Washington, DC, Dec. 1, 2021 — Accion, in collaboration with MetLife Foundation, today released the paper “How providers can build products that improve financial health: Examples from Mexico and Chile” to share lessons learned from Accion and MetLife Foundation’s partnership to develop new, best-in-class digital products that improve the financial health of underserved customers in Latin America. The paper comes ahead of an event on Thursday, Dec. 2, showcasing the partnership’s impact.
Using human-centered design and behavioral economic principles, Accion Global Advisory Solutions and MetLife Foundation partnered closely with fintechs, cooperatives, and traditional financial service providers (FSPs) in Mexico and Chile over the past three and a half years. Together, they worked to expand access to the tools that micro and small business owners need to stay resilient against adversity, form healthy financial habits, and build the skills necessary to achieving their economic goals.
“As economic disparities continue to worsen around the world, it’s increasingly difficult for low-income and financially underserved people to build their savings, grow profitable businesses, and provide for their families,” said Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion. “Now more than ever, new financial products and services should empower customers to build their financial health and resilience. Developing these products is a win-win for both providers and clients: making meaningful change in the lives of low-income communities and creating more loyal, more resilient, and more satisfied clients.”
The case studies in the paper share key challenges, learnings, and preliminary measures of product uptake and impact to date across the partnership’s projects in Chile and Mexico, uncovering best practices on how to design for and influence financial health.
In Chile, the partnership worked to launch a business management application for microbusinesses with Organizame and Banigualdad, revamp a financial health portal with Destácame, and deploy a crowd-funding platform for microentrepreneurs with RedCapital. In Mexico, projects included work to develop a savings product for youth with Caja Popular Cerano, and to launch a supply chain finance product with Caja Bienestar.
“MetLife Foundation’s collaboration with Accion has opened up creative new avenues to help small businesses maximize financial health resources,” said Nalleli Garcia, Sustainability Director at MetLife Mexico Foundation. “There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to financial inclusion – instead, we believe the focus should be on innovative solutions that adjust to the needs and behaviors of each individual. We’re excited by the positive outcomes that these efforts are showing across Latin America.”
The products remain in the early stages of customer uptake and traction, but preliminary results from these projects reveal significant and positive improvements across key dimensions of financial health. Among the initial findings:
- Nearly all products resulted in less financial stress and greater satisfaction with their current financial situation. Among users that own their own business, many demonstrated an ability to bounce back to levels prior to the COVID-19 pandemic level of sales or higher when compared with control groups that did not use the financial products developed through this project.
- Easy-to-use budget management tools led to more users tracking their income and expenses on a more regular basis, therefore making users feel more in control of their finances.
- Across all products, individuals and businesses felt that they had a manageable level of debt, were better able to pay their credit on time, and were more comfortable taking out credit with a formal financial provider.
- Individuals using each of the products were able to save more and contribute to emergency funds.
- Business owners that took out working capital credit or used the business management tools noted that the additional liquidity enabled their business to take advantage of more opportunities.
“In the midst of enormous financial uncertainty sparked by COVID-19, these efforts to help underserved families and businesses develop healthy financial behaviors are critical,” said Liza Guzman, Vice President and Program Manager, Customer Strategy, for Accion Global Advisory Solutions. “These case studies can offer guidance to providers as they work to develop more holistic tools for underserved individuals, incorporating users’ financial capabilities and behaviors to inform better products, greater uptake, and meaningful changes in customers’ financial lives.”
Additional insights and crucial takeaways for FSPs are detailed in the paper, available here.
Insights from the partnership will be discussed further at an event on Dec. 2, 2021, at 9 a.m. EST, featuring leaders from Accion, MetLife Foundation, and Accion partners Caja Bienestar, Caja Cerano, Destácame, Organizame & Fundación Banigualdad and RedCapital. Interested parties are welcome to learn more about the event and register here.
Accion is a global nonprofit committed to creating a financially inclusive world, with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. We catalyze financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions at scale for the three billion people who are left out of — or poorly served by — the financial sector. For 60 years, Accion has helped tens of millions of people through our work with more than 170 partners in 55 countries. More at accion.org.
About MetLife Foundation
At MetLife Foundation, we are committed to expanding opportunities for low- and moderate-income people around the world. We partner with nonprofit organizations and social enterprises to create financial health solutions and build stronger communities, while engaging MetLife employee volunteers to help drive impact. Our financial health work has reached more than 17.3 million low- and moderate-income individuals in 42 countries. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit metlife.com.