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MasterCard Foundation Clients at the Centre Prize

The US$150,000 MasterCard Foundation Clients at the Centre Prize is looking for the most innovative, impactful and sustainable way in which a company puts “clients at the centre” to promote financial inclusion for poor people in the world’s developing countries.

The Prize shines a light on best practices in financial services that make client needs and wants a priority. Companies or organizations that receive the Prize will ensure client voices are most influential in driving business strategies and decisions.

The MasterCard Foundation Clients at the Centre Prize is a US$150,000 cash award. There is also consulting support of up to US$50,000 to expand or reinforce client-centric practices within the winning organization.

Between three and five finalist companies will each be invited to send a senior representative to present the organization’s proposals to peers and industry professionals at the 2015 MasterCard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion, being held November 19-20 in Cape Town, South Africa. The audience will vote on who will be the eventual winner of the Prize.

Who Can Apply
Applicants must be registered organisations operating anywhere in the world, and direct providers of financial products and services to low-income populations in developing countries. Applications must focus on their business practices that better serve the poor, most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged people within any of the developing countries eligible for the Prize (see “List of Eligible Countries” section below). Different geographies and socio-economic contexts make it difficult to pre-define low-income populations. Hence, applicants will be asked to define and characterise the geographies in which they operate and clients they are targeting in their applications so that the Judges can assess if they are truly servicing and bringing benefit to low-income populations.

The client-centricity theme has been prioritised because, in the current landscape, financial products and services often do not meet the needs of many low-income demographic groups. This forces them to resort to improvised solutions such as borrowing from family and friends. Although this may work at a subsistence level, it enhances exclusion and the susceptibility to risk of the poorest. We believe that financial service providers need to think beyond their products and services and cultivate a more client-focused mindset that embraces all aspects of the design and delivery of financial services to the poor. The end goal of client-centricity is facilitating client welfare, ensuring their needs are met broadly and effectively through financial services and their interests are represented in a manner that is aligned with building a sustainable and robust financial services industry. For financial service providers this translates into tangible, measurable shifts in the way they do business.

Applicants can be traditional financial service providers (commercial banks, micro-finance institutions, or companies providing non-bank products and services such as leasing or insurance companies), or emerging players such as mobile network providers, IT or mobile-enabled technology companies, agribusinesses that provide financial services, or others. Please note that The MasterCard Foundation cannot partner with government agencies.

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