Financial Health

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Financial Health

MetLife Foundation

MetLife Foundation is committed to expanding financial health around the world through research and insights, innovation, and long-term partnerships—with a focus on low- and moderate-income populations. Here’s a look at some of the Foundation's signature efforts globally.

Building financial independence with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) understands that healthy, sustainable communities are made up of people who have living-wage jobs and feel confident about their economic futures. MetLife Foundation understands this too. That’s why the Foundation supports LISC’s efforts to provide low- and moderate-income individuals with the skills they need to gain meaningful employment and manage their money through budgeting, building good credit, and saving for education and retirement. Since 2013, MetLife Foundation has contributed almost $8 million to LISC for its network of Financial Opportunity Centers, which provides employment services, one-on-one financial coaching, and low-cost financial products that help build credit, savings, and assets for thousands of clients nationwide. In 2020 alone, MetLife Foundation contributed $2 million to help small business resiliency for entrepreneurs of color and $500,000 to provide cash support to families impacted by COVID-19.

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp: Supporting a New York Community

In 2020, MetLife Foundation granted $200,000 to Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, one of the oldest community development organizations based in the United States. The organization pursues strategies to close gaps in family and community wealth in Central Brooklyn with the belief that a flourishing Brooklyn community must be anchored in a culture of equity and inclusion. MetLife Foundation’s grant was used to help families and businesses with immediate funds to cover rent, healthcare, and childcare during the pandemic, as well as provide financial counseling and food supplies to low-income residents.

Improving financial decision-making with Common Cents Lab

Research has shown that human behavior—even that which seems irrational—is often quite predictable. Understanding human behavior can inform better product development to help people plan for the future, manage their daily financial lives, and improve their financial health. In 2017, MetLife Foundation supported the creation of Common Cents Lab (CCL), a financial decision-making lab at Duke University, to more deeply understand and leverage behavioral science in order to design better financial products and services for low- and moderate-income people that will support healthy financial choices. Now in its fourth year, the Lab uses behavioral science to help people improve their financial decision-making by focusing on what motivates their decisions and by designing and tweaking financial products/services to meet those needs. With the success of CCL in the US, the program has been expanded into Mexico, Turkey, and China.

In 2020, the Common Cents Lab continued to make progress, working with 100 different organizations on 144 projects and fully completed 123 experiments reaching over 1.5 million people. Specific to financial health, CCL worked on 65 projects to improve financial well-being across 48 different organizations in the United States, Turkey, Mexico, and China in 2020. If these interventions were rolled out at full scale, they would have an estimated reach of over 6 million people.

Empowering women with Trickle Up

Empowering women with the right skills, financial assistance, and social support can have a large-scale positive impact on societies. Trickle Up, a global nonprofit, works with some of the most financially vulnerable people in the world, particularly women, to help advance their economic and social well-being. With MetLife Foundation's support, Trickle Up delivers the Graduation Approach—a proven methodology to get people out of extreme poverty that provides participants with seed capital to start a microbusiness. Participants also learn financial and business management skills and come together in groups to help each other access government benefits and banking services such as savings and credit. On average, for each woman Trickle Up empowers, five people benefit. And when women succeed, so can their children and families.

Since 2013, through MetLife Foundation’s support, Trickle Up has reached more than 125,000 low-income people from Mexico, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.

FundMet Trickle Up
MetLife Foundation partner, Trickle Up, during workshop in Mexico, pre-pandemic

Finance Forward supports early-stage entrepreneurs building financial health solutions

Together with Village Capital and PayPal, MetLife Foundation founded the global Finance Forward initiative in 2019 to support tech-enabled solutions to financial health globally. The program spans the U.S., Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and India, and provides seed capital to the most promising entrepreneurial solutions while engaging MetLife employees as business mentors. Finance Forward will feature nine regional accelerator programs and boot camps over the next two years, with each program driving investment to entrepreneurs building solutions to improve the financial health of low- and medium-income people and small business owners. Participating companies will be eligible to receive grants ranging from $25,000 to $75,000 to help support the growth of their company.

