Elisabeth Rhyne

Elisabeth Rhyne

Managing Director, Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International

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Elisabeth Rhyne, managing director of the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International, will be available to answer your questions. Don’t miss this opportunity to speak with Elisabeth!

Elisabeth Rhyne is managing director of the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International, a research and action center for collaboration among the microfinance industry and private sector on challenges confronting the microfinance industry. The Center is now spearheading the Smart Campaign for Client Protection in Microfinance. Ms. Rhyne is the author of extensive writing on microfinance, most recently Microfinance for Bankers and Investors (McGraw-Hill, 2009). Ms. Rhyne was formerly director of the Office of Microenterprise Development at the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a master’s and Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

  1. 462 days ago

    Dennis Scott

    I believe in your goals for a better microfinance industry. Looking forward on this one. Get your best tax attorney in san diego with us. Thanks.

  2. 472 days ago

    Jason Rucker

    Hi Elizabeth. I’d like to ask what improvements are made for microfinance industry and private sector are to be expected? You can also get a great life insurance policy.

  3. 790 days ago

    Piotr Michalak

    Hello, my name is Piotr Michalak. I’m crazy about creative economy. I try to launch portal giving possibility to local artists to earn money and improve their art skills. The problem of many of artists is they have no regular job agreements and they are no clients for banks. I think, crowdfunding which is populat there days can be a kind of solution, but I’m thinking, maybe You can suggest some other ways. Thanks

  4. 795 days ago

    Jim Wells

    Giving a poor person a bank account is about as helpful as giving a hungry person a refrigerator.

    The continuing fixation on driving consumers, long-ignored by banks, “into the formal sector” is mind-boggling. The financial needs, wants and pressures on low-income consumers are vastly different from more affluent consumers – for whom bank accounts have been the right solution for generations. So it should surprise no one that the unique financial needs of these non-traditional consumers are better served by non-traditional products, tailored specifically to those needs by non-traditional providers in the same local towns and villages as the targeted consumers.

    It is gratifying to see many thought leaders in the developing world forsaking the concept of “Financial Inclusion” when it is used as code for forcing bank accounts on people who do not want them. Instead, these more evolved thinkers are embracing the concept of “Financial Capability,” which strives to ensure that people have access to financial products, services and education to satisfy their needs – as they see fit. A formal bank account is but one potential component of Financial Capability, whilst it is the ultimate goal of Financial Inclusion.

    One possible explanation for the continuing popularity of “Financial Inclusion’ is that it is far easier to develop programs that provide bank accounts, than it is to develop programs that address all the financial needs of low-income consumers on at the Bottom of the economic pyramid.

    • Elisabeth Rhyne

      Good analogy. Thanks! It has always baffled me why “banking the unbanked” has been such a popular phrase with policymakers – other than it sounds kind of catchy.

      794 days ago

    • Sadya Siddiqui

      Jim Wells- how can one get in touch with you?

      790 days ago

  5. 796 days ago

    Timothy Asiedu

    Hi Elisabeth. My name is Timothy Asiedu ,currently the Managing Director of an IT organization which was set up in 2001. The organization which is located in Accra, Ghana is into Training/Education, Business Consulting and ICT Provision. In the part of the world when I run my organization, one of the major difficulties faced by SMEs is access to credit facilities.You may have beautiful ideas or certain times may even have the business opportunity, the fund to vehicle the business idea to its destination becomes a problem.In your capacity as the Managing Director of the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International and the experience in the area of Finance acquired, I will welcome any business advice you can offer to some business leaders like us in our community.

    • Elisabeth Rhyne

      You probably know much more about growing a small business than I do. My thought for getting credit is a) save up enough so that you can demonstrate to lenders a significant personal equity stake in the business and b) learn how to present a compelling business plan with convincing financial projections. Maybe those suggestions are too obvious….Certainly there is a lot of work to be done to create a financial system environment where banks have confidence to lend (secured transactions laws, credit reporting systems, liquidity in the financial system, etc.).

      794 days ago

  6. 796 days ago

    Jyoti Mahajan Khetarpal

    Dear Elisabeth, Welcome to this section. I agree that literacy about banking system is limited with underprivileged. Reason for this primarily is non-exposure to banking system. I firmly believe that there is no need to spend time and money to explore new ways of banking. The current banking system is sufficient enough to provide services to any society including underserved, while technology playing a major role here. It’s all about attracting and utilizing available resources for the purpose. Therefore I recommend a win-win scenario for banks and public at large via Self Help Accounts for the financial inclusion of underserved and underprivileged.

    • Elisabeth Rhyne

      You are more positive about the capabilities – and, quite frankly, intent – of banks to offer quality services to low income people than I am. What are Self Help Accounts?

