The Campaign in 2014: Making Progress Toward Ending Extreme Poverty

Expokonool vendors being recognized in the closing ceremony for their hard work

At the 17th Microcredit Summit, Expokonool vendors were recognized in the closing ceremony for their hard work

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As we come to the end of the year, we reflect on 2014.

In 2014, we more than DOUBLED the number of Campaign Commitments, and in the past two years, 54 Commitments have been announced by 48 organizations, including AGFUND, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), BRAC, Grassroots Capital Management, Red Financiera Rural, Oikocredit, and Grameen Foundation. These organizations join a coalition to advance the industry toward helping 100 million families lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

With the first 5 installments of the Campaign’s new E-Workshop Series featuring Commitment-making organizations, more than 400 participants learned important practical lessons on innovations and tools that work to support those making the journey out of extreme poverty.

Organizations that made a Campaign Commitment are recognized on stage at the 17th Microcredit Summit in Mexico.

Organizations that made a Campaign Commitment were recognized on stage at the 17th Microcredit Summit in Mexico.

17th Microcredit Summit #17MCSummitIn September, 875 people from 60 countries joined us at the 17th Microcredit Summit in Mexico, including high-level dignitaries like Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Yucatán Governor Rolando Zapata Bello, and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus. The agenda focused on the theme “Generation Next: Innovations in Microfinance.”

“The participation of global leaders in combating poverty. The cases that inspired partnership work in a joint effort to build a better future for generations.”
— a participant on what was best about the Summit

In the lead up to the Summit, the Campaign led 6 policy makers from Ghana, Mozambique, and Malawi on a 12 day intensive field visit to sites in Ethiopia and Mexico for a deep dive into successful strategies for implementing social protection and livelihood development programs. The policy makers developed innovation plans for implementing throughout 2015 the lessons learned from their trip on returning home.

Throughout the Summit, more than 160 presenters participated in 7 plenaries, 35 workshops, and 6 full-day trainings; the materials, including videos and presentations, can be viewed online. Together, we built a vision for the next generation of financial services that reach everyone and that provide even the poorest and most remote with the tools and resources they need to complete the journey to sustainable livelihoods.

To get an overview of the 17th Microcredit Summit and key topic areas discussed, you can read our article in the forthcoming winter edition of the Journal for Social Business to learn more about the financial and social services that are building pathways out of poverty.


In June, we launched Resilience: State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report, 2014. The report emphasizes the key role that actors in the financial ecosystem can play in helping end extreme poverty by promoting the frameworks, systems, partnerships and strategies that deliver the types of products and services that help build resilience.

In July, we published Integrated Health and Microfinance in India, Volume II with Freedom from Hunger and the Indian Institute of Public Health-Gandhinagar. It highlights the policy measures in the Indian microfinance sector since 2011, documents best practices towards integrating health and microfinance, and proposes an agenda for moving forward to expand access to healthcare.

We also launched a joint project in July called “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies: Partnering to improve maternal health in the Philippines” with Freedom from Hunger and CARD, the largest MFI in the Philippines. Together, we aim to improve health knowledge and promote behavior change for more than 600,000 women by December 2015 and strengthen “MFIs for Health,” a collaboration of health and microfinance practitioners in the Philippines.

Pregnant woman attending the first community health fair of “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies” program in the Philippines

Join us for a fantastic 2015!

Looking Back at 2014, the Year of Resilience

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>>By Larry Reed, Director, Microcredit Summit Campaign

Larry visits a CARD group in Tacloban

Larry visits a CARD group in Tacloban whose members are rebuilding with the help of CARD’s quick and appropriate response to the Typhoon Yolanda disaster.

I started 2014 in Tacloban, Philippines, where one of the worst storms of this century, Typhoon Yolanda (or Haiyan outside the Philippines), made landfall. I visited Tacloban 75 days after the Typhoon hit to see how the storm affected the lives of microfinance clients, and what role financial services could play in helping them get back on their feet.

In the Central Business District only a few shops had dared to reopen. The dangling power lines and intermittent electricity made regular operations a challenge.

When I traveled to the parts of town where people lived in poverty, I found something much worse. Yolanda struck these low lying areas the hardest, hit them first with her 100 mph winds and then with the storm surge that followed in her wake, uprooting everything that was not permanently attached to the ground and then carrying it out to sea as the waters receded.

Homes and everything in them had been taken away, so people rebuilt with scrap lumber and sheets of plastic. They established homes and businesses again, selling daily necessities from the side of their rebuilt houses.

