Finmark Trust & Cenfri Launch $USD 20 Million Data Facility to Advance Financial Inclusion

Cape Town, South Africa, November 19, 2015—Today, FinMark Trust and Cenfri will launch a $US 20 million data facility, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. The five year partnership will see the support of a data hub that is designed to help financial services providers better understand the financial services needs of their clients. In so doing, more people who are un-served and underserved will have access to secure, affordable and convenient financial services.

The data hub, named “insight2impact” (i2i), aims to demonstrate how financial service providers can draw customer insights from current data sets and effectively use them in product design and business decisions that offer clients relevant, convenient and affordable services. It will also help to house, develop and disseminate new approaches for measuring financial access and use.

Research shows that access to the formal financial system can improve the lives of people living in poverty and small businesses. Financial inclusion can boost job creation, leading to poverty reduction and enabling more people to pay for important services such as health and education.

According to Dr Prega Ramsamy, CEO of FinMark Trust, “our partnership with MasterCard Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will allow us through the i2i to catalyse innovation for tailor-made solutions to meet client needs. This will undoubtedly take our work to the next level which is anchored on the quality of financial inclusion.”

Herman Smit, interim lead of i2i and Technical Director of Cenfri, said “In most developing countries, limited insights on new consumer segments undermine the ability of the financial sector to best serve them. We believe through this pioneering collaboration we can work with financial service providers to improve our understanding of how they can best serve these new consumer segments through the use of data.”

“Banks and other financial service providers today, more than ever, need to be responsive to clients in order to differentiate themselves and remain relevant,” said Ann Miles, Director of Programs-Financial Inclusion & Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation. “i2i is an important, collaborative effort to help the industry improve not just the range and relevance of financial products and services, but also enhance clients’ experiences and satisfaction with services being offered to them.”

For more about i2i, see our website at:



FinMark Trust, an independent trust based in Johannesburg, South Africa, was established in 2002, and is funded primarily by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID) through its Southern Africa office. More recently some other funders (UNCDF, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MasterCard Foundation) have come on board to support the work of FinMark Trust. FinMark Trust’s purpose is ‘Making financial markets work for the poor, by promoting financial inclusion and regional financial integration’. FinMark Trust does this by conducting research to identify the systemic constraints that prevent financial markets from reaching out to these consumers and by advocating for change on the basis of research findings. Please visit for more information.


The Centre for Financial Regulation & Inclusion (Cenfri) is an independent think tank based in Cape Town, South Africa. Our mission is to support financial inclusion and financial sector development through facilitating better regulation and market provision of financial services. We do this by conducting research, providing advice and developing capacity-building programmes for regulators, donors, financial service providers and other parties operating in the low-income market. In collaboration with key partners and funders we actively engage across Africa, Latin America and Asia. Please visit for more information.

Editorial contact

FinMark Trust
Nitha Ramnath (Ms)
Communication Manager
Tel: 011 315-9197 / 0829214769