Colombia, a “Pathways” poster child


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>>Authored by Paul Gostomski, Microcredit Summit Campaign Program Intern

The 100 Million Project, an initiative of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, aims galvanize and support work that helps advance industry toward the goal of helping 100 million families lift themselves out extreme poverty. To do so, the Microcredit Summit Campaign advocates adoption of “Six Pathways,” which are financial inclusion strategies that can reach the extreme poor and facilitate their movement out of extreme poverty.

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a global partnership of 34 leading organizations that seek to advance financial inclusion, recently published a paper that does an excellent job highlighting two pathways that are currently being implemented in Colombia: conditional cash transfers and an initiative to link mobile banking services with agent networks.

Conditional Cash Transfers

The Más Familias en Acción program began in 2001 and aims to supplement the income of families who live below the poverty line and have children under 18. Mothers receive the cash transfer conditioned on their child’s regular attendance at school. This condition also qualifies the family for a health subsidy if their child receives regular health check-ups. In 2012, Más Familias en Acción was reaching 2.7 million families throughout the country. Between 2001 and 2012, malnutrition among children in Colombia aged two and under in rural areas decreased by 10 percent. Also in this time, school attendance for children between 12 and 17 increased by 12 percent.

The Campaign advocates for the use of conditional cash transfers (CCTs) within our six-pathways framework due to evidence such as is seen from programs like Más Familias en Acción. An array of positive externalities are also associated with CCTs, including income smoothing. Stabilizing income through CCTs help families better plan for the future as the immediate risks of today are somewhat mitigated.

Conditioned cash transfers are also incentivizing beneficiaries to make investments in themselves, often through participation in programs to increase health or education for the family. During last year’s Innovations in Social Protection program led by the Campaign, participants in PROGRESA (then called Oportunidades) indicated that while they appreciated and valued the security the transfer brought, they found that the greatest positive change was understanding the significance of the education and health investments they were making in their families.

Another positive externality of conditional cash transfer, and one we find significant, is its effect on women in poor communities. Almost all conditional cash transfers are administered to the mother of the household and this in turn increases women’s bargaining power, something that’s all too often neglected in poor communities.

 Mobile Money with Agent Networks

The second of the two pathways currently being implemented in Colombia is mobile money linked with agent networks in low-income communities through the mobile banking service DaviPlata. DaviPlata, launched as a private mobile service in 2011, was able to garner 500,000 customers in its first year of operation. Taking notice of this success, the government of Colombia contracted DaviPlata in 2012 to deliver the conditional cash transfers of Más Familias en Acción to its 937,000 beneficiaries.

After being contracted, the paper noted, DaviPlata as an organization began a new focus on how to serve the poorest in the country. DaviPlata, working solely through mobile phones, makes financial inclusion easier by making transferring, receiving, and withdrawing money less costly to the recipient of the conditional cash transfer. The recipient now spends less time traveling to the bank or post office and takes less risk as he or she has less cash on their person.

The World Bank reports that of the poorest two quintiles of those living in developing countries, only 30 percent have access to a savings account, whether formal or informal. The Campaign is looking at mobile money within its six-pathways framework because of how digital financial tools are decreasing the cost of transacting and, when linked with savings, increasing the ease with which the poor can access accounts, begin to develop savings, and more easily transfer money when needed.

Although many of the poor do not have savings accounts, many do have mobile devices. Mobile money linked with agent networks like DaviPlata helps link those living in more rural and remote areas to the mobile platforms where traditional financial institutions are less easy to find.

However, DaviPlata has room for improvement as a payments facility. The CGAP paper reports that DaviPlata faces an illiterate customer base and also issues with customers that do not understand the technology. DaviPlata must also deal with dormant accounts, where customers signed up for the service but their accounts have not been used in more than 30 days. Overcoming these challenges will be critical to moving forward.

Colombia’s Next Step

Colombia’s Más Familias en Acción, is a global leader in the use of CCTs to support increased health standards and school attendance among the poor. Now, work needs to be focused on decreasing the inefficiencies around the mobile banking service DaviPlata. In the CGAP paper on Colombia, it was made clear that Colombia’s greatest development challenge was in regard to DaviPlata and increasing its financial stability. This includes taking fuller advantage of the product while making the processes and channels more efficient. With a more effective method on distributing funds, the intended effects of Más Familias en Acción can then be multiplied.

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Who will pay for the end of poverty?

