Star-studded Microcredit Summit puts poverty reduction at its heart

The Africa-Middle East Regional Microcredit Summit took place last week from the 7 to the 10 April in Nairobi, Kenya. The meetingMicrocredit Summit Nairobi logo was the 14th global get-together organised by the Microcredit Summit Campaign, the organisation that was set up in 1997 by RESULTS Educational Fund in order to support the goal of reaching 100 million of the world’s poorest families with microloans – a goal that was met in 2007.

Similarly to the previous Summits, this year’s gathering was aimed at assessing progress toward the Campaign’s new 2015 goals – which include ensuring that 100 million of the world’s poorest families rise above the $1 a day threshold – and sharing best practices as well as updates on most recent innovations.

With over 1,200 delegates from 75 countries the conference was the largest microfinance gathering to have ever taken place in Africa. The conference was opened by President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, and was also attended by HM Queen Sofia of Spain, HRH Princess Máxima of The Netherlands, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus, BRAC Chair Sir Fazle Abed, Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, and Kenya’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta.

Opening the Summit President Kibaki pointed out the necessity to address the challenges standing in the way of achieving universal access to financial services in Africa, among which are the limitations in sources of funds, the relatively high cost of the provision of such services as well as the inadequacy of the technology and infrastructure available.

President Kibaki pointed out that the meeting came at an opportune time since the global economy was just starting to emerge from the financial crisis, and the poorest in Africa had been the hardest hit. He also stated that the Microcredit Summit Campaign, as the World’s largest global network of Microfinance stakeholders, was well-positioned to lead the fight in empowering these categories.

The most highly anticipated speaker of the meeting, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed Yunus, reaffirmed the correlation between access to credit and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and commended the fact that the Summit had placed the eradication of poverty at the heart of its programme.

Indeed the Microcredit Summit Campaign has stayed true to its original values by giving a prominent part to the core theme of reaching the poorest through microfinance and developing appropriate social assessment instruments to measure progress – a key plenary session was devoted to “Using microfinance to put an end to poverty”.

The sessions also closely looked at the most recent developments and innovations in the provision of different microfinance services such as microsavings, microinsurance and remittances, and gave special attention to issues relating to rural areas and agriculture.

You can find out more about the Summit’s programme by clicking here. We hope to get more feedback from the conference soon.

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