The MicroFinance Network
Philosophy and Mission
The MicroFinance Network is a global association of leading microfinance practitioners. The members of the MicroFinance Network are committed to improving the lives of low-income people through the provision of credit, savings and other financial services. The Network believes that this sector of the population should be served by sustainable and profitable microfinance institutions.
It was founded in April 1993 by participants of a microenterprise conference hosted by BancoSol in Bolivia. Seventeen microenterprise practitioners from around the world gathered to review the steps taken to transform a Bolivian NGO into Banco Solidario, the first Latin American private commercial bank dedicated to serving the micro market. They explored major challenges of transformation including acceptance by employees and management, the raising of capital from investors and negotiations with regulators.
At the end of the conference, participants agreed that the dialogue had been fruitful and should be maintained. They then established the MicroFinance Network to strengthen their individual efforts and facilitate the process of transformation.
In October 1994, the Network membership met in South Africa to share experiences, define their goals and objectives and establish membership selection criteria. Calmeadow's Martin Connell gave the keynote address challenging Network members to create ten to fifteen successful microfinance institutions worldwide which are fully self-sufficient and can access commercial financial markets to fund their growth.
Today, the members of the MicroFinance Network also include banks that are dedicated to the micro market. For the first time, this Network brings commercial institutions to a microenterprise forum, setting a precedent for the active involvement of formal financial institutions in the micro sector.
The Network's mission is to:
- Promote the financial systems to micro sector finance among policy makers, donors and practitioners;
- Facilitate the process of transformation of microfinance organizations into formal financial institutions; and
- Provide Network members with access to information and expertise that increase their knowledge about best practices in micro sector finance and accelerates their process of transformation.
The members of the MicroFinance Network are committed to improving the lives of low-income people through the provision of credit, savings and other financial services. The Network believes in sustainable and profitable microfinancial institutions that reach a large number of clients who are not served by traditional financial institutions.
As models of the industry's potential, the members of the Network encourage commercial capital to participate in this sector in order to revolutionize the process of poverty alleviation. This select group shares the vision that the microenterprise market should receive financial services from commercially viable institutions.
1. Promote the sharing of experiences and the cross-fertilization of ideas within the Network through:
- observation visits between Network members
- annual Network conferences
- a clearing house of current research and publications in the field
- south-to-south technical assistance and inter-member staff exchanges
2. Advocate the Financial Systems Approach through:
- a special relationship with donors, funders and financial intermediaries
- the presentation of position papers at strategic events
- linkages with other groupings/institutions in the microenterprise field that share a similar philosophy
- assistance to members to influence their domestic regulatory environment
- the dissemination of publications
3. Expand Network membership to include:
- a critical mass of microfinance organizations that have created, or are creating, formal financial institutions
- leading commercial banks that are dedicated to the micro-market.
Conference. The cornerstone of the Network is the annual conference. Attended by the Executive Directors of many of the most advanced microfinance institutions in the world, the conference is a unique learning opportunity for participants. Through their interaction and freindship, conference delegates advance the conventional wisdom in the field by pushing each other to excel. Network members assume most of the costs of the conference.
Special Projects. The network is involved in several special projects:
- Staff Exchanges: The Network provides small grants to its members to allow technical staff persons to visit other Network members and learn from the experiences.
- Network Publications and Position Papers: The Network relies on input from members, the Network Coordinator and short-term consultants to research, write and disseminate the documents on critical issues for the microfinance industry. The two topics the network is currently exploring are (a) regulation and supervision of microfinance institutions, and (b) governance guidelines.
- Information Exchange: The Network is establishing an Internet list to facilitate the communication between members on microfinance technical issues.
MicroFinance Network considers membership for institutions in the forefront of microenterprise finance, as measured by their level of self-sufficiency and scale of operations. Network members are categorized as follows:
- Formal financial institutions, such as banks,that demonstrate a commitment to microenterprise finance.
- Financially self-sufficient NGOs that are in the process of creating regulated financial intermediaries.
- Support organizations that provide technical assistance to microfinance institutions.
The Network wishes to maintain geographic balance among membership. The number f support institutions are restricted to ensure that the Network is comprised primarily of direct service institutions. The Network Steering Committee makes all decisions regarding Network membership. The annual membership fees are US$ 400.
If you think your organizations meets these criteria nd you wish to consider joining the MicroFinance Network, contact the Coordinator at the address below.
Regulated Financial Institutions
- ACCION International, USA
- CALMEADOW, Canada
For more information contact
733 15th Street NW Suite 700
Washington DC 20005
365 Bay Street, Suite 600
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2V1
Tel: (416) 362-9670
Fax: (416) 362-0769
Maria Otero, ACCION
Kimanthi Mutuna, K-REP
Barbara Calvin, Ca;meadow
Benjie Montemayor, TSPI
Juan Padilla, Emprender
Hari Srinivas - firstname.lastname@example.org
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