RESULTS UK is launching a report called 'Who Pays for Progress?' at Addis. It is an in-depth study that looks at one country and one sector - health in Kenya - to unpick that complexity and give some guidance as to what really matters when trying to decide the right financing mix.

RESULTS UK launched a report called ‘Who Pays for Progress?’ at the Financing for Growth conference in Addis Ababa. It is an in-depth study that looks at one country and one sector — health in Kenya — to unpick that complexity and give some guidance as to what really matters when trying to decide the right financing mix. Download the report.

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On Monday, RESULTS UK (a sister organization to our RESULTS Educational Fund) released a report at the Financing for Growth conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, (which is happening right now) where the global community is negotiating who will foot the bill to eradicate poverty. 

Titled “Who Pays for Progress? The Role of Domestic Resource Mobilisation and Development Assistance in Financing Health. A Case Study from Kenya,” RESULTS UK’s report focuses on Kenya’s reclassification from a low-income country (LIC) to a lower-middle-income country (LMIC) and how that reclassification will affect financing for health needs in Kenya. Oxley’s HuffPo article lays out RESULTS’ argument for strong and ambitious commitments from the global community to finance the next phase of development goals and the end of poverty. He closes his article with this warning:

The draft text of the Addis Ababa Accord has recently been weakened. We’ve lost time-bound commitments for rich countries to meet their aid-giving targets…If our leaders cannot make the political decisions and show the leadership necessary to ensure we have the funding needed to build a more just and equitable world, then history will judge us harshly. I, for one, want to be able to say it was this generation that finished off poverty. And I know we can.

The following article by Aaron Oxley (executive director of RESULTS UK) was originally posted on Huffington Post on July 8, 2015. Read Oxley’s article below for inspiration, and to the 2015 RESULTS International Conference (July 18-21) to learn how you can make a difference and influence policy making. 

One of the things I love about my job is that I get to be optimistic every day. That’s because I, and my colleagues working in international development, look at the problems of the world that are rooted in poverty and inequality, and refuse to accept that the world is not smart enough or rich enough to defeat them.

The evidence of history is on our side. Since the year 2000 the world has halved the number of people living in extreme poverty, the mortality rate for children under five has dropped almost 50%, millions more children live past their fifth birthday, and 90% of children now attend primary school. It’s been the best 15 years our species has had in its entire existence, with 1.7 billion undernourished people in 1999 dropping to ‘just’ 836m today. While we have a long way to go, that’s staggering progress.

That poverty still exists is a question of politics. Should we get the politics right, we can continue and accelerate those rapid gains and, truly, wipe out poverty in the next 15 years. At which point I’ll be happily out of a job.

This year, the world is coming together in a series of global meetings to decide the level of political ambition we’ll bring to the eradication of poverty. If we aim high, I get to head off to a beach somewhere in 2030. If we fail, the price isn’t just that my retirement is delayed: it means more human suffering and unnecessary death, a drag on economic growth that hurts us all, and wastes the potential of hundreds of millions of lives.

The first of those critical meetings is the Financing for Growth conference in Addis Ababa, happening from the 13th to 16th of July. This conference is all about the money: how are we going to pay for the end of poverty, and who will pay for what? I’d assert that money is not the most important element in ending global poverty, but it’s clear that so much simply cannot and will not happen without it.

Continue reading…

Aaron Oxley with John Mathai of Global Health Advocates India and a RESULTS US grassroots volunteer at the 2011 RESULTS International Conference.
Follow Aaron Oxley on Twitter: @ATOxley

Fostering Access to Agricultural Financial Products: FAO’s Commitment

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We are pleased to present this guest post from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization covering much of the outstanding work they are engaged in, in pursuit of their recent Campaign Commitment.

For the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the topic of financial inclusion is of the utmost relevance. Enabling the rural population to access a wide set of financial services that meet their needs and help them accomplish their aspirations is one of the several important conditions required to attain sustainable agricultural development and food security. This is why as part of FAO’s Agribusiness and Finance Group, we are thrilled to have made a Microcredit Summit Campaign Commitment to join forces with a vast network of organizations working to expand the delivery of financial services to those underserved population segments in the developing world.

We are happy to bring our focus on smallholder households and the rural small and medium enterprises they participate in. This target group represents a financially under served clientele of about 475 million households. Various estimates 1made derive from the World Census of Agriculture, which FAO has been helping Governments around the world to implement since 1950. For an interesting reference on this subject, click here.

