iOS app Android app

Tilman Ehrbeck
Tilman Ehrbeck is CEO of CGAP, a global consortium of 33 donors with the common objective to advance financial access for the poor. Prior to CGAP, Tilman was a Partner with the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Over the past 10 years, he has advised a number of governments, foundations, and commercial players on a broad range of financial inclusion issues ranging from new services and products aimed at better meeting underlying end-user needs, to new business models significantly lowering operating costs, to enabling infrastructure and policy interventions. Tilman holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the European University Institute (EUI) and an undergraduate degree from the University of Hamburg.

Entries by Tilman Ehrbeck

Should Government Policies Rely More on Psychology?

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2014 | 1:55 PM

Insights from psychology and studying why people make certain decisions can have a notable impact on policy design. Perhaps the best-known example of what is known as psychological nudge" is the framing of default choices for organ donation. In Denmark and Germany, drivers are asked specifically whether they would like...

Read Post

Can India Achieve Financial Inclusion within the Next Few Years?

(0) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 11:39 AM

The new Government of India has made financial inclusion one of the corner stones in its modernization aspirations for the country. In his first budget speech earlier this month, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley set the target of a financial account for each woman and each man in every...

Read Post

Payment Innovations Improve Access to Solar Energy and Clean Water for the Poor

(0) Comments | Posted June 2, 2014 | 3:30 PM

There is a much excitement in the development community about business model innovations that link poor households in developing countries to better basic services. Community-based water stations or solar energy supplied through micro-units installed on people's roofs are just two examples of possible solutions. A number of these business model...

Read Post

Microcredit Impact Revisited

(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2014 | 12:50 PM

A few years ago, a storm was raging in the microcredit world. Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, a pioneer of the idea behind giving small working capital loans to groups of mainly poor women based on social collateral, had promised that microcredit would end poverty and "put it in...

Read Post

When Given the Opportunity, Extreme Poor Take Destiny Into Their Own Hands

(1) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 1:45 PM

When the U.N. General Assembly adopted The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 1948, it essentially stipulated the right for all people to a decent job with decent pay and social protection in the case of temporary unemployment that would lift them back into the workforce. This...

Read Post

Bitcoins and Financial Inclusion: Not Much of a Link for Now

(0) Comments | Posted January 24, 2014 | 5:42 PM

"What is a Bitcoin?" If you are asking yourself this question, you are not alone. Turns out the question made it into the Top 10 list of most-searched-for phrases on Google in the "What is" category in 2013. With all of the hype surrounding Bitcoin, policymakers and regulators...

Read Post

Avoid Blaming the Victim in the Financial Literacy Debate

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 7:46 PM

Access and appropriate use of financial services help people better manage their lives, capture opportunities, and reduce vulnerabilities. This is particularly true in developing countries where the large majority of poor households lives and works in the informal economy. Not by choice but by necessity, they are self-employed...

Read Post

Why Financial Access for the Poor Might Be Even More Important Than You Thought

(0) Comments | Posted November 18, 2013 | 3:40 PM

Sendhil Mullainathan is a MacArthur genius grant recipient and economics professor at Harvard University. His key research interest is why people make certain decisions, particularly when they are under stress. For example, why do seriously ill patients often fail to follow life-saving medication regimens and why...

Read Post

Can E-Money Do to Banks What Amazon Did to Booksellers?

(0) Comments | Posted October 25, 2013 | 6:33 PM

Will technology transform financial institutions in the same way that Amazon disrupted the bookselling industry, or is talk about the impact of increased digitization of financial services merely hype? The answer depends on what type of financial service we're talking about.

At the basis of a financial system is...

Read Post

9 Points to Consider When Deciding on Impact Investments

(0) Comments | Posted September 5, 2013 | 1:17 PM

Talking to key protagonists in the still-nascent impact investment field quickly reveals that it is still subject to many interpretations. Government leaders, for example, might search for public infrastructure investments that have the impact potential of creating new businesses -- such as the original GPS deployment did -- while development...

Read Post

What SMEs Do (and Don't Do) for Jobs

(0) Comments | Posted June 24, 2013 | 12:14 PM

Across the political spectrum, any leader worth their salt will express support for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - remember the "job-creator" debate during last year's U.S. presidential elections? Globally, the G20 has prominently made SME support a priority of their development agenda, citing that SMEs account for...

Read Post

How Financial Innovation Helps the Poor Improve Their Lives

(3) Comments | Posted May 22, 2013 | 6:24 PM

Southern leaders in some 35-plus countries have made public commitments to advance financial inclusion in their domestic markets. They are acting on the evidence that poor families and small businesses in the informal economy need access to a broad range of financial services, and when the formal financial...

Read Post

For Impact Investments, First Understand What Target Segments Really Need

(0) Comments | Posted April 10, 2013 | 10:42 AM

What do you think BMW customers value: the satisfactory sound of a powerful engine, performance and safety at high speed? Those are plausible guesses, and those were some of the in-going perceptions the people at BMW might have had. When they worked with customers a few years ago to gain...

Read Post

What It Will Take to Achieve Healthcare Coverage for the Poor: Public-Private Partnership

(1) Comments | Posted March 5, 2013 | 2:13 PM

In the United States, 62% of personal bankruptcies are caused by medical expenses, according to a Harvard University study. In developing countries, poor families who typically live and work in the informal economy are highly vulnerable to health care shocks. According to Portfolios of the Poor,...

Read Post

Lessons Impact Investing Can Learn From Microfinance

(5) Comments | Posted January 29, 2013 | 3:03 PM

While the underlying approaches are older, the term impact investing has recently created new buzz and attracted a growing followership. I'm very excited about this. It seems to indicate that more people have come to a conclusion that I share after 20+ years of privileged insights into motives...

Read Post

Behavioral Insights to Advance Financial Inclusion -- or Why Swedes Are Not Necessarily Better Human Beings Than Danes

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2012 | 5:05 PM

In Sweden, all new drivers start out registered to be organ donors in the event of their passing. They have the freedom to opt out without negative consequences. Fourteen percent decide to do so and 86 percent remain organ donors. Across the Oresund, less than 10 miles away, Danes have...

Read Post

The German Financial Inclusion Story

(1) Comments | Posted November 2, 2012 | 8:17 PM

October 31 was World Savings Day. Some 40+ years ago on that date, the local savings bank in the town I grew up in gave me my first savings passbook and endowed it with the princely sum of five Marks (then $20). Only now I realize how much

Read Post

The Hidden Champions of Low-Income Banking

(0) Comments | Posted September 13, 2012 | 3:48 PM

Over the past few years, the concept of microcredit -- providing working capital loans to micro-entrepreneurs typically in the informal economy -- has come under scrutiny. A new generation of specialized microfinance institutions (MFIs) seemed to have perfected the model of extending these small loans backed by some form of...

Read Post

Sub-Saharan Africa's Mobile Money Revolution

(2) Comments | Posted August 14, 2012 | 6:22 PM

Africa is blazing a trail in financial access innovation.

I'm just back from a trip with the family to East Africa. While traveling, it was hard not to marvel at the ubiquity of the mobile phone. The young assistant receptionist, who invested her first earnings as a maid into...

Read Post

The Power of Hope: Graduation Programs for the Extreme Poor Do More Than Directly Reduce Poverty

(1) Comments | Posted July 18, 2012 | 12:00 PM


Global and national policymakers have made financial inclusion a development priority. But not every poor family can effectively use financial services to improve household welfare without initial help. The extreme poor -- those at the lowest level of the economic ladder --...

Read Post