Heather Clark is an independent consultant who, among her appointments, previously managed CFI’s now-completed Beyond Codes project. Robyn Robertson is currently Director of Financial Education at Opportunity International. Of course, more comments are always welcome.
Recently someone asked me “who do you consider a hero?”
I thought about this for a long time. For me a hero has to have vision, determination, and the wherewithal to make the vision something important, valuable to society, and lasting. It’s much better if the vision battles the current wisdom, as there is nothing like challenging the way the world works.
Implementing Monique’s vision was not easy in the early days. No one wanted to hear about clients, when the focus was on organizational sustainability. Monique battled the early days of impact assessment and continued, amazingly undaunted. She found the vision — “it’s about understanding clients,” she said.
Perhaps it sounds so simple now. But without Monique, without Microfinance Opportunities, we would never have had such a clear path for the future.
So who do I consider a hero? Monique Cohen.
Financial capability as a critical life skill, financial education as a service offering of responsible financial providers, consumer protection rather than solely consumer responsibilities… These may now be buzz words and considered mainstream integral components of operations in the microfinance space in 2012 and going forward…
But not so long ago, this was the language reserved for a select few industry radicals. One of whom was Monique Cohen…
Monique was prepared to push, challenge, even confront the microfinance industry’s comfort zones and often rigid institutionally focused perspectives in effort after effort to highlight and validate different, practical, even radical solutions relevant to consumers’ financial capability needs. Monique could be described as a strategic risk taker and fierce visionary prepared to get into the field, get her hands dirty, sit in huts and shelters to listen to the voices, ideas, strategies, solutions, and challenges encountered by the poor in order to deepen her understanding and refine her vision and offerings… Monique has been an inspiration and mentor to many who now passionately seek to step up, build upon her incredible legacy, and continue advocating for the consumer within an ever increasing complex financial landscape…
Thank you for your amazing contributions to the industry and the lives of millions of people across the world who now have more knowledge, confidence, and capability to manage household finance, business cash flow, mitigate risks, and engage with the spectrum of products and services which now is the formal financial sector! From all of us who you have challenged, inspired, invested into, generously provided materials for, worked on projects with or encouraged along your journey… We say thank you!
Image Credit: FSD Kenya
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