Both the development and business case of enabling sustainable financial services to smallholder households has never been stronger. On the one hand, mounting evidence shows how growth in agriculture, enabled through greater finance and investment in the sector, reduces extreme poverty significantly more than growth in the non-agricultural sector in the context of least developed countries. On the other hand, world agricultural markets have been booming, mainly because of the rise of a middle class in developing countries that demand various agricultural products. This has created new agribusiness opportunities that hold the potential to greatly benefit the rural poor. But this opportunity will not become a reality unless we figure out how to solve those challenges limiting the delivery of rural financial services, which should include credit, insurance and savings.

Given the prominent role of agriculture in rural areas and its development and business potential, we at FAO have been focusing on fostering broad access to agricultural financial products, as part of the mixed bundle of financial services required by the rural poor. For this we are leveraging on the presence in over 143 countries of the CABFIN partners, which includes FAO, IFAD, GIZ, UNCDF and the World Bank. Our current work plan includes the screening of innovations led by pioneer organizations around the world that have been able to design and sustainably deliver different agricultural financial products for smallholder households, enabling them to exploit rising opportunities in the agricultural sector and improve their incomes, food security and nutrition. We are in the process of analyzing these innovations to draw evidence-based training toolkits on how financial institutions, Governments and agricultural value chain actors can join forces to effectively scale them up and make them more inclusive of the rural poor. This means solving challenges in the supply and demand side of rural finance. You can see some of the training material we have developed over the years here. These new findings will be disseminated through the Rural Finance Learning Centre, the largest on-line multi-language gateway specialized in the topic of rural and agricultural finance, hosting policy guidance, training guides, news and events produced by development finance practitioners from all over the world.

FAO and the CABFIN partners look forward to sharing these new insights as part of the campaign commitments made. We hope to provide intervention alternatives that recognize the leading role of agricultural value chain actors with important advantages related to client information; promote efficient ways for financial institutions to partner with them and develop more flexible and feasible financial products; make use of modern MIS and telecommunication technologies to enable product delivery, and put in place more effective policies that encourage wider and deeper exposure of the financial systems in rural areas.

Microfinance India Summit 2013 Workshop On Transforming The Lives Of Poor Clients


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Learn how you can help ensure that microfinance is part of the movement to end extreme poverty by 2030. EspañolFrançais Continue reading

New Partnerships against Poverty: Health and Financial Services


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When hundreds of millions of women like Alpana can enjoy health, savings, good work, and a sense of achievement and security for their families, we will know that our job is done EspañolFrançais Continue reading

Reflections from the 2013 Summit – Last and third day + Closing Ceremony!

The third and final day of our Summit was just as eventful and exciting as the first two. The day started off with the “Social Business: Creating solutions for social problems” plenary, moderated by Imelda Nicolas, Secretary of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), Philippines. The Panelists included the esteemed Professor Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank; Mr. Nasser Al Khatani, the Executive Director of Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFUND) based in Saudi Arabia; and Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip, Founder & Managing Director, CARD MRI, Philippines. The plenary’s main focus was how can solving social problems lead to sustainable businesses? This plenary highlighted examples on how social investors and MFIs in the Philippines and other countries turned social problems into business opportunities. The panelists then led us through the process of defining a social problem and coming up with creative solutions for addressing that problem through social businesses.

Hear more of Muhammad Yunus’s and the rest of the panelist’s very inspiring speeches HERE:

After the break, the “From intent to action: Resources to ensure responsible inclusive finance” workshop was given.  Speakers on the panel included Dina Pons, Social Performance Task Force (SPTF) & Investment Manager and Social Performance Management Coordinator, Incofin IM; Gilbert Maramba, Research and Development Department, Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF), Philippines; Yasser Ashfaq, Group Head, Financial Services Group, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), Pakistan; and Mila Mercado-Bunker, President, Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc. and Chair of the Microfinance Council of the Philippines. The workshop was organized in partnership with the Responsible Inclusive Finance Working Group and provided a brief overview of responsible inclusive finance, defining the issue and describing the various initiatives and resources available to MFIs. It also provided a step-by-step roadmap for MFIs to improve their responsible inclusive finance practice.

