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Forum to build inclusive financial sectors

Exclusive Global Microfinance Forum to be held at the United Nations in November

November 7, 8, and 9, 2005
Location: UN Headquarters, New York City

Panel summaries and Forum recap
Agendas, Brochure and General Information
Panel summaries and Forum recap
Opening Ceremony
Panel I: Financial Sector Indicators and the Blue Book on Building Inclusive Financial Sectors
Panel II: Taking Meaningful Steps to Mitigate Financial Sector Crises in Post-Disaster/Post-Conflict Countries
Panel III: Will the International Private Sector Transform the Landscape of Microfinance?
Panel IV: Technology: Expanding the Outreach of Microfinance
Panel V: The Future of Access to Finance
Panel VI: Poor and Low Income Clients: Exploring Their Financial Needs
Panel VII: Africa: Growth and Access to Finance — The Final Frontier
Panel VIII: Migration: The Changing Landscape of Banking
Panel IX: Can "Access to Finance" be a Policy Objective: Member State Delegate Statements

Media Advisory
Press Release

List of Participants

Forum video
quicktime / windows media player


1. Opening Ceremony
Chair: His Excellency Mr. Aminu Bashir Wali (Ambassador of Nigeria, Chair of the Second Committee)
Welcoming Remarks: Mr. Kemal Dervis (Administrator, UNDP) and Mr. José-Antonio Ocampo (Under-Secretary-General for United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs)
Keynote Speaker: Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima (The Netherlands)  Keynote speech by HRH Princess Máxima
Guest Speaker: Mr. Paul Wolfowitz (President, The World Bank Group) View Mr. Paul Wolfowitz's remarks

The Year of Microcredit 2005 has made significant achievements towards generating financial sector growth, alleviating poverty and achieving the MDGs. The Year exemplified cooperation between UN agencies, such as UNCDF, UNDESA, and UNDP, and the World Bank, IMF, Citibank, VISA, high level advisors and others. The Year raised awareness of the importance of remittances as part of microfinance and generated public and private sector interest and involvement. This increased awareness was illustrated through G8, IMF, the Data project, DFID and other recognitions.

HRH Princess Maxima described microfinance as a tool that is as necessary to poor and low-income people as water and electricity. Through the Year, she has interacted with many microentrepreneurs and has witnessed the importance of financial empowerment of women and their families, as evidenced by her meetings with microentrepreneurs who are now opinion leaders in their villages. In order to better serve microfinance clients like the women she has met, profitability is a critical next step for microfinance. Microfinance must be commercially viable in order to reach a sufficient number of clients. Governments, regulators and donors must work together to support and expand access to financial services.

Mr. Wolfowitz recognized the progress of microfinance and also identified the remaining obstacles. Microfinance's key power is that it helps microentrepreneurs move from daily survival to planning for the future. His experiences in Andhra Pradesh, India, reinforced his belief that microfinance underpins the MDGs and access to health care, education, nutrition and women's empowerment. The true power of microfinance lies in continued access to financial services, instead of one-off loans. This broader, continued, and financially sustainable access is critical for development. A sufficiently wide breadth of services and increased data tracking are also necessary. The World Bank's "Doing Business" report is a good model; the Blue Book should serve a similar function by increasing the awareness of obstacles that still need to be overcome. These include supporting systems, increased retail capacity, integrity of financial markets, and better use of donor aid per CGAP's consensus on what constitutes good practice.

As the Year of Microcredit ends, we now begin putting words into action. This Forum builds on that task by focusing on issues related to building inclusive financial sectors.

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2. PANEL I: Financial Sector Indicators and the Blue Book on Building Inclusive Financial Sectors
During the past year, researchers associated with the UN International Year of Microcredit focused on two major projects: The Data Project, which addresses the lack of good information on access to microfinance, the extent of access, and the terms of access; and the Building Inclusive Financial Sectors "Blue Book" project, which addresses the obstacles standing in the way of increased and improved access and avenues of opportunities to expand access to financial services. This panel addressed the key questions and the results to date of both projects.

