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With 69 percent of adults worldwide owning an account through a financial institution or mobile money services provider, financial inclusion is on the rise according to a World Bank study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Between 2014 and 2017, financial access in the global south alone increased from 54 percent to 63 percent, but the likelihood of women in developing countries owning a bank account is still 9 percentage points behind men. Antonia Stroeh '04, who leads the Government & Development markets team of MasterCard Advisors, has spent most of her career actively working towards closing the financial gap and accelerating the way forward to dignified and stable lives for individuals at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
Due to her myriad accomplishments in the financial inclusion space, the Student Leadership and Ethics Board (SLEB) proudly honored Ms. Stroeh with the 2nd annual SLEB Alumni Ethical Leadership Award at a Paul M. Montrone Seminar Series on Ethics moderated by Professor Stephan Meier. The award is presented to a CBS Alum who demonstrates an ongoing commitment to ethical leadership; who leads by example, maintaining the highest ethical standards and values of a Columbia Business School graduate throughout their professional career. At the dinner, students from both the full-time and Executive MBA programs shared in Ms. Stroeh’s many accomplishments and were also keen on understanding how Stroeh had initially been captivated by this problem, how she crafted a career around financial inclusion, and why solving financial inclusion in developing countries is important to MasterCard Advisors versus the MasterCard Foundation.
Prior to joining MasterCard in August 2012 as part of the Global Prepaid Product team, leading product commercialization and coordinating financial inclusion efforts across markets, Stroeh was in India at Pine Labs. Pine Labs is a Sequoia-funded fintech provider, where she incubated and commercialized new products in retail payments, consumer loyalty and fleet cards after her time at Bain & Company. Stroeh’s curiosity and engagement about financial security pre-dated any of these opportunities - she shared that one of her earliest childhood memory was wondering about a post war habit of her mother, storing plenty of cash in the home, ready for an emergency. This narrative is the reality for plenty of folks in the global south, the almost 40 percent unbanked, whose fate can easily change with robbery or bad weather - an unnecessary insecurity that Stroeh’s work greatly impacts. But why is this relevant to MasterCard Advisors versus the MasterCard Foundation?
Stroeh explained that her work is part of MasterCard Advisor’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and a clear example of aligning philanthropic goals with increased shareholder value. By driving relationships with governments across the 210 countries that MasterCard serves, Stroeh’s team delivers solutions that increase utilization of financial products, therefore expanding MasterCard’s client acquisition base while driving global financial freedom.
The Student Leadership and Ethics Board was delighted to host Ms. Stroeh for the evening and thanks her for accepting this prestigious award.
For more information, please visit our Student Leadership and Ethics Board homepage.