To date, Finance Forward has supported more than 89 ventures from over 20 countries with over 2,400 hours of direct mentorship and engagement from 100 MetLife team members, and, in the process, has given away more than $600,000 in grants. In 2020, Finance Forward programs took place virtually in Latin America, U.S., Europe, MENA, and India. Entrepreneurs that participated in these programs around the world offer innovative solutions to improve the financial health of individuals and businesses in their respective regions.

Creating access and opportunity for women: Building financial health among garment factory workers in Bangladesh

We live in a world today where financial health is a persistent challenge for low- to moderate-income communities—a world where 1.7 billion adults don’t have a bank account and where, even in the United States, many would have trouble meeting a large emergency expense. In Bangladesh, approximately 80% of garment workers are women, the majority of whom receive their salaries in cash, have low levels of financial literacy, and lack access to formal banking services. The combination can make it difficult for workers to protect their income and save for the future.

Since 2018, MetLife Foundation and Swisscontact have been supporting Sarathi, a financial inclusion program that works with commercial banks and garment factories to bring workers into the formal banking system. The program enables garment factory owners to pay their workers digitally, enabling workers to receive their pay more securely while reducing their transaction costs. Sarathi is also developing products in partnership with local banks that help workers receive their salaries straight into their bank accounts, save securely for their short- and long-term goals, earn credit to meet their cash flow, and meet other needs. Through this initiative, several partnerships have been established, including commercial banks opening offices and ATM machines in and around garment factories so that workers can make transactions in a secure and convenient manner. With hands-on financial literacy sessions, Sarathi works to raise awareness of how banking services can help workers take control of their incomes and improve their financial health.

Supporting financial health in Mexico

In Mexico, MetLife Foundation and partner BFA Global created the FinnSalud project. The project works closely with local financial institutions, fintech entrepreneurs, nonprofit partners, and government actors focused on improving financial health in Mexico. The project will develop a methodology and tools to measure financial health. Based on what we learn, BFA Global will develop targeted financial products to support low- and moderate-income Mexicans.

Inclusive Fintech 50: Fostering Innovation to Improve Financial Inclusion

Financial technology (fintech) plays an increasingly important role in providing essential financial services to vulnerable and underserved populations, yet many earlystage fintechs struggle to secure sufficient investment to fuel growth and expand their reach. The Inclusive Fintech 50 competition, co-founded by MetLife Foundation in 2019, spotlights promising inclusive fintechs and the role they play in serving an estimated 3 billion financially underserved customers globally. The 2020 competition attracted more than 400 applicants, operating in 111 countries and reaching 116 million customers. Through a competitive process led by an independent judging panel—including representation from MetLife’s Innovation team, 50 earlystage fintechs were selected for their efforts to drive financial inclusion and resilience.

Inclusion Plus: Investing in Fintech Social Enterprises

MetLife Korea Foundation has hosted an Inclusion Plus Solution Lab since 2018, focused on helping fintech social enterprises evaluate their social value and impact through mentorships, in partnership with Korea Social Investment. Every year, we organize a “Deal Share Live Day” with about 30 impact investors joining 10 social enterprises for a day of discussions and the chance to compete for a KRW 150 million impact investment and a $30,000 grant. The 10 teams completed 12 weeks of acceleration in 2020, including virtual mentorship and participation in the “Deal Share Live Day.” In its second year, the Inclusion Plus Solution Lab kicked off with 10 social enterprises, including those that provide financial transaction services for migrant workers, virtual branch services for financially vulnerable populations, and a savings application for millennials.

MetLife Foundation joined a consortium of top global and local organizations to support a program called Bharat Inclusion. The program provides rigorously selected social entrepreneurs with high-quality training, advisory services, financial support, mentorship, and market access to grow their business and improve financial health of low- to moderate-income people in India. The program is implemented by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, a globally renowned business school, and MicroSave, a MetLife Foundation grantee and industry leader. Entrepreneurs are grouped across three cohorts: Build (idea stage), Validate (proof of concept), and Grow (ready to scale). To date, the program has supported 27 early-stage startups in three cohorts. These startups have already served over 3 million low- to moderate-income individuals and raised over $14.5 million in funding since their participation in the Inclusion Plus Solution Lab.