Moderator: Mr. José-Antonio Ocampo (Under-Secretary-General for United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs)

Mr. Richard Weingarten (Executive Secretary, UNCDF)
Ms. Asli Demirguc-Kunt (Finance Manager, The World Bank Group)
UN presentation on Access
Mr. Raghuram Rajan (Economic Counselor and Director of Research, IMF)

The Blue Book project guides how expanded access can be approached and accomplished. It was intended to provide a set of options that are based on experiences for developing countries. Key topics include the proper nature of government involvement, how affordability and sustainable interest rates can co-exist, how to promote consumer protection, how many financial institutes should exist and who should play which retail roles, whether regulators will support access, how to fashion financial infrastructure such as credit records and how the government should support financial sectors.

Among the conclusions of the Blue Book, it is highlighted that there is a need to provide greater access to financial services, a need which has been thus far been limited by perceptions that this market is not profitable, and that an encouraging, stable investment environment does not exist. Regulations that allow for consumer recourse and legal ramifications for non-payment can help make microfinance a viable enterprise. Further, technology can reduce costs and enhance sustainability.

The Data Project is also assembling quality data to become the basis for future policy. UNCDF is building inclusive financial sectors by helping set base lines for financial sector assessment, creating a multi-stakeholder participatory process with central and local governments, and working with countries to implement monitoring processes. Focusing on these three microfinance objectives will particularly enhance prospects of achieving the MDGs in sub-Saharan Africa.

The World Bank is developing financial sector data that links financial development and growth. The data will be used by the private sector to design economically viable services and will be used by policy makers to understand which financial services are most closely associated with poverty alleviation and growth. Defining access to financial services is more difficult than usage. It is important to monitor lead indicators that are regularly updated in order to create individual country databases at the household level. Data must be gathered through surveys of regulators, banks and MFIs so as to be comparable internationally.

Finally, three issues contribute to the access problem: poor people feel more comfortable in informal environments; false ideas stating that the poor aren't profitable or trustworthy remain pervasive; and, an enabling infrastructure doesn't exist since there is limited political demand from poor people. To surmount these barriers, the poor must be educated.

Legal changes will also make poor people more profitable. Repossession of collateral must become easier, technology must be used to decrease costs, and national IDs for credit history purposes should be increased. Financial services to the poor must be expanded. Regulatory changes to make poor people profitable and to ensure safety and soundness of MFIs are needed. It is also important to enlist the middle class in poor areas since they are often largely unbanked and, when they are targeted, it will lead to greater financial access.

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3. PANEL II: Taking Meaningful Steps to Mitigate Financial Sector Crises in Post-Disaster/Post-Conflict Countries
Wars, political turmoil, and natural and other disasters can devastate the livelihoods of individuals and endanger the safety of financial sectors. Microfinance plays an important role in the mitigation of the impacts of disasters.

Moderator: Mr. Robert Davies (Chief Executive Officer, The Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum)

Mr. In Channy, (General Manager of ACLEDA Bank Plc., Cambodia)
Intervention of In Channy, the General Manager of ACLEDA Bank
Dr. James D. Rogers (Governor, Central Bank of Sierra Leone)
Ms. Fatu Kanu (Microentrepreneur, Sierra Leone)
Ms. Shakila Sarajulldin (Microentrepreneur, Afghanistan)
Mr. B.S. Kusmuljono (Board Commissioner, Bank Rakyat Indonesia)
The Experience of Bank Rakyat Indonesia in Aceh and Nias Island

Microfinance has proven itself to be a crucial tool in post conflict/crisis situations. In the months following tsunami in December 2004, those areas with trading relationships with multinational corporations rebuilt faster because they had existing records and business identities.

It is especially important in post conflict/disaster areas to listen to consumers in order to design appropriate financial products that can be integrated into the mainstream, instead of being viewed as specialized small projects. MFIs and commercial banks can learn from each other and work together to adequately address the needs of individuals in these areas. Finally, the importance and cost-effectiveness of investing in conflict prevention rather than repair, regardless of location was also discussed.

