This year’s European Microfinance Week conference took a slightly different approach than previous editions. Recognising and celebrating ten years of the European Microfinance Platform, the conference, rather than presenting a single theme, instead provided equal focus to six main streams – representing the breadth of the Platform’s work over the years: green microfinance; investors, donors and funders; rural finance; social performance; digital innovations; and the 2016 European Microfinance Award topic of Access to Education.
This conference was an immense success. It brought together from 58 countries over 450 opinion-leaders, top management of banks, funds and other financial institutions, practitioners, academics, analysts, raters and industry commentators to present key innovations, challenges, and Best Practice in the inclusive finance sector – and also gave an unparalleled opportunity for networking.
A range of plenary sessions, on ‘Microfinance and Access to Education’; ‘Microfinance and Housing, One Brick at a Time’; and ‘Digital Finance: Full Inclusion or Empty Promise?’ began and ended each day, and over twenty workshops on the most relevant and topical issues also developed and presented the activities of the Action Groups, which gathered on the Wednesday to discuss the work undertaken over the previous year and the plans for 2017.
These plenaries and workshops all looked to the future, very much the theme of this conference, which was well captured in the closing remarks of the conference. The closing drew on the tenth anniversary of e-MFP and how in that decade the sector has changed in so many ways, from the products offered, to impact monitoring and the technology available to increase access and lower costs. The Platform has changed too in that time: how will it change in the future in parallel with the changes in the financial inclusion sector?
It has been a great ten years, and there are exciting times ahead. This report brings together some of the important discussions, findings and presentations of the conference, for those who were there and those who were not but want to join us in thinking about the future.
Thanks must go as always to everyone involved in both the conference and the production of this report, and we hope you enjoy it.
We look forward to welcoming you at the next European Microfinance Week, from 29th November - 1st December 2017.
Anne Contreras, Chairwoman
Christoph Pausch, Executive Secretary