8 September 2022

AFI’s South Asia initiative to accelerate financial inclusion in the region


  • AFI’s eight South Asia member institutions, central banks, monetary, micro credit and insurance regulatory authorities move together to accelerate financial inclusion in the region
  • The “South Asia Region Financial Inclusion Initiative” (SARFII) includes Bangladesh Bank, Micro Credit Regulatory Authority and Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority, Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan, Maldives Monetary Authority, Nepal Rastra Bank, State Bank of Pakistan, Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
  • South Asia has embraced digital transformation and digital financial inclusion as important solutions to drive an inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.
  • Reducing the gender gap in access to finance remains a key priority in advancing financial inclusion

Eight South Asian financial regulators launched a regional initiative to accelerate financial inclusion on 7 September 2022, during the AFI Global Policy Forum, the world’s largest financial inclusion gathering held at the Dead Sea, Jordan.

The “South Asia Region Financial Inclusion Initiative” (SARFII) aims to boost peer learning, knowledge exchange, information sharing and regional cooperation among its eight members

AFI’s regional initiatives enhance the network’s ability to support its members working on specific regional priorities, share regional knowledge and translate global financial inclusion issues into practical implementation at the regional and national levels.

AFI’s South Asian members identified six key priorities: digital financial services, financing of micro, small and medium-sized (MSME) enterprises, reducing the gender gap in access to finance, inclusive green finance, financial inclusion data and consumer protection & financial education and literacy.

AFI South Asian members have made important strides over the past decade in accelerating financial inclusion, providing access to finance to over 40 percent of the region’s population in 2021 – up from 23 percent in 2011. While the region has been the cradle of innovation, over 150 million people do not have access to finance, gender gap continues to be higher than the global average and effects of climate change have been adverse.

AFI’s South Asian members are looking to seize the opportunities amidst these challenges – and are taking action through a wide range of policies to accelerate financial inclusion for all and eliminate inequity by addressing the local and unique challenges in the region.

This initiative is tailored to drive change by supporting member institutions in facilitating the implementation of smart and practical policies through peer-to-peer exchanges and global and regional best practices, while also addressing the inclusion of vulnerable populations such as women, youth, the elderly and rural/remote populations – leaving no one behind.  

Besides SARFII, AFI has five more regional initiatives which include sub–Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the Arab Region.


Officially launching at the 2022 AFI Global Policy Forum, members of SARFII are “Moving forward together: towards a resilient, inclusive and sustainable future”, focusing on increasing growth, alleviating poverty and inequality, improving financial and social well-being, and contributing to financial stability.

SARFII will build on the important achievements of AFI’s South Asian members made over the last decade by acting as a catalyst reaching those who remain unbanked or underbanked, particularly women and youth,  and creating additional pathways to fulfill its simple mission and purpose: to improve lives and make financial security and inclusion a reality for all across South Asia.


About AFI

AFI is the world’s leading organization on financial inclusion policy and regulation. Roughly 85 member institutions make up the AFI network including central banks, ministries of finance and other financial regulators from 75 developing and emerging countries. AFI works on empowering policymakers to increase access and usage of quality financial services for the underserved through formulation, implementation and global advocacy of sustainable and inclusive policies


About AFI Global Policy Forum
AFI organizes its annual flagship event, the Global Policy Forum (GPF), for its vibrant and growing global network. With 85 member institutions, representing 75 countries, the GPF is the most important and comprehensive forum for regulatory institutions to share experiences, knowledge and initiatives that have made an impact in bringing financial services to the world’s unbanked. Each year, the GPF is co-hosted by a different member institution in a different region of the world. Over the past decade, GPFs have supported the environment for historic financial inclusion policy initiatives, and declarations that have made a powerful impact on the global quest to bring the world’s 1.4 billion unbanked into the formal financial system. 


© Alliance for Financial Inclusion 2009-2022