Next WDI Speaker To Discuss Financial Tools To Fend Off Poverty

Friday, December 5, 2014

The usefulness of inclusive financial products and services – such as commitment savings and microinsurance – to give low-income families across the developing world more tools to ensure that shocks do not push them further into poverty was the topic of the Dec. 8 WDI Global Impact Speaker Series.

Thierry van Bastelaer, principal associate and scientist at Abt Associates, spoke about “Leveraging Inclusive Finance and Technology to Increase Resilience at the Bottom of the Pyramid.”

Households living at the base of the pyramid (BoP) demonstrate remarkable skills in dealing with the variety of risks that threaten their health and livelihoods on a daily basis. Too often, however, they are doing so without the benefit of financial tools that, if they were widely available, affordable and flexible, would dramatically decrease these families’ vulnerability and increase their long-term resilience.

In particular, insurance products are struggling to keep pace with the increasing costs of health care and the effects of climate change on agriculture. Using examples such as health savings, micro health insurance, and index-based weather insurance, the talk will suggest how the combination of technology and financial services has the potential to give low-income families a stronger handle on their economic and personal wellbeing.

Van Bastelaer helps design and develop Abt’s portfolio of private health finance activities. In addition to his work on health insurance and savings in Africa, he is the founder and co-director of Abt’s Risk and Resilience Methods Center, and was named one of Abt’s Senior Fellows.

Before joining Abt, Van Bastelaer was associate vice president for economic opportunities and senior director of Livelihoods

Innovation at Save the Children, and the director of the Enterprise Development Group at the IRIS Center at the University of Maryland (where he also earned his doctorate in Economics.) He currently serves as adjunct professor at American University, where he teaches the graduate and undergraduate classes in inclusive financial services.

Since 1965, Abt Associates has been driven by a simple mission: improve the quality of life and economic well-being of people worldwide.

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