>>Authored by Sabina Rogers, Communications and Relationships Manager, Microcredit Summit Campaign
In a 2013 article, New York Times opinion writer, David Bornstein, wrote that RESULTS “remains one of the best-kept secrets in development.” RESULTS (and RESULTS Educational Fund, from which the Microcredit Summit came and into which the Microcredit Summit Campaign operations have been merged) is a grassroots advocacy organization founded in 1980. It has international affiliates in the UK, Canada, Australia, France (and Belgium), Japan, Korea, and Mexico; and the RESULTS family coordinates advocacy efforts to remarkable effect.
Never heard of RESULTS? Recall the poverty measurement legislation in the mid 2000s that requires USAID to direct at least 50 percent of their microenterprise funds to those living on less than $1 a day? Legislation that also prompted the creation of USAID’s Poverty Assessment Tool? That was RESULTS and allies.
The U.N. International Year of Microcredit in 2005 and the Nobel Peace Prize for Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank? That was RESULTS volunteers and the Microcredit Summit Campaign lobbying year after year for consideration. (FYI: The Year of Microcredit was established by the UN in 1998, the year after the 1997 Microcredit Summit, through the efforts of the Bangladesh Ambassador to the U.N., in recognition of the Summit’s 2005 deadline.)
On April 21st, the Microcredit Summit Campaign co-hosted with Uplift a webinar discussion focusing on the promise that graduation holds for sustainably reaching the ultra-poor. Our featured speakers were Debasish Ray Chaudhuri, CEO of Bandhan Konnagar in India, Rachel Proefke, a research associate with BRAC Uganda, Mark Daniels, the Philippines director for Opportunity International, and Allison Duncan, CEO of Amplifier Strategies and founder of Uplift. Anne Hastings, a global advocate with Uplift, moderated the webinar.
The conversation looked closely at the experiences that each of the three practitioners on the panel have had in implementing the program as well as the global advocacy message supporting the graduation approach being delivered by Uplift and its allies.
We hope you will get engaged with this promising avenue for reaching those living in ultra-poverty and be inspired by the potential it holds for helping microfinance institutions to reconnect to their original purpose. Some final thoughts from speakers on the webinar follow.
Please find below a special message from our friends at Red Financiera Rural (RFR) in Ecuador. They are requesting our aid in dealing with the destruction of the April 16th earthquake. While immediate needs are being met, RFR is looking to the future and how their member microfinance institutions can help their clients and communities come back stronger than ever. They are asking for your help in one of three ways:
Donate to RFR’s efforts to help microentrepreneurs most affected by the earthquake or provide funds to help RFR establish a credit fund to help small businesses recover.
Contribute second-tier, long-term credit with preferential interest rates.
Offer your advice and experiences in dealing with disaster recovery.
Cordial greetings from Rural Financial Network (RFR), an organization of 50 microfinance institutions with credit serving about 1,250,000 microentrepreneurs and small producers throughout Ecuador.
As you may know, an earthquake of 7.8 degrees on the Richter scale occurred on 16 April in Ecuador, with serious consequences on the west coast. The time has mobilized the whole country to assist with aid to cities and towns affected and have received specialized brigades and support of more than 10 countries to rescue survivors, assist the wounded, provide basic goods to the population and find the bodies. Español | Français | Continue reading →
Abajo encontrará un mensaje especial de nuestros amigos de la Red Financiera Rural (RFR) en Ecuador. Están solicitando nuestra ayuda para los damnificados de la destrucción del terremoto del 16 de abril. Mientras que las necesidades inmediatas se están satisfaciendo, RFR está viendo hacia el futuro y cómo sus instituciones microfinancieras integrantes pueden ayudar a que sus clientes y las comunidades regresen más fuertes que nunca. Están pidiendo su ayuda en una de tres formas:
Donar a los esfuerzos de la RFR para ayudar a los microempresarios más afectadas por el terremoto o proporcionar fondos para ayudar a la RFR a establecer un fondo de crédito para ayudar a las pequeñas empresas a recuperarse.
Contribuir crédito de segundo piso con tasas de interés preferenciales y de largo plazo.
Ofrecer su asesoramiento y experiencia con casos de recuperación de desastres.
