What do Cannes and microfinance have in common those days?
Last week Robert De Niro, Woody Allen and other Hollywood icons were basking in the limelight in Cannes, France. One week later, a few thousands of miles across the ocean, quite a different event is taking place at the ACCION HQs in Boston, MA. Just like in Cannes however the ACCION organizing team can boast an excellent line-up: us, 14 ambassadors are gathering here, all with at least one eagerness in common: to share ideas and visions about microfinance before our plunge into the field realities of Tanzania, Mexico, Paraguay, India, China, Ghana and Nigeria.
In 50 years (ACCION 1961-2011) microfinance grew and saw numerous efforts, innovative breakthroughs and unprecedented funding and targeting of services for the unbanked. Currently 150 million people have access to microfinance.
Despite all attempts we are not yet there: an estimated 3 billion of people still could benefit of access to financial services. Meanwhile microfinance is no longer a cottage industry, it is coming of age as show the media, the risks perceived in the Microfinance Banana Skins and the need for consumer protection principles (Smart Campaign), regulation and vision.
Field stories from Melissa Baez (ACCION Program Manager for Africa) and Michael Schlein (ACCION CEO & President) aroused my curiosity even more to explore what microfinance means for people in Tanzania. Despite the fairy dust wiped off, I believe that microfinance can take an important place in working towards a financially inclusive world.
Oh and about Cannes and Microfinance: the red carpet! Only will ours be filled with the people at the centre stage of microfinance. Find out with us in the weeks to come. Join us in reading the blog, living it with us and contributing with your comments.
May this haiku poem inspire you:
Dialogue is on
Microfinance yin and yang
Spirits are moving