The microentrepreneurs on this panel provided vivid examples of how microfinance can assist and promote rebuilding efforts in a post disaster/conflict environment. Ms. Fatu Kanu rebuilt her home using microfinance after 11 years of warfare in Sierra Leone. She has successfully repaid six loans, sent her children to college and expanded her businesses with her profits.

Similarly, Ms. Shakila Sarajulldin was able to provide for her family since the time of the Taliban government in Afghanistan because of her access to microfinance services. Many Afghani women in similar circumstances now can clothe their children and provide shelter due to microfinance services.

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4. PANEL III: Will the International Private Sector Transform the Landscape of Microfinance?
One of the most important developments in microfinance in the last few years has been the increased participation in the industry by the private sector, which has demonstrated that microfinance is a viable commercial business. A CGAP survey conducted in 2003 identified over 225 commercial banks and other formal financial institutions that are engaged in microfinance.

Moderator: Mr. Matthew Bishop (Chief Business Writer, The Economist)

Mr. Bo Cutter (Managing Director, Warburg Pincus)
Ms. Doris Köhn (First Vice-President, KfW Bankengruppe)
Mr. Roderick (Rory) Stear (Executive Chairman, Freeplay Energy Group)
Mr. Khalid Sheikh (Senior Vice President, Group Risk Management-Emerging Markets Analysis & Multilateral Organisations, ABN AMRO)
Mr. Israel Moreno (General Manager, PATRIMONIO HOY, an initiative of CEMEX)
Why is CEMEX into Microcredit?

Microfinance, originally nurtured by nonprofits, must now become a for-profit, private sector industry to expand its clientele. In order for this shift to occur, the private sector must accept microfinance as a profitable investment. This assertion is one that is supported by the Advisors Group to the Year of Microcredit.

Microfinance is a dual-objective investment: both profit generating and also a development initiative. Microfinance cannot be sustainable without the private sector; however, since many people still do not believe that they can earn profits from microfinance, fundraising has been hindered. The recent $100 million donation from Omidyar Foundation to Tufts University to be used in a Microfinance Endowment is evidence of attempts to change the perception and management of microfinance funds. This donation accounts for a quarter of all equity ever raised in microfinance and will be responsibly managed. As a historical analogy, private equity became important in the U.S. when major endowments and pension funds invested in the field. Similarly, deep, diverse capital markets that serve the poor can be developed with strong private sector emphasis.

Once the private sector accepts microfinance as a profitable venture, there are various development agencies, such as KfW, the German development bank, which view their role as a link between private sector and social/development work. Through these partnerships between various agencies and organizations, markets and local issues can be better understood, governance structures will be appropriately addressed and technology will be advanced to address the needs of microfinance clients.

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5. PANEL IV: Technology: Expanding the Outreach of Microfinance
A wide range of technologies, such as ATMs, personal digital assistants and biometrics, are available to help microfinance providers improve efficiency, monitoring and supervisory capacity, increase transparency, and expand their client bases. Yet many microfinance institutions struggle to obtain access to and select the right technologies.

Moderator: Mr. Matthew Piasecki (Chief Commercial Officer, Visa International)

Mr. Simon Willis (Global Head of eGovernment, Internet Business Solutions Group, Cisco Systems Inc.)
Mr. Vikram Akula (Founder and CEO, SKS Microfinance)
Mr. Henrik Parl (Managing Director, Eurogiro)

Technological advancements have the potential to expand the outreach of microfinance to a greater extent than previously realized. Electronic payments contribute to a robust banking system, develop jobs and use technology to explore new markets. Furthermore, technology helps deliver remittances at lower prices.

