Alia Farhat: Microfinance serving Syrian refugees in Lebanon

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18th Microcredit Summit Video Corner Interview Series

Alia Farhat, human resources and social performance manager at Al Majmoua in Lebanon, interviewed by Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway.

Alia Farhat of Al Majmoua (Lebanon) discusses her organization, the role of microfinance to help end poverty — in particular with the Syrian refugee crisis — and the lessons learned at the 18th Microcredit Summit with Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway.

Al Majmoua was founded in 1994 and is the leading microfinance organization in Lebanon, managing a portfolio of US $52 million. She believes that microfinance is part of the value chain to end poverty and that MFIs need to provide more than just finance to end poverty. Al Majmoua offers microinsurance and savings products as well as to entrepreneurship and financial literacy training.

Farhat describes how Al Majmoua, which means “the group,” has evolved from its group lending origins to its current work with refugees. Lebanon, a population of only 4.5 million, has seen an influx of 1.3 million Syrian refugees over the last three years. “We needed to do something” to help, she explains, so they started with non-financial services to women and youth such as vocational and entrepreneurship training.

Al Majmoua has also created a group lending program with a mix of Lebanese and Syrian women, serving to blend the local and Syrian communities. “The pilot is working really well and the concept of solidarity group lending has been working for us.”

Farhat describes her hope for an outcome of this year’s Summit to be “more cooperation, more synergies, trying to identify successful partnerships amongst organizations that have the same goal and aim really to alleviate poverty and the MDGs.”