Other workshops during the day included the “partnerships that utilize microfinance for post disaster assistance and post conflict support” workshop mediated by Michael Knaute, Executive Director, Convergences, France; and joined by Maud Savary-Mornet, Regional Manager, East and South East Asia, responsibility; Ben Warren, Kubaru; and Rev. Tambwe wa Tambwe Musangelu, Executive Director, Diku Dilenga RD du Congo . The main questions that were addressed included How Microfinance can serve the needs of such vulnerable populations once disaster strikes?, How these institutions flourish and develop, and also How these disasters affect MFI’s in general?

The day ended with the closing session including recognition’s and Thank you’s …and as Muhammad Yunus concluded by saying  “continue to expand”


When Helping is Seen as a Luxury by Marisse Galera

One day, while walking through the streets of Manila, I encountered two people who triggered lingering thoughts with me: the child selling turon on the overpass and the seemingly mentally handicapped man selling sampaguita in front of a high class dormitory across one of the Philippines’ top universities.

Honestly speaking, I wouldn’t have noticed them had it not been for my friend, who was walking with me at the time. He said, “Didn’t you see how teary-eyed the man was?” and later on, he asked, “Why do these people have to undergo these things? That kid should’ve been studying instead.”

Truthfully speaking, I never even bothered to look. I had been conditioned to draw my eyes away from the poverty that surrounded me, to cringe at the touch of a dirty hand reaching out, and to generally be disgusted with the people who need my help the most. I had been conditioned to question whether these people really need help, and, for years, I had been convinced that the sentiment “it will only encourage them” was true and not encouraging this behavior greatly outweighs the prospect of helping another person in need.

For the longest time, the prospect of helping has been to hone myself to the fullest and to help these people when, and only when, I have already achieved my best state. My idea of helping used to be grandiose: I wanted to change the system from the inside and start helping only when I have obtained enough power to do so. Most of the people I know also subscribe to this kind of thinking. But we never bother to ask: if you ever do achieve that state, what happens in the period between that state and yesterday: what happens in the now? More importantly, what happens if you never reach that state at all?

Sadly, in that in-between, most people are happy to wallow in a state of limbo and apathy. What we don’t realize is that we’re merely looking for excuses to refuse in helping others because it’s troublesome. While there might be the possibility of feeling helpless and feeling like whatever you do won’t really make a difference, with introspection, perhaps you’ll realize that you simply don’t want to give more than what is convenient. At least I did. I realized that I can give no more than loose change. I can’t give to these people unless it’s something I don’t want or it’s an excess. I realized that the only thing I was really willing to give were rejects and rejection. This holds true even with the notion of wanting to change things only when I have enough power: it holds a lack of urgency and doing it only when I’ve reached a state of lavishness.

Another problem with this kind of thinking is that it creates a disconnection between the self and the other: we end up alienating the people who need our help. With this kind of view, the drive to help is a lot less compelling, and we start viewing the act of helping more as a luxury than a need. For most of us, this is enough justification to refuse to act for the betterment of others.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying that you’re a bad person because you refused to give anything to that beggar on the corner of the street or because you don’t spend your weekends teaching children with learning disabilities. What I’m trying to point out is this: Unless you are severely marginalized, ostracized, and vulnerable, you will be taught that those who do belong to that category brought it upon themselves, and that it will never be your responsibility to help them. You are only expected to act towards alleviating their marginalization when you have the luxury to do so.

Helping others usually ends up in the bottom of a list of priorities. To make matters worse, the way we blame the victims by saying that they are poor because they are lazy and they are worthless, without considering that these people have no money to invest and little skills to employ. This does nothing but further exclude them from society. This prevents them and their children from changing their situation of destitution. The systems that are employed by society today are driven by those priorities, this callousness, and the social exclusion brought by these.

While the fastest growing economies are in Asia and the Pacific, two-thirds of the world’s poor also live here. The growth of the economy benefits only those at the top of the pyramid and those at the bottom remain there. The gap between the rich and the poor grows: the rich grow ever richer and the poor, poorer.

This is why, as pointed out by the BSP Governor Amando Tetangco and the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, systematic changes must be made–we cannot simply wait for wealth to trickle down to the grassroots; we cannot delay attempts to lift the poor out of extreme poverty.

As people who have faced constant rejection, what the poor need the most is empowerment, and this can be done through offering social protection and inclusion. As Gov. Tetangco said, we have given them access to microcredit from formal financial service providers, and the challenge is how to reach out to the millions of people who live in extreme poverty.

I cannot agree more with the World Bank President Kim Yong Jim when he said, “When a poor family has access to something as simple as mobile phone payments or a savings account, it could open the door to services such as water, electricity, and education.” Simple services, when made more accessible and less discriminating, can allow the most marginalized to gain more capabilities to allow them to take more steps in living their lives to the fullest.

