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Conference of the OAS Inter-American Social Protection Network Highlights the Importance of Financial Inclusion Efforts in Regional Economic Growth

  April 29, 2014

The Conference "Partnerships for Financial Inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Catalyst for Inclusive Growth" of the Inter-American Social Protection Network of the Organization of American States (OAS/IASPN) was inaugurated today in the city of New York with the participation of ministers and senior representatives of governments and the private sector from more than 25 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The opening ceremony included a presentation by the OAS Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Albert Ramdin, who discussed the importance of positioning the issue of inclusion at the center of all efforts to achieve sustained economic growth. Ambassador Ramdin stressed that "for too long, too many of our people have been surviving or subsisting on the fringes of opportunity and too many of our people have missed the chance for a better life because of a lack of knowledge." In this context, he stressed that public and financial institutions have a role in addressing this challenge. "For development to be sustainable, it must be supported by cooperation, partnerships and effective, understandable and transparent policies," he said and commented that effective financial inclusion "has the potential to alleviate poverty and inequity when supported by sound planning.” “The issue is not just about providing access to financial resources, but knowing how to manage them and make the best use of the new opportunities offered,” he said.

Ambassador Ramdin also spoke of the importance of strengthening the role of the private sector in development and the need to promote public-private cooperation. "A wide access to financial services, products and asset building tools has the real potential to trigger the much needed social change to support more equality in the Americas; stakeholders must understand the social impact of financial inclusion can benefit us all; this issue is not only as a matter of sound public policy, but a wise investment in the future of our societies,” he said.

For her part, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs of the United States, Roberta Jacobson, addressed the issue of financial inclusion as "fundamental to a healthy and vibrant democracy." "Citizens must be as much a part of the financial system as they are of the political system, and that means that they are not only politically astute, but they are financially literate as well," said Jacobson, noting statistics indicating that today, over 1 billion women around the world don't have access to basic financial tools. "To grow our economies, achieve adequate social safety nets, and strengthen our democracies, we must make our financial systems more inclusive and receptive to the needs of all the people in the region," she concluded.

The President and CEO of Cities for Financial Empowerment, Jonathan B. Mintz, referred to the responsibility of governments to provide their citizens financial options that support the development of populations. “Local governments and leaders are uniquely positioned to bring members of underserved communities into the financial mainstream; lack of access to safe and high-quality financial services is a problem that exists beyond U.S. borders and we look forward to supporting the OAS Inter-American Social Protection Network’s efforts to advance financial inclusion throughout the Americas," he said.

Julie Menin, New York City Commissioner for the Department of Consumer Affairs, shared some of the experiences that have been advanced by the city and their positive impact. "“New York City attracts people from across the world, including the many countries represented at this week’s Partnerships for Financial Inclusion Conference,” said Menin, recalling the agency’s commitment to " to finding new and innovative ways to promote economic opportunity for all New Yorkers, especially those in immigrant and low-income communities. It is through partnerships and information-sharing like this event that we are able to develop programs that have a true impact and enable New Yorkers to achieve financial stability,” said Commissioner Menin.

Sherry Tross, the OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development, recalled that the Inter-American Social Protection Network (IASPN) was launched four years ago in New York and has since made significant progress in the area, including the creation new ministries responsible for social development, the growth of increased exchange and interaction between governmental and non-governmental entities that comprise it, the increase of horizontal cooperation initiatives and the promotion of a platform where experts can access shared experiences. "Based on these achievements, we have high expectations of we can achieve with this conference," she said.

The two-day Conference seeks to provide an opportunity for government officials from Latin America and the Caribbean to share successful experiences of financial training programs. The aim is to create an informative forum that promotes the benefits of a more inclusive financial sector which offers products and services to vulnerable populations and to highlight successful examples of financial inclusion and possible solutions by financial service providers and foundations, to include dynamic public-private partnerships.

Through panel sessions between the private sector and government officials, the event seeks to generate debate on issues relating to: the benefits of financial inclusion, existing experiences; asset -building programming; local governments’ initiatives; creating an enabling environment for financial inclusion; and efforts to promote inclusive growth, among others.

Financial inclusion and asset building are at the core of the agenda of the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Social Protection Network (OAS/IASPN), a cooperation mechanism established by OAS member states in 2009 for the exchange of information on successful experiences and knowledge on social protection in the Americas. The event is jointly organized by the OAS, the U.S. Department of State, the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund and the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE).

For more information visit IASPN.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-171/14