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The Blue Book Project: Why Are So Many Bankable Clients Unbanked?
The Global Microentrepreneurship Awards: Celebrating Entrepreneurship Around the World.
Public Service Announcements
Newsletter: Microfinance Matters
National Committees
The Data Project: What Type of Access Do Poor and Low Income People Have to Financial Services?
Student Networks: Student Contributions to the Year of Microcredit
The Launch of the Year: November 18, 2004 officially launched the International Year of Microcredit 2005.
The Blue Book Project: Why Are So Many Bankable Clients Unbanked? -- The Blue Book Project on Building Inclusive Financial Sectors

Everyone agrees that a well-functioning financial sector is the foundation for individuals to better contribute to their country’s economic activity. Still, the vast majority of people do not yet have access to sound financial sectors. In many countries the financial infrastructure is designed to reach only a fraction of the wealthiest population.

What is the Blue Book?
The Blue Book is a project of innovative consultations carried of globally, to address the challenges to building inclusive financial sectors and tap into the opportunities to stimulate their development. An inclusive financial sector offers to the vast majority of the population sustainable access to a range of financial services suited to their needs.

UNCDF, with the Financing for Development Office, will lead a process to identify key constraints and opportunities for the promotion of inclusive financial sectors, guided by a multilateral steering committee comprising the World Bank, the IMF, the ILO and IFAD. This project is based on the commitment of Secretary General Kofi Annan to the goal of “addressing the constraints that exclude people from full participation in the financial sector” in order to “build inclusive financial sectors that help people improve their lives,” and the global commitment to collective action following the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey.

The results of extensive international dialogue will lead to the preparation and dissemination of a "Blue Book on Building Inclusive Financial Sectors" in mid-2005, outlining the obstacles that countries face so that concrete actions may be taken to position microfinance as an integral part of a country's financial system.

The Blue Book will not be a negotiated "consensus" document, but rather a compelling compilation of the experiences of microfinance constituencies worldwide in the effort to develop inclusive finance sectors. Its call to action: a reference point for governments to collectively discuss strategies, share and improve best practices.

How will the Blue Book be developed?

The Year is a unique opportunity to address the constraints to equitable access to financial services, by bringing together: the financial institutions, national governments, central banks and supervisory bodies, multilateral institutions, civil society, and the private sector. The series of dialogues will focus on a set of issues under the central theme of why so many “bankable” people still do not have access to good financial services.

The consultations will take place from October 2004 and continue to culminate in a Global Meeting in New York in May 2005.

Throughout the process, contributions will be coordinated by the Secretariat of the Year in international and regional policy forums on these issues.

To learn more about the Blue Book project, please visit their web site at http://www.uncdf.org/bluebook.

For more information on the Blue Book project, please contact Kathryn Imboden at kathryn.imboden@undp.org.

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The Global Microentrepreneurship Awards: Celebrating Entrepreneurship Around the World

What is the Global Microentrepreneurship Awards (GMA) Programme?
The GMA