The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is on a mission to show more than 2 billion of the world’s poorest people how to save their pennies for a rainy day.
Their plan to achieve this is through the Global Savings Forum event, where the foundation is bringing together financial leaders from 38 countries in order to offer people who live on about $2 a day (what we might spend on a latte) the means to take control of their own futures.
Set for this Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle, the forum will include a speech by Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations’ special advocate for inclusive finance for development, and Melinda Gates, who is expected to make a major grant pledge that represents their biggest financial services commitment to date.
The event is being billed as a unique opportuinty for experts from banking, technology, government, and other industries, to openly discuss new methods of providing banking services to rural areas — a rather daunting challenge when you consider that only 10 percent of the world’s poor have access to a bank account. And, for banks, it’s harder to recoup the losses of frequent and smaller transactions that are typically seen in these regions.
Ignacio Mas, the deputy director of the foundation’s financial services, said of the foundation’s goals, “Savings is an option everyone should have, which is not true for credit.” He went on to explain that the event comes during a time when loans to the poor have grown exponentially with microfinancing, but savings has continued to be a neglected issue until now.