Inclusive finance ‘strives to enhance access to and usage of financial services for both individuals and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs)’. Inclusive finance is therefore concerned with efforts towards financial inclusion, namely ‘the universal access to and usage of a wide range of affordable financial services, provided by a variety of sound, responsible, and sustainable financial service providers.’
Financial inclusion gained global prominence in 2006 when Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering microfinance. Yunus described his vision as creating banks for the poor, who were largely left out of financial systems. The idea of microfinance was revolutionary then, but today it has been mainstreamed into initiatives for the reduction of poverty. For example, the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) have identified increased access to financial services for all as a means to to accelerate development.