MetLife Foundation invests in research and shares what we learn with the financial services community to help enhance our approach and advance our common goals.
Recent initiatives in this area include:
CFED and the Savings Innovation Learning Cluster (SILC)
Americans’ low rates of household savings pose a serious threat to future financial well-being. This is especially true for low-income people who have less income to work with but still need a cushion against economic shocks and a way to pursue long-term goals. With support from MetLife Foundation, the Corporation for Enterprise Development is building and sharing a solid body of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t to help low-income families save.
Low-income households find it difficult to accumulate and maintain assets. The financial inclusion community has worked for years, and with some success, to develop products and programs geared towards increasing savings rates in low-income communities. But more work is needed to develop “next generation” products and services that can build on past successes and help low-income households increase their savings even in the context of sustained economic downturns.
The Corporation for Enterprise Development, or CFED, has a long track record of success in managing nationwide “learning clusters.” These groups of experienced practitioners work together to identify promising new concepts, and quickly pilot them to test large-scale viability. With support from MetLife Foundation, CFED is launching a Savings Innovation Learning Cluster, or SILC, that will develop and test “next generation” savings models. The six member organizations of the CFED-led Savings Innovation Learning Cluster will work together to explore clients’ barriers to savings and to understand their decision-making process and opportunities to save. Then the SILC will landscape the marketplace of savings programs and products, and develop new models to bridge the gaps between what clients need and what they currently have available. Finally, the SILC will test and refine those concepts to identify the ones with the greatest promise for large-scale effectiveness. One subgroup of the SILC wlll focus on savings products that can help low-income families withstand financial shocks while the other group will look at longer-term asset-building strategies that can help families buy a home, launch a business, or pay for higher education.
CFED and MetLife Foundation will work together to ensure that the results of this work have maximum impact. CFED will share findings through its extensive nationwide communications platform of social media, blogs, websites, in-person workshops and webinars, along with press outreach and public advocacy. The broader network of asset-building organizations across the country will gain access to an “idea bank” of new and tested savings concepts that will inspire uptake and also spark additional new ideas.
HelpAge & Center for Financial Inclusion
Colombia and United States
Two long-term global trends—longer life expectancies and falling birth rates—are rapidly converging to create a world population that includes a much greater share of older people. Understanding and meeting the financial needs of the elderly is a major focus for the financial inclusion community, and one that MetLife Foundation is supporting.
The fastest-growing age bracket in many Latin American countries is “over 65.” To better understand the implications of this trend, HelpAge, an international nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of older people, has partnered with MetLife Foundation to convene groups of experts to examine the financial needs and barriers for older people, beginning in Colombia. With a grant from MetLife Foundation, HelpAge worked with the Center for Financial Inclusion to survey a range of stakeholders using an online questionnaire to explore the opportunities and challenges of meeting older people’s financial needs. HelpAge and CFI presented the findings at a high-level roundtable discussion in late 2014 in Bogota, Colombia, the first of a series of planned events.
The partnership brings together HelpAge’s international expertise in aging-related advocacy with the financial services and research expertise of CFI. Promoting these kinds of cross-sector collaborations is one of the goals of MetLife Foundation’s “access to insights” grant-making focus whose goal is to build and share a body of knowledge that can translate into concrete outcomes. The financial needs of the elderly will continue to be a priority as the financial inclusion community and policymakers address the implications of an ever-increasing aging population.
Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP)
MetLife Foundation’s financial inclusion strategy depends on decision-making guided by rigorous research and on close collaboration with the global financial inclusion community. Support to CGAP advances these objectives.
CGAP, the premier financial inclusion organization at the international level, develops innovative solutions for financial inclusion through practical research and active engagement with financial service providers, policymakers, and funders. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP is a global consortium of more than 30 national and multinational development agencies, development finance institutions, and private foundations working together to advance financial inclusion. CGAP focuses on generating relevant, actionable knowledge and insights about poor people’s access to finance and then explicitly works toward influencing a broad range of stakeholders to act on that knowledge and insights. CGAP activities include conducting baseline research on clients; testing and demonstrating innovative business models (particularly technology-enabled); providing evidence-based advice and support to policymakers and regulators, both at the global and national level; developing guidance and good practices for donors and investors; and distilling insights from its learning agenda into global knowledge and technical tools that are broadly disseminated through multiple channels to different audiences.
MetLife Foundation support helps sustain and accelerate CGAP’s important work. Membership in CGAP also gives MetLife Foundation access to the expertise of CGAP’s staff and other member organizations, providing additional support and advice to complement the Foundation’s relatively lean operation.