At Accion, we’re proud to have a diverse team leading the charge as we work to tackle the problem of financial exclusion around the world.
To highlight some of the women leaders working behind the scenes to build a more inclusive and prosperous world, we’re releasing a blog series on the women of Accion and our partners.
Here are a few of the leaders we’re proud to work with:
Isabelle Barrès, Global Director, Smart Campaign
Isabelle Barrès always knew she wanted to have a career with a social purpose. She decided to work in international development because of the urgent need to eliminate global poverty. Eventually, her career path led her to financial inclusion, and she’s spent the past two decades tackling the issue from various angles. In her role at the Smart Campaign, she works with a wide range of actors to ensure that inclusive financial services are delivered responsibly and add value for consumers. “Financial inclusion is not about merely providing access to financial services or even making sure that these services are used. It is about having a positive impact on people’s lives, improving their financial health, and opening opportunities that they would otherwise not have had,” says Isabelle. She offers this advice to those who want to dedicate their lives to making a positive change in the world: “Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Be willing to revisit and test your assumptions. Don’t be wedded to one approach or perspective but always be open to learning from as many different people as possible. Reducing poverty is a complex issue that will require a wide range of innovative solutions and a lot of collaboration, both within the financial inclusion sector and with other sectors.” Isabelle adds, “Make sure that in your busy life you keep some space to think and reflect!”
Gowri Mukherjee, Co-Founder and CMO, CreditMantri
“Be sincere, work hard, learn continuously, challenge yourself and the status-quo, and you’ll definitely see the impact,” says Gowri Mukherjee. Trust her — she knows all about making an impact. Gowri co-founded CreditMantri to help people learn about their credit scores and improve their financial health. In India, access to credit is crucial for lifting people out of poverty and offering them stability and a chance to thrive. “Seeing that many lack awareness of even what a credit report looks like, I felt there was a huge opportunity to make a difference,” says Gowri. CreditMantri uses an automated web platform and call center to help consumers easily access their credit reports, understand their credit scores, improve their creditworthiness, restructure outstanding debt, and get access to relevant products and services from lenders and financial institutions. With this accessible approach, CreditMantri has been able to serve more than 5 million customers, giving them a chance to build a better credit score and a better life.
Amy Stewart, Manager, Global Advisory Solutions at Accion
“Financial inclusion isn’t charity — it’s fixing something that’s broken,” says Amy Stewart. “Well-designed financial systems can and should sustainably serve people across the economic spectrum — providing them with the tools they need to live their lives.” Low-cost digital tools are helping to realize this vision, and in her role at Accion, Amy is helping financial service providers across the globe tap into the power of digitization to reach more people than ever before. In addition to her advisory role, she helps translate insights from our advisory work into knowledge products and strategies. The resources that she develops, like our upcoming digital lending guide, support our partner institutions and inform the industry. Amy’s also interested in guiding future leaders who want their career to promote social good. “Be open to experiences, people, and opportunities that you may not have considered — the path to impact isn’t linear,’ she says. “Proactively actively seek opportunities to gain new experience and improve the status quo. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask why things are done a certain way.”
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