PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) brought together on Thursday a number of prominent Western Hemisphere experts in digital identity and economic inclusion to discuss the challenges facing the economy of Latin America in those areas, the region having some of the worst near-term growth prospects, according to recent global forecasts.
Those efforts were analyzed on Thursday at the Inter-American Microenterprise Forum (Foromic), which is currently under way in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, with the aim of holding a broad discussion and finding solutions in three areas important for the region’s future: new finance, businesses in transformation and better lives.
“At Foromic, we’re focused on the great challenge ... of inclusion, since we can no longer fail to recognize that our region nowadays is experiencing a rather complicated period,” said IDB president Luis Alberto Moreno at the inaugural session of Foromic 2019.
Moreno said that it is important to find solutions that “improve people’s lives” in the region in these “turbulent times” marked by the lack of equality in economic opportunities.
“In recent months, we’ve observed social phenomena that are manifesting themselves in different ways in different countries, but with the same theme: the enormous frustration that millions of people feel with the economic and social system, which it not giving them opportunities equal to those enjoyed by the privileged classes,” he said.
One of the clearest examples of this situation is the socio-political crisis in Chile over the past two weeks, where massive protests against inequality and the Sebastian Pińera government have resulted in some 20 deaths.
Elsewhere, such as in Argentina and Ecuador, there have also been enormous citizen mobilizations over the current economic situation in those countries, which have turned to multilateral institutions to rescue their weak economies and try to redirect their plans for the future.
Moreno warned that this type of situation could create “a huge social breakdown” in the region.
“Here is where a social breakdown begins to occur, and if we don’t correct it right away, difficult times will come. Reinventing inclusion at a forum like this could not be more timely and urgent,” he emphasized.
The host for the first day of the event, Dominican Finance Minister Donald Guerrero, kicked off the proceedings by emphasizing the need for the countries of Latin America to develop plans for economic inclusion so that all citizens can “socially integrate themselves.”
“All the countries of the region have broad challenges in the areas of inclusion, which is understood to be each family and all people having the necessary resources and opportunities to be able to socially integrate themselves,” Guerrero said.
To attain that objective, the IDB’s innovation laboratory – IDB Lab – has been working to create a network known as LACChain, which is a free blockchain platform for Latin America and the Caribbean, with en eye toward providing and guaranteeing security for Internet operations in the region.
“The objective of LACChain is to open up access to blockchain technology much more, with the idea that it can be an enormous facilitator for attaining objectives of social impact, such as improvements in financial and educational services and ... in productivity,” the general manager of IDB Lab, Irene Arias, said in an interview with EFE.
“We’re seeing such rapid growth that it’s already enabled us today to launch this initiative as something real, which a year ago was just an idea and now there are real cases, infrastructure, agreed-to standards and protocols and a plan for the future,” she said.
During the course of the day, dozens of companies, like Oiko Credit and Triple Jump, presented their ideas for financial inclusion and opportunities for digital transformation in the event’s exposition section.
One of the representatives of Oiko Credit in Latin America, Karina Vasquez, told EFE that this global cooperation “is promoting sustainable development via investments in inclusive finances, agriculture and renewable energy with the objective of empowering people with low incomes.”
Foromic is an annual event organized by the IDB Group. It focuses on reinventing inclusion with creative initiatives – based on digital solutions and new business models – that have the potential to improve everyone’s lives. The event provides a unique opportunity to learn about new trends, develop connections and do business in the field of inclusion.