Alleviating millions of people from extreme poverty is possible, but it requires a change of perspective, and more importantly, a change in the system.

Reflections from the 2013 Summit – Summary of day 2

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The following are selected highlights of Day 2 at the 2013 Summit

Day 2 started off with the Plenary “Going the Extra Mile: From Safety Nets to Pathways out of Poverty.”

Roshaneh Zafar, founder and managing director of Kashf Foundation in Pakistan, stated that:

[this topic poses] an exciting challenge and a balance because on one hand, we have MFIs that want to do more and on the other hand we have government led programs, so we can see if the two shall meet.

Others on the panel included Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman (Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development, President’s Cabinet, Philippines) and Juan Borga (Outreach and Partnerships, Lead Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank) to discuss their role as funders and policy makers. Practitioners pitched their methodologies for providing pathways out of poverty:

  • Yves Moury (President and Executive Director, Fondación Capital) pitched the benefits of conditional cash transfers (CCTs)
  • Syed M. Hashemi (Professor, BRAC University, Bangladesh) pitched the graduation model
  • Nelly Otieno (Financial Inclusion Sector Manager, CARE International, Kenya) pitched savings groups model
  • Chandra Shekhar Ghosh (Chairman & Managing Director, Bandhan, India) pitched integrated health and financial services

As moderator, Ms. Zafar posed the following questions to Secretary Soliman:

(1) In terms of cash transfers and graduation schemes and so on, Is there a certain eligibility criteria for qualifying for these schemes? She answered,

We have  the “National Household Target System” which identifies 5.2 million poor families, and of that 4.3 million were identified as eligible because of the children that they have ranging in age from 0 to 14 years (we will extend that to 18 years of age in the year 2014 so that they can have support for high school students).   The conditions should be to keep these children in school and keep them off the streets and healthy. The child should be in school at least 85% of the month, and they should visit the health clinic at least once a month, and de-worming twice a year. Also, the attendance in ‘family development sessions’ is mandatory (20 t0 30 partner beneficiaries discussing a whole range of topics from health, responsible parenthood, raising children etc…).

(2) How do you measure impact (changes)? She answered that, for example, pregnant women receive post natal and anti natal services higher than in areas where conditional cash transfers (CCTs) are not implemented, an approximately 15% an increase.

(3), How do you make sure that these families or households don’t become dependent on CCTs and are able to graduate? Secretary Soliman answered,

We have a convergence strategy where we have CCTs, community driven development and sustainable livelihood converging in municipalities where we have the CCT families. We provide interventions through community driven enterprise development and capacity building and employment facilitation. That’s a step we are taking so that they can easily move in to self-sufficiency.

Ms. Zafar posed the following questions to Mr. Borga: What are some pros and cons of such schemes?

Within the Inter-American Development Bank, we have a multilateral investment fund, which gives small grants. The idea is that these funds work as a laboratory to give a taste of different new schemes and possibilities. Always working with the bottom of the pyramid and trying to help them access market skills, and basic services.

What we have been seeing when it comes to CCTs programs is that poor people want to save but they don’t have the right instruments or the right incentives to do so. We are trying to create a system in which creates a relationship between the recipients of the CCTs and the financial Institutions. A problem we see we see is that the financial Institutions don’t really provide them with the products they would like to have.

After that, practitioner members of the panel pitched their method for providing pathways out of poverty and Secretary Soliman and Mr. Borga weighed in on each pitch, judging which one they thought had most potential. Ms. Otieno (CARE International) on savings groups and asset building: Who are we really reaching through microcredit? And we need to consider the underlying causes of poverty.

We do not want to romanticize the Poor…  (Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman)

2 commitments were then made:

1) Health and microfinance clients; demonstrating their partnership and commitment

D.S.K. Rao, Regional Director for Asia Pacific, Microcredit Summit Campaign, India and Marcia Metcalfe, Director, Microfinance and Health, Freedom from Hunger, USA

  • To secure funding to develop and test health program indicators by year end 2014 that will enable our partners the MFIs and SHG’s that are providing health programs to measure the impact of such programs, and sign up to 10 partners who by 2015 will agree to collect these indicators and share them with their peers.
  • By 2015, we commit to reaching 1 million poor families in financial services orgs. With integrated financial and health services and continue to contribute to their improved well-being and their families by 2015.

