Dear readers,

One of the key factors of stability and sustainable development is equality; equality within countries and equality among countries. As nearly half of the world’s population – 3.4 billion people – live on less than 5.5 US Dollars a day, we still have a long way to go. But reducing inequalities is about more than income divide only. It is also about access to opportunities irrespective of gender, age, origin, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, class, and religion.

To reduce inequalities, FMO invests in entrepreneurial solutions that bring opportunities to women, youth, smallholders, and the unbanked. This edition of Future-minded is about these solutions. We have interviewed people passionate about creating opportunities for others. Ahmed Askar for instance, founded the Hult Prize Foundation and focuses on finding talent amongst the 95 percent of young people who never saw themselves as entrepreneurs. Or take note of Manoj Sinha, co-founder of Husk Power Systems, “Electricity is our handshake with the customer, but what we want to achieve is wealth creation.” Or read about the Bank of Africa Group, my former employer and a longstanding partner of FMO. They contribute to financial inclusion in eighteen countries in Africa.

FMO is committed to creating opportunities for women entrepreneurs. Together with local banks we offer dedicated credit lines catering to the needs of women-led businesses. But equally important are the training programs we support. Women entrepreneurs share in this magazine how these training programs advanced their entrepreneurial journey.

Inequality is not limited to the contribution we make, but also to how we as humans interact with one another. It is about who you are, whoever you want to become and your options to achieve your goals. The Black Lives Matter movement has raised a lot of attention to racial inequality. And rightfully so. If you don’t talk about racism, nothing will change. FMO has recently made a statement about race and inclusion in FMO. We are committed to celebrating and respecting diversity and realize that if we want to improve, the best way forward is to start by looking at ourselves.

“If we change our mind-set from problem to opportunity, we will make progress.”

Luckily my own story is one of diversity. I grew up in Abidjan – where the picture was taken in my family house - in an environment where diversity was the norm. My parents are from different countries, different backgrounds, different religions and different educations, and still they got the blessing from their parents, who were open minded about it.

Having a family that celebrates differences made me comfortable when making my own choices in life, and in relating to various kinds of people. In FMO we have 57 nationalities, so understanding and being open is a key factor for success when we work with people from so many countries. But what we don’t have to do is copy each other. Who we are and where we come from is our strength: each with our own differences, our own experiences and our own unique set of skills.

We need to realize that diversity enriches what we can mean for others. It brings the prism of expertise and understanding that we need to tackle the world’s biggest challenges, amongst which is inequality. Only if we change our mind-set from 'problem' to 'opportunity', from 'hurdle' to 'possibility', from ‘different’ to ‘complementary’ will we make progress.

Enjoy reading our magazine!

Warm wishes,

Fatoumata Bouaré

Chief Risk & Finance Officer at FMO