Economic Development

Aspen’s New Partnership on Inclusive Growth Around the World

December 5, 2019  • Institute Staff

Institute CEO Dan Porterfield flagged economic inequality as “one of the defining threats of our time” when he delivered opening remarks at the inaugural Global Inclusive Growth Summit. Hosted by the Institute and Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth, the DC summit brought together leaders from the public and private sectors to discuss how to break down the structures that prevent workers and families from achieving financial security and gaining access to capital. Chetna Sinha, the founder of Mann Deshi Bank & Foundation in rural India, described how she confronted inequality in her own community: she created a bank to support women entrepreneurs, providing them with the tools to become financially literate and independent. Her project has encouraged thousands of businesswomen to set up bank accounts, with deposits that now number in the millions of dollars. Staci Warden, the executive director of global markets development at the Milken Institute, challenged the members of the financial sector to consider what inclusion looks like. “I want to argue against this idea that inclusion means we get to invite people to our party,” she said. “Inclusion means we understand that the party is only a good party if all of these people are already included.” As participants discussed their visions and solutions, all agreed that inequality damages everyone, even those who reap the benefits. “If economic growth is enjoyed only by the few, it won’t be sustained by the many—and that’s bad for all,” Porterfield said. The event also marked the announcement of a $26 million investment from Mastercard’s Center that will power a new Aspen initiative aimed at building an economy where people and communities around the world can thrive. The Aspen Partnership for an Inclusive Economy will combine the ideas, talents, and resources of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to address income and information inequality. The breadth of the partnership represents an unprecedented opportunity for the Institute, the Center, and their networks to drive change at scale by developing innovative, data-driven, and commercially scalable solutions. The way forward, Porterfield said, “will take smart policies, enlightened businesses, new financial instruments, honest government, empowered communities, and activated citizens.”