Forty percent of the world's population lives on less than $2 per day, according to the World Bank. Yet even in the midst of the current economic meltdown, there is reason for new optimism in the fight to reduce global poverty. The optimism starts with the evolution of microfinance, which has proved not only that the poor are credit-worthy, but that banking institutions serving the poor are investment-worthy. In addition, microfinance is tapping into a technological revolution that enables areas with deficient land phone service to leapfrog ahead to cellphones and broadband. And, as this takes place, both philanthropy and capital markets are paying careful attention.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced a new partnership of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) for the purpose of launching a new Microfinance Growth Fund for the Western Hemisphere. The fund will provide stable medium and longer-term sources of finance to microfinance institutions and microfinance investment vehicles to help rebuild their capacity to lend during this difficult period and to increase the supply of finance for micro and small businesses as recovery takes hold.
The European Microfinance Platform [e-MFP] was founded formally in 2006. They are a growing network of approximately 100 organisations and individuals active in the area of microfinance. Their principal objective is to promote co-operation amongst European microfinance bodies working in developing countries, by facilitating communication and the exchange of information. They are a multi-stakeholder organisation representative of the European microfinance community. e-MFP members include banks, financial institutions, government agencies, NGOs, consultancy firms, researchers and universities.
The Innovation Fund is a special facility within EFInA that seeks to promote innovation in the development and deployment of financial services and thus expand financial access to the underserved population in Nigeria. EFInA will share the risk of developing and implementing new innovations by providing a grant subsidy (up to 50%) for new commercial projects.
“Innovation” is one of those rich words, a word that carries significant weight in our society. It’s a word we immediately recognize, even if we can’t properly define it. But who needs to define innovation? We all know what innovation is. We know what it looks like, where to find it, how to value it, and how to chase it. We can all point to examples of innovation as seen through our eyes: ultra-thin cell phones, shiny MP3 players, new engines in sleek new cars. We see products, ideas, services and toys…and we see innovation, the cool, sleek child of invention.
The essence of microfinance and its correlation with poverty alleviation was discussed at the inauguration of the international conference on ‘Microfinance for Inclusive Development and Sustainable Growth’, held today at the Centre for Banking Studies, Colombo.
Poverty alleviation in Sri Lanka has been a top priority of governments since Independence itself, said Deputy Governor of Central Bank W.A. Wijewardane, stating that Sri Lanka has achieved a decline in poverty levels from 20% in 2003 to 15% in 2007. “This has been a major feat for Sri Lanka as poverty signifies social harm and impairment. Our top most achievement should be to kill the absolute poverty line in the future,” he said.
An industry group recently launched a project to analyse how biometrics could strengthen customer identification and help prevent fraud in the banking industry.
Although Aneesh Chopra is a new name for most, he is well know in Virginia as Governor Tim Kaine's Secretary of Technology. For the Commonwealth, he was charged with leading the state's strategy to effectively leverage technology in government reform. If his strategy for the state can be used as an indicator for his plans in President Obama's administration, you should take a look at Virginia's Strategic Plan for Information Technology.
The idea of an inter- bank market for microfinance banks is no doubt an interesting one. For starters, such a platform will provide an opportunity for increased mobility of funds among microfinance banking operators, thereby reducing the cost of funding and improving the net interest margin by providing these micro-credit banks with a solid funding base to address short and medium-term requirements. But as laudable as the initiative may be, it is not without challenges as regards effectiveness, considering that the microfinance institutions are spread haphazardly all over the country. This, surely, is unlike the money market association for commercial banks, which has about 24 branches with headquarters in Lagos.
The National Employment Fund wants to improve the performance of microfinance institutions in Cameroon, considering the role the sector plays in the country's economy. A workshopo was organised to that effect yesterday in Yaounde to build the capacity of workers and render the sector more productive.
Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, the world's first person-to-person micro-lending Web site, spoke at the Shell Auditorium April 14. Jackley was invited by Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Beyond Traditional Borders Director, as part of the Rice 360 initiative. Kiva, which means "agreement" or "unity" in Swahili, has helped nearly 500,000 lenders across the globe loan approximately $67 million to individual entrepreneurs from 45 developing countries since its founding three and a half years ago, the organization's Web site said.
About one third of the world's people spend nights in darkness, fearful of venturing out, unable to read, cook, sew or do anything else but sleep. But a business man in Houston, Texas named Mark Bent is on a mission to change that with flashlights that use the sun's energy to light up poor homes and villages at night.
“IF WE stop thinking of the poor as victims or as a burden and start recognising them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers, a whole new world of opportunity will open up.” That “simple proposition” begins a controversial new management book that seems destined to be read not just in boardrooms but also in government offices. “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Eradicating Poverty Through Profits” (Wharton School Publishing), is essentially a rallying cry for big business to put serving the world's 5 billion or so poorest people at the heart of their profit-making strategies.
Some progress has already been achieved, and this is encouraging. However, more needs to be done to introduce democratic and secular values into the relationships between men and women. In the absence of these, the concept of gender equality is a mere fantasy.
