Pledge to deliver access to financial services aims to bank 5 million worldwide in 5 years
MPOWER Ventures and MPOWER Labs Join Clinton Global Initiative Mobile Banking Call to Action
NEW YORK, NY, September 24, 2008 - MPOWER Ventures, a socially committed venture fund that invests in financial services companies targeting underserved markets, today announced a five-year commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to deliver accessible, affordable and empowering financial services to at least 5 million consumers worldwide who do not currently have adequate access to financial products and services that meet their needs.
A pattern of exclusion from access to financial services persists around the world and surfaces in developed and emerging economies alike. An estimated 2 billion consumers worldwide lack access to basic financial services, including nearly 50 percent of citizens in new EU member states,1 70 percent of the population in Mexico2 and places like Tanzania where bank account ownership rates dip as low as five percent.3
“This commitment keeps our mission in focus and the collective efforts of the MPOWER group of companies squarely aimed at the positive impact we seek to achieve by providing affordable and accessible financial services that promote the financial well being of our customers around the world,” said Roy Sosa, founding partner, MPOWER Ventures. “Innovations like prepaid debit cards have been a powerful solution for bringing unbanked consumers into the financial mainstream in the U.S. and Europe, and we must find innovative solutions that go beyond prepaid debit to reach the rest of the world’s consumers in even the most remote markets.”
MPOWER Ventures plans to expand financial services markets to the underserved through investments in its portfolio companies Rêv Worldwide, a global network of payment companies for underserved markets, and MPOWER Mobile, an international mobile payments company. With support from MPOWER Labs, an accelerator and incubator for MPOWER Ventures’ investment portfolio, these companies are creating a revolutionary platform and global network for integrated prepaid and mobile payments products. Capable of reaching previously inaccessible markets, these breakthrough products will bring underserved consumers around the world a broad range of financial services, including the ability to deposit and withdraw funds, transfer funds, make purchases and accept payments anywhere, anytime.
The announcement took place today at the CGI Annual Meeting 2008 in New York City as part of a broader commitment guided by the Clinton Global Initiative to direct resources and focus attention on improving access to financial services, a solution CGI views as key to alleviating poverty throughout the world.
In a related announcement this week, MPOWER Ventures fulfilled its 2007 commitment to CGI with the launch of the Empowerment Lab at the Center for International Development at Harvard. The Empowerment Lab supports collaborative research between academics and the private sector to yield findings that accelerate the creation of innovative solutions for extending financial markets to the global poor.
1European Commission, “Financial Services Provision and prevention of Financial Exclusion,” March 2008 (http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/spsi/docs/social_inclusion/2008/financial_exclusion_study_en.pdf)
2The World Bank, “Mexico: Country-Level Savings Assessment,” March 2006 (http://www.microfinancegateway.org/uploaded_files/mexico_assessment.pdf)
3Africa Renewal, United Nations, “A bank in every African pocket? Mobile phones expand access to financial services,” Mary Kimani, January 2008, Vol. 21, No. 4 (http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/vol21no4/214-cell-phone-banking.html)
About MPOWER Ventures
MPOWER Ventures (www.mpowerventures.com) is a double-bottom-line venture capital fund based in Austin, Texas. Fueled by the belief that the combination of innovation, collaboration and disruptive technology can stimulate fundamental change that frees latent economic potential and generates meaningful social impact, MPOWER Ventures identifies and invests in early-stage businesses creating products and services for the underserved. MPOWER Ventures currently focuses its investment portfolio in financial services with investments in international payments, mobile payments and retail financial services.
About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
Established in 2005 as a project of the non-partisan William J. Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI members have made nearly 1,000 Commitments to Action valued at upwards of $30 billion to improve more than 200 million lives in over 150 countries around the world. Through past Annual Meetings, CGI has brought together more than 80 current and former heads of state, hundreds of top CEOs and non-profit leaders, major philanthropists, and 10 of the last 16 Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Meredith DeSpain Kelsey