Last week I participated in the 2013 European Microfinance Week, one of the main conferences on financial inclusion. It brings microfinance stakeholders together to discuss important developments in the sector and contributes to shaping the global approach to microfinance.
This time it gathered 378 participants form 59 countries and focused on the future of the sector and how to foster inclusive growth. In this post I summarise the issues and some of the cases I especially liked regarding three main trends I see in microfinance: innovation in the delivery of services, new ways to improve the outreach to vulnerable beneficiaries and the enhancement of responsible finance;
I. Concerning innovations within the sector I am especially interested in:
- Innovative initiatives that link financial and energy inclusion like Micro Energy International an organisation that works with microfinance institutions, energy product & service providers, international development actors and research institutions in order to set up clean energy microfinance schemes or the Hivos Green Entrepreneurship Programme and the Green Performance Agenda Toolkit you can download in its page.
- Also, I found especially stimulating a panel that discussed alternative models to fund microentreprises like P2P lending and microequity, with examples like Babyloan or Financités in France .This is an area I want to follow as I think there is has a great potential in it.
- Mobile banking and cashless microfinance, with the experiences of organisations like Musoni in Kenia. You can find all the cases in this link: Microfinance going cashless powered by mobile banking: Results and lessons learned by MFIs
II. Regarding the question of extending the outreach and including underserved and more vulnerable groups and sectors, this year there where many cases and discussions around:
- Youth and employment and financial inclusion and literacy for young people (http://childfinanceinternational.org) and Women (with cases and experiences from Women World Banking and GIZ (German Official Cooperation) in Uganda and
- How to further cover specific and more vulnerable sectors like agricultural microfinance for small farmers, or microfinance for housing
III. There were also a number of panels about the future of the sector and how to improve governance, guarantee responsible microfinance and how to improve the due diligence process.
The Week is organised by the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP), a network of approximately 120 microfinance organizations and individuals. Its objective is to promote cooperation among European microfinance stakeholders working in developing countries by facilitating communication and information exchange. E-MFP member organizations include banks, financial institutions, government agencies, NGOs, consulting firms, researchers and universities.
The platform has published all the presentations in its website and I highly recommend those interested in microfinance to have a look.
EUROPEAN MICROFINANCE WEEK 2013
- Microfinance institutions linking remittances to development
- Raising the bar in risk management: Evaluating the past and creating new visions for the future
- Cross-border funding landscape: Trends & perspectives
- Agricultural microfinance for smallholder farmers
- Green strategies for MFIs
- Microfinance going cashless powered by mobile banking: Results and lessons learned by MFIs
- Which strategy for financial inclusion in the MENA region after the Arab spring?
- Second and third tier MFIs: Where do we stand?
- Green microfinance – The investor’s perspective
- National microfinance platforms – Role of subsidies: how should subsidies be used in microfinance and how not?
- Governance in microfinance: Challenges and lessons learned
- New models and experiences for linking informal savings groups to formal financial services
- Plenary – Recognizing unsustainable markets: Towards a common framework
- Financing non-integrated value chains: Challenges and solutions
- Responsible microfinance: Where do we stand?
- How much gender does microfinance need?
- Microfinance in a historical perspective
- Solutions based on listening to clients
- Microfinance and the MDGs – beyond 2015
- Responsible microfinance: Implementation on the ground
- Alternative models to fund microenterprises: P2P lending and micro-equity
- Microfinance and housing
- The due diligence process: A key process in assessing the sustainability of an institution, main challenges and opportunities
- Youth and employment
- Microinsurance investor opportunities
- Plenary – Keeping the edge