A mix of charity and financial services played a key role in helping people get back on their feet. Aid organizations employed people to help clean their neighborhoods and the rest of the city, giving them daily cash wages.

Microfinance institutions like CARD and ASKI got back into the city as soon as they could, providing rice and medicines for their clients’ immediate needs, while also paying insurance claims, providing access to savings and issuing emergency rebuilding loans long before any commercial banks restarted operations.

I came away with great admiration for the strength and resilience developed by those that live with constant vulnerability and an appreciation that the role that fast and appropriate financial services, delivered with a human touch, can have in catalyzing that energy to rapidly rebuild destroyed neighborhoods.

In August of this year, I visited another great example of resilience, this one over a decade in the making. Several government ministries in Ethiopia banded together under the leadership of the Prime Minister to design a program that would build resiliency in the land and the people that regularly suffered from drought. International aid organizations united behind this plan that now covers over 5 million people.

With support from the MasterCard Foundation, the Campaign hosted a trip for government ministers and leaders of government anti-poverty programs from Ghana, Mozambique, and Malawi to visit this Productive Safety Net Program (PNSP) in Ethiopia.

Participants of the Innovations in Social Protection project

Participants of the Innovations in Social Protection project on a field visit in Ethiopia.

Under the PNSP, people living in poverty who are not able to work (the elderly, the disabled, and mothers with young children) receive regular cash payments in exchange for maintaining regular health checkups and keeping their children in school.

Those who can work participate in local public works programs decided on by the leadership of each village. These projects can include expanding school facilities and building health clinics; although, most of them involve work that improves the productive capacity of the land.

With technical support from NGOs with highly trained professional on staff, the villagers work together to build dams, retention ponds, irrigation channels and hillside terraces. They receive the payment for their work in accounts set up in local banks or microfinance institutions, which also provide loans to help them expand businesses that profit from the land’s increase productivity.

Those who started the program with the greatest poverty participate in an ultra-poor graduation programs that provides them with an asset transfer, a savings account, business training, mentoring, and access to credit.

We visited at the end of the rainy season, and we could easily see the transformation that the PNSP had brought to the land and its people. We looked down a valley filled with tall green plants, with every hillside terraced and water flowing into dams and ponds that would provide irrigation after the rains stopped. Land that used to struggle to provide one crop now provided two or three crops a year.

Almost a quarter of the people who had started with this public assistance program now no longer needed it. I tried to imagine what it must feel like for the men and women working together on the hillside, digging a retention pond together, to look down the hill and see every part of the valley filled with green plants that would provide food for their animals and income for their livelihoods and to know that, not only were they and their children better off, but their entire community was better off because of the work they had done.

In September, we helped to assemble almost 900 people from 60 different countries in Merida, Mexico, for the 17th Microcredit Summit. As we gathered in the land of the ancient Maya who envisaged a new world coming into being at this time, we imagined a world where all people have access to financial products and services they need to protect against vulnerability and invest in opportunity.

Opening Ceremony - Prof Yunus_453x604

“Poor people didn’t create poverty. It’s the system that created the poverty. And, if we want to end poverty, we have to change the system.”

Muhammad Yunus issued the challenge for the Summit in his opening talk. “Poor people didn’t create poverty. It’s the system that created the poverty,” he told us. “And, if we want to end poverty, we have to change the system.”

During our 5 plenary sessions and 40 workshops, we heard from innovative thinkers and doers who are working to change the system. We discussed ideas and formed partnerships to begin or expand innovative programs that link conditional cash transfers to savings groups; extend agricultural value chains to small scale producers; provide health education, financing, and services in group meetings of microfinance clients; and employ digital technology that delivers payments and other financial services at a fraction of the cost of moving cash.

Together we made Commitments for what we would do to help extend financial services to all and help speed the end of extreme poverty. Then we closed by celebrating the real heroes of this work: the men and women who employ these services in order to earn and save enough to provide for their families and build a better future for their children.

I just completed my last trip of the year to the Inclusive Finance India Summit and saw a different type of resilience on display. Microfinance institutions in India have been devastated by the Andhra Pradesh crisis, where rapid growth in lending led to over-borrowing, client defaults, and a harsh response from the state government that halted collection efforts.

The sector is now growing rapidly again, enough that a few observers are worried that there may be some areas of overheating in the state of Karnataka, where many MFIs have moved.

Almost all the delegates I spoke with expressed excitement about new regulations announced by the Reserve Bank of India, which create a category of Small Finance Bank that can take deposits and make loans. The regulations also create a new category of Payments Bank to allow for institutions that make money from payment transaction, rather than from intermediating savings and credit.

