Start of main content

Posted on March 26, 2024 | Updated at 1PM

How to Better Reach Underserved Borrowers

Add to calendar

man standing in field

Conference: IMF - WBG 2024 Spring Meetings

Event type: Panel


  1. Lori Kerr, CEO Findev Canada
  2. Adama Mariko, Secretary General Finance in Common
  3. Colin Buckley, Managing Director and General Counsel British International Investment
  4. Agnes Dasewicz, COO, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (TBC)         
  5. Moderator: Andrew Herscowitz


The COVID pandemic, the climate emergency, the global economic meltdown, and conflicts that are eroding development gains have given rise to an increasingly vocal movement, particularly in the Global South, that is screaming that the tools that the development finance institutions have been offering for decades are not achieving their purpose in alleviating poverty. Nearly all development finance institutions and multilateral development banks are structured in a way that requires them to achieve near commercial returns at a time when global interest rates are higher than they have been in years. The Bridgetown Initiative, the Loss and Damage Fund, and other movements have been shining a light on the need to reach the most underserved markets. Those underserved markets that struggle to get access to financing include

  • Those living in underserved areas: low-income countries, fragile areas, vulnerable areas of countries (e.g., the Amazon, Northern Nigeria, etc.)
  • Underserved people: women, LGBTQ+, indigenous, people with disabilities, Afro-descendants in Latin America, religious minorities (e.g., Christian in Iraq), former or potential combatants (youth in underserved regions), the elderly, etc.
  • Underserved classes of borrowers: those who need less than $5 million (e.g., businesses in low-income countries) and those who need less than $1,000-$1 million (e.g., market women who may need only $1,000, but who typically get high interest, short term loans; women getting their first mortgage for $20,000).

In this invite-only event on the sidelines of the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, we will examine what approaches MDBs and DFIs have been taking to increase their lending and support to these underserved markets and what needs to be done to increase support. 

With a panel of experts involved in reaching these underserved markets, they will discuss:

  • What approaches are working?
  • How to scale these approaches?
  • What are the structural challenges (cultural, financial, incentive structures etc.) to getting institutions to focus on underserved markets and what can be done to overcome these challenges?
  • Who are the stakeholders who need to be sold on the changes (e.g., shareholders, legislators)?