Please state your name.
Dr. William Derban

Where do you currently work and what is your job title?
I am currently the chair and co -founder of the Financial Inclusion Forum Africa. I work with the GSMA, the global trade association for mobile network operators, in London. I am the Acting Head of Programme and Market Engagement Director for Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation under the Mobile for Development Programme for the GSMA.

Where have you worked before?
I was the Director for Inclusive Banking, E banking and Strategic Partnerships at Fidelity Bank Ghana. I was privileged to set up the first agency banking network and dedicated bank account for low income people – the Fidelity Smart Account. Before then, I was the Head of Community Relations for Barclays Africa where I worked expensively on savings groups across Africa, linking them to formal banks.

Why are you passionate about financial inclusion?
My passion for financial inclusion comes from a strong sense of helping people move out of poverty. There are three conditions that need to come together for a person to be financially included. The first is providing access to affordable and appropriate financial products and services. That includes, savings, credit, insurance, pensions, payments. Access is the most fundamental of the three conditions. Second is the usage. Once a person has access to a product or service, they must know how to use it to solve whatever problem they have. Access can get easier through technology, but usage can only be driven when products and services are customer centric and people are financially literate. Lastly and most important, if the person uses the financial product and service well, it must be able to improve their lives. Take for example, a person who has easy access to a loan, uses it, but is not able to pay it back? How has having access to a financial product helped him improve his or her life if he or she ends up in debt?

In your opinion what is the biggest challenge hindering people from accessing or using financial products and services?
The biggest challenge in my opinion is capacity. To build peoples capacity to understand, use and even develop financial services to improve their lives can be broken into three aspects. First is information. People need information on financial services. They need to understand how these products work and to be able to tell the differences between them. Second is education. Education goes a little deeper. It enables people to understand concepts such as interest rate and how financial services work. If an institution tells you to deposit money earn 10% a month, an educated person should be able to tell that this is probably fraudulent. Third is advice. In this complex and fast-growing world, people need advice on which product to use and how it might impact their lives. We may not know everything, but we can draw on experts for sound and honest advice. Without these three aspects working together, access to financial products and services cannot result in the improved benefits we seek.

Why was the Financial Inclusion Forum set up and what is the vision for the Forum?
I have worked in many countries across Africa and in many remote places. Everywhere I have been I have found people who are passionate about financial inclusion. Whether they are professors, professionals or community workers there is one thing that they all have which is the burning desire to do good and to do it sustainably. There is that tension in their hearts to help people and at the same time find sustainable and commercially viable solutions to helping people. Today technology can help us do this more efficiently and effectively.

The aim of the Forum seeks to bring all such people together to harness that burning desire in their hearts and turn them to action. Today we do this by an active WhatsApp group and through events. In future we will build on this to offer research and advocacy, training, expertise and projects on the ground.

The vision of the Financial Inclusion Forum is to create an industry of people with passion and expertise to promote financial inclusion through the use of technology.

Any last words
If you have that passion in you, then join the forum today and get your voice and opinions heard. Join the forum and let’s turn our collective passions to action for a better Africa.