Financial Inclusion for Refugee Populations - The Next Frontier
2016-12-07

By end 2015, an unprecedented 65 million people around the world had been forced from home. Among them were 21.3 million refugees, of whom 45% were in the productive age bracket and half were women. Six in ten refugees have been living in protracted displacement situations for more than 10 years, and two-thirds have self-settled in urban areas. A large segment of these refugee populations appear to be as eligible for access to financial services as any other client segment, but financial service providers (FSPs) have largely overlooked refugees as a viable client segment.

In this context, The Social Performance Task Force (SPTF) has released a new publication of guidelines for financial service providers on including refugees: "Serving Refugee Populations: The Next Financial Inclusion Frontier". These guidelines seek to examine why refugee populations are financially excluded and how FSPs can successfully reach and serve this untapped financial market segment. The text was written by Lene Hansen and it's a resource developed by the SPTF with financing from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

These guidelines were previously reviewed by the participants of a training on the topic of financial inclusion for refugee populations, hosted by SPTF at microStart's offices in Brussels in September 2016. That training featured a combination of lectures and interactive activities designed to explore the main challenges in reaching refugees with financial products and services. A microStart refugee microfinance client shared with the group his own experiences and answered questions. About 25 people representing different countries and stakeholder groups attended the training.

To download the training materials and learn more about the SPTF's work in identifying good practice and promoting financial inclusion of refugees, visit their Refugee microfinance page and read this interview with Lene Hansen.