MasterCard and the Singapore Management University (SMU) today announced the launch of a two-year Social and Financial Inclusion Programme.
One component of the programme is a research on social entrepreneurship, innovation and financial inclusion in the Southeast Asia and South Asia regions, according to MasterCard and SMU. The study will focus on identifying scalable and sustainable social entrepreneurship and innovation business model, advancing financial inclusion for marginalised communities and micro-entrepreneurs, and developing innovative financial products and services for them. It will also study the roles of public-private partnership and philanthropy, the macroeconomic impacts of financial and social inclusion, and the policy and regulatory environments that enable financial inclusion.
Findings from the research will be presented at the inaugural MasterCard-SMU Forum on social inclusion and economic value creation in mid-2016. The findings will also contribute to a seminar series that will provide advanced training on the approaches and best practices of social and financial inclusion for senior government officials, central bankers, regulators and senior business executives in Asia Pacific (APAC).
As part of the programme, MasterCard will be funding and supporting several student consulting projects on social and financial inclusions in select APAC countries.
The programme also includes the establishment of the MasterCard Professorship of Social Entrepreneurship and Financial Inclusion, where a designated SMU faculty member will provide academic leadership for the programme alongside Professor Howard Thomas. Professor Thomas is the Lee Kong Chian School of Business Distinguished Term Professor of Strategic Management and Director of SMU's Academic Strategy and Management Education Unit.
Together with Professor Thomas, two other experts have been appointed as board advisors to provide the overall direction and guidance for the programme. They are Professor David Lee, Executive/Academic Director of Sim Kee Boon Institute for Financial Economics, SMU; and Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, Chief Economist, MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, and Global Economic Advisor, MasterCard.
"An overwhelming body of evidence shows that providing people with the ability to save and borrow efficiently and securely improves well-being and encourages enterprise, ultimately reducing global poverty and increasing economic growth," said Ari Sarker, Co-President, Asia Pacific, MasterCard. "Yet, two billion people around the world remain unbanked. We hope that this new programme will uncover new, innovative solutions that will help us bring the benefits of products and services to Asia Pacific's unbanked population."
"I am convinced that this research programme will produce meaningful, practical and impactful research findings that will stimulate innovators in emerging economies in Asia to build critical expertise in social entrepreneurship and financial inclusion to facilitate economic growth," said Professor Thomas.
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