      794 days ago

  7. 797 days ago

    Núcleo Da Cátedra Cátedra Unesco Amde

    Hi Ms. Rhyne. My name is Vera Guarda from the UNESCO Chair: water, women and development.
    I’m a Ph. D. in Pharmacy Sciences at Grenoble – Joseph Fourier University and Master in Quality Control of Medicines from UFRGS. Since 1992 I work as Professor at Pharmacy Scool in Ouro Preto Federal University and in 2006 When I began to teacher water quality in the city of Ouro Preto and worked with communitary projects, the women asked to me “what you can do for a better quality of life for us?” Then, I began a teacher for capacityng this women to the market; for working in the hotels, for cooking, for take care with olders and children, to work in reception of hotels or to make the savon from the used oil. They need a work and they need an opportunity in the market. But technical capaciting isn´t sufficient. Don´c I addicione the organizacional psicology and Environment Education. I have now a good profissional. And this I’d like to transfer to all women in the world. I think I can help them to recuper their “auto estima”. And then they can protect the enviroment. For this, I studied entrepreneur and innovation, then i can came better my project and ato up my time. Thank you, if you can read my message and understand my enghish.
    We can change the idea…

    • Elisabeth Rhyne

      Thanks for your comment and all the best with your important work. Many forms of group-based microfinance have as an important part of their agenda assisting women to develop greater self-esteem. I believe this is to some extent an inherent part of being treated as a valuable customer by your financial institution, but for seriously disadvantaged women, I think more intentional efforts are needed, like those carried out by ProMujer in its Latin American programs.

      794 days ago

  8. 797 days ago

    Henry Jackelen

    Hi Elisabeth

    I totally agree with your points..as a former banker I have always felt these statistics more than weak. The phenomenon of dormant bank accounts can be immense depending on Central Bank rules in any given country. More importantly the special efforts like the Msansi Account in SA and the case of India have not fulfilled the ambition of financial inclusion even though they have had some measure of success.

    Your proposed methodology to improve the quality and clarity of this important universal indicator is much needed. Bank accounts, as you so well define within your personal realm, are fundamental and necessary to allow the security of these micro deposits.

    The problem continues to be in the area of utility and ability to transact. These micro-transactors are sensitive to fees and the basic cost structure of banks (both public and private) places this business as a very low priority and as in the cases of Brazil, South Africa and India Government has been an inducer and provider.

    I believe digital money/mobile banking has great potential and perhaps a more bottom up concept will emerge in what will be a “bank account” in the near future. An account that will allow these micro-transactors access to zero cost services for their day to day transactions.

    It is hard to imagine the innovations that are forthcoming. The massive and growing support and belief of the need for financial inclusion for economic citizenship is a great impetus for the direction of these efforts. It is an exciting time..

    warm regards,


    • Elisabeth Rhyne

      Thanks for your words of support, Hank!

      794 days ago

    • Elisabeth Rhyne

      I completely agree with you about the partial (but not total) disappointment with no frills accounts in South Africa and elsewhere.

      794 days ago

  9. 800 days ago

    Florencia Farias

    Hi Elisabeth! I read your article “what’s wrong with banking the unbanked” and agree with your vision. We really need to understand the way people live and the way they manage their finances. Many people in my country, Argentina, are still afraid about saving their money using bank accounts due to the past history – the 2001 crisis. People in rural areas use other mechanisms for savings and lending that are not within the formal financial system, but are increasingly becoming more secure, accessible, affordable and reliable. Technology is facilitating this in a big way. What do you think about these informal financial products? Is there a way we can strengthen them to become more secure instead of changing their way of life with a bank account they won’t use?

    • Elisabeth Rhyne

      This question of whether financial inclusion policy is focused on getting people to move from informal to formal services is a vexing one. There is a vast underlying assumption that formal services are preferable, but the assumption should be that they are preferable only if (well-informed) clients see them as better suited to their needs. I don’t know what you mean about technologically-facilitated informal mechanisms for savings and lending. Say more…

      797 days ago

  10. 800 days ago

    Sadya Siddiqui

    What do you think of the failure of product design when it comes to microfinance products or telecoms’ services trying to reach out the underserved? What is preventing institutions from developing customized solutions?

    • Elisabeth Rhyne

      There are many barriers to more tailored financial products, but I would like to single out the organizational commitment to current ways of doing business. It is very hard for organizations to change when the handling of legacy products is “baked in” to every facet of their organization and operations. I have seen, for example, product development teams create market-tailored new products (for example, a home improvement loan) that the organization then fails to fully embrace. It’s almost like a body rejecting an organ transplant.

      797 days ago

  11. 802 days ago

    Natalie Zuniga

    Welcome Elisabeth to our Speak Up section! We are really honored to have you available to answer questions and comments from the G2012 Mexico competition entrants.

    Your knowledge and experience in the field are very recognized worldwide. I’d like to start the conversation with a question about how should we understand financial inclusion in order to be able to better measure the advances. In your article we see it has been considered as “ownership of a bank account”. In your article you suggest “usage of bank accounts” as a much more appropriate measure. But my question is: Is financial inclusion much more than having and using a bank account?

    • Elisabeth Rhyne

      Yes, financial inclusion is more than having and using a bank account. In our view (the Center for Financial Inclusion’s view) there are 5 elements of full financial inclusion: 1) product range; 2) quality and safety of products; 3) accessible by all who can use them; 4) provided in a competitive marketplace; 5) to financially capable clients.

      797 days ago