Mr. Akula described how technology has transformed microfinance by describing the typical day of a loan officer seven years ago at SKS Microfinance. The loan officer traveled to field sites with huge amounts of cash, recorded transactions on paper, and then returned to the office to re-enter all of the collected information into ledgers. This amounted to over 100,000 manual entries a year, making it virtually impossible to isolate and correct past errors. The process has been revolutionized because of the automated branch offices offered by SKS. While initially a costly investment of more than 250,000 USD, today SKS has some of the lowest costs of any MFI in the world, averaging 6% in comparison to the industry average of 20%, including 300% annual client growth. They also automated their loan meetings via a smartcard handheld pilot application, which represented tremendous cost savings. It saved costs and eliminates cash in the system. Future applications could include integration with VISA's payment system, biometric identification at local markets, cell phones used to verify transactions for illiterate clients, etc.

Another issue in which technological advancements are playing a leading role is that of remittances. However, due to the nature of remittances, common standards are needed in order to develop technology that will adequately address the needs of poor people and also be user-friendly across borders.

The profit opportunity for technology and microfinance is just becoming evident. Other challenges include infrastructure limitations in developing areas. For instance, SKS's computers all require backup generators.

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6. PANEL V: The Future of Access to Finance
This panel discussed the commercialization of microfinance institutions, the diversification of financial services, and the impact of technological advances while addressing the question of whether integrating microfinance into the formal financial sector will expand access to finance for poor and low-income people around the world.

Moderator: Mr. Tom Easton (Chief Financial Correspondent, The Economist)

Mr. Yi Gang (Assistant Governor, People's Bank of China)
Dr. Stanley Fischer (Governor, Bank of Israel)
Dr. Arthur Vayloyan (Member of the Executive Board and Head of Private Banking Switzerland, Credit Suisse) View comments
Sir Ronald Cohen (Chairman, Social Investment Taskforce)
The Challenge of Social Entrepreneurship & Investment

Although microfinance institutions have successfully reached millions of people, in order to maximize access to financial services, the private sector must become more involved. The private sector has greater capacity and technical expertise to mobilize capital. For example, despite initial hesitation as to whether microfinance networks could work on a commercial level, Citibank has now demonstrated that the private sector can successfully provide microfinance by working in cooperation with existing financial institutions.

Since large, international institutions like Citigroup have high expenses per transaction, they do not need to be the provider of services in the field; however, they can accept the liabilities of the institutions that do so. Institutions in the field can develop new products and provide remittance services directly to their clients at more reasonable prices. Visa, ING, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse are also working to form partnerships with local institutions in order to expand access to finance. Although charity will always be necessary because there will always be people who cannot be reached by the private sector, these alliances between the private sector and local institutions promote microfinance as a commercial enterprise.

Substantial capital cannot be received unless there are demonstrable social returns to compensate for the minimized financial returns. These metrics must be created before they can be presented to investors. However, a World Bank study shows that with heavy government involvement, there was less access to microfinance. In addition, one of the greatest consequences that must be addressed by large institutions is currency risk.

From the perspective of microfinance institutions, there are various obstacles which must be addressed: more data is needed, credit rate ceilings must be fought, financial sector regulations should be reviewed so that they do not hamper small institutions, and regulators should be trained to understand the unique environment surrounding MFIs.

In order to move beyond philanthropy, it is necessary for microfinance to involve entrepreneurship, market forces, as well as government leadership. Governments should allow for a regulatory framework that provides incentives to increase the supply of capital. In addition, governments should refrain from making direct investment decisions.

China is an example of how government can promote private sector involvement. China's experimental MFIs are currently supported by the government, however, to involve the private sector, China will provide incentives such as making non-collateralized lending more effective and providing credit lines so businesses do not need to fill out paperwork for every loan. In the past, China has encouraged borrowing for production, as well as non-production investment, such as for education, marriage, funerals or consumer loans. China needs to integrate commercially viable MFIs into the financial regulatory framework and improve supervision to prevent future financial risk.

