Creating entrepreneurs of democracy

Photos courtesy of RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund

Photos courtesy of RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund

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>>Authored by Ken Patterson, Director of Global Grassroots Advocacy, RESULTS U.S.

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Ken Patterson

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.”

If one is lucky enough to have an activist parent, he/she might have some idea of what it means to be a contributing member of a democracy. But this isn’t the case for most of us, and engaging in our democracy is as foreign to us as speaking a different language or playing the didgeridoo. This is why Sam Daley-Harris founded RESULTS, to bring people in touch with their democracies and “get them off the bench and into the game.”

This lack of understanding and engagement isn’t true just for Americans. Democracy is a pretty new thing for many developing nations, and most people aren’t trained in what it is or what it means to be a citizen in a democracy. They don’t know the rights and responsibilities that come with it, nor do they have the skills to engage with it to benefit their communities. So, RESULTS has recently embarked on an effort to change that, and none too soon. Sharing the RESULTS deep citizen advocacy model with our global health and microfinance partners is pressing because as the economies of developing nations improve, donors will pull back, leaving governments to deal with poverty on their own. But most governments are not likely to prioritize the needs of the most marginalized without pressure from their own people, and if we want to truly make of go of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), citizen engagement will be a critical strategy for all nations wanting to address poverty, including the U.S.

We started this work of sharing the RESULTS deep citizen advocacy model with our partners in Kenya and Zambia, KANCO and CITAM+ respectively. Both organizations were doing effective advocacy at the staff level, but after seeing what RESULTS has been able to accomplish through deep citizen advocacy, they knew they could do more. So, they asked RESULTS to help them incorporate deep citizen advocacy into their model. The results have been impressive. Since 2013, KANCO has helped increase domestic health funding in Kenya, including 202 million Kenyan shillings (Ksh) for immunizations, and Ksh 286 million for tuberculosis (TB). They also helped resolve a national TB drug shortage. CITAM+ is working to reprioritize the site selection criteria for 650 new healthcare clinics in Zambia, making sure that the communities most in need get clinics first. With little variation, the RESULTS model is being successfully transferred, and it’s working.

So, if citizen advocacy is working with health-related, non-governmental organizations, why wouldn’t it work with microfinance institutions (MFIs)? The goal of most MFIs is to help their clients see themselves in a new light as economic actors. Why not offer the same for their lives as civic actors?

This is what we embarked upon at the 18th Microcredit Summit in Abu Dhabi this March. Forward thinking staff at the Microcredit Summit Campaign invited Sam Daley-Harris and me to lead a 6-hour workshop on integrating civic engagement into microfinance institutions. Fifteen people attended the workshop, including practitioners and microfinance support organizations. At first, the idea of integrating citizen engagement raised a lot of questions — and some doubt. This is the same reaction most people have when you ask them to develop a relationship with their government officials. However, as participants started learning the skills, they also started seeing the possibilities. A gentleman from Jordan said, “We can do this. I have microfinance agents I can train to take this to 56 centers. They are already meeting regularly.” There were many other revelations, and most of the participants signed on to learn more.

Though this was just the starting point in working with MFIs, it makes sense to seriously explore integrating civic engagement into the curriculum of MFI clients. Because if elected officials are not in direct relationship with their constituents, then there is no way government policies and priorities will reflect the needs of the people. And, who better to carry this forward than microentrepreneurs? In addition to being business entrepreneurs, they are in a great position to take on the role of entrepreneurs of democracy.

If you would like to learn more about RESULTS US and how you can integrate civic engagement into the curriculum of your clients, contact Ken Patterson at kpatterson[at]results.org.

#tbt: A look back at the 2006 Global Microcredit Summit

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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.

Also in the playlist are a speech from Prof Yunus talking about why injustice — including economic injustice — creates tension (start at min 1:07 and continue to this video). The final video in the playlist is an address to the Halifax delegates by former President Bill Clinton about the power of microfinance to help the extreme poor and to celebrate the Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank’s being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. (Start at min 1:15.)

Global Money Week at the 18th Microcredit Summit with Luis Fernando Sanabria

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18th Microcredit Summit & 2016 Global MOney Week Interview Series

Luis Fernando Sanabria, COO of Fundación Paraguaya, interviewed by Jared Penner, director of thought leadership and consultancy at Child & Youth Finance International in the Netherlands.


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.”

Fundación Paraguaya commits to next five years is to creating partnerships with other organizations and help 30,000 families in Paraguay to leave extreme poverty.

Video Corner | Shamsul Haque on reducing poverty through an integrated approach

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18th Microcredit Summit Video Corner Interview Series

Shamsul Haque, executive director and CEO of Society for Development Initiatives in Bangladesh, interviewed by Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway.


