Mary Ellen Iskenderian on the NYSE Big Stage

October 30, 2013

The NYSE Big Stage website featured a summary of Women’s World Banking President and CEO Mary Ellen Iskenderian’s talk at TEDxWallStreet on Wednesday, October 30, 2012.

2013-10-30 MEI TEDxWallStreet NYSE Big Stage Story

Microfinance is the ideal that small investments to reach those underserved by financial institutions can solve big problems. But Mary Ellen Iskendrian, CEO of the non-profit Women’s World Banking organization believes it’s not about little investments, it’s about big markets.

The smart solution to ending world poverty isn’t just about small loans. It’s about getting different financial products out to those people who don’t know what compound interest is and don’t understand that they don’t have to pay a bank a storage fee to hold their money.

Iskendrian works with dozens of financial institutions around the world. She cites as one example Diamond Bank in Nigeria. Diamond is primarily a commercial bank, and wanted to appeal to the 56 million Nigerians who do not have bank accounts. They thought about microloans, but Iskendrian’s solution was that the bank should provide savings accounts, stressing the safety and security of these products to new customers. Diamond now has 38,000 new accounts from new customers.

“What we need are more institutions to equip the poor with a broad array of financial products, from leases to pensions,” she says. There are billions without such services, says Iskendrian, and that’s no micro market.