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> Posted by Elisabeth Rhyne, Managing Director, CFI
I was recently asked to give a talk at the University of Pennsylvania’s 8th (!) annual Microfinance Conference. This year’s theme, “Microfinance Beyond Its Roots” set me in search of ways in which the microfinance industry is moving into areas beyond its original microcredit core. Of course, this process has been going on for a long time, and so there are many topics to choose from.
I decided to look at health care, partly because, as every staff member of a microfinance institution knows, health setbacks are one of the most frequent sources of repayment problems among low income clients. As they learned about the health vulnerabilities of their clients, microfinance organizations began to invest in experiments, bringing their businesslike approach to bear on a challenge that is often dealt with in heavily subsidized, non-market ways. Today, many of these programs have matured and grown, even as new ideas are being tested.
I looked among the organizations belonging to the Microfinance CEO Working Group, and I found that nearly all have something exciting going on in health care. Approaches include some combination of direct health care service provision, health insurance coverage, and education. Many are using technology as a means of reaching people at scale and low cost.
The meetings associated with group lending provide a convenient and cost-effective platform for health services, and adding a health component to group microcredit is probably the earliest and most widespread model. Health education was perhaps the starting point, as pioneered by Freedom from Hunger and also implemented by Opportunity International. Today the services often reach farther (while health education continues to be important). ProMujer, for example, directly employs nurses and other health practitioners to staff fixed and mobile clinics available to ProMujer members. They focus on maternal and reproductive health, as well as screening for the chronic diseases that are increasingly major health issues in Latin America. Hundreds of thousands of women get access to health care through ProMujer’s efforts.
> Posted by Center Staff
The Financial Inclusion 2020 Global Forum is a few days away! Kicking off with side sessions this Sunday the 27th on persons with disabilities and the Microfinance CEO Working Group, the landmark event for expanding global financial inclusion is almost here.
Taking place on October 28-30 in London, the event will convene approximately 300 leaders in financial inclusion, spanning sectors and industries, in a collaborative environment where they can map the action agenda for achieving financial inclusion by the year 2020. Participants include key players from the financial sector, technology providers and the corporate sector, international non-profits, and public policymakers. For the full list of attendees, click here.
The Forum agenda includes an assortment of session types, with a number of opportunities for participant engagement. In one roundtable breakout session, participants will discuss how to take the Roadmap recommendations from ideas to action, identifying priorities for implementation. Other sessions include a Forum-opening discussion on factors that put financial inclusion by 2020 within reach, a plenary on mobile money and spurring innovation, a presentation on the forthcoming CFI report Opportunities & Obstacles in Peru, and a fireside chat and Q&A with Ajay Banga and Michael Schlein, CEO’s of MasterCard and Accion. For the full agenda, click here.
Along with Banga and Schlein, Forum speakers include Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, CEO of Access Bank, Nick Hughes, Founder of M-PESA and M-KOPA, Duvvuri Subbarao, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, and Bindu Ananth, President of IMFR Trust. For the full speakers list, which includes a handful of newly confirmed speakers, click here.
> Posted by Center Staff
After months of planning, the Financial Inclusion 2020 Global Forum, October 28-30 in London, is coming into view. We’ve shared a few rounds of Forum updates here on the blog over the past weeks (see here and here), and we’re happy to report that more exciting new speakers have been confirmed, and more side sessions have cropped up. Here are the new speakers:
- Luis Gallegos, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the U.N. Office at Geneva
- Bill Sheedy, Global Executive, Corporate Strategy, M&A, Government Relations and Europe, Visa, Inc.
- Edward Effah, Managing Director, Fidelity Bank
- Alexia Latortue, Assistant Deputy Secretary for International Development Policy, U.S. Treasury
- Carlos Lopez Moctezuma, Global Director for Financial Inclusion, BBVA
- Jean-Claude Masangu, Former Governor, Banque Centrale du Congo
- Bindu Ananth, President, IMFR Trust
- Nachiket Mor, Chair, Reserve Bank of India Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low-Income Households
- Tony Goland, Director, McKinsey & Company
- Isaac Awuondo, Group Managing Director, CBA
- Gino Picasso, CEO, GloboKasNet
Complimenting the core agenda, there are a number of side sessions convening before and after the Forum. As we’ve mentioned, there will be two special side meetings on financial inclusion for persons with disabilities held before the Forum, the evening of October 27 and the morning of October 28. The event of the 28th, which is open to Forum participants and the public, is a panel of international experts that includes Luis Gallegos.
> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Assistant, CFI
Global loan portfolio growth in developing countries slowed in 2011; total number of clients in developing countries shrank slightly in 2011 but increased in Africa and Latin America; and various initiatives aimed at ensuring socially responsible practices have received commitments on industry-wide standards and frameworks over the past few years. These are some of the takeaways from this year’s Microfinance Barometer, an annual report produced by Convergences 2015 that offers a global overview of microfinance activity. The report series shares recent industry figures and trends, and highlights best practices across stakeholder groups.
This year’s report explores microfinance activity in developing and developed countries, and examines mobile money, capacity building, responsible investing, client protection, and social performance management, among other pertinent topics. The report also features an article from Deutsche Bank’s Asad Mahmood on microfinance and ethics, a feature on Accion Texas Inc., which manages the largest microloan portfolio in the United States, and a call to endorse the Global Appeal for Responsible Microfinance. Other key findings include:
- Global loan portfolio in developing countries totaled $US 78 billion in 2011, with portfolio growth slowing to 15 percent compared to 25 percent in 2009
- Activity in developing countries remained concentrated in 2011, as the leading 100 institutions represented 80 percent of the total lending portfolio and 75 percent of borrowers
- Client outreach in developing countries totaled 94 million in 2011, reflecting a 3 percent decrease since 2009
- Still affected by the Andhra Pradesh crisis and subsequent shutdowns of activity, in 2011 client outreach decreased by 10 percent in South Asia and by 20 percent in India
- Client outreach increased by 15 percent in both Africa and Latin America in 2011
- Local funding continues to drive the developing-country sector through increasing deposits and borrowings
- In 2011, 54 percent of institutions in developing countries provided both credit and savings, while 26 percent offered insurance products, and 54 percent offered non-financial services Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Mary Ellen Iskenderian and Rupert Scofield, Co-Chairs of the Microfinance CEO Working Group
As co-chairs of the Microfinance CEO Working Group, we are pleased to share with you a joint statement from the Working Group in support of the recently announced Smart Campaign Client Protection Certification Program. Certification will offer public recognition for institutions that meet adequate standards of care in appropriately protecting microfinance clients, as verified by an independent evaluation. It marks a clear step forward in ensuring the microfinance industry puts the treatment of its clients first.
Since we began meeting in early 2011, many of the Working Group’s discussions have focused on the fundamental question of what the microfinance industry requires to flourish in the future. We believe that client protection is central to the answer. It is common sense – and good business practice – that a fair and respectful relationship with clients is required to develop trust, reduce risk, and serve them appropriately. As leaders of FINCA and Women’s World Banking, we are especially concerned with the fair treatment of women clients, the traditional backbone of the microfinance industry, who are often more vulnerable to exploitation.