A local community health volunteer trained and supervised by Bandhan, an Indian MFI, meets with members of a local self-help group and their families. (Photo courtesy of Johnson & Johnson)

A local community health volunteer trained and supervised by Bandhan, an Indian MFI, meets with members of a local self-help group and their families. (Photo courtesy of Johnson & Johnson)

In a dinner session I had with leaders from MFIs, I heard a lot of discussion about how they might transform their operations under these new regulations to provide a broader ranges of services to their clients. It will be interesting to watch this period of creative destruction that will take place in India as MFIs, mobile phone operators, and banks all adapt to the new regulations. I was glad to hear in our dinner the creativity and passion of many leaders to use these new opportunities to expand the services they provide to those living in poverty.

And now, as the year comes to a close, so does news of another Super Typhoon hitting the Philippines. This time, people knew about the power of storm surges and moved to higher ground before the storm struck, resulting in a much lower loss of life.

But still, thousands of people will go back to where they lived and find their houses and businesses destroyed. The fortunate ones will find an officer of a microfinance institution waiting for them, asking them what they need to get back on their feet.

On behalf of everyone at the Microcredit Summit Campaign, thank you for taking an active role in this global movement to bring appropriate financial services to those who struggle against poverty and vulnerability. It is our great honor and privilege to be working with you as we join with others to help bring an end to extreme poverty in our towns, our countries and our world.

May you be filled this holiday season with joy as you share the love of your family and reflect on the new financial system that we are creating together.

Sincerely,

Larry Reed

The 100 Million Project: Commitment to Action at the Summit

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Participant writing on the Wall

A  Summit participant writes on the Commitments Wall

Where to find Commitments at the Summit?

The 17th Microcredit Summit in Mérida was a huge success, bringing together some 1000 people from 75 countries and featuring 162 speakers and presenters in 7 plenary sessions and 35 workshops. Throughout sessions delegates had the opportunity to hear about the Campaign Commitments their colleagues from other organizations weremaking ahead of the Summit. Launched in 2013 with 18 original Commitments, we celebrated together the 36 new organizations joining them now 2014. Many present were inspired to become leaders in the movement as well and joined (or reaffirmed their role in the Campaign) by stating their own at the Commitment Café. Join them by making your own Campaign Commitment to action! Write to mycommitment@microcreditsummit.org or visit our Online Commitment Form.

Full Commitment wall

51 organizations, including Plan International, the Rotary and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection from Ghana, wrote on the Commitment Wall.

Throughout the Summit, around 200 attendees visited the Commitment Café every day and 51 new Commitments were written on the Commitment Wall. The Café and the Wall were the gathering area for Summit delegates to join the Campaign, by stating their Commitment to actions that contribute to the global movement to end extreme poverty. There, they had the opportunity to meet with Commitment coaches who helped them form their Commitments. Commitment Makers then posted their actions on the Commitment Wall – creating a dramatic and inspiring range of actors and actions that will help move the industry toward ending extreme poverty.

Commitment Coach

A Commitment Coach is helping a Summit Participant to state her Commitment at the Cafe.

At the Closing Plenary, Summit delegates together with Mohammad Yunus, Larry Reed, John Hatch and Carmen Velasco celebrated the efforts of all Committed Organizations. We particularly acknowledged the 12 organizations who met their 2013 Commitment. The 36 Commitments announced in 2014 were also applauded and represent a great step towards galvanizing the movement to help 100 million families lift themselves out of poverty.

What Commitment Makers say about Campaign Commitments

During the Summit, we conducted interviews with representatives from Commitment Makers to learn more about their Commitment. They shared with us their own Commitments, their current progress on those actions and also told us why it is important for their organization to join the movement to end extreme poverty.

Yves Moury,  Founder and CEO, Fundación Capital (see his short Interview at the Video Corner here)

“We need massive alliances among all sectors of civil society. We invite governments, banks, private companies, civil society institutions to join us for the magnificent objective of ending extreme poverty by 2030.”

Anne Hastings, Microfinance CEO Working Group (see her short interview at the Video Corner here)

“I am here at the Summit because the 8 CEOs I represent have made Commitments. We are here to learn what we can about partnerships that we need to be building and how to collaborate better with the rest of the sector. The challenge for the microfinance sector today is to demonstrate results and especially results in reaching and assisting the extremely poor to get out of poverty.”

