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> Posted by Bobbi Gray, Research and Evaluation Specialist, Freedom from Hunger

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The day after the closing of the Microcredit Summit in Merida, Mexico, conference participants were also invited to join in a day-long discussion about integrating health with microfinance. Half of the day was spent discussing a set of health indicators that are currently being tested in India, Peru, and the Philippines as part of Freedom from Hunger and the Microcredit Summit Campaign’s Health and Microfinance Alliance. Alliance data from several participating institutions was presented, with the goal of the discussion to identify the most appropriate combination of indicators to track changes in client well-being over time and identify aspects of health that can be effectively addressed by financial service providers (FSPs).

The goal of these pilots is to provide the financial services industry with a set of standardized, comparable, relevant, and reliable health indicators that they can add to the existing poverty measurements they are using to assess the impacts of their services for clients. To be most effective, these indicators must also resonate for health sector actors to promote real, active collaboration and appreciation for our respective competencies in improving health outcomes.

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With under 40 days to go, the 17th Microcredit Summit is rapidly approaching. CFI’s Josh Goldstein will be speaking during a plenary session focused on new innovations for microfinance and other financial inclusion interventions to more effectively reach the excluded. With the theme “Generation Next: Innovations in Microfinance,” this should be a great opportunity to explore what is on the horizon to achieve full financial inclusion. In this post, Josh discusses industry context surrounding the Summit, and what he hopes he and those in attendance will be able to take away from the event.

I am a sometime skeptic about the proliferation of microfinance conferences, but the upcoming Microcredit Summit in Merida, Mexico seems particularly important and timely. Personally, I am very excited about it. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I should add that I will be a speaker, and of course piqued vanity can certainly lead to bias, but I don’t suspect this is the case here.)

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Posted by Ignacio Mas, Independent Consultant

Google Trends is a public web facility which shows how often particular search terms are entered in Google relative to the total search volume, globally or for individual countries, and for defined time periods (after 2004). This gives us a good perspective into how people are approaching our industry. I looked up some of the most prominent financial inclusion terms, and found some very interesting things.

Industry rebranding. The first graph below shows that the search term “microfinance” has been much more popular than “microcredit” over the last eight years. (In each graph, all data points are scaled relative to the highest value on that graph – see methodological note at the end of this post.) “Microcredit” surged in late 2006 with the granting of the Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus. Since then, searches on “microcredit” have been decreasing in relative terms and, by contrast, the new term “financial inclusion” has been gaining ground and is now comparable in its use as a search term to “microcredit.” Still, despite strong attempts from many quarters to rebrand around the financial inclusion label, it has not yet taken off.

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog, except where otherwise noted, are those of the authors and guest bloggers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Financial Inclusion or its affiliates.