Financial Health: From Access to Aspiration

Thursday, 14th November 2019

9:00 AM – 1:00 PM | Pacific Ballroom 3, Hotel Pan Pacific Singapore​

MetLife Foundation, through the i3 (Innovate, Implement, Impact) initiative, have joined forces with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in Malaysia and China and with MicroSave Consulting (MSC) in Bangladesh and Vietnam to improve the financial health of low- and moderate- income populations.

Building on the early learnings from these four markets, MetLife Foundation, UNCDF and MSC will host a learning event on the sidelines of the Singapore Fintech Festival to help steer a mindset shift among practitioners from financial inclusion to financial health.

We invite you to contribute to this shift by sharing what financial health means to you, what you are doing about it, and what more needs to be done. UNCDF will release a white paper on financial health in the context of developing countries at the end of 2019. Your inputs will be incorporated into this white paper, which will serve as a foundation for a global working group on financial health.

Due to limited seating, early registration is recommend. You may do it using the following link.


Financial inclusion and financial health are often construed to mean the same thing. One can lead to the other however, there are significant differences. In the past decade or so, the developing world has taken significant strides in financially including formerly (un)derbanked populations. Account ownership has been on the rise, helping developing countries inch closer to a 100% financial inclusion. Account usage, however, has not seen a commensurate result, with large gaps between ownership and usage still persistent across the developing world. On a separate note, the linkages between financial inclusion and definitive improvements in people’s lives are still obscure.​


Guest Speakers

Judith Karl, UNCDF – Opening remarks

Judith Karl is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Capital Development Fund. She has led programmes in local development finance, decentralisation, small and medium enterprise development, demining, and crisis response.

Krishna Thacker, MetLife Foundation – Introduction

As regional director for the MetLife Foundation with more than a decade of experience in financial inclusion, Krishna Thacker is reponsible for advacing the foundation’s mission and commitment to bring financial inclusion to the unbanked individuals and families in Asia.

Abigail Ng, MAS – Keynote

Abigail Ng is the Executive Director for Corporate Finance & Consumer Department at Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Singapore’s central bank and integrated financial regulator that works with the financial industry to develop Singapore as a dynamic international financial centre.

Panel Discussion

Ahmed Dermish, UNCDF – @adermish @UNCDF

Ahmed is a Policy and Digital Ecosystem Specialist at UNCDF for the MM4P programme. He recently served as Director of Financial Inclusion Policy and Ecosystem Practice at Bankable Frontier Associates. Prior to joining Bankable Frontier Associates in 2009, Ahmed was a bank supervisor and policy adviser at the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom. While there, Ahmed was seconded to CGAP to assist in the development of regulatory policy for mobile banking and the supervision of electronic money institutions.

Alexander Clark, Behavioural Insights Team Singapore

Alexander Clark is Senior Advisor at Behavioural Insights Team UK based in Singapore. He works across a range of policy domains with key projects in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Financial Planning Programme Office.

Alejandra Ruales, Financial Health Network USA

Alejandra Ruales is Program Manager for Financial Health Network USA, where she conducts research and analyzes market trends to assist clients in the design and launch of high quality and sustainable financial products that improve financial health for consumers and small businesses. Alejandra brings her expertise in impact investing, small business lending, and microfinance to the program team. In previous roles, she worked as a research consultant for a start-up focused on blockchain technology and worked with underserved entrepreneurs at Accion Chicago.

Daniel Goldfarb, Lendable Kenya

Prior to founding Lendable, Daniel was partner at Greenstart, a seed stage venture capital firm in San Francisco, where his investment focus was on the intersection of data, finance, and energy. Before Greenstart he was the program director at Americans for Energy Leadership, where he led market analysis and research on solar energy for the developing world.

Prajna Paramita Saha, Bangladesh Bank

Prajna Paramita Saha is Deputy Director at Bangladesh Bank, the central bank and apex regulatory body for the Bangladesh’s monetary and financial system.

Tamara Cook, Financial Sector Deepening Kenya

Tamara Cook has been with FSD Kenya since 2014, being involved with many digital innovations including digital savings and credit, mobile health, mobile treasury bonds, mobile agricultural finance, merchant payments and mobile bank payments. She served on M-Kopa’s board for five years and is now a member of their Credit Committee. Prior to FSD Kenya, Tamara spent seven years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation managing a global portfolio of grants and loans supporting financial service providers reaching poor people with digital financial services. She also spent ten years with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), housed at the World Bank, including two years in Paris working on aid effectiveness and a year on secondment with Equity Bank in Kenya.


Hee Sung Kim, UNCDF

Hee Sung is overseeing UNCDF’s work in inclusive digital economies in Malaysia. The last four years, she was managing UNCDF’s work in access to clean energy in Uganda. She designed and managed the Renewable Energy Challenge Fund ($5.2M) which co-invested in more than 20 projects with companies distributing solar power and clean cooking solutions in under-served markets across Uganda. Hee Sung has been with UNCDF since 2010, and was one of the founding team members for UNCDF’s first energy access and financial inclusion initiative. Before that, Hee Sung worked with the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology and LG Electronics in South Korea.

Sunil Bhat, MSC

Sunil Bhat is an Associate Partner in MSC’s Digital Financial Services- Payments & Distribution Domain. He is a financial sector consultant with over ten years of experience advising more than 40 financial institutions in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Malawi, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Vietnam and the Philippines. His areas of expertise include: digital financial services, strategy, fintech support, process re-engineering, financial analysis, microfinance, responsible finance, client protection, agent network strengthening, market research and product development.  He is actively involved in projects with regulators and private institutions in the area of digital financial services. He has actively managed and led some large projects with some international donors such as CGAP, IFC (World Bank), USAID, MetLife Foundation, J P Morgan and Gates Foundation.

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