Although there is enormous opportunity for development in China, the question remains as to whether the private sector can operate on a scale of this size. When examining the industry as a whole, loans are rarely in excess of $1000, so the maximum potential with a billion people is a trillion dollars. This is less than a single financial institution in the United States. However, this does not make microfinance any less important.

In the future, microfinance will continue to grow more rapidly. It will need more transparent and clearer data to demonstrate that it is a profitable activity. The microfinance market is where venture capital was 20-30 years ago. It will grow substantially over the next five years, as evidenced by the increased number and quality of people involved from private sector – Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse. It is clear that the microfinance sector is gaining substantial momentum. Further, technology is changing fast. As the cost of providing modern technology declines, we will be able to supply processing services much more cheaply. Finally, government involvement needs to become more positive in order to reach many more people with microfinance five years from now.

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7. PANEL VI: Poor and Low Income Clients: Exploring Their Financial Needs
Poor people use a wide range of financial services, including purchasing land or other assets, making home improvements, and addressing life cycle needs such as education or marriage; seasonal events such as those relating to harvest, school fees, or festivals; and emergencies such as illness, theft or natural disasters. This panel examines the array of products and services that can help poor people make choices, take advantage of opportunities, and smooth incomes, what types of providers are necessary to serve this market, and the costs and risks associated with reaching this segment of the population.

Moderator: Dr. Jonathan Morduch (Associate Professor of Public Policy and Economics, New York University)

Dr. Robert Townsend (Charles E. Merriam Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and the College, University of Chicago)
View notes
Ms. Xu Xiaoen (Microentrepreneur, China)
Mr. Milkov Machaca (Microentrepreneur, Peru)
Mr. Fouad Abdelmoumni (Executive Director, Association Al Amana)
Mr. Andrey Vladimirovich Sharov (Director, Department of State Regulation of Economy, Ministry of Economic Development, Russia)

It is crucial to gain a better understanding of the demands and needs of microfinance clients in order to expand and improve access to financial services. Many people who do not have assets choose not to use financial services because they believe that those services do not suit their needs. One way to overcome this obstacle is to evaluate the impact of current financial institutions and services on their customers. This will develop a scorecard of the use and importance of specific services offered in precise regions. It will also highlight where many people in theory have access to financial services but choose not to use them because the services are not tailored to their needs.

In order to understand the whole economy and how it is put together, a comprehensive research database archive must be created which, matched with a geographic data system, will be able to trace specific trends. For example, using the data that has been collected in various surveys in Thailand, it is possible to understand how their economy works in terms of supply and demand and gain a sense of where their equilibrium lies. With an appropriate database, the financial services offered can be tailored according to this equilibrium.

The majority of the population served by microfinance is successful at improving their scale in income. Therefore, it is important to recognize that their needs are also constantly changing and growing. The most immediate need is access to capital, which often leads directly to the opportunity to save. Other significant needs include liquidity transfers and non-financial requirements such as training, equipment and housing. The microentrepreneurs on this panel stressed the need to improve technology and training centers, raising the option of involving universities, governments, and research institutes to help train microentrepreneurs in technical skills and legal restrictions. Technological advancements, such as the internet, were discussed as a method they would like to try in order to increase the flexibility of their transactions.

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8. PANEL VII: Africa: Growth and Access to Finance — The Final Frontier
There is a notable lack of information about microfinance in Africa and what kinds of financial services people need. This panel discusses what we know about the extent and distribution of microfinance in Africa, the hurdles to building inclusive financial sectors, and possible ways to improve the reach and effectiveness of microfinance institutions in Africa.

Moderator: Sir Nicholas Stern, FBA (Head of UK Government Economic Service)

Her Excellency Mrs. Maïmouna Sourang Ndir (Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises, Republic of Senegal)
Mr. René Azokli (Managing Director, PADME)
Ms. Chrissie Akulila Candu Katundu (Microentrepreneur, Malawi)
Mr. James Mwangi (Chief Executive, Equity Bank Ltd., Kenya)

There is talent and vibrant activity for the private sector in Africa through family farms and small businesses. This talent and vibrant activity can be encouraged and supported through microfinance initiatives. Microfinance has been growing in Africa at tremendous rates, both in terms of the number of institutions reached and the quantity of persons; however, this expansion has not been wholly inclusive. There still exists a large proportion of the African population that cannot access financial services, and there are data, transaction, regulation, training, infrastructure, capacity, and integration obstacles preventing greater access to microfinance and its effective use as a poverty reducing and development mechanism in the region.

