A Time to Listen

“Listen, or thy tongue will keep thee deaf.” – Indian Proverb

“Listening looks easy, but it’s not simple. Every head is a world.” – Cuban Proverb

“If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.” – Turkish Proverb

I have received a great honor and responsibility in being asked to take over as steward of the Microcredit Summit Campaign. I have spent my first few months on the job as a student of Sam Daley-Harris and the others who work for the Campaign, learning from their commitment and tenacity in advocating for those who suffer most from poverty around the world. The more I have learned about the Campaign, the more admiration I have for all this team has accomplished in helping to promote a global movement that uses the tools of finance to help eliminate the severest forms of poverty.

But I also recognize the world and the microfinance community is in a much different place now than when the Campaign started 15 years ago. Both the opportunities and the challenges are larger now. While our goals remain the same—to reach 175 million of the world’s poorest with microfinance, and to see 100 million of them move out of severe poverty—how we pursue them may need to change.

As a campaign, our chief strength lies in our ability to bring together the many parts of the microfinance community that share our concern for those living in poverty. When we are connected with each other, we learn from and inspire each other. That is why I want to take the ancient advice found in the three proverbs I opened with, and begin my role as Director of the Campaign by listening. My thinking is shaped by my world and my experiences. To serve as a catalyst for a global campaign, I need to better understand your world and your perspective.

Over the next few months, I will be on a Listening Tour. Through phone calls, face to face meetings, and this blog, I want to get your opinions on the key issues that face the microfinance community and how the Campaign can help us address those issues.

Here are the questions I have for each of you on our mailing list and who read this blog:

  • From your perspective, what are the biggest challenges we face in the microfinance community?
  • What do you think we could and should do as a community to address those challenges?
  • What role can the Microcredit Summit Campaign play in helping us to address those challenges?

I encourage you to respond directly to this blog or to reply to me by email with your answers to these questions. From time to time, we will post summaries of what I am hearing as I listen to each of you so that we can keep taking the conversation to deeper levels.

Albert Camus wrote, “Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, the gentle stirring of life and hope.” I will be listening for the gentle flutter of great ideas in your responses.

— Larry Reed, Director, Microcredit Summit Campaign
Info [at] microcreditsummit [dot] org