How to begin reimagining financial inclusion by Erlijn Sie

By Guest Contributor Erlijn Sie

Author of Reimagining Financial Inclusion, Erlijn Sie, explains how to begin reimagining financial inclusion for the benefit of all.


Are you sometimes tired out there in your home-office, feeling lonely and lost? Wishing you could start your working day with a smile and real urge to get to work, because it really matters? Pondering over another coffee, how to make your job, your team, your company more relevant to others? How to change it for the good of all? Then let’s go on a trip together!

When you go on a journey, you pack your bag before you go. What will you take? Here’s my suggestion for you to put in your suitcase or back pack. But wait… where’s the journey going? That’s right, we need a destination, let’s say ‘End poverty’. Making sure that next century we do not have anybody anymore anywhere in the world, who cannot live their life to their full potential. For which all of us need money, and financial services like savings, loans, insurances, pensions, mortgages. For the education of our children, for our homes, for our crop or just for a proper wage when producing or assembling.

Why should you want to go there? To tear down this invisible wall between the haves (in the formal economy, you and me), and the not-haves (in the informal economy, those who make our clothes, dig the cobalt in our mines for the mobile phones we use to stay in touch with our friends). Just because you know a tree cannot grow without watering the roots. Just because you realize you cannot (go on) picking the fruits of the tree, without caring for the roots. But how? You don’t see them, the roots, you don’t even know what nutrients they need… there you go: we need a journey to discover.

Ok, still with me, to start this journey? Hope so, because we need all of you: big businesses with global chains, banks, insurers, pension funds, fintech all of you leaders and talents, do tag along to change the current formal financial system, that is excluding so many of us.



Let’s pack our bags, it’s heavy but tangible, doable and most importantly: highly inspirational! You basically only need your underwear, a tooth brush and these three books:


In what order you’ll read them; if you’ll read them at the toilet or at a sunny beach; if it’s just a glimpse, flipping through, or deeply absorbing page-by-page, is entirely up to you. It will at least help you understand what YOU like, what makes your heart tick faster, what lifts your energy; That’s where your (future) contribution is hidden, so let’s take that as your first stop-over, ok?



Changing the Game reveals strategies to achieve system change. The most of the sustainability challenges are caused by system failures and the system feels like something we cannot change. Nobody owns it, nobody can therefore be held accountable, nobody to blame. But we can change it! Actually, the way to accelerate and manage system change is similar every time – if you know where to look and how to act. This theory of sustainable market transformation and system change is described in a compelling and easy to understand eight-step approach, applied to eight different sectors.

Changing the Game is teaching you how to see the system or the bigger picture. One insight it will leave you with, is that no one of us can do this alone. Neither can you, but that does not mean that the system cannot be changed! Don’t worry, there are many partners out there, you can team-up with. Reimagining Financial Inclusion, features 13 game changers from around the world, spicing up your thoughts about suitable partners, to grow your  contribution. Or your team’s donation in funds or expertise, or your company’s input to grow financial inclusion.

Let me pauze for a bit and paint a scenery for our trip together. Money, is often seen as the ‘oil’ of all our economic systems, it’s part of all the sectors. That means that it is not ‘just’ for bank and insurers, it’s all of our business. The game changers described in this book, Reimagining Financial Inclusion, are leaders of a growing group of social enterprises all over the world, who are challenging the status-quo and paving new pathways to financially include low-income families. Just read about their thought-provoking strategies, about the five levers they turn to tackle the flaws of our formal financial system, and how they do so. It will get you an impression of what partners you like to be involved with changing the future of finance.


The chances are high, that by now you lost all appetite to do anything, you want to, but have no clue where to start. You feel overwhelmed by the system being to big, the future of finance being way too far away. “The system”, like I said earlier, nobody owns it, nobody can be blamed and asked to repair. But the beauty is that it is just a mental ‘bug’, easy to re-set, and as soon as we see that we are the system, we understand that we can also only change it ourselves. Let me repeat this, you are the system, you are the one to change it. It starts with me, you, then your team, your organization, then the system.

It’s ok to feel deeply alienated from the wider societies in which we live, we all feel this, really! Particularly in the face of vast social problems – from climate change to our increasingly ‘winner takes all’ world. But life doesn’t need to be this way. Sharat’s manifesto Intrinsic, will guide you through three easy to grasp concepts. And mind you, this is about you!

  • Purpose: how what you do helps others
  • Autonomy: your ability to positively change things
  • Mastery: your sense of continually getting better

This will, very practically, help you see your motivation in a radically new light.

All good things come in three’s. “Not just the bitterness of the past, the burden of the present, and the brewing of the future.”, I forgot who said this, and ask forgiveness to use it without referring to refer to who said it.  Just to say that also my blog, and the start of our trip together, come in three:

  1. the bigger picture
  2. the partners you can team-up with
  3. the motivation to get there

These three are the perfect starting point, buckle up, we’re all set now to go on our journey. Don’t forget to enjoy!


ERLIJN SIE has 15 years of experience working with multi- nationals and an equivalent number of years leading and growing social ventures. She is the co-founder of Micro- credits for Mothers and Credits for Communities and was managing director of the Banking with the Poor Net- work and HandsOn Microfinance. Currently, she works at Ashoka – the world’s largest international network of social entrepreneurs – with blue chip companies to trans- form business into a force for good through collaboration with social innovators. Erlijn has devoted her career to contributing to a more just and inclusive economy. Erlijn holds two Masters degrees in Management Sciences and Asian Studies.



Suggested Reading

To live in today’s world, you need money; yet the majority of people do not have access to it. This book features 13 game changers from around the world who are challenging the status-quo and paving new pathways to financially include low-income families. Through an in-depth study of their thought-provoking strategies, a framework for inclusion is distilled, centring around five levers to tackle the flaws of our formal financial system. If you are curious about how to get involved with changing the future of finance, this book is for you.

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