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.”

Oradian’s innovative cloud system in West Africa empowers the microfinance community

Oradian customers

Oradian customers

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>>Authored by Vedrana Legovic, marketing and communications officer of Oradian

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Vedrana Legovic

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.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Oradian’s Core Microfinance System Instafin awarded to one lucky MFI

Antonio handing the Oradian winner certificate to the representative of Vicoba Village Community Bank from Tanzania

Antonio Separaovic, managing director of Oradian, hands the Oradian winner certificate to the representative of Vicoba Village Community Bank from Tanzania

We had the privilege of partnering with the 18th Microcredit Summit. On the second day of the summit, we held a raffle in which one lucky MFI, Vicoba Village Community Bank from Tanzania, won a 9-month pilot to use our Core Microfinance System – Instafin along with all the training and support.

As Instafin is very easy to implement, we are happy to be able to offer such pilots and we look forward to awarding a similar prize next year. Commenting on the Summit, Antonio Separovic, managing director at Oradian said:

Attending the 18th Microcredit Summit was truly a rewarding experience. We received excellent feedback from attendees and were delighted to join other participants and delegates in so many motivating discussions that highlighted the importance of innovation in financial inclusion. We’re grateful for many opportunities that arose from an inspiring networking environment. I would say the Oradian team is now even more excited to continue working on our mission — to empower the delivery of financial services to the underserved and unbanked. Needless to say, we are already looking forward to the next year’s event.

How we empower MFIs with Instafin

Microfinance institutions in Africa offer both loans and savings, but they operate in outdated technical environments. This creates a struggle with day-to-day operations and, more often than not, causes confusion and uncertainty.

This is where Oradian steps in. Our SaaS Instafin is changing the way MFIs in developing markets operate, enabling them to serve the most rural clients affordably and efficiently. Specifically designed for financial institutions servicing the base of the socio-economic pyramid, Instafin is the world’s first true core microfinance platform, designed by experienced practitioners.

Oradian’s role in women’s empowerment

This year’s summit discussions highlighted once again that microfinance incentives provide much needed access to financial resources that are crucial to the people at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid, among whom women comprise the majority. Women have earned the reputation of being more financially responsible regarding investment, savings, and paying back loans in time. This makes them key drivers for sustainable development and a prime focus of microfinance institutions.

Our customer using Instafin

An Oradian customer using Instafin

By using our technology, the process of delivering microfinance services is more affordable and efficient for MFIs. Instafin is easy to implement and use, which results in savings in costs and time. Having in mind that over 90 percent of Oradian’s end clients are women, it is necessary to recognise the role we play in enabling women to access financial services.

Where is Oradian in advancing financial inclusion in West Africa

We are honoured to have had the opportunity to attend so many inspiring speeches at the Summit and engage in thoughtful discussions, with focus on financial inclusion strategies.

While it is a far stretch to claim that financial inclusion guarantees to bring people out of poverty, having access to financial services is the first step and microfinance institutions are at the forefront of providing these services. Without a doubt financial services help individuals to reach their economic potential, invest in opportunities, and start small businesses or expand them.

In order to advance the financial inclusion efforts, we need to develop an open ecosystem for financial inclusion. Our philosophy is that technology should support a platform that nurtures both our customers as well as a vibrant third party marketplace of solution providers. The Oradian Ecosystem is how we grow and drive change for our customers — now and into the future.

We are committed to increasing financial inclusion in West Africa, given the global demand and scalability of Oradian’s products and services, we are also developing regional partnerships and planning roll-out across the rest of Africa. Our goal is to enable MFIs to extend financial services to 100,000,000 underserved families, touching the lives of half a billion people globally.

About Vedrana Legovic

Trained Internet Marketing Specialist, with MA in Marketing Management and background in journalism, Vedrana has been working in the digital media industry for 8 years. She focuses on social media and content marketing. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

#tbt: Digital services to reach the unreachable at the 2013 Summit

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Speakers in the “Reaching Deeper and Lowering Costs: The Path ahead for Digital Services” plenary session at the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit in Manila, Philippines. We learned how mobile devices can help provide better options to those who are reliant upon riskier, costlier options.

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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.

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Gordon Cooper, Head of Emerging Market Solutions, APCEMEA, VISA, and Raj Singh-Khaira, Vice President, RM & Consumer Services, FINO PayTech

Nadeem Hussein of Tameer Microfinance Bank (Pakistan) led off the discussion demonstrating how Tameer had a role in supporting a number of points along the value chain overall from understanding the consumer landscape to developing mobile transaction interfaces including working with agents, and all as a financial institution.

