BANGKOK, THAILAND--(Marketwire) - The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) reached a milestone this week when the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago became the organization's 100th member. AFI's network of institutions now expands across the globe, with representation in every region. Together, AFI members now cover more than 95 per cent of the world's unbanked population.
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. A core group of six AFI members including the Bank of Indonesia, Bank of Thailand, Central Bank of Kenya, BSP Philippines, SBS Peru and CNBV Mexico 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 raise 2.5 billion of the world's impoverished out of poverty caught on quickly 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 the 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 a process to transform AFI from a short-term project into a permanent member-funded international organization.
With 100 member institutions and a presence across the globe, 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 lift the world's unbanked out of poverty.