Foreword

On behalf of the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP), we’re delighted to present this report that provides a terrific overview of everything that took place at European Microfinance Week (EMW) 2018 – which this year brought together 450 participants from 69 countries. Growing and evolving each time, EMW is the annual forum run by e-MFP, a member-led organisation that comprises over 130 investors, multilateral & national development agencies, consultants & support service providers, NGOs, FSPs, and researchers to promote cooperation among organisations working in developing countries by facilitating high-level debate, driving knowledge-sharing, and developing partnerships.

Over its 12 years, the Platform’s remit has grown alongside the financial inclusion sector as a whole – reflecting new products, players and practices that the Platform’s members and other sector stakeholders present and debate at EMW.

As you’ll see within this report, EMW had three plenaries: an opening one with the three European Microfinance Award 2018 finalists, as well as a keynote address by Microsave’s Graham Wright; ‘Where next for microfinance: a view from The Founders’; and, to close the conference, a first-ever Oxford-style debate, addressing the motion ‘This House believes there’s no room left for the little guy: A debate on Tier 2 & 3 MFIs’. 

As well as the Action Groups, the plenaries were complemented by a more diverse range of workshop sessions than ever before – more than 25, featuring over 100 organisations – covering topics such as: making insurance markets work for the poor, crowdfunding, advancing access to financial services for refugees, financing clean energy, meeting the financial needs of smallholder farmers, financial education, youth finance, microfinance and the SDGs, social performance management, financial inclusion through technology, regulation in the Fintech/DFS space, client protection & Fintech/DFS and overindebtedness in Cambodia. Many of these topics and trends are discussed in the brand new publication, e-MFP’s inaugural survey of financial inclusion trends, the Financial Inclusion Compass, which was also launched during Microfinance Week.

Overall, a key takeaway from EMW 2018, emphasised by many speakers across various platforms, was recognition of the twin threats and opportunities of the digital finance revolution; a call for MFIs to not be afraid of incoming FinTechs, to partner and share knowledge, and to see technology as more than just increasing efficiency of existing processes, but an opportunity to re-make the financial experience for low-income clients.

We hope that both those who were there, and those who could not attend, will learn much from this report, and and we hope to see you all at European Microfinance Week 2019, held from 20-22 November of this year. 

Laura Hemrika, Chairwoman
Christoph Pausch, Executive Secretary


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