Financial inclusion is vital for enhancing the social dignity of underprivileged people alongside poverty eradication, said experts yesterday.

“I honestly believe financial inclusion of underprivileged people would upgrade their livelihoods and it is connected with sustainable development goals,” said Gowher Rizvi, international affairs adviser to the prime minister.

He was addressing the closing ceremony of a two-day “First FIN-B International Conference and Inclusive Fair 2019” organized by the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh in Dhaka.

Rizvi said the society was accountable and responsible to underprivileged communities while achieving financial inclusion was the real challenge to getting returns from the rural economy.

However, he is confident of the progress made in achieving financial inclusion and stressed the need for affirmative action for drivers of society to attain middle-class social strata. The prime minister’s adviser believes that Bangladesh was going to achieve double-digit economic growth within a short time.

“The higher growth must come through the distribution of all facilities among the stakeholders and concertation is required to ensure schooling and healthcare facilities for all,” he added.

“We have to keep in mind that without access to finance there is no success,” he noted.

Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman of the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development, said opportunities should be created for the financially insolvent as they have no access to large finance to change their social status.

Basically, they are stakeholders for financial inclusion, not beneficiaries, he said, adding, “They are very important stakeholders in achieving SDGs. We need to undertake multidimensional measures to graduate the poor people.”

Ahmed Mushtaque Reza Chowdhury, former vice-chairman of Brac, said the non-government organization set an example in facilitating the graduation of the extreme poor across the country.

According to him, they now need access to finance and other facilities to further upgrade their current state.

MK Mujeri, executive director of the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development, said a framework materialized from the conference for promoting financial inclusion for the excluded and disadvantaged groups while upholding human dignity, which would have implications for future policies.

The conference saw the presentation of 15 papers by experts on six themes, providing an opportunity to policymakers, financial experts, practitioners, academicians, and stakeholders to discuss financial inclusion challenges, identify innovative solutions and share experience covering both demand and supply-side issues.