The G-20 agreement is a historic and watershed achievement in international development. Leaders from developed and developing countries got together and reaffirmed the interconnectedness of the global economy and individuals around the world. These leaders jointly agreed to tackle economic problems around the world with same strategies and expected outcomes. The Agreement is a good first step. However, Africa and other poor regions of the world still face significant economic and development challenges. The agreement falls short in addressing these challenges.
Dana Air, Nigeria’s newest carrier, has been named the Best ICT-Driven Airline of the year at the National ICT Merit Award (NIMA) held at the prestigious Eko Hotel & Suites on Thursday, April 9, 2009. NIMA is an annual ICT award organised by Technology Africa in recognition of individuals and organisations who are at the forefront of technology deployment and adoption in the country.
Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has said that microfinance is an important pillar and integral part of Pakistan’s poverty reduction strategy and the government is making all out efforts to expand its coverage through microfinance banking, microfinance institutions and rural support programme.
What happens when you travel to Argentina to learn how to play Polo? You start a sustainable and socially conscious shoe company. Of course... Well, that is exactly what happened to Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes.
IEEE, the world's largest technical professional association and its members, are collaborating with organizations from around the world to educate and address key issues surrounding sustainability ranging from energy and resources both natural and man-made, to the technologies that are needed to overcome many of today's most pressing sustainability problems. IEEE is commemorating its 125th anniversary in 2009 by "Celebrating 125 Years of Engineering the Future" around the globe.
In today’s microfinance industry, there is still some debate about whether and when long-term subsidies might be justified in order to reach particularly challenging groups of clients. But there is now widespread agreement, within the industry at least, that in most situations MFIs ought to pursue financial sustainability by being as efficient as they can and by charging interest rates and fees high enough to cover the costs of their lending and other services...
U.S. President Barack Obama gave a spirited defense of his economic strategy on Tuesday, saying there were signs of progress in battling the recession, but "by no means are we out of the woods just yet."
In his most comprehensive speech on the U.S. economic downturn, now in its 16 month, Obama offered no new policies but gave a detailed review of the steps he has taken to rescue the economy and rebuffed critics who say he is spending with "reckless abandon."
Report from CGAP finds that MFIs are well-positioned to contribute to energy efficiency in developing countries, but recommends shift in priorities from loans to financial services that include savings.
Two years after being launched as the first poverty-focused social business in the Arab world, Grameen-Jameel Pan-Arab Microfinance Limited (Grameen-Jameel) is celebrating significant milestones that are helping to transform microfinance’s impact across the Arab World.
JP Laurel Rural Bank is being transformed into a rural bank focused on microfinance
Unitus is deepening its commitment to East Africa by opening the Africa Microfinance Growth Centre, the first leadership development programme of its kind for early-stage microfinance providers in East Africa. The programme, developed in partnership with Financial Sector Deepening (FSD), will graduate CEOs and senior managers with improved strategy, leadership, and execution ability needed to rapidly grow their organizations and expand financial services to families living on less than $2 a day.
The global micro-credit industry has been hurt by the financial crisis but loan defaults by the world's poor remain low and private equity money will still fuel growth, a micro-finance group said. But Women's World Banking, billed as the world's biggest network of micro-finance institutions, said micro-financiers were struggling to raise funds to loan to the poor because of soaring borrowing costs and predicted growth would slow sharply.
Many of the world’s life-changing conveniences wouldn’t be possible without utilities. Utilities provide water for drinking, cooking, and washing; and electricity to power everything from light bulbs to vacuum cleaners. But there is another service whose convenience also transforms lives by enabling economic livelihoods and supporting social relationships, but that does not enjoy the benefit of a utility’s delivery infrastructure: electronic cash payments. The notion of the payments utility may be a rather utopian view of how retail payments in developing countries could enable universal access to finance. Despite the attention, and even hype, that branchless banking has been getting in industry circles and in the media, there are still fundamental challenges – like understanding what drives customers, making the economics work for agents, providing accounts for all, and building workable business models. But it’s never too soon to start thinking big.
According to a report in the Financial Times and an article from the Microfinance Gateway, fledgling microfinance projects are helping to revive the Iraqi economy after years of public sector dominance, a decade of sanctions, and six years of violence. The US, and specifically its military, is actively involved in these microfinance schemes as part of its war on terrorism. The projects typically involve loans of a few thousand dollars given to people with between one and three employees. By the end of January 2009, the US had made 41,728 loans, totaling USD 59.7 million.
Dave Valle, a former Major League Baseball player for the Seattle Mariners, is the founder of microcredit agency Esperanza, whose mission is to help the poor in the Dominican Republic and Haiti start their own businesses. In addition to making loans, Esperanza has become active in community development: creating a school, computer training centers, a member-funded health care plan, a water treatment system, and a home improvement initiative. The organization has also spearheaded the construction of five baseball fields.
Informal employment is at record levels worldwide with severe consequences for poverty in poor countries, according to “Is Informal Normal?”, a new report by the OECD Development Centre.
