A workshop on financial inclusion will take place at the Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre (IGDC) at the University of York on November 21st from 11.30am to 5pm. Students and Early Career Scholars are invited to submit their work for presentation and discussion. Milford Bateman, Richard Kozul-Wright (UNCTAD) and Stephanie Blankenburg (UNCTAD) will be present to discuss both the work of the early career scholars and issues raised in their edited volume, The Rise and Fall of Global Microcredit: Development, Debt and Disillusion (Routledge 2018)
Microfinance and then financial inclusion have become buzzwords in international development. Such initiatives have mobilised and generated large amounts of development funding, despite substantial amount of critique. Such critiques call for a more impartial assessment of the effectiveness of financial inclusion on the grounds that funds for microfinance, they argue, displaced development spendings on healthcare, education or infrastructure. In addition, the focus on expansion of financial markets to ‘bank’ and financially ‘include’ the poor may divert attention from more comprehensive and effective poverty reduction strategies. Critiques of this ‘way of doing development’ are often sidelined and labelled as ‘extreme’, ‘sloppy’ or ideology-driven rather than evidence-based. We believe that there is a need for contemporary development scholars and policy-makers from all disciplines to engage in those debates. This half-day workshop would bring in such scholars to discuss what we have learned from a decade of research on the microfinance, and how financial inclusion and the emergence of fintech may offer new opportunities - as well as risks - for inclusive global development.
Note that the following Roundtable discussion, chaired by Kate Pickett, will go beyond discussing cases of micro-finance or financial inclusion in low- or middle-income countries, to discuss the role of finance for in/exclusive development globally. Consequently, submissions exploring the inclusiveness of finance anywhere in the world are welcome.
We welcome papers focusing on, but not limited to, the following themes and topics:
Theme 1: Unpacking digital utopianism and financial inclusion as development tools
What is ‘financial inclusion’? How can or cannot financial inclusion serve inclusive development?
How does financial inclusion differ from micro-finance?
Digital utopianism, fintech, mobile money, and ‘banking’ the poor: Opportunities, trends, risks
Theme 2: Political Economy and Macroeconomic Implications of Financial Inclusion
The role of micro-finance in financialization
Micro-credit, instability, systemic failure, crises
What is the connection between microfinance, entrepreneurs, and industrialization?
Theme 3: Alternatives to Financial Inclusion
What are the alternatives to what is known as financial inclusion?
The role of community banks and development banks in fostering ‘financial inclusion’
Alternative theories of inclusive finance and alternative development models
The sessions will be chaired by one early career researcher coupled with one of the senior roundtable discussants who will offer reflections on the papers and conclude the session.
Deadline: October 1st. Submissions should be no more than 700 words and sent to [email protected] with the subject line “Scrutinizing Financial Inclusion Submission”. Travel grants are available for accepted applicants.