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By Bihong Huang. Posted December 13, 2019
Financial inclusion for women has been embraced by policy makers as an important development priority. However, despite women having lower risk preferences and higher creditworthiness, the gender gap in access to finance is still prevalent in the traditional credit market. This is due to various factors, such as differences in employment opportunities, legal obstacles, cultural norms, and limited access to the guarantee mechanism, among others.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a vital role as a driving force in economies around the world, especially in Asia. SMEs in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region are estimated to comprise more than 98% of the total number of enterprises, and they contribute to around 40% of gross domestic product.
Financial literacy has gained an important position in the policy agenda of many countries, and the importance of collecting informative, reliable data on the levels of financial literacy across adult populations has been widely recognized (OECD/INFE 2015a). At their summit in Los Cabos in 2012, G20 leaders endorsed the High-Level Principles on National Strategies for Financial Education developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development International Network on Financial Education (OECD/INFE), thereby acknowledging the importance of coordinated policy approaches to financial education (G20 2012).
By Lotte Schou-Zibell. Posted May 26, 2016
Due to innovations in financial technology and changes in the enabling environment, the number of financially excluded adults across Asia and the Pacific has dropped to about 1 billion. Increased access to affordable financial services can be a lever for Asians to smoothen consumption, manage risk and improve their lives through better savings options, access to credit, and cheaper payments or remittances.
By Ganeshan Wignaraja. Posted October 6, 2015
Concerns about moderating economic growth and rising income inequality in ASEAN economies have brought small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into the policy limelight. Arguing that SMEs have significant potential for creating jobs, some commentators are suggesting a host of industrial policies such as financial subsidies and local content rules to promote SMEs. However, government failure may result from heavy-handed state intervention for SMEs.
This article assesses the case for promoting financial education in Asia. It argues that the benefits of investing in financial education can be substantial. Data are limited, but indicate low financial literacy scores for selected Asian countries. As economies develop, access to financial products and services will increase, but households and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to be able to use the products and services wisely and effectively. More effective management of savings and investment can contribute to overall economic growth. Moreover, as societies age and fiscal resources become stretched, households will become increasingly responsible for their own retirement planning. Asia’s evolving experience suggests that more national surveys of financial literacy are needed and that coherent, tailored national strategies for financial education are essential for success.
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