The world’s largest manufacturer of mobile telephones – Nokia is now preparing to enter into the developing rural market in India, seeing that the urban market is getting increasingly concentrated with mobile technology. Anticipating a strong business potential in rural market, Nokia is teaming up with some micro finance institutions to get into the rural arenas.
The Government of Uganda is to set up a body to license and regulate the work of the Savings and Credit Co-operative Organizations (SACCOs) of Uganda, according to a press release on the Ugandan newspaper Monitor.
Aqush.jp has launched Aqush Tomo, a p2p lending service to facilitate loans between friends and family members. Aqush is a service of Exchange Corporation K.K., which states it’s mission as @to leverage innovation and international best practices to pioneer ‘Social’ financial services in Asia. @
Consultancy Gartner predicts that “By 2010, social-banking platforms will have captured 10% of the available market for retail lending and financial planning.”
Newton Microfinance Institution is the leading private financial institution in Lao PDR. Their vision is to make sure that every Lao resident not only has access to but also benefits from the financial blessings globally enjoyed.
Sites like Prosper and Lending Club must adjust to SEC oversight. For some people, the communities of small borrowers and lenders extend a credit lifeline. Just when it might have proved most useful, peer-to-peer lending has been severely hamstrung by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission's efforts to get a regulatory handle on the fledgling industry. With the credit crisis making it harder and harder for cash-strapped households and small businesses to get bank loans, the opportunity for creditworthy applicants to borrow up to $25,000 from strangers at slightly higher interest rates was seen as something of a godsend.
Russia will ask the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to carry out a study on the potential for a new international reserve currency, Kremlin aide Arkady Dvorkovich said on Tuesday. China and Russia, the world's No.1 and No.3 reserve holders, have been pushing for a discussion on making greater use of the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights basket.
Time Magazine’s annual issue last month listed 10 ideas that are changing the world right now. While they provide interesting information on how the “global economy is being made before our eyes.” Dr Florangel Rosario Braid selected two that are more relevant to Manilla own local economy as we face the threat of economic recession and climate change.
CGAP, a microfinance group based at the World Bank, is supporting WIZZIT Bank to deliver banking services to poor people in South Africa's small towns and rural areas. WIZZIT is a division of the South African Bank of Athens Limited.
Financial Information Network and Operations Ltd. (FINO), a Mumbai-based biometric-enabled smartcard solutions provider, engaged in providing financial, non-financial products and services to the unbanked rural masses has enrolled 5 million customers to avail them basic banking and insurance services.
MicroPlace (www.microplace.com), a website that enables everyday people to invest in the world's working poor, announced today the launch of the first microfinance investment opportunity that offers a 6 percent annual return for everyday investors.
A few years ago, Ahmet Bubalku of the Kosovar village of Zabel i Ultë borrowed 3,400 euros, to build up a small farm.
The microfinance institution START, established and funded by Islamic Relief, lent him the money. It enabled Ahmet to buy seeds to grow potatoes, tomatoes and onions and rear chickens and a cow. Ahmet says without this loan he wouldn't be able to feed his three children.
Elmo? SpongeBob? A children's book by Wellesley's Katie Smith Milway is all about microfinance. And it's a hit.
The man who helped Thailand survive the Asian financial crisis says reforms a decade ago have made the region's banks better able to weather the global economic downturn. Former Finance Minister Tarrin Nimmanahaeminda also gave his endorsement to banking-reform programs planned by the United States and G-20 nations.
Jamie Bedson, lead coordinator at the Banking With The Poor Network Secretariat, in Singapore, told Connect Asia's Sen Lam that about 91 microfinance funds lend out money across Asia.
Those most in need of new renewable technologies are often least able to raise the finance necessary to fund such development. Now, a new commodities exchange scheme is bringing renewables to the South Pacific using a novel rural payment method. Binu Parthan explains how the scheme works.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute and economics professor at Columbia University reacts to the decisions made at this week's G20 summit and answers questions on the plight of poor countries in the midst of the global economic crisis: "There is considerable work to do still to put the urgent concerns of the poor countries on the world's agenda." "There is a real possibility of rising political instability in many countries, including street violence, coups, assassinations, or political paralysis."
Cloud-computing technology has come along way. For example a single server can host several virtual servers on one machine. That is a simple example of cloud-computing. Cloud-computing is when any virtualised resources are provided as a service. This is expected to become a huge industry. And this is now concerning the Microfinance Institutions.
We recently learned that Denmark plans on building the world’s largest wind farm. With a net installed capacity of 209 MW, Horns Rev 2 (companion to Horns Rev 1) will provide power to 200,000 homes. The North Sea offshore wind farm is scheduled for completion later this year.
President Barack Obama wrapped up his first international summit by declaring the event “historic” and a “turning point” toward recovery from a worldwide recession. Obama, who used personal diplomacy to help push through an agreement on regulations and emergency aid, said he and his counterparts at the Group of 20 summit are taking “unprecedented steps” to prevent another financial crisis.