2) Microfinance council of the Philippines and the dept. of social welfare and development presented by Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development, President’s Cabinet, Philippines. A private sector/public partnership.

The commitments were then followed by a Workshop on digitization of financial ecosystems.

After the workshop, the Plenary “Reaching Deeper and Lowering Costs: The Path ahead for Digital Services” was conducted by our very own Sabina Rogers. Guests included Mr. Ian Radcliffe, Director, WSBI-ESBG, Belgium; Mr. Napoleon Nazareno, President and CEO of PLDT and smart Communications, Philippines; Mr. Nadeem Hussein, President and CEO of Tameer Microfinance Bank, Pakistan; Mr. Raj Singh-Khaira, Vice President, RM & Consumer Services, FINO PayTech, India; and Mr. Gordon Cooper, Head of Emerging Market Solutions, Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, VISA, USA. Digital transactions have the potential to make the delivery of financial services a fixed cost rather than a variable cost. Once the basic network is in place, adding new clients brings very little additional cost. Some countries have been able to tap into the potential of digital transaction to bring large percentages of the population into a common payment system. On the other hand, only a few have successfully implemented large scale delivery of other financial services (savings, credit, insurance) using digital channels. What are these examples of progress and how can lessons from one context be understood and adapted in another? What’s next in the digital age and how can products and services better serve the very poor in their journey out of severe poverty? And most importantly, how can actors from across the sectors develop powerful synergies to make the most of the tools emerging in this digital age?

Congratulations to the Ignite Forum for officially launching at the 2013 Summit! For more on Ignite, visit

Watch the live stream at:

Reflections from the 2013 Summit: Summary of Day 1, October 9th 2013 OPENING CEREMONY… and Preview of Day 2, October 10th 2013

The opening ceremony started of with a speech from Mr. Larry Reed, the Director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign and  Mrs. Mila Mercado Bunker, the President of Ahon sa Hirap, Inc. (ASHI), and Chairperson of the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. After that, there were speeches made by some of the speakers including Amando Tetangco Jr., the Governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines, Philippines; Florencio “Butch” Abad, Budget Secretary, Philippines; Sharif al din Hasan, Minister, Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs, Indonesia; Muhammad Yunus, Founderof Grameen Bank, Bangladesh; and Karen Dávila, award-winning Filipino broadcast journalist and television and presenter. In his speech, Governer Tetango said, “It is my personal wish to see every Filipino productively contributing to and reaping the benefits of a robust economy. This vision also underlies the policy and regulatory actions of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. We endeavor to maintain price stability; safeguard the soundness and efficiency of the financial system, at the same time provide an environment that enables every citizen, especially the poor, to access appropriate financial services including microcredit. We are all here because we share the same vision and goal. Together we can cover a lot of ground. Now is the time for all of us in the public and private sectors to work more closely together as partners in achieving high productivity and economic growth that translates into better lives.” He added that  “two thirds of the worlds poor live in Asia and the Pacific region”… 

According to Budget secretary Florencio Abad, “The Philipines is in the midst of a process of substantial changes in governance”. The main question of the day was how can government reform help financial inclusion in your country? Secretary Abad adds “Economic prosperity of nations depends on the nature of political institutions”.  “The government and commercial banks cannot help achieve financial inclusion as well as MFIs and other organisations. Financial inclusion requires grass roots support and community presence which the commercial banks are unable to provide”

Additionally, there was showing of a speech made by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. See here:

As well as a speech made by Mrs. Valerie Boffy, speaking about her experiences climbing Mt. Everest and its paralels with combating extreme poverty. The kind  of resources and strength you need to climb the Everest is comparable to the things you need for ending poverty. Climbing the Everest requires technology, experience/know-how, confidence, favourable weather, good health and luck. The same ingredients are required to end poverty. She also talks about her non-profit entity, Women on a Mission, which she co-founded helping to combat poverty by raising awareness and funds for a humanitarian cause. See more here:

Professor Muhammad Yunus Interview: See more at:

Can MF lend to anybody? Nobody should be out of the financial services. Everybody should have access to financial services… We have to redesign products to keep everyone within the financial sector. When we started Microcredit, we were NOT looking at job creation; we were focusing more on self- employment. The future for poor people is in self-employment. It’s about creating entrepreneurs. Each borrower can create jobs. We believe all human beings are entrepreneurs. If you want to solve the problem of poverty by job creation, you won’t go very far. Look at Europe for example; half of the youth are unemployed because all structure is based on creating jobs and not on creating entrepreneurs.

