Financial inclusion

Persons with disabilities have the same needs for financial services, for example, savings, credit, grants and transfers - as people without disabilities. However, persons with disabilities are often excluded from financial services due to stigma and discriminatory attitudes, or simply because they lack access to information about such programs or the assistance to apply for them.

Inclusive financial services enable persons with disabilities to identify and participate in financial service initiatives. Development initiatives including microcredit, microfinance and savings and credit self-help groups can economically empower persons with disabilities to participate in economic and other activities.

Resources below include reports, articles and emerging good practice examples on financial inclusion.

See also: Participation of persons with disabilities.

UNICEF (2022) Budgeting and mobilizing resources for disability inclusion in humanitarian actions

This technical brief provides guidance to estimate the costs associated with including people with disabilities in humanitarian action. The brief is primarily concerned with response planning and resource mobilization, and provides tools and tips to support action.

European Disability Forum & CBM Global Disability Inclusion (2022) Key Principles and Recommendations for Inclusive Cash and Voucher Assistance in Ukraine

This technical brief provides guidance for humanitarian actors operating in Ukraine on how to implement Disability-Inclusive Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA). It aims to ensure that disability is mainstreamed within the CVA intervention and in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), International Humanitarian Law and the Humanitarian Principles.

World Vision (2014) Strengthening Community Resilience in the Gaza Strip Project

This eight minute video shows how small business courses for persons with disabilities have transformed lives in Gaza, by providing persons with disabilities the opportunity to set up a small business and gain financial security and independence. The case studies highlight how the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities has wider benefits for that person in terms of social inclusion and improved self-esteem and confidence, as well as for the wider community. This video challenges misconceptions about the inability of persons with disabilities to participate in the economy, and provides good examples of initiatives to promote their sustainable financial inclusion.

Center for Financial Inclusion (2010) Concept note: New financial access frontier: People with disabilities

This concept note was prepared as the background for a roundtable discussion of microfinance institutions and disability organisations held in June 2010 in Washington DC, convened by the Center for Financial Inclusion in partnership with the World Bank. It proposes an agenda with five main areas of action through which financial institutions can increase inclusion and access to financial services for persons with disabilities worldwide.

Center for Financial Inclusion - Disability page

A goal of the Center for Financial Inclusion is to build a strong business case for providing non-subsidised financial services to persons with disabilities. Launched in 2010, the Center is building a body of ‘how to’ knowledge that can be disseminated to financial service providers and networks around the world. Ongoing activities include a disability inclusion demonstration project with the microfinance institution Fundación Paraguaya, advocacy via the Center’s blog, newsletter, messaging outlets, conferences, and engagement with key decision-makers, and collaboration with the Smart Campaign to develop practices and tools to implement the newly proposed client protection principle on non-discrimination.

Humanity & Inclusion (2006) Good practices for the economic inclusion of people with disabilities in developing countries: Funding mechanisms for self-employment

This report provides a comprehensive insight into the issues facing persons with disabilities regarding inclusion in economic activities. It highlights good practices, strategies, tools and operational methods around projects that support access to funding mechanisms and the self-employment of persons with disabilities. It focuses on microcredit and grants for the start-up and expansion of micro-enterprises. While it suggests that much of the participation in financial services by persons with disabilities is subsidised, more recent work seeks to build a strong business case for providing non-subsidised financial services to persons with disabilities. (Note: this resource predates the UNCRPD and World report on disability. It underestimates the prevalence of disability and the section on legal frameworks is now out of date, however the broad principles, identification of barriers, and suggested responses it outlines remain relevant.)

Handicap International and CBM (2006) Making PRSP inclusive

This handbook, financed by the Government of Germany and facilitated by the World Bank, presents experiences and proposes ideas on how DPOs and persons with disabilities may participate in national PRSP processes. Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) were introduced in 1999 by the World Bank and the IMF. A PRSP sets out a country's macroeconomic, structural, and social policies and programs to promote growth and reduce poverty, as well as associated external financing needs. While the handbook is mainly aimed at persons with disabilities, the case studies (from Tanzania, Honduras, Bangladesh and Sierra Leone) contain useful lessons learned around entry points and how organisations of and for persons with disabilities became engaged in their national PRSP process. It should be read in light of the now increased recognition of the roles of DPOs in international development efforts provided for in the UNCRPD.

This case study collection describes lessons learned from seven inclusive humanitarian cash transfer projects implemented from 2015 – 2020, and five ongoing projects from the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic responses. The projects employed cash transfer in a range of humanitarian crises; using unrestricted cash transfers distributed via different cash delivery mechanisms. Annex 1 provides an overview of the analysed responses and the project briefs of seven of the case studies. The collection aims to benefit both humanitarian practitioners engaged in CBI and the wider humanitarian sector by presenting insights and learning on how humanitarian CBI programs can be made more inclusive, to ensure equal outcomes for disaster-affected people with disabilities and other at-risk groups.

This learning document highlights good practices and lessons from this response and is intended to provide guidance to NGOs, state actors and OPDs to create inclusive responses and deliver equal outcomes through inclusive Multipurpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) in humanitarian action.

This article reports on a pilot project in Uganda which aimed to enable persons with disabilities to access mainstream microfinance services. It identifies common barriers to access and how these were addressed in a low-cost way, to increase the number of persons with disabilities served by MFIs. It outlines lessons learned including: (i) entrepreneurs with disabilities are an untapped market opportunity for Microfinance Institutions (MFIs); (ii) to influence MFIs it is important to understand their business model and team up with key actors from the industry; and (iii) persons with disabilities are often misinformed about MFIs' terms and services and don't know how to tap these opportunities. A change in attitudes in MFIs and Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) was observed. All MFIs participating in the project reported an increase in the number of clients with disabilities. This happened without the use of any economic incentives.

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Picture of a man in Niger, who uses crutches, and a woman, standing next to a goat and a donkey. The animals are under a thatched roof shelter.

Photo: Tobias Pflanz, 2010

Moussa* 22, is a successful businessman in Niger who raises cattle and other animals, as well as selling mobile phones and groundnuts, after receiving micro-loans from a Community Based Rehabilitation program. His business means he is able to financially support himself. (*Pseudonym used) Copyright: CBM