Such positive feedback from members comes amid tough times with continued uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, prompting Dr. Hannig to place emphasis on “the year ahead of us seeing agility, flexibility and focus as proven qualities that will successfully guide AFI”.
Efforts to ensure the network’s strength and resilience post-COVID-19 will be aided by Financial Inclusion Data Working Group’s (FIDWG) work on measuring effective policy responses to curtail the negative economic and financial impacts on the most vulnerable individuals and small businesses.
“We urge you to critically look at various thematic areas under financial inclusion and establish linkages to economic recovery from COVID-19,” Dr. Hannig explained as he underlined the need to strengthen financial inclusion as a key recovery tool from the economic impacts of the pandemic.
Highlighting the importance of social capital in the network, AFI Executive Director told the working group leaders that this was reflected in constant high-level engagements by AFI members during the pandemic.
Dr. Hannig also made a special mention of AFI’s youngest working group, saying that despite having only been launched in 2019, the Inclusive Green Finance Working Group (IGFWG) was already “championing inclusive green finance and rapidly developing knowledge and guidance in this important but unchartered space”.
By achieving their deliverables, working groups have also been instrumental in implementing key initiatives raised at last year’s annual general meeting. These included measures to enhance member practical policy implementation and knowledge, increase policy implementation support programs to members and expand delivery of programs that target disproportionately excluded groups and economic sectors.
After discussing its core objectives, the leaders’ event – which was targeted at the chairs and co-chairs of AFI’s working groups – continued with updates on implementation of the working group strategy and 2021 work plan, presentations on the gender workstream and key issues for AFI’s Global Standards and Policy Committee.
Through their gender focal points, working groups are integrating crucial gender considerations into their work to support all members in fulfilling their pledge made in the Denarau Action Plan and in closing the financial inclusion gender gap, meeting the sustainable development goals and ensuring that no one is left behind.
Feedback from the meeting will be used to shape the working groups’ strategy, particularly for knowledge products, peer learning activities, capacity building and other key AFI services.
The leaders’ event came ahead of a series of joint working group meetings slated for later this month that will be co-hosted by either Banco Central de Reserva de El Salvador, Bank of Ghana or Reserve Bank of Vanuatu.
Members from Consumer Empowerment and Market Conduct Working Group and Global Standards Proportionality Working Group will meet on 9-10 March, followed by combined meetings for FIDWG and SME Finance Working Group on 16-17 March. The final grouping will see members from Digital Financial Services Working Group, IGFWG and Financial Inclusion Strategy Peer Learning Group meet on 23-24 March.
For more information, please refer to AFI’s online events calendar.