Raj Singh-Khaira of FINO PayTech (India) and focused on the need for institutions like his to diversify their involvement in a number of ways along the value chain because “the market is not mature enough for us to be just this one component…the agent kiosk in this example.” He pointed to the wide array of services FINO provides to achieve this diversity including a number of types of savings products, insurance, and some loans.

FINO serves over 67 million clients and employs more than 50,000 agents. Technology is important to help reach this kind of scale as opposed to manual transactions. He also mentioned the ability to better track and secure transactions through the use of digital means of transacting.

The role of VISA was presented by Gordon Cooper. “Visa is a Network, a network service provider. It’s all about interoperability,” cited Cooper; continuing, he described a project VISA launched several years ago which focused on finding one key way VISA could contribute to increasing access to formal financial services for low income individuals.

The result: launching mVISA in Rwanda, a mobile transactions platform (see this video). He focused on the necessity of interoperability, which refers to the ability of one financial service provider’s platform to link up with others’ platforms in order to enable customers on different networks or in different financial systems to transact. Increasing interoperability as a means to support wider access will be one major focus for VISA in the digital area.

Napoleon Nazareno of Smart Communications, one of the largest mobile network operators working in the Philippines, echoed Khaira. Smart is not isolated to only providing mobile phone connectivity, but also goes beyond to touch on all aspects of the value chain. Beginning more than a decade ago, Smart launched a small mobile banking service platform. By partnering with financial service providers over the years, this has now grown into a full-fledged mobile microfinance service platform.

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Ian Radcliffe, Director, WSBI-ESBG

Ian Radcliffe of WSBI illustrated their role in supporting the actors involved in the value chain as direct service providers. Their core activity is advocacy, but apart from that, they also deliver training and consultancy services to providers.

He highlighted an initiative begun about four years ago, to understand what it would it take to double the number of savings accounts among poor people. This launched the WSBI savings account program, which is now working with banks in 10 countries to develop and improve agent banking models and mobile banking models now, too.

Nazareno summarized the session nicely at one point during the presentations, pointing to the power of digital channels for reaching the financially exclude citing recent national survey in the Philippines.

He said, “80% of the households in the Philippines don’t have a bank account. On the other hand, 90% of Filipinos have a cell phone,” which highlights the viability of using mobile devices to provide financial services to those who would otherwise remain excluded. Mobile devices can help provide better options to those who are reliant upon riskier, costlier options, and, ultimately, ones that would stand in the way of their journey out of poverty.

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A participant at the 2013 Summit was having a great time.

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Watch the full video of this plenary

Video Corner | Shazia Abbas on microfinance creating entrepreneurs

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18th Microcredit Summit Video Corner Interview Series

Shazia Abbas, CEO of Micro Options in Pakistan, interviewed by Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway.


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.”

Abbas echoes Professor Muhammad Yunus on the role of microfinance, stressing that access to capital and finance should be a fundamental human right. “If you are educated but you don’t have access to employment,” says Abbas, “you can become an entrepreneur. We provide social and economic development opportunity especially to rural areas and women.”

She continues, “We believe microcredit is directly linked and can directly impact on poverty, but implementation needs to be strategized properly. Ultimately, provision of capital and using this capital in a way that you make people entrepreneurs and make people stand on their own feet.” She concludes that this is how microfinance can “accelerate” people out of poverty.

Video Corner | Tarik Sayed Harun on reducing poverty in Bangladesh

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18th Microcredit Summit Video Corner Interview Series

Tarik Sayed Harun, assistant director of the core program for COAST Trust (Coastal Association for Social Transformation) in Bangladesh, interviewed by Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway.


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.”

Video Corner | Lev Plaves of Kiva on measuring impact

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18th Microcredit Summit Video Corner Interview Series

Lev Plaves, portfolio manager at KIVA in the USA, interviewed by Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway.


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.”

Plaves explains that KIVA’s mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty, mobilizing people on a global level to lend as little as US$ 25 on their crowd-funding platform. KIVA has expanded its reach beyond traditional microfinance institutions, which now account for only half of their partners and thus extending their portfolio outside the microfinance sector.

Answering the question about the role of microfinance to help end poverty, Plaves explains that this has allowed KIVA to “expand the breadth our reach in terms of the number of people and the types of services we’re providing and also the depth and the impact we’re having.”

Sohelia Haque: MFIs better serve the poor than traditional banks

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Sohelia Naznin Haque of Society for Development Initiatives (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.

