Ford Foundation Working with Visionaries on the Frontlines of Social Change Worldwide
Economic Fairness

Improving Access to Financial Services

  • LinkedIn
  • Google Plus
  • Creative Commons


The goal of this work is to improve access to and the infrastructure for innovative financial products and services for low-income people.

The Challenge

In the United States, an estimated 9 million households do not have a savings or a checking account while another 21 million households have bank accounts but rely on costly alternative financial service providers such as payday lenders or check-cashing outlets. In developing countries, approximately 72 percent of adults lack access to the formal financial system.

Mainstream financial markets fail to meet the needs of poor and marginalized populations for three reasons: the financial products and services offered typically are inappropriate for low-income households; the infrastructure or delivery system is unresponsive to their needs; and the policies and regulatory system are poorly designed and implemented.

What We're Doing Globally

Our work focuses on helping financial institutions serve poor households by:

  • Helping microfinance institutions to develop social performance management (SPM) systems that improve their ability to serve poor and low-income people
  • Strengthening the capacity of financial institutions to use SPM systems
  • Identifying new ways to reach very poor households

What We're Doing in the United States

Improving access to affordable and responsive financial products and services is an important step to help poor and low-income households build and maintain assets.

We support:

  • Efforts to increase access to quality financial services by funding research to test innovative products that meet the needs of poor households
  • Building an infrastructure to make these products and services widely available
  • Funding advocacy for supportive policy and regulation

Learn more about how our strategies and approaches shape our grant making.

What We're Following




  • Frank F. DeGiovanni
  • Amy Brown

From the Newsroom


Sign Up

Please complete all fields unless marked (optional).

Which of Ford’s Issues interest you? Select all that apply. Please select at least one issue.