Dispatch from India—With Small Loans, Big Impact

Jun 24, 2015 11:00 AM ET

Multipliers of Prosperity

Financial inclusion isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, with more than 2 billion people worldwide living outside the global financial system. Traditional methods such as savings accounts or credit cards are no longer adequate or up to the challenge of bringing in those billions of people living on the outer fiscal fringe. The good news: advances in big data and technology—sometimes as simple as a mobile phone app—along with changes in regulation and creative partnerships between the public and private sectors are providing new pathways to help people gain financial stability.

Presented by MetLife Foundation in collaboration with WSJ. Custom Studios, Multipliers of Prosperity takes a look globally at the challenges we face in confronting the issues of financial inclusion. The program dives deep into what’s working, questions what isn’t and finds the possible fixes. Most importantly, the program chronicles the triumphs of people who have taken the steps toward financial stability and the providers who have helped them reach those goals. We explore how financial stability is created, the kind of finance models that have succeeded, and innovative new channels and technology that make for smart solutions.

In India, what can a $470 loan accomplish? For one woman, the money helped her run her business making sweaters, allowing her to finance her children’s education. Another woman was able to borrow enough to enroll her daughter in a fashion course.

Of the hundreds of millions of people living below the poverty line in India, “It’s not that they don’t have any cash at all,” notes Chris Townsend, MetLife Foundation board member and president, Asia, MetLife, Inc. “It’s more the access to services. We think we can help give them access to financial services which will allow them to improve their lifestyle overall.”

To show how this access can lift people into financial inclusion, we took our cameras to India to chronicle the stories of those who achieved a new degree of financial stability—and the organizations that made it possible. As Samit Ghosh, founder and CEO of lender Ujjivan, puts it, “It’s not only about the financial performance or the performance of the loans they’re given. It’s also very much about the value they give to society.

About Metlife Foundation
Created in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $650 million in grants and $70 million in program-related investments to organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world.

About WSJ. Custom Studios
The most trusted news source in the world is now creating best-in-class branded content solutions across all platforms, globally. WSJ. Custom Studios, a unit of The Wall Street Journal Advertising Department, partners with marketers to create innovative solutions that inform, inspire and engage the most powerful audience in