Haque echoed Dr. Muhammed Yunus, supporting the goals of zero poverty, zero unemployment, and financial inclusion through technological advancement. She explains how SDI reaches the poor in a way that big banks do not, going to their homes and visiting rural areas.

“We go to them, think about or listen to their demands, needs, motives, drives. According to that, we make our microfinance products and try fulfill their demands,” said Haque. “[Commercial] banks’ interest rates are too high, but our interest rates are not too high according to the demand we provide them.”

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Wamda.com: Understanding microfinance in MENA

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>>by Archana Menon | April 3, 2016

“The Arab world has the lowest level of financial inclusion.”

This was the statement made by Dr. Abdulrahman Al Hamidi, director general and chairman of the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) at the opening of the 18th Microcredit Summit in Abu Dhabi in March.

He cited World Bank data stating that 16 to 17 million small businesses in the Arab region have no access to financing and official financial services.

The theme of the summit, “Frontier Innovations in Financial Inclusion,” attracted 1,000 delegates from 60 countries. Jointly organized by the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, the Arab Gulf Programme for Development (AGFUND), and the Microcredit Summit Campaign, the event was held March 14-17.

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Muhammad Yunus: A new economic theory of selflessness

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Ghada Waly, Egypt’s Minister of Social Solidarity, and Nobel laureate, Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and the “father of microfinance,” got into a heated debate about the whole thesis of economic theory. The two distinguished speakers were on the panel for the “Scaling Business Models for Social Impact” plenary at the 18th Microcredit Summit (March 14-17 in Abu Dhabi).

Businesses have the ability to scale, delivering products and services on a global basis by providing for the needs and desires of their customers. But, the business focus on maximizing profits often lead limited attention to social challenges. Nonprofits have shown the ability to address a large variety of social problems, but the need to raise funds from donors often limits their ability to scale to the level of the problems they seek to address. Social businesses combine these two organizational models, using the power of business to solve some of the world’s most pressing social problems.

Minister Waly argued at the end of the session that businesses contribute to the well-being of society and to ending poverty — whether they do CSR or have a social mission or not — simply by creating jobs, paying taxes, and so on.

“Those companies that do not even do CSR [corporate social responsibility] but provide a service that is needed for society. Be it a pharmaceutical company or garment company, if they employ people, pay them fairly, and create jobs, this is good enough and this is very much needed. So you need everything.”

Prof. Yunus countered that human beings are both selfish and selfless, and the business world and economics can be structured to lift up the selfless side of human nature.

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Muhammad Zubair Mughal: Islamic microfinance is for everyone

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Muhammad Zubair Mughal of Al Huda Center of Islamic Banking and Economics attended his first Microcredit Summit. He discusses Islamic microfinance, 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. Mughal learned from the Summit about different techniques for poverty alleviation. Specifically, he appreciates the focus on financial education, insurance, and integrating health service.

Al Huda is dedicated to developing Islamic microfinance, poverty alleviation, and social development. “There is a misconception that Islamic microfinance is only for Muslims,” said Mughal. “No. Islamic microfinance is a system which can be utilized by Muslims and non-Muslims for poverty alleviation and social development,” Mughal concludes.

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Alia Farhat: Microfinance serving Syrian refugees in Lebanon

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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.

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Bdour Alhyari: Enabling the poor to participate in development

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18th Microcredit Summit Video Corner Interview Series

Bdour Alhyari, business development manager for Microfund for Women in Jordan, interviewed by Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway.


Bdour Alhyari of Microfund for Women (Jordan) talks with Miranda Beshara, editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway, at the 18th Microcredit Summit. Microfund for Women launched a Campaign Commitment in 2015. Commitments are specific, measurable, and time-bound actions organizations take to support the Campaign goal to help 100 Million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty. “It is in our mission to enable and empower women at so many levels,” says Alhyari. “We thought we need to be part of this Campaign and commit to act, encourage others to commit to act.” (Learn more here.)

Microfinance plays “a great role” to help end poverty, says Alyhari, because it enables the financially excluded to gain access to the financial system. “Eighty percent [of the world’s population] are not allowed to access finance. Microfinance provides them with financial resources to enable them to participate in the development of societies, of communities. They [beneficiaries and clients] take the money. They create businesses, they continue their learning, their education, to enable them to be part of the development cycle. Gradually this will help to better livelihoods.”

Finally, Alhyari reflects on her time at the 18th Microcredit Summit. “The Summit has brought so many different expertise from different parts of the world,” she says. “We have shown our experience in microinsurance [and], providing the caregiver program, and we heard about other examples in microinsurance, green energy, and so many other topics, [such as] youth. It was a good platform to have this exchange to look at the expertise of each other and learn from it.”

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