Implementing Solutions to Increase Financial Access for Underserved Populations in Israel


Significant segments of Israel's population are not served by formal financial institutions and as a result do not participate in the country's economy. Without access to traditional credit services and savings products, personal finances are strained and small businesses cannot grow.

The supply of potential financing options is limited by a lack of transparency and standardization in credit scoring and the measurement of poverty as well as inadequate incentives for the highly concentrated banking sector to offer adequate credit and savings options. The demand for such options is stunted by the lack of community-based and non-bank institutions as well as a general gap in financial literacy programs.

There are a number of financial inclusion initiatives and programs either under way or being developed in Israel today. However, many regulatory, financial and operational gaps need to be filled to ensure success. Toward this end, the Milken Institute and Citi are convening a Financial Innovations Lab. to craft a roadmap to creating workable business models that will act as the basis for institutions and interest groups to help Israel's underserved markets access financial services.

This workshop will address mobilizing new sources of capital for community investment, asset-building and savings products, consumer access to credit, pre-paid and credit cards, and U.S. best practices and models for microfinance practitioners. The diverse backgrounds of attendees - government experts from the Ministry of Finance and Bank of Israel, senior officials from financial institutions, and leaders of domestic and international community development organizations such as Accion US Network, the Corporation for Enterprise Development and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions - will facilitate the discussion of the actual application and implementation of solutions as well as the required policy and regulatory adjustments.

Results from the Lab, including recommended next steps for implementation, will be published soon. For information, contact Caitlin MacLean, associate director of Financial Innovations Labs, at