Governments and institutions have been working to overcome these obstacles and have achieved some success; however, more work needs to be done. The data available needs to be improved, as well as its organization. Development partners and governments can help identify and shape the collection and use of data. Transaction issues abound. Growth in the sector means growth in transactions, and there is a need to build capacity to manage the transactions safely and securely, as well as to make them simpler so that the borrowing process does not discourage potential borrowers. There needs to be greater collaboration between government and microfinance practitioners to develop regulation that will protect and develop the microfinance sector. Also, training needs to be provided to banking sector supervisors so that they can effectively manage changes in this dynamic sector.

Training programs should also be provided to microfinance borrowers. Liza Troskie, a microentrepreneur winner from South Africa, noted that loans are ineffective if the borrowers do not know how to use them. Infrastructure and capacity pose other challenges, especially how to ensure greater access to microfinance and promote sustainable and viable programs. Finally, the need to integrate the microfinance and banking sectors, or at the very least develop stronger associations and links between the two is a reoccurring and important issue.

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9. PANEL VIII: Migration: The Changing Landscape of Banking
In 2000, there were 175 million persons living outside of their country of birth. Massive global population movements can dramatically impact the financial sector, particularly through the desire of migrants to send remittances to their home countries. But migration also makes it difficult for people to establish credit histories.

Moderator: Mr. Goanpot Asvinvichit (President and CEO, Government Savings Bank, Thailand)

Ms. Diana L. Taylor (Superintendent of Banks for the State of New York)  Talking points
Dr. Luigi Zingales (Robert C. McCormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, University of Chicago)
Mr. Ajay Banga (Co-head of the Global Consumer Group, Citigroup)

Migration remittances have proven to be a crucial tool in aiding the reduction of global poverty. By providing a substitute for local savings, remittances can be particularly helpful for financial development where there is a lack of local economic infrastructure; recipients often dedicate remitted money to food, education, and to finance microenterprises. As a substantial source of foreign exchange, remittances frequently provide a more significant monetary impact than foreign aid, and can even comprise a greater proportion of the economy than trade in some countries.

Still, with an unknown volume of transactions occurring illegally within the informal sector, it has been difficult to calculate accurate remittance figures. Estimates of global remittances range from $100-$300 billion, numbers that grow rapidly by 15-20%. United States and Saudi Arabia provide the greatest source of remittance activity, with most of the money funneling to Mexico, India and the Philippines. Of the estimated $20-$30 billion that flowed between the US and Mexico in 2003 (a 23% increase over 2002), only 3% of transactions were performed by banks. Though institutions such as Western Union account for a portion of the traffic, much must be attributed to informal providers. It is estimated that 50-200% of known remittance is illegal.

There are some 300 thousand Thai workers living in Taiwan who continue to remit their earnings through informal financial services because of convenience – formal institutions require formal identity, which is something that illegal emigrants cannot provide. For customers using money transmission services, accessibility is key. With no credit history, or perhaps no experience in using a bank, the only option is the informal sector. In a post 9/11 world, financial institutions must pay increased attention to these types of transactions, and they often avoid the risk of remittance transactions altogether. In the face of such issues, the Government Savings Bank in Thailand is exploring the possibility of aiding its Thai workers in Taiwan by providing loans to the workers' families living in local, rural areas. This serves a dual purpose of both ensuring the emigrants that a formal banking system is taking care of their families back home, and increasing business – and eventually confidence – in these formal banks.

