On behalf of the Board, members and staff at the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP), we're delighted to present this report that showcases everything that took place at European Microfinance Week (EMW), held from 29th November to 1st December, 2017.
As you know, 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 the 11 years since the Platform's inception, its scope has broadened alongside that of the sector, from microfinance to financial inclusion. Key industry players, many of whom are among the Platform's members, take the opportunity of EMW to showcase the most exciting innovations taking place, advancing sustainable and responsible financial inclusion around the world.
This year, EMW gathered 490 leading experts from 80 organisations to convene and lead over 30 fascinating sessions on areas including low-cost technology for financial services providers, responsible exits, reaching scale in inclusive green finance, rural youth and agriculture finance, asset financing & micro-leasing, scaling up African MFIs, and refugee finance. For the first time, too, people were drawn to the intriguing concept of a TED-style session, with individual presentations on "Are smartphones for farmers ‘enough'?", "customer empowerment for meaningful financial inclusion", and "the power of central data management in the microfinance industry".
Networking is of course a key attraction of EMW, with so many of the sector's opinion-makers and leaders - the ‘movers and shakers' of microfinance - together in one place at arguably the premier event on the financial inclusion calendar, to share ideas and begin new collaborations. Collaboration is also the cornerstone of the day of Action Group meetings, which present and invite feedback on the work of the Groups over the course of the year. And book-ending each day were the three plenary sessions, on "Women clients ≠ women empowerment: Beyond the numbers", "Microfinance: Positioning ourselves for the next decade", and "Microfinance for housing" - the topic of last year's European Microfinance Award and a de facto conference theme, with a session stream that comprised workshops including "The View from the Field", "Funding Strategies, and "Enabling Environments", investigating the demand, challenges, investment needs and market infrastructure to take pro-poor housing finance from niche to mainstream within the industry.
We hope you enjoy this report, and we hope to see you at the next European Microfinance Week, from 14th-16th November 2018 in Luxembourg.
Laura Hemrika, Chairwoman
Christoph Pausch, Executive Secretary