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Ajay Banga, President and CEO, Mastercard and Kristalina Georgieva, CEO, World Bank at The 2017 Women In The World Summit in New York City.


A partnership aims to help women escape poverty and overcome financial injustice

By Roja Heydarpour on April 7, 2017

MasterCard and the World Bank appear to be an odd couple at first, but Ajay Banga and Kristalina Georgieva assured everyone that it is a harmonious relationship.

At the eighth annual Women in the World Summit, the CEOs of MasterCard (Banga) and the World Bank (Georgieva) laid out their plan to bring millions of women across the globe access to financial networks. Two billion people around the world do not have a bank account, the majority of them women. Without access to finance, and the network it brings, these women become vulnerable to all sorts of forces. Access will bring independence. But the question is, how and who can bring these women the access they need?

“As a private sector company, you have to make this part of your business model,” said Banga. “There isn’t enough money in philanthropy and the government sector to solve this problem. Business has to step up.”

Georgieva shared this sentiment. The two organizations, used to being on opposite sides of the same coin, realized that they needed one another.

“When you look at the problems of the world that need to be solved, they are so huge,” said Georgieva. “The funding dwarfs the problems. How do we go from billions to trillions? By going to the private sector and getting them to invest in developing countries.”

Just as Banga and Georgieva have learned to trust one another, they have brought this idea to their organizations. The partnership aims to create an environment in the developing world that enables the private sector to take risks.

“There is so much money sleeping in the banks. At the same time, in the developing world, there is such a demand for resources,” said Georgieva. “We can help countries de-risk their environment. The idea that you can’t go to the rural areas of Vietnam, or India, that perception needs to be brought down. And then the private sector can come in and we can get from billions to trillions. That means women can have their identity in their hands, have a bank account and through that bank account, micro-finance.”

And the partnership is yielding results. In Lebanon, Banga and Georgieva have worked with refugees, who are now living in camps an average of 15 years. During this time, they are still being provided resources like housing, shelter and food. But this delivery system may not be the best way to go.

“There are refugees that need to be helped and they wish for this help to be dignified,” said Georgieva. “When you give people housing and shelter, it is not efficient or dignified. When you give them a card, they decide how to use it. We need MasterCard to deliver this dignity.”

Additional reporting by Yasmeen Qureshi.


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