William Maddocks,  Program Director, Sustainable Microenterprise and Development , Carsey School of Public Policy

“We want to be part of this Campaign. Making this commitment is an opportunity for us to tell more people about what we do and to support the work of the Campaign. We want our voice to be a part of this Campaign.”

Closing Ceremony: we celebrated 2013 and 2014 Commitments.

Closing Ceremony: we celebrated 2013 and 2014 Commitments. Click here to see all Committed organizations.

Jared Penner,  Head of the Education Division Child and Youth Finance International: “Commitments are made within a community of believers that think this is something incredibly important to advance the industry and these targets give us something to really aspire towards. They are not legally-binding commitments, but there is something that allows us to keep each other accountable and see how things are advancing within our own operations.”


What you can do today

Relive the excitement of the 17th Microcredit Summit

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Maintain the inspiration you experienced at the Summit through to 2015 and beyond. Take action today! EspañolFrançais Continue reading

Resilience: Moving Past the “Scramble to Survive”

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Excerpts from a review of the 2014 State of the Campaign Report published by NextBillion. EspañolFrançais Continue reading

New Report on Integrated Health and Microfinance in India Shows the Way Forward

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Read it today! EspañolFrançais Continue reading

The Microcredit Summits’ Commitment to Improving Lives

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Originally posted on Center for Financial Inclusion Blog:
With under 40 days to go, the 17th Microcredit Summit is rapidly approaching. CFI’s Josh Goldstein will be speaking during a plenary session focused on new innovations for microfinance and other financial inclusion…

Register before the end of the World Cup Final to save 10%

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register now_World Cup_EN_262x163In celebration of the 2014 World Cup, we are offering a 10% discount on your Summit registration between now and the end of the World Cup Final on Sunday, July 13th.

All you need is the code “WC2014“!

While the World Cup has been exciting and joyful to watch, there has been a lot of coverage of how much the host country Brazil spent on World Cup facilities. An article on Forbes reminds us of the huge strides that Brazil’s government has made through innovative social safety net programs like Bolsa Familia, cutting its poverty rate in half since 2005. The same article reminded us that many of the countries in Latin America also playing the World Cup have not fared so well in reducing poverty.

The conditional cash transfer (CCT) model that so many countries have been inspired to replicate–though our host country’s Oportunidades program was the first national program, created in 1997–will be on full display at the 17th Microcredit Summit this September 3-5 in Mexico. From workshops on combining savings groups and CCTs to a plenary on combining the BRAC graduation model and CCTs, we’ve got you covered! Also, we took a close look at CCTs in the recently published Resilience: The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report, 2014. Click here to read Resilience.

Don’t forget to register for the 17th Microcredit Summit before the end of the World Cup Final on Sunday, July 13th. Who do you think will win?

How Microfinance Can Contribute to the End of Extreme Poverty

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The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Reportreleased annually by the Microcredit Summit Campaign, highlights the latest data on the progress towards reaching more than 175 million of the poorest families with microfinance. This week the Gateway interviews director Larry Reed regarding findings from the recently released 2014 report, Resilience. 

The following interview was published today on the Gateway. Thank you to the Portal de Microfinanzas for translating this interview into Spanish.


Gateway: The theme for this year’s Report is Resilience. Where did that theme come from?

Larry Reed: I visited the Phillippines in January to see how the microfinance community was coping with the mass destruction caused by Typhoon Yolanda which struck last October. Only 75 days after the typhoon hit, I attended a CARD Center meeting in Tacloban and found the people there rebuilding their homes and businesses, re-stocking their store inventories, selling to and buying from their neighbors, and sharing what little they have with those still in need. The people of Tacloban have shown amazing resilience in the face of unimaginable losses. I was amazed by the energy and hopefulness of people who had lost almost everything in the storm, and the role played by MFIs like CARD to provide food, medicine, insurance payments, and other financial services immediately after the storm. During the Center meeting, the CARD staff discussed a “calamity loan” they were offering to help clients rebuild and start over. The women asked lots of questions about the loan and its terms, finally deciding that it could be helpful. They only requested one change. “We think you should call it a rebuilding loan rather than a calamity loan,” they told the accounts officer. “We don’t want to be treated like victims.” With the help of NGOs, MFIs, and their community, they have found the strength to get back on their feet and start over.

Gateway: The Microcredit Summit Campaign collects data every year for the number of microfinance borrowers worldwide and the number of those that are among the poorest in their countries. Last year, the numbers showed a decrease for the first time, largely due to millions of loans written off in Andhra Pradesh, India. What did the numbers show this year?

