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The 2015 Fintech Finance 35: Rodger Voorhies, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

No. 20

Rodger Voorhies
Director, Financial Services for the Poor
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

One of 11 global development initiatives of the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Financial Services for the Poor has an ambitious goal of financial inclusion via technology: By 2035, it hopes, 60 percent of the world’s impoverished adults will be actively using digital money accounts. “We’re on track to making that happen,” declares the initiative’s director, Rodger Voorhies. Citing World Bank estimates that at least 2.5 billion adults lack financial institution accounts, the foundation advocates access to banking and payment services as a path out of poverty and is channeling grants toward that end. In Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan — five of eight targeted countries that together represent 65 percent of the world’s financially disenfranchised population — Voorhies’s team works with local digital payments system developers to expand their services to the unbanked. In Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the Gates Foundation has invested in mobile money ventures. Now that an infrastructure is in place in East Africa, the foundation is working to expand financial product offerings. “In five years mobile money has achieved what the banking system in Tanzania couldn’t do in 50 years,” Voorhies notes: The four mobile money players — M-Pesa, Tigo Pesa, Z-Pesa and Zap — reach 30 percent of low-income people, compared with traditional banks’ 10 percent penetration. Venture capitalists “are increasingly crowding into this space,” observes Voorhies, 51, who has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and served as CEO of Opportunity Bank of Malawi and Opportunity Bank of Serbia before joining the foundation in 2011. “What they’re not crowding into yet is the bottom of the pyramid, and that’s where it is philanthropic capital’s role to lead.” In September the Gates Foundation invited as one of its latest Grand Challenges Explorations, eligible for $100,000 initial grants, proposals for “an innovative analytics or data capture solution to improve the delivery and use of digital financial services in developing countries.”

The 2015 Fintech Finance 35

1. James Robinson III
& James Robinson IV
RRE Ventures
2. Jane Gladstone
Evercore Partners
3. Matthew Harris
Bain Capital Ventures
4. Steven McLaughlin
Financial Technology Partners
5. Jonathan Korngold
General Atlantic
6. Richard Garman &
Brad Bernstein
FTV Capital
7. Amy Nauiokas & Sean Park
Anthemis Group
8. Thomas Jessop
Goldman Sachs Group
9. Meyer (Micky) Malka
Ribbit Capital
10. Hans Morris
Nyca Partners
11. Maria Gotsch
Partnership Fund for New York City
12. Marc Andreessen
Andreessen Horowitz
13. Barry Silbert
Digital Currency Group
14. Jay Reinemann
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria
15. Mariano Belinky
Santander InnoVentures
16. François Robinet
AXA Strategic Ventures
17. Vanessa Colella
Citi Ventures
18. Alan Freudenstein & Gregory Grimaldi
Credit Suisse
19. Justin Brownhill & Neil DeSena
SenaHill Partners
20. Rodger Voorhies
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
21. Michael Schlein
Accion International
22. Kenneth Marlin
Marlin & Associates
23. Rumi Morales
CME Ventures
24. Mark Beeston
Illuminate Financial Management
25. Vladislav Solodkiy
26. Fabian Vandenreydt
Innotribe SWIFT
27. Derek White
28. Alex Batlin
29. Jeffrey Greenberg
& Vincenzo
La Ruffa
Aquiline Capital Partners
30. P. Howard Edelstein
REDI Holdings
31. Nektarios Liolios
Startupbootcamp FinTech
32. Roy Bahat
Bloomberg Beta
33. Andrew McCormack
Valar Ventures
34. Lawrence Wintermeyer
Innovate Finance
35. Janos Barberis
FinTech Hong Kong

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