So far, different governmental and non-governmental agencies have developed financial orientation programs. Some programs seek to improve financial knowledge; others, to promote financial inclusion and/or deliver costumer protection tools. While it is true that most of the institutions claim to carry out activities that aim at providing financial education or at promoting a financial culture, only some of them carry out activities that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) categorizes as financial education. Therefore, it is necessary to reach a common definition of what is understood by financial education as well as to establish what to educate financially consists of, in order to be able to create a strategy for promoting financial education.
In this context, in 2012, the Mesa de Educación Financiera-MEF (Board for Financial Education) was created thanks to the coalition of twelve institutions that look to promote the debate on financial inclusion in Chile. The objective of the board is to “contribute to people acquiring a better understanding of financial concepts and products so that they can make informed decisions, evaluating risks and opportunities”.1 Also, the MEF sought to promote a National Financial Education Strategy with a scope wider than that of the programs currently being developed in the country. Since the beginning, the MEF has had the support of the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos - IEP (Institute of Peruvian Studies), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Ford Foundation, through Proyecto Capital (Capital Project).
Financial inclusion and financial education are part of the current debate on the development of policies that contribute to poverty alleviation, as a complementary strategy to pro-ductive development projects for poor households, and as a tool to generate capacities in the context of the discussion about multidimensional poverty.
The countries in the region have committed themselves to promoting financial inclusion, relating to economic aspects as well as to aspects of social inclusion. In this context, financial inclusion is not simply about the existence of a supply side with competitive financial products and services. Instead, it aims to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to make effective, sustainable, and protected use of these products and services, so they can reach all segments of the population.
With the goal of highlighting and discussing the advances and challenges surrounding financial inclusion, the Regional Meeting on Financial Inclusion and Education Experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean was held between September 30 and October 3 of 2014 in Santiago de Chile, bringing together policymakers, academics and executives of financial institutions from more than 10 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Meeting was organized by the Fondo de Solidaridad e Inversión Social - FOSIS (Solidarity and Social Investment Fund of Chile) and the Proyecto Capital, funded by the Ford Foundation and the International Development Research Centre - IDRC of Canada; with the support of the Agencia de Cooperación Internacional del Japón – JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), the Agencia de Cooperación Internacional de Chile - AGCI (International Cooperation Agency of Chile), and the Mesa de Educación Financiera - MEF (Financial Education Roundtable) of Chile.
This publication summarizes the main conclusions and challenges that were presented at the Regional Meeting, during which the various participants demonstrated their ongoing commitment to achieve profound economic and social transformations to overcome the conditions of exclusion and vulnerability of the poor.