Economic Development

Announcing the 2020 Global Inclusive Growth Spark Grant Recipients

December 7, 2020  • Aspen Global Leadership Network

The Global Inclusive Growth Partnership, a collaboration between the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and the Aspen Institute, is pleased to announce the 2020 recipients of the inaugural Global Inclusive Growth Spark Grants. The 2020 Grant awards $60,000 in total to four organizations led by Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellows from around the world who are leading critical initiatives to reimagine more inclusive economic futures for all.

Congratulations to the following Fellows and their teams for advancing sustainable and equitable economic growth and financial inclusion.

  • Nation Black Bank Fund, US:  Ashley Bell, Civil Society Fellowship, a partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute; Yolanda Daniel, Finance Leaders Fellowship; Lauren McCann, Civil Society Fellowship, a partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute; Tishaura Jones, Rodel Fellowship (top row, left to right)
  • LittleFish, South Africa: Davith Kahwa; Africa Leadership Initiative – East Africa  (bottom left)
  • Good Financial, Hong Kong: Ben Way, Finance Leaders Fellowship (bottom row, second from left)
  • Forward Cities, US: Christopher Gergen, Henry Crown Fellowship; and Fay Horwitt (bottom right)

All four organizations are building powerful solutions that advance long-term economic recovery and rebuilding efforts in the wake of the current global crisis. Their work tackles issues fundamental to inclusive growth, including promoting financial security and resiliency of small businesses and workers, building economically prosperous communities through place-based ecosystems, and dismantling entrenched inequities within the existing financial system.  They employ different strategies but with the same aim – to confront systemic and structural failures while placing inclusion at the center of their work. From South Africa to North Carolina, from Hong Kong to Atlanta, the recipients are spread across the globe, offering solutions to drive change on a national and international scale.

In a year where the structure of our society was challenged by a global pandemic, we look to the leaders of the AGLN for out-of-the-box solutions. The recipients of the Global Inclusive Growth Spark Grants show us that there is another way, reimagining an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery that will make the digital economy work for everyone, everywhere,” said Shamina Singh, President, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, and Henry Crown Fellow.

Read more about the 2020 Global Inclusive Growth Spark Grants recipients below, and join us in celebrating their efforts and leadership in building more inclusive futures for all.

National Black Bank Fund United States

By bringing together their diverse expertise from across the legal, nonprofit, financial, and government sectors, Fellows Ashley Bell, Yolanda Daniel, Lauren McCann, and Tishaura Jones are collaborating to revitalize Black banks and close the ever-widening racial wealth gap in the United States. The National Black Bank Foundation and the Black Bank Fund were created, respectively, to educate the public on the anchoring role these institutions serve for underinvested communities and to invest $250 million in tier one capital with Black banks by 2025, enabling Black banks to invest $2.5 billion in new loans in communities of color.


LittleFish | South Africa

Financial services entrepreneur Davith Kahwa is ensuring small businesses thrive in an ever-growing digital economy. LittleFish, a unified mobile platform launched in early 2020, enables small business owners to connect, engage and retain customers; initiate orders and manage inventory; make and accept digital payments; aggregate orders to qualify for volume discounts; and generate verifiable business performance metrics to aid in accessing the finance required to expand and grow their business. LittleFish aims to impact over 1 million small businesses and 5 million people in the Eastern and Southern Africa region by 2025. 


Good Financial | Hong Kong

Combating Hong Kong’s predatory lender market, financial executive Ben Way is providing ethical loans – and thus financial security – to migrant domestic workers, of which more than 95% are women from the Philippines and Indonesia. Created in 2018, Good Financial provides fair-rate loans to customers along with free debt counseling and other financial planning through a multilingual mobile app. It is Hong Kong’s first inclusive and ethical lender for migrant workers and has distributed 3,000 micro-loans totaling 2.5 million USD as of 2020, with a repayment rate two to four times better than the competition.


Forward Cities | United States

Network builders Christopher Gergen and Fay Horwitt are equipping communities and regions to grow and sustain more equitable, entrepreneurial ecosystems. Launched in 2014, Forward Cities works with partner communities to better understand their entrepreneurial landscape through the lens of equity and inclusion. Through the collaboration, communities learn to develop and implement strategies to strengthen systems of support for currently under-connected, underestimated entrepreneurs and small business owners. Underlying their work is the power of entrepreneurship to transform lives, build individual and community wealth, and catalyze positive change.

About the Global Inclusive Growth Partnership

Launched in October 2019 with an inaugural summit, the Global Inclusive Growth Partnership (GIGP) combines the expertise and networks of both the Aspen Institute and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth to address systemic issues across a range of topics including financial security, the future of workers and portable benefits, growing micro and small businesses, and commercially-sustainable social impact. Through research, synthesis, and convenings, GIGP aims to catalyze new partnerships and shine a spotlight on innovative, data-driven, and scalable solutions to build a more inclusive and resilient economy for all.

About the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth

The Center for Inclusive Growth is the philanthropic and thought leadership arm of Mastercard. It serves to advance equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world. In pursuit of this mission, the Center leverages Mastercard’s core assets and competencies – including data insights, expertise and technology, while administering the Mastercard Impact Fund – a pool of philanthropic capital – to produce independent research, scale global programs and empower a community of thinkers, leaders and doers on the front lines of inclusive growth. For more information and to receive its latest insights, follow the Center on Twitter @CNTR4growth and subscribe to its newsletter.

About the Aspen Global Leadership Network’s (AGLN)

The Aspen Global Leadership Network develops authentic, high-integrity leaders committed to proactively confronting societal challenges, individually and collectively, in order to create a more just, free, and equitable society. The network has fostered a worldwide community of more than 3,000 high-integrity, entrepreneurial leaders from business, government, and the nonprofit sector in more than 60 countries. Because of their demonstrated accomplishments and abilities, they have been selected to join one of 14 geographic or sector-specific AGLN Fellowships around the world. The AGLN is committed to moving these leaders from “success to significance” by spurring them to take action on some of the world’s most pressing problems. For more information, visit