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In partnership with the Microfinance Gateway, we have published interviews with speakers and key stakeholders participating in the recent 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit. This week’s interview features Larry Reed, director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, discussing key outcomes from the recent summit. This was the 16th summit organized by the Campaign and was attended by more than 850 participants representing 145 institutions from 71 countries around the world.
What is the key message coming out of the Summit?
The overall theme of the 2013 Microcredit Summit was “Partnerships against Poverty: Government, Business, Finance and Civil Society,” and I think I can best characterize how the theme was realized with a quote from World Bank President Jim Yong Kim: “Together we can achieve an important milestone in human history. A world that is free—truly free—from extreme poverty.”
In a pre-recorded statement, Dr. Kim said, “To achieve this bold vision, all of us will have to work together, including civil society, as well as our public and private sector partners. The many organizations involved in the Microcredit Summit Campaign and the 100 Million Project are making important contributions to these goals…”
This became the refrain for our three-day Summit. In plenary presentations and workshop discussions we explored how, through partnerships, technology, and innovation, microfinance could do a better job of reaching those living in extreme poverty and facilitating their movement out of poverty.
Central Bank Governor Amando Tetangco, Jr. and Budget Secretary Butch Abad, both from the Philippines, and Indonesian Minister of Cooperatives and SMEs Syarifuddin Hasan joined Dr. Kim’s call for financial services providers to reach the excluded with products and services that enabled them to build resilience and take advantage of opportunities.
What are key highlights from the Summit that you don’t want people to forget?
The tone of the Summit was inspiring and exciting to see. In the closing plenary, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus declared, “We have the ability to end poverty in the world. We just need to come together and use our creative power. Initiatives from citizens and social business can make this happen.” Professor Yunus called on us to work within our countries to help them first reach the Millennium Development Goals, and then move on to the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.”
Plenary speakers filled in the “how” for how we could work together to achieve these goals:
- Regulations and policies: Regulators and policy makers have an important role creating an environment that allows financial inclusion to reach those in poverty. Representatives from apex banks in the Philippines, Bangladesh, and India described the policies and regulations their countries employ to achieve financial inclusion.
Learn more about this plenary >>
- Digital transactions: Technology can be harnessed in many ways to deliver financial transactions at much lower costs. Further, working in this space requires new levels of partnerships between financial service providers, communications companies, and payment processors.
Learn more about these plenaries: “partnerships” and “reaching deeper” >>
- Reaching lower and farther: Practitioners from around the world pitched different ways that financial services could reach those in extreme poverty while helping them deal with other challenges in their lives. Policy makers told of efforts in the Philippines and Latin America to reach those in extreme poverty with government support programs tied to banks and microfinance providers.
Learn more about this plenary >>
- Social business: Businesses can address multiple dimensions of poverty and other social problems through non-dividend, non-loss companies. Creative examples of how MFIs work with social businesses to address a variety of social problems and vulnerabilities are pharmacies, clinical labs, client-owned insurance company, and marketing companies that sell client-made products.
Learn more about this plenary >>
Finally, the 2013 Summit provided a venue for recognizing microfinance providers that meet high standards for reaching people living in poverty and designing their programs to address the needs of those clients. We recognized the first seven Truelift “Milestone Microfinance Institutions.”
What will be the ongoing impact of the 2013 Summit?
Given the strong commitment of the event’s participants, we consider the 2013 Summit to be the jumping off point for the birth of an expanded microfinance, one that sticks to its original promise of ending poverty and embraces partnership and collaboration.
By the end of the Summit we had over 160 Commitments on the ‘Commitments Wall’ with actions participants pledged to take to reach deeper levels of poverty and provide more pathways out of poverty.
We also publicly announced 17 official Campaign Commitments to reach those living in poverty and measure progress as they move out, as part of our 100 Million Project. (See these Commitments.)
The final day of the Summit was dramatic. Typhoon Santi gave us a stark reminder of the need for this focus on ending extreme poverty. Rising floods and falling trees killed
some two dozen 13 people that night, most of whom could not afford to move to a place of safety and shelter.
For those of us who attended the Summit, our commitment is to ensure that microfinance and financial inclusion serve those who are most vulnerable and provide tools that help them build resilience and ladders out of poverty.
We closed the 2013 Summit with the adoption of the “Partnerships against Poverty Summit Declaration.” It states that, “We as the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit participants, declare, collectively and enthusiastically, THAT EXTREME POVERTY CAN AND WILL BE ENDED BY THE YEAR 2030.” And it concludes, “Poverty will not be ended by a single organization, but by the collective achievements of thousands of individual organizations and initiatives, collaborations and partnerships.”
We look eagerly forward to the next Microcredit Summit where we will gather as an industry and as a movement to share what we have since learned, hold ourselves and each other accountable to the commitments we have made, and continue to build partnerships to end poverty.
You can watch full videos of all plenaries on our YouTube channel