Some results from World Bank Conference on Access to Finance

The last two days I have been attending a conference at the World Bank as a journalist for DJŘF-bladet. An article by Thomas Skovgaard Pedersen and me will appear in the magazine this autumn after I return from Benin. The conference was very well organized and gathered an unusual large and diverse crowd of top microfinance and developing finance practitioners and researchers, discussing both developing and developed country issues. The latter was unusual in a World Bank setting, but definitely fruitful.

The issues were many, but the ones which in the end by were touched upon as particularly important by Marilou Uy, who is Director at the Operations and Policy Department, Financial Sector at the World Bank, were these:

1) To measure and monitor access to finance. Only by gathering data on access to finance, will we be able to monitor progress.

2) To measure and monitor impact of access to finance in order to give the strategy greater credibility.

3) To adapt technology in order reduce cost. Promote standards, networks, platforms, information registries.

4) To encourage institutional diversification. Microfinance is a function, not an institution. Thus, greater coverage will need participation of a wide range of institutions.

5) To promote product innovation. Innovation has been key until now, for the expansion and success of financial innovations targeted towards the poor and they are likely to be so in the future.

6) To foster participation of both public and private institutions, academic institutions, NGOs and financial entities.

7) To build capacity and leadership in the sector. This must be strengthened.

8) To enlist the governments in the development and implementation of the proper policies to create an enabling environment for better access to finance for all.

I will most likely post more information on the conference at a later point in time. Until then, please feel free to contact me if there is anything you wish to know.

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