The more remittances are channeled through formal banks, the more they can effectively contribute to financial and economic development. Both banks and regulators can serve a role in improving the remittance industry. Banks have an opportunity not only to intercede in the payment flow of remittances, but also to forge a banking relationship with those who need it. Compared to money transmitter businesses, banks can offer remittance services and savings tools with local transaction capability, helping to lower the cost of sending money, as well as financially empowering the family at the local level. Citibank, the second largest provider of formal remittance services for money flowing into India, has launched "Access Account". This product allows clients to directly deposit their salaries free of charge into accounts they can then use to transfer money. The client becomes entitled to loans after six months, and they are able to build credit history without the requirement of a credit card. After initiation, this product accounted for 15-20% of checking accounts opened within Citibank.

In addition to understanding the risks involved, regulators must do their part to facilitate the improvement of formal remittances; they must effectively interpret laws and ensure that the relevant parties understand the application and compliance of these laws. In order to enable the sharing of information, inter-regulatory agreements must be established.

Further improvement of financial services to the un-banked requires a strong commitment and passion from the formal sector. One innovation may come in the form of allowing credit history to transcend international borders. At present, credit history is established country by country; only a few multinational banks allow their clients to transfer their credit history abroad. In order to achieve this objective, credit bureaus must be established in more countries, and they must be willing to participate in helping clients build an international credit history. Credit Unions like WOCCU offer further innovation by allowing clients to access some financial services without the requirement of credit history altogether.

Besides formal banks, there are other ways to channel remittances. Supermarkets, mobile phones, and gas stations are all alternative points of distribution for the "last mile" of remittances to families at the local level. To facilitate the growth of these alternative points of distribution, banks must seek out more creative and innovative ways to distribute remittance. Perhaps the 660 thousand post offices worldwide could play a role?

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10. PANEL IX: Can "Access to Finance" be a Policy Objective: Member State Delegate Statements
Ministers and representatives of Member States will discuss challenges, results and problems remaining, in the building of more inclusive financial sectors.
Chair: His Excellency Mr. Francis K. Butagira (Ambassador of Uganda, Chair of the Third Committee)
Closing statement: Dr. Stanley Fischer (Governor, Bank of Israel; Chair of the Advisors Group to the International Year of Microcredit)
Statement of the Advisors Group

Delegate Statements

Jamaica, on behalf of G77 and China
South Africa
United Kingdom

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Press Release

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Agendas, Brochure and General Information
Click here to view the Forum brochure

Dignitaries, celebrities, high-level government officials, corporate CEOS and microfinance clients will gather at the United Nations headquarters in New York this fall for an historic microfinance event.

"The International Forum to Build Inclusive Financial Sectors" will be held November 7- 9 and will unite diverse members of the microfinance community to celebrate the successes of the International Year of Microcredit 2005. More than 500 representatives from over 100 countries will gather to debate how to dramatically increase the availability of financial services for poor and low-income people. The goal of the Forum is to adopt an action plan for building inclusive financial sectors, bringing the world one step closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals of poverty eradication.

The event includes a gala dinner celebration of the worldwide winners of the 2005 Global Microentrepreneurship Awards. Corporate sponsorships are available for the gala dinner.

The Forum will conclude with a seminar on regulation and supervision to be held on November 9. Discussions will focus on how to balance supervision and regulation with innovation and flexibility in order to promote the growth of microfinance. The event is hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and co-sponsored by the New York State Banking Department and UNCDF.

Forum Agenda (Nov 7 - 8)
Forum Agenda (Nov 9)

For more information, please contact forum2005@uncdf.org.

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Aishwarya Rai

Aishwarya Rai, actress and Year of Microcredit spokesperson
"Throughout my travels, I have learned that we can do much more to help women and children who are economically vulnerable. By giving low-income women access to credit and savings, they can increase their incomes, build assets and better the lives of their families. They are able to spend their money on what is important to them: medical care, better food and education for their children. In my home country of India, I have seen the beauty in empowering women. It is up to us to give them a chance and along with the United Nations and microfinance we are doing just that."
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