Define social business? A non-dividend company to solve human problems. We have created many social businesses in Bangladesh. We have taken this message abroad. We create a social fund. Gradually they buy us out and repay us without paying over and above the capital. We have no expectation of returns whatsoever. Money has become an addiction. That is a distortion of being human. Humans are selfish and yet selfless. A Social Business is not martyrdom, it’s not charity. I do business my capital comes back. In charity, money is used once. Here, money goes out and comes back in. This is business and appeals to poor people right away. Every business can run a Social business in parallel.

What makes some clients succeed? No one fails but the range of success differs, some are small and some major. People do it in a very marginal way, first they pay back with interest. That’s a success I would say. Then you save a bit and send children to school. That’s a success. So you have to go step by step. By selling few chickens you don’t change your life. You change your life by changing your mindset. Selling a few chickens starts that mind set change. These are the heroes of history. They have changed the financial system. It’s the same the world over. We work in NYC now. Our address has changed holistically. We need to ask what we are doing for this second generation, our kids generation. Also, Bangladesh was a basket case as declared by the ‘big guys’. We have to prove them wrong. We have achieved the first MDG to reduce poverty by half and so the next round will be easier for us. We will create poverty museums. We have created the steel in ourselves to address.

Does family planning end poverty? It is complex. Despite everything that we have. We persuaded our leaders to reduce poverty. We have to believe in it. Corruption is a big issue. Bad governance too. It all holds us up. Let us not comprise on our major goal.

What more can MFIs do? Learn from each other. Charge our batteries. Win the war with determination. Again, NOBODY should be excluded. We have to evolve to a more holistic approach. Our entire mission is to help people come out of poverty. MFI is merely a tool to do so, It’s not our main business. We would like to be the first county to build a poverty museum.

Where do you get the fire? When you see the change your work you bubble with enthusiasm. I say I remove profit from business. People say that is the inventive. I say profit is not the only incentive. Making yourself money that is happiness. But you make others happy that is super happiness. We’ll make it! We will not fail in 2030. We will come up with 15 new ideas and make things happen. We will win this war.

The Partnership Plenary was next. How, when and why to partner? This plenary focused on the question ‘What is a multi-sector partnership?’ – an ongoing working relationship which shares risks and benefits.

Nick Luft

Emerging trends

  • opportunities for collaboration are widening
  • stakeholder engagement is taking place
  • profile, branding and communication matter
  • organisations are becoming increasingly strategic in their engagement
  • organisations use local networks for global partnerships
  • stakeholders are increasingly important

What is an ideal partner?

  • knowledge sharer
  • creates synergy
  • proactive
  • transparent
  • clear value proposition

How do originations partner?

The partnering cycle includes:

  1. funding
  2. engaging
  3. building
  4. implementing
  5. reviewing

Partnerships work when:

  • there are right partners
  • they achieve the right results
  • add value to all partners
  • appreciate the transactional costs involved with the partnerships
  • highest standards of project management
  • engagement and buy in across the board
  • culture of ongoing review
  • Global index shows that 2.5 billions left out! 70% of the poor are unbanked
  • it’s time to take what works and leverage it in bigger ways
  • the big question is why does it matter – what is needed

Roger Voorhies (Bill and Melinda Gates foundation)

Richard Leftley – Micro Ensure

Working with MFIs… The most successful case is giving insurance as a reward for using air time – this benefits the client and the teleco provider

Edgar Generoso:

  • never take short cuts in Microfinance
  • record base line data and measure the impact

Summary of the partnerships plenary:

i.      Emerging trends

ii.      What is an ideal partner

iii.      How do originations partner

See the opening ceremony including all the Interviews at

Preview of Day 2 (October 11th 2013) 

Going the Extra Mile plenary: This is a modified pitch session in which each practitioner will give an elevator pitch to present their concept for creating pathways out of poverty and to answer the question, why does your program have the most potential to help the most people move out of poverty, and how can we design a program that has the most potential to help the most people do that? They will than be scrutinized and their pitch judged.

