The 2015 State of the Campaign Report underscores the challenge microfinance faces in realizing its original goal — to alleviate poverty by providing quality microfinance services to the poorest segments of society. In it, we make the case for the scale-up of financial services “pathways” that can advance the end of extreme poverty with prescriptive actions for financial service providers, government policymakers, and others. These “Six Pathways,” which you can read all about in the report, will be featured through out our 18th Microcredit Summit.
Financial inclusion is “the first step” in achieving the World Bank’s twin goals by “giving people the tools to get out of poverty [by 2030] and into shared prosperity,” as explained by Alfonso García Mora at the 17th Microcredit Summit in Mexico. Participants will engage in a thoughtful discussion around effective ways to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized and the microfinance services and financial inclusion strategies that promote inclusive, sustainable economic growth and social empowerment that helps improve their lives.
Last month, the Microcredit Summit Campaign celebrated with our partners, Freedom from Hunger and CARD MRI, the achievements of our jointly run project in the Philippines, “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies.” Over the past 16 months, 789,960 clients received health education and 2,424 account officers were trained to deliver those lessons. CARD and members of the MFIs for Health consortium partnered to organize 15 community health days in which 8,988 women received a free check-up with an OB/GYN. Many of these women were able to get an ultrasound, hearing their babies heartbeat, often for the first time. More than 160 health providers participated in health fairs, and we distributed 3,709 mother and baby kits.
In his remarks during the closing ceremony, Campaign Director Larry Reed said, “Poor people need financial services, but if they aren’t paired with other services, especially health services, problems like health shocks and other vulnerabilities the poor deal with become a roadblock of the pathway out of poverty. Offering other services is what will create lasting change.”
As the 2015 Report shows, the strength of microfinance is in creating linkages among key influencers in order to better ensure that microfinance provides better products and services reach those who are socially and financially excluded. The 18th Microcredit Summit will feature successes in Africa and the Middle East, especially the growth of mobile money accounts and experimentations in sub-Saharan Africa. Recent Global Findex 2014 numbers show there is a major opportunity in expanding financial inclusion among women and the poorest households in Africa and the Middle East. Though outreach is still low in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), compared to other regions, promoting changes in national strategies could significantly increase financial inclusion. The Summit will convene Central Bankers, Ministers, and sector leaders from MENA to identify the most effective national financial inclusion strategies that enable an environment of greater outreach and social change.
AGFUND will present their AGFUND International Prize Award at the 18th Microcredit Summit to “Innovative programs that alleviate unemployment among youth.” The Prize, which is worth US$ 500,000, was established by AGFUND with the aim of spurring innovation and creativity in human development. The Prize puts forward a number of subjects that address poverty alleviation and social and financial inclusion of the poor. “AGFUND is establishing banks for the poor,” Nasser Alkahtani, executive director of AGFUND said, “and is determined to promote financial inclusion through microfinance best practices and products that help increase the productivity capabilities of many of the poorer segments.”
Organized in partnership with the Arab Gulf Programme for Development (AGFUND), our 18th Microcredit Summit will focus on the theme of “Frontier Innovations in Financial Inclusion.” Join us in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., on March 15-17, 2016, for another great microfinance conference! Learn more: http://18microcreditsummit.org/.