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Let's create solutions that lead to better financial futures for everyone. Sponsored by CO-OP Financial Services and MasterCard.

The wellbeing of communities depends on the wellbeing of their members – and financial stability is at the core of our potential to thrive. Yet all too often, individuals and families aren’t connected with the basic financial services, educational resources and dedicated support they need to make choices that will lead to healthier lives and stronger communities. In our Financial Empowerment Challenge, we’ll explore how we might harness the inherent power of our communities to ensure everyone has access to the knowledge and resources that lead to better financial futures.


What’s the situation?
Financial education and support is often remote and inaccessible for many of the people who need it the most. All over the world, people lack access to critical financial resources because they aren’t aware of them, can’t afford them or because they simply aren’t offered to everyone. This lack of access in turn weakens communities, hinders social mobility and limits economic growth.

In fact, two and a half billion adults globally have no access to formal financial services like bank accounts.

But access isn’t the only barrier to financial empowerment. Other factors include lack of confidence in navigating complex systems, lack of trust in financial institutions and a misunderstanding around the value they can bring – not to mention an enduring stigma around discussing money. How might communities themselves become part of the solution to this financial disconnectedness?

Why Communities?
Communities are inherently built on trust, common values and shared responsibility. In this challenge let’s explore these fundamental strengths as we develop solutions that lift up the financial capabilities of people everywhere. Communities can take many forms – families and neighborhoods, schools and clubs, offices and places of worship, to name a few – so let’s unlock the power of these values, institutions, systems and networks to create new solutions for greater financial education and empowerment in communities everywhere.

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In this challenge, solutions can take lots of forms and concepts at any stage of development are welcome. Ideas will especially stand out if they are:

Community-centered. Our challenge question acknowledges the role of communities in solving the issue of financial mobility. What existing community structures, systems, values or approaches are you leveraging in your solution? We’re excited to learn about them.

Human-centered. This is OpenIDEO after all! Who are you designing your idea for? If you've explored building empathy by deeply understanding the needs of those who will use your proposed solution, you're in great shape. If you’ve developed prototypes to collect feedback on your ideas from those you’re designing for, even better.

Collaborative. Have you been working with other OpenIDEO community members to learn, test or improve your idea? The more you collaborate, the more potential your idea has to grow.

Inclusive. This challenge applies to all kinds of people and communities. Could your idea be applied to a range of groups? If so, tell us about it!

Locally implementable. Could you pilot this idea in your own community? Could you give someone else the blueprint so they could test it in theirs? Then you’re probably onto something special.

Unique. Can we get inspired by what’s working in other sectors, or apply game-changing new thinking? Let’s re-imagine financial empowerment with fresh approaches.

Vision for success. Do you have a clear understanding of what success looks like for your idea? How might it be measured? The clearer this vision, the stronger your prototyping and solution will be.

Potential for impact. Does your idea have the potential to meet pressing needs and improve the lives of real people? As always on OpenIDEO, our mission is to create meaningful social impact.

Learn more about our OpenIDEO Guiding Principles.

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Support for ideas  

Our sponsors for this challenge, the 3,500 credit unions that form CO-OP Financial Services, and MasterCard, will be recognizing one or more of our OpenIDEO community’s top ideas with a grant in the form of the THINK Prize. The THINK Prize is an annual financial award that winners may use toward executing their idea. Of course, each idea in this challenge will be in a different stage of development and will benefit from different types of support and the OpenIDEO team will continue to identify other resources – like networks, mentoring, skills-matching and design support – that can help strong ideas on OpenIDEO grow stronger.

About Our Sponsors 

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CO-OP Financial Services is a financial technology company that supports a vast network of credit unions across the United States. It was founded on the credit union philosophy of ‘people helping people,’ and uses technological expertise and thought leadership to provide innovative tools and services to credit unions across the country. 

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MasterCard (NYSE: MA) is a technology company in the global payments industry. They operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. 

“The great challenge before us is to address the constraints that exclude people from full participation in the financial sector. Together, we can and must build inclusive financial sectors that help people improve their lives.” 

– Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan

“The ability to understand and control one’s finances is one of the most important life skills. It creates a path to economic independence and mobility.” 

Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Vice Chair of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission

Challenge Team

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Eliza Rosenbaum, Challenge Manager

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Shane Zhao, Community Manager

Ready to dive in? Let's get started.

This challenge is now over.
273 contributions
151 ideas
151 final ideas
26 final ideas
26 final ideas