People with disabilities are an economically vulnerable group who are largely unbanked and financially excluded. Estimated at 15% of the global population, this group has a number of diverse challenges, but overall do not have access to the resources and skills needed for economic opportunity and self-sufficiency. The Center for Financial Inclusion’s Joshua Goldstein published a concept paper in 2010 that addresses how microfinance institutions can take first steps to introduce financial inclusion in communities with disabled populations.
Like many underserved groups, those with disabilities need access to credit and credit scoring, savings products, and insurance. For those with developmental and intellectual disabilities, their challenges also include understanding simple financial concepts and self-management techniques, as well as support and assistance. People with physical disabilities live with additional challenges to access, transportation, and economic opportunity. In many cultures and communities, people with disabilities are shunned or subject to social isolation, which can impact their financial inclusion across domains. Globally, families remain the primary source of financial support for people with disabilities.
Challenges for organizations are significant, but can be effectively scaled with a step-by step approach. With limited resources, a population that remains largely hidden from day to day community life is often not in the forefront of thought for inclusion. Partnering with disability organizations can help with sensitivity training for staff, identifying outreach and understanding social and religious constraints.
While many countries and public institutions support the ideas behind financial inclusion and economic opportunity for people with disabilities, knowing how to take the first steps is challenging. The Center for Financial Inclusion’s concept paper can help direct these first steps.
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