October 21, 2011 04:19 PM
By Candi Wolff, EVP and Head of Global Government Affairs, Citi
Yesterday evening, Citi CEO Vikram Pandit was honored by ACCION, a nonprofit pioneer and leader in global microfinance, at its 50th anniversary dinner. Committed to bringing the benefits of financial services to the underserved and unbanked, ACCION has lifted countless individuals, families and communities out of poverty. And Citi, ACCION's longest-tenured corporate partner, has been their partner every step of the way for more than 45 years.
ACCION is an organization of firsts. It created the first international network of microfinance institutions (1983); the first loan guarantee fund for microfinance institutions (1984); the first private commercial bank for the poor (Bolivia's BancoSol, 1992); the first microfinance certificates of deposit for international institutional investors (1996); the most successful microfinance IPO (Mexico's Compartamos, 2007); and the largest microfinance network in the United States (1991-present).
"For more than 45 years, Citi and ACCION have shared a deep commitment to financial inclusion," said Citi CEO Vikram Pandit. "After all, banking-from commercial to microfinance-is ultimately about inclusion. Banks are an integral part of every economy and every society. And their role is not merely to further people's material well-being-though that is vitally important. Human rights and democracy reach their full potential only where there is economic inclusion for all. That in turn requires financial inclusion."
Promoting financial inclusion is one way Citi practices Responsible Finance. Responsible Finance has three key pillars:
1. Responsibility to customers
2. Responsibility to the financial system
3. And responsibility to the broader community
Responsible Finance is also the reason that Citi is so proud to have partnered with ACCION. Our partnership has grown over the decades and today includes joint work in the area of financial capacity and innovation. "We are proud of our decades long partnership and we look forward to helping make ACCION's next 50 years even more remarkable than its first," added Pandit.