Independent Research and Policy Advocacy

“Financial Inclusion is not a choice, but an absolute necessity”

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The South Asian Economics Students Meet (SAESM) that concluded recently in Dhaka had Kshama Fernandes from IFMR  Capital (presently known as Northern Arc Capital) interacting with the students over a dinner talk on “Access to Finance for All”. Below are her opening remarks:


As Edward Burke said, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.  Most of us are aware of the world that surrounds us. The poverty, the starvation, the lack of medical care and education – the fact that the food, clothing and shelter that most of us take for granted is beyond the reach of a majority of South Asia’s population.

Even as we sympathize and emphasize with those less fortunate, we rarely translate our concerns into actions – Most of the times it is because we don’t know how to.  While we all care and worry about it, somewhere at the back of our minds we think it’s a problem for somebody else to tackle – governments, politicians, NGOs, social workers. We often believe that it is easier for a doctor to help out because by profession he/she is trained to diagnose and treat an ailment in a patient.

But I’d like to bring to the notice of the young, talented and budding economists here who have gone through a rigorous short-listing process and made it to the meet, that as economists, you are no less equipped than a medical doctor is to make a difference. I would even go so far as to say that you probably have the ability and reach to have a lot more influence and impact, on a much bigger canvas than the limited reach of a doctor. As economists, you have the tools to look critically at the world around you, study, understand, analyze and find solutions to the problems that exist around you. While a lot of you may not get involved in the execution of the solutions, there is great value you can contribute to the world by simply trying to use your knowledge to understand the problems better and contemplate what the solutions could be.

Financial inclusion is not a choice we have. It is an absolute necessity. Because if we do not correct the ever growing imbalance in the world between those who have far more than necessary and those who have nothing at all, we are soon going to see discontentment and revolt coming from various affected quarters, and rightly so. It is a great responsibility that youngsters like you carry today, to make sure that you use your knowledge and skills in a manner that will make a difference to the world, where it matters and when it matters.

Specially in the underserved sectors, today more than ever, we need more and more young and dynamic professionals, who will not only study finance and economics for a living, but also look at the problems in these sectors with a scientific and analytical bent of mind. Effectively ensuring that their knowledge and expertise eventually provide a path and hope for millions of those who have not been fortunate enough to have access to a respectable life. If you are not part of the problem, you are part of the solution!

I wish you all the best in your endeavor to make a difference.

Few other pictures:
Dinner Talk Panel

Students Meet

The India team

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