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LR: Overall, the numbers show a rebound almost equal to the amount of the losses of clients last year, with total clients worldwide reaching 204 million. On the other hand, the total number of poorest clients (those living on less than $1.25 a day) continued to fall, from 124 million to 116 million.

Gateway: Interesting. Does that mean that microfinance is moving away from serving those living in extreme poverty?

LR: That’s what we wondered when we first looked at the numbers too. We followed up with a number of MFIs to learn more about these reductions. We found that most of the decline can be explained by MFIs making increased use in recent years of poverty measurement tools like the Progress out of Poverty Index™ (PPI™) or the Poverty Assessment Tool (PAT) in which they often found that they were overestimating their poverty outreach.

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In the long run, we believe that increased use of these tools will lead to more people in extreme poverty being reached with products and services that better meet their needs. We’ve already seen this start to happen in the Philippines, where 10 of the largest MFIs began using the PPI at the same time. The graph below shows a decline in numbers of the poorest being reached in 2011, as the reports from the PPI showed they were reaching fewer of the poorest than they had previously estimated. This led these MFIs to begin looking at what prevented people living in extreme poverty from becoming clients and to developing policies, systems, and services that could include the poorest. As a result, the numbers of poorest clients started going up again in 2012.

Gateway: Through the Microcredit Summit Campaign, the industry set a goal of helping 100 million families move themselves out of extreme poverty. With these numbers, do you think it will be possible to reach that goal?

LR: We can reach that goal but only if we expand the use of the products, services, and partnerships that reach those in extreme poverty and that facilitate their movement out of poverty. In the report we highlight some of these strategies, including:

  • Providing health education, financing, and products through the existing channels for delivering microfinance.
  • Building agricultural value chains that reach small scale producers in rural areas.
  • Using digital cash and banking agents to deliver financial services at much lower costs.
  • Combining conditional cash transfers with ultra-poor graduation programs to provide pathways out of poverty for massive numbers of people.

Through Campaign Commitments, we are building a broad coalition to advance the movement within the financial inclusion and microfinance sectors to help bring and end to extreme poverty. Since October 2013, 27 organizations, including 14 MFIs, have launched a Commitment. These Commitments will help to foster gender equality, disseminate new research on what works best for those in extreme poverty, increase access to both financial and non-financial services for a variety of client groups, and launch or grow programs providing financial education. We look forward to reaching a total of 50 Campaign Commitments by the Summit this September. LOGO_SUMMIT_English_vertical

Gateway: What can we expect to see at this year’s Summit, taking place in Mexico from September 3-5?

LR: The agenda for the 17th Microcredit Summit will be driven by the theme Generation Next: Innovations in Microfinance, which is premised on the idea that the next generation could be the first to grow up without knowing extreme poverty. We can help make this happen by providing a range of tools and services to help people living in poverty address vulnerabilities, build resilience, develop capabilities, and take advantage of opportunities. The plenaries are being designed to touch on tangible ways to end extreme poverty. These plenaries include “The Next Generation of Leaders,” “Making Markets Safe for the Vulnerable,” “Ending Extreme Poverty,” Building Pathways out of Poverty,” and “Reaching the Excluded.” Speakers will include Muhammad Yunus, Glynis Rankin, Mariella Greco, Yves Moury, Mercedes de Canalda, and Shameran Abed. Participants have designed many of the workshops, which helps us ensure that they address issues practitioners are facing in the field. The Summit will highlight the innovative work of financial inclusion and microfinace to reach those living in extreme poverty and facilitate their movement out of poverty.


Join the discussion and make global partnerships by attending the 17th Microcredit Summit! Register today for the 17th Microcredit Summit in Merida, Mexico, this September 3-5! Find out what’s on the agenda:

  1. Field visits on September 1st and 2nd (pre-Summit)
  2. PRONAFIM’s 13th National Microfinance Conference on September 3rd (pre-Summit)
  3. Plenary sessions and workshops on September 3rd to 5th
  4. Summit Trainings on September 6th (post-Summit)

Be social with us on Facebook and Twitter (@MicroCredSummit) using the hashtag #17MCSummit.

Microcredit Summit Campaign and Mexico’s Ministry of Economy Sign Agreement to Co-host the 17th Microcredit Summit; Registration Now Open

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Lea en español (traducido por Google) *** Lisez en français (traduit par Google) Registration is now open for the 17th Microcredit Summit, a microfinance conference being held in Mexico this September 3-5. Leaders from the Microcredit Summit Campaign and the … Continue reading