Development Finance Institutions and Financial Inclusion: From Institution-Building to Market Development

How and why funders should shift their focus to a market systems approach

Despite decades of funding support from donors and development finance institutions (DFIs) to build financial systems that work for low-income populations and micro and small enterprises, sizeable gaps in financial inclusion remain. Given persistent market gaps and suboptimal functioning of many financial systems, it is time for DFIs to adopt an alternative approach to financial inclusion that prioritizes needed market changes. A shift to a market systems approach (also referred to as a market development approach) addresses this need and requires that DFIs carefully analyze each market to determine the key gaps, underlying causes, critical actors, and theory of change for bringing about sustainable market development.

This research, including interviews with over 40 industry experts, supports the concept that DFIs can be an even more powerful actor in driving market change. It also provides evidence that several DFIs have already made investments with overlapping elements to a market development framework. The paper features five mini case studies that help illustrate the market change process. The paper also proposes a framework for DFIs to evaluate whether and how their new investments might affect market change and satisfy financial return expectations. 

About this Publication

By Moretto, L. , Scola, B.