Financial Inclusion Forum Welcomes Three New Board Members

LONDON – Financial Inclusion Forum UK today announced the appointment of Christine Oughton, William Derban, and Elena Ponds to their Board of Directors.

“We are delighted to be joined by three such leading professionals, all bringing diverse skills and perspectives to the board. Christine strengthens our relationships with academia and brings much gravitas! Will’s service to and knowledge of financial inclusion is exceptional, and he strengthens our ties to our sister organisation Financial Inclusion Africa. And Elena brings considerable marketing expertise combined with the experience of developed world financial inclusion. We’re blessed that our board has been augmented by such talent; this bodes well for the future of our Mission”, commented Paul Blyth, Financial Inclusion Forum, Chairperson.

Christine Oughton is a Professor of Management Economics at SOAS University of London and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (appointed 2006). She received her PhD in Economics from the University of Cambridge. Before joining SOAS she was a Professor of Economics and Management at the University of Bolzano, Italy and a Professor of Management at Birkbeck. She also held a Senior Lectureship at the University of Birmingham, where she was Director of the Research Centre for Industrial Strategy and a Lectureship at the University of Glasgow. Her research focuses on financial diversity, innovation, environmental management, corporate governance, financial inclusion and growth. She was co-investigator on the ESRC Research Seminar Series, Complexity Economics for Sustainability that brought together, academics, practitioners and policy makers on environmental issues, and is currently working on two ESRC projects on (i) Financial Inclusion and Growth in Low Income Countries and (ii) the Financial System in China. Christine has published widely on innovation, environmental sustainability, governance, financial diversity, competitiveness and growth.

“Since its inception in 2005, the Financial Inclusion Forum has shined a light on the role of financial inclusion in catalysing economic empowerment and social impact,” said Christine Oughton.  “I’m delighted to be joining the Board of Directors of FIF at a time when Financial Inclusion is incorporated as a target in 8 of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals for all countries – poor, middle-income and rich – as a means of enabling sustainable, inclusive growth in an interconnected world.” 

William Derban is the Market Engagement Director for the Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation programme at the GSMA. The role entails working with mobile network operators and humanitarian organisations to find commercially sustainable solutions in complex humanitarian situations. Before joining GSMA, William worked in various senior roles in banking for over 20 years, including the head of community investment at Barclays for Africa, Middle East and Asia, and then setting up the financial inclusion department in Fidelity Bank Ghana.

William is the founder and chair of the Financial Inclusion Forum Africa. The forum brings together people who are passionate about financial inclusion across Africa. He also sits on the board of Access to Finance in Rwanda and has been a board member at Enhancing Financial Inclusion and Access (EFInA) in Nigeria, Junior Achievement Africa, Airtel money Ghana and a steering committee member at the Smart Campaign. He was also a founding member of the Financial Inclusion Forum UK.

On being appointed, William Derban stated, “The Financial Inclusion Forum UK has been an important voice championing the role financial inclusion plays in development. It has been successful at bringing people from all professions together to learn, share and deliberate solutions that make a difference in the lives of many people. I am proud to be associated with the Forum from its inception in 2015 till now and to see how it has grown in numbers and influence.”

Elena Ponds is a Vice President of Insights and Impact on Citi’s Community Investing and Development team, a group that works across Citi’s businesses and functions to catalyse positive social impact in communities around the world through equity investing and innovative financing solutions. In this role, Elena manages strategic initiatives to measure, report and amplify the impact of Citi’s philanthropy, inclusive finance and impact investing through flagship community programming, branded marketing and thought leadership initiatives. Since joining Citi in 2013, Elena has held a number of communications and community development positions with Citi in New York and London.

“The Financial Inclusion Forum UK plays a critical role in connecting thought leaders and practitioners from across a variety of sectors to boost knowledge sharing and create a space for new ideas and connections that help drive financial inclusion,” said Elena Ponds about her role as a Board Director. “I’m delighted to join the FIF UK Board to help enable and expand the organizations’ reach and, in turn, help promote the development of new solutions for global inclusion.”

To find out more about the Financial Inclusion Forum UK, please visit

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