Dr. Sonja Kelly

Dr. Sonja Kelly serves as a Franklin Fellow to the Office of Development Finance in the Bureau of Economic and Affairs with the specific goal of advising the bureau on digital finance in emerging markets.

Dr. Kelly has been working in digital finance and inclusion for over ten years.  Prior to joining the U.S. Department of State, she served as the director of research at a D.C.-based thinktank, the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion.  Dr. Kelly has held consulting roles at the World Bank and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), and worked in microfinance at Opportunity International.

A product of her industry experience, Dr. Kelly’s research highlights the ways innovative business models and new technology improve and increase financial sector access around the world.  Her most recent published reports include: “Banking Sector Approaches to Customer Engagement and Capability,” “How Financial Institutions and Fintechs are Partnering for Inclusion: Lessons from the Frontlines,” “Financial Inclusion Hype v. Reality: Deconstructing the 2017 Findex Results,” and “By the Numbers: Benchmarking Progress Toward Financial Inclusion,” “Growing Income, Growing Inclusion: How Rising Incomes at the Base of the Pyramid will Shape Financial Inclusion.”  She has been a frequent blogger on the CFI Blog, Next Billion, and other industry news and publications.  She speaks regularly at industry conferences and guest lectures at local universities.

Dr. Kelly has a PhD in International Relations from American University.  Her dissertation explored why states adopt financial inclusion policy and regulation.  She has traveled to over 60 countries and is passionate about economic development and inclusive growth through market-based innovations.