Check out the Speakers here:

And it can also be viewed live streamed here:

Reflections from the 2103 Summit – Valerie Boffy’s Talk on Summiting the Everest and the parallels for ending poverty

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At first thought, the connection between ending poverty and summiting the tallest peak in the world is not really evident but after Boffy’s short session, the parallelism becomes unmistakable. Boffy contends that similar convictions are required to end poverty as are required to climb the tallest peak in the world. According to Boffy technology, experience /know-how, confidence, favorable weather, health and luck are necessary ingredients to achieve the dream of summiting Everest. Technology helps a climber deal with the negative externalities of the climb – to keep warm, to breathe, to keep track of one’s location among other necessities. Similarly, technology is a key step in catalyzing the end of poverty – using mobile technology to access remote populations, using alternative delivery channels to increase client convenience, and using data mining to match products to client demands. Boffy mentions the importance of experience/know-how and shared how she escaped death based on the advice of other more experienced climbers – at one juncture she was told that if she sat down she would die, a piece of very simple advice that saved her from death. Similarly, she argues that in the fight against poverty practitioners need to learn from others mistakes and use lessons and learnings from others to take the poverty eradication agenda forward. Confidence is key, it helps you see possibilities and resources that are available and builds the belief that your dream is actually achievable. Confidence is thus an integral part of achieving your dream. Another important variable is the weather; the slight change in the weather on top of Everest can make or break your summit. For low-income households weather has two kinds of manifestations – the actual weather and the economic weather. The former dictates the ability of low-income households to continue their businesses even the slightest change in weather such as rain can disrupt the business activity and hence income generation for a poor family. The economic weather dictates how well the local and international economy are doing which has a direct impact on prices and inflation and hence a direct impact on poor households. Health is another important factor – according to Boffy the healthier she became the more she was convinced she could achieve her dream, the same is true for low-income households personal capital is necessary for poor people to come out of poverty which includes personal, mental and physical capital. Access to healthcare, immunization and sound health is mandatory in helping poor people to climb out of poverty. The last element for success is luck, according to Boffy she was able to summit Everest not because everything went according to plan but because she was lucky, i.e. preparation met opportunity. The same is true for poor individuals to climb out of poverty – individual level luck is as important in coming out of poverty as is the services you receive!!!

Defining “Poverty”: Pro-Poor Principles series

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“As a simple global benchmark, [the Seal will] reference a poverty line that approximates the bottom ~40% of the population. In many countries, the national poverty line is about the same as the bottom ~40%, as can be see in the graph below. This definition intentionally reflects a level that is practical, achievable and relevant to ensuring deep financial inclusion. Broadly, it represents outreach to the bottom half of the financially excluded. At the same time, in order to recognize MFIs that have achieved deeper outreach to the very poor, the Seal of Excellence indicators identify the percentage of clients from the bottom ~20% as well.”

Read more!


Pro-Poor Principles series
On 15 May 2013 we announced our Pro-Poor Principles in a blog post, found here. In this continuing series of blog posts, we will elaborate on the path that brought us to these Pro-Poor Principles of microfinance. The principles will inform both the learning environment in our community of practice, as well as our methodology for determining organizations that will be recognized by the Pro-Poor Seal of Excellence. We appreciate any thoughts you have on the Pro-Poor Principles and how best to apply them to practice. If you would like more information, please contact MeasureLearnChange[at]

Defining “Poverty”

A simple plan
There have been many varied measures of poverty established over the past two decades in our global efforts to alleviate poverty. Hundreds of National Poverty Lines have been established by individual country governments, and institutions such as the World Bank have used figures ranging anywhere from…

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Announcing: the Pro-Poor Principles

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As the culmination of three years of work, the Pro-Poor Principles form the foundation for good practice in reaching and serving poor clients.

  1. Principle 1: Purposeful Outreach to People Living in Poverty
  2. Principle 2: Services that Meet the Needs of People Living in Poverty
  3. Principle 3: Tracking Progress of People Living in Poverty

Read more!


Pro-Poor Principles series
We are proud to announce the Pro-Poor Principles! As the culmination of three years of work, the Pro-Poor Principles form the foundation for good practice in reaching and serving poor clients. They also serve as the core of our assessment framework that will help to identify those organizations doing the most to reach people living in poverty, to meet their needs, and to track progress over time.

The journey to the principles included alpha and beta testing, using a lengthy set of indicators which were reduced and refined. Many meetings and months of deliberation were conducted by our Technical Committee of industry experts. Performance against these standards will help to define the level of recognition that a microfinance institution can receive from the Seal of Excellence Secretariat.

In this continuing series of blog posts, we will elaborate on the path that brought us to these Pro-Poor…

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