Reciban un cordial saludo de Red Financiera Rural (RFR), organización que agrupa a 50 instituciones de microfinanzas que atienden con crédito a cerca de 1,250,000 microempresarios y pequeños productores en todo el Ecuador.
Como es de su conocimiento un terremoto de 7.8 grados en la escala de Richter ha ocurrido el 16 de abril pasado en Ecuador, con graves consecuencias en la costa oeste del país. Al momento se ha movilizado el país entero para asistir con ayuda a las ciudades y poblados afectados, así como se han recibido brigadas especializadas y ayuda de más de 10 países hermanos para rescatar a sobrevivientes, asistir a los heridos, dotar de bienes básicos a la población y encontrar los cadáveres.
Al momento de escribir este oficio se totalizan más de 500 muertos, cerca de 3,000 personas heridas y alrededor de 1,000 desaparecidos. Se puede decir que al momento existe organización suficiente para asistir las necesidades actuales y que la solidaridad recibida contribuye a lo que se necesita por el momento. La preocupación como Red que agrupa a instituciones de microfinanzas surge de cara al futuro.
>>Authored by Ken Patterson, Director of Global Grassroots Advocacy, RESULTS U.S.
The solutions to some of our biggest problems are often right in front of us, yet out of sight. Take microfinance. Early pioneers recognized that we had a financial system that was serving less than half the population. It wasn’t that the under served weren’t economic beings — it was that financial systems just weren’t fully constructed to serve them. Early on, RESULTS, a U.S.-based global grassroots advocacy NGO, backed these pioneers who were determined to build the other half of the financial service spectrum. The results have been dramatic.
A similar phenomenon exists in most democracies: we have this great idea — that the people will guide elected officials who work for them in government to create policies and spending priorities “by and for the people.” But, we Americans treat democracy as something people should naturally know how to do — like eating or walking. We don’t educate people about how democracy works, show them how to interact with it, or create an environment that encourages engagement. It doesn’t show up in grade school, high school, or college. We treat democracy like it is a moment in time or something we’ve completed: “Oh yeah, democracy, we already have that.”
In an interview, Microcredit Summit Campaign co-founder, Sam Daley-Harris describes what turned him into an advocate for microcredit. In the late 1970s, Sam attended a presentation on world hunger, and he realized that “there was no scarcity of solutions. There was no mystery to growing food or [providing] clean water [and] basic health. What I was hopeless about was not the lack of solutions. I was hopeless about human nature.” He realized, however, that he had control over his own actions, so he started a citizen lobby group called RESULTS (our parent organization), to create the political will to end hunger.
In 1985, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which was then a new United Nations fund, was under attack from the U.S. Government (in a dispute with OPEC), and Sam marshaled his citizen lobbyists in support of IFAD. RESULTS volunteers told their Congressional representatives of the important investments IFAD was doing, including one small women’s bank in Bangladesh called Grameen Bank.
Luis Fernando Sanabria, COO of Fundación Paraguaya, tells about his organization’s commitment to serving the youth of Paraguay. He highlights the importance of the youth in Paraguay, noting that half the country’s population is under 30 years old. “They are not only the future, but also the present — especially of our economy,” he points out.
Fundación Paraguaya focuses on developing a self-sufficient school model so that the youth will be prepared to have a successful in life. The organization encourages youth to engage in micro-enterprises and works with other organizations to develop a supportive ecosystem.
“Everything we learn in microfinance and in financial literacy,” said Sanabria, “we put it in our self-sufficient school model. Those are self-sufficient schools for very poor people. We run microenterprises on the campuses of those schools, and the microenterprises are run by teachers and students. They serve 2 purposes: first one is to generate income to sustain the school but second, and perhaps the more important objective, is to better train students to be successful in life…They learn not only about production but about marketing, accounting, packaging — everything they need to run a real enterprise when they graduate.”
Shamsul Haque of Society for Development Initiatives (Bangladesh) discusses his organization, the role of microfinance to help end poverty, and the lessons learned at the 18th Microcredit Summit with Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway. Haque explains that SDI’s objective is to reduce poverty in Bangladesh through an integrated approach involving components such as microcredit, education, and the environment.
Haque is attending the Summit to gain experience from people in other countries on how they providing non-financial services like health, education, and the environment. “Microfinance plus at least education and health,” Haque said. “If we combine education, health and microcredit ….they [clients] will graduate [out of poverty]. They will be a respectable people in society. That is also our objective.”
>>Authored by Vedrana Legovic, marketing and communications officer of Oradian
Last month, we travelled to Abu Dhabi for the 18th Microcredit Summit, which hosted a number of microfinance and financial inclusion experts from around the world. The summit explored new and effective ways in advancing financial inclusion and featured successes in Africa and the Middle East. One of those success stories is certainly that of Oradian, and we are honoured that the Microcredit Summit Campaign recognised the impact of our work in West Africa. By using our latest cloud-based technology, services, and domain expertise in that region, we increase efficiency and effectiveness of microfinance institutions (MFIs).
We had the opportunity to attend inspiring plenary and breakout sessions and be a part of the arena where so many great ideas were shared. Oradian’s co-founder and managing director, Antonio Separovic, spoke at the “Innovative Products and Services for Financial Inclusion” panel. Oradian creates technology (SaaS software) for MFIs. With our technology, we remove complexity, empower our users, and enable their growth because most of them still use pen and paper.
Antonio discussed Oradian’s experience in enabling MFIs to advance financial inclusion by using our innovative technology. More specifically, he shared our story about empowering microfinance communities in some of the most remote rural areas in Nigeria, our core market, where we have had impressive results with local MFIs in applying our multi-award winning software, Instafin, to their operations.
Highlighting technology innovations in the microfinance sector, the plenary session “Reaching Deeper and Lowering Costs: The Path ahead for Digital Services” at the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit was moderated by our very own Sabina Rogers, filling in for Karen Dávila, noted Philippine broadcast journalist.
It was a fun session, using visual aids to represent certain aspects of a value chain for delivering mobile and financial services. A house represented the client and the start of the digital transaction value chain; then images showed the mobile interface for conducting transactions; a sari-sari represented an agent kiosk; a net represented both communications networks as well as financial networks; and a bank stood in for a variety of types of financial institutions.
Speakers were asked to make use of the array to help them illustrate where the companies and organizations the represented fit into the value chain.
Shazia Abbas of Micro Options (Pakistan) discusses her organization, the role of microfinance to help end poverty, and the lessons learned at the 18th Microcredit Summit with Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway. Micro Options provides microcredit services for agriculture, livestock, and alternative energy (i.e., solar and bio-gas), combining access to capital with skills training with a focus on women and youth.
Abbas says that the Summit is a great forum and the biggest networking event for the region and globally. On her experience in Abu Dhabi, she appreciates “learning how other people are doing this work differently, and especially the opportunities we can leverage. That was wonderful. Every session is very important, and I was confused which to pick and not to pick,” Abbas adds with a chuckle. “I will definitely take some learning that I can cooperate at my organization so that we can deliver even better.”
Tarik Sayed Harun of COAST Trust (Bangladesh) discusses the role of microfinance to help end poverty and the lessons learned at the 18th Microcredit Summit with Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway. Harun explains that the poverty rate in Bangladesh has been reduced by 10 percent over the past five years. He suggests that recent research showing that microfinance in Bangladesh contributes approximately 10 percent to the nation’s GDP supports his contention that microfinance has a strong role to contribute to ending poverty.
“[The 18th Microcredit Summit] is very good opportunity to learn from each other and about very good practices from around the world,” said Harun. “We are trying to learn from the good practices and to implement them in our country, my organization. Overall our one commitment is to reduce poverty, so this is a very good opportunity to learn from each other.”
Lev Plaves of KIVA talks with Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway, about what he was most excited to learn about at the 18th Microcredit Summit. “What we are most excited about is how much discussion there was at the Summit about how different stakeholders — whether investors or practitioners — are really working to improve how we’re measuring impact,” Plaves says. “That was really great to see, and I am excited to see moving forward how that plays out in terms of people working to really increase how we are quantifying the outcomes we are having as an industry.”
You’re invited to an exciting webinar organized by Uplift on April 21st (10 AM EDT / GMT-4): “Is it too late for microfinance to be pro poor? The case for linking microfinance with graduation.”
The Graduation Approach was first developed by BRAC to help address the needs of those who were too poor for microfinance services.
In recent years, shifts in the regulatory environment and disruptive digital inclusion technologies have put pressure on microfinance institutions to go up market and move away from their original pro-poor mission.
Please register by April 19th. The password to register is “MCSEWORKSHOP”.