Financial Inclusion Forum News

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 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 Professor of Management Economics at SOAS University of London and 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 Professor of Economics and Management at the University of Bolzano, Italy and 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

Press Release | 5 May 2021



Financial Inclusion Forum Welcomes Two New Board Members

LONDON – Financial Inclusion Forum today announced the appointment of Kelly Jennings-Robinson and Sian Williams to their Board of Directors

“We are absolutely delighted to be joined by two experts who bring unique skills and knowledge that materially strengthen our board.  Sian is one of the leading experts on UK financial inclusion and enables FIF to deliver on our long-term strategic goal of helping the UK financial inclusion sector to learn from the developing world and vice versa and Kelly adds considerable expertise to boost our fundraising capabilities.  This is a very good day for FIF and our Mission”, commented Paul Blyth, Financial Inclusion Forum, Chairperson.

Sian Williams is committed to the creation of a banking and finance sector that serves people and planet. Sian is the Head of Financial Inclusion of Toynbee Hall, Chair of the financial system and banking reform think tank, Positive Money, and Vice-Chair of the UK Financial Inclusion Commission. Sian also represents the interests of people at risk of exclusion on a range of advisory bodies, including the UK government’s Financial Inclusion Policy Forum, the Pay UK End User Council, the Link Scheme Ltd. Consumer Council, and the UK Finance Consumer Advisory Group. She is also currently working on setting up a UK pilot of a no interest loan scheme and championing the roll out Request to Pay, both tools aimed at supporting financial resilience for people on low and unpredictable incomes. 

“I first encountered the Financial Inclusion Forum back in 2009. I was just starting out on my journey into the UK’s financial inclusion sector and found the learning and networking events invaluable in exploring the international field of microfinance. Here in the UK, far too many people are still without access to a transactional account, affordable credit, or effective savings tools. We have much to learn from international experience and solutions to these problems, so I’m delighted to have the opportunity to help join the dots between international and UK financial inclusion work through my new role for the Financial Inclusion Forum," said Sian Williams.

Kelly Jennings-Robinson has over 15 years of global experience working internationally and in multiple sectors. In recent years, she served as Opportunity International’s Philanthropy Manager, responsible for working with individual donors and corporate partners to secure support for a range of financial inclusion programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to moving into the international development sector, Kelly held several roles in international educational publishing for the EMEA region, working for Oxford University Press, National Geographic Learning, and Capstone Publishers.  She is currently finishing her MA in Education and International Development at UCL’s Institute of Education.

On being appointed, Kelly Jennings-Robinson stated, “I am delighted and honoured to join the board of Financial Inclusion Forum. Sustainable, responsible financial inclusion unquestionably makes an impact on the lives of society’s most marginalised. FIF’s core mission is to disseminate knowledge and share best practice from a wide range of financial inclusion initiatives in both the developed and developing world. By raising awareness, we can use this knowledge to create even more opportunities for economic empowerment and reduce inequalities. I am looking forward to working with an exemplary leadership team, our professional networks, and our corporate partners to further this crucial work.”

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


Press Release | 19 November 2020



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We aim to host around ten events each year covering a variety of different topics within the financial inclusion domain. For accessibility the majority of our events are hosted in central London where we are often sponsored by large firms operating within the space.

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Refugees in Times of Global Crisis

Save the Date: Thursday, June 18th from 14:30-16:00 BST 

Financial Inclusion Forum UK and Opportunity International UK present Refugees in Times of Global Crisis.  This panel discussion will examine the financial lives of refugees and internally displaced persons during the COVID-19 crisis. It will also explore the social and economic impact of the pandemic in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa and share learnings from organisations are the challenges. Full programme and speaker information to follow. 

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