Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima of the Netherlands is to become the Honorary Patron of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) from mid-June 2011. She was invited to do so in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. Her main task will be to strengthen the synergy between the UN and the G20 nations on promoting universal access to financial services, and she will continue to use her considerable experience to raise the profile of inclusive finance worldwide.
There is a long road ahead. Lack of financial services impedes the development of individuals, businesses and nations. Indeed, half the world’s population have no access to such services. Princess Máxima advocates universal access to a broad range of financial services, at a reasonable cost, provided by a diversity of sound and sustainable institutions. Financial services are needed by private individuals and entrepreneurs alike, and by small as well as medium-sized businesses.
The GPFI was launched following the G20 summit in Seoul in November 2010. Before that, Princess Máxima was Honorary Chair of the G20 SME Finance Data Working Group, which sought to collect concrete data about access to, and use of, financial services for small and medium-sized businesses, and to make the data comparable per country. At the Pittsburgh summit in September 2009 the G20 nations pledged to promote safe, transparent and sustainable financial services for small and medium-sized businesses, particularly in developing countries.
The GPFI is jointly chaired by the present, former and next leaders of the G20 group – currently France, Korea and Mexico. Three organisations are spearheading the GPFI’s work: the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
For many years, Princess Máxima has been campaigning in the Netherlands and abroad for transparency in the financial sector and access to financial services such as savings accounts, loans and insurance for all who need them. In 2009 she was designated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as his Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. In 2005 Princess Máxima worked for the UN advisory group for the International Year of Microcredit and from 2006 to 2008 she served on the Executive Committee of the UN Advisors’ Group on Inclusive Financial Sectors. As a member of the Dutch Council on Microfinance, Princess Máxima promotes entrepreneurship by encouraging coaching and the issue of small loans to entrepreneurs starting businesses in the Netherlands. Since 2010, she has been Honorary Chair of ‘CentiQ, Wiser in Money Matters’, a national partnership of banks, schools, government, consumers’ organisations and research institutions based in the Netherlands. In this capacity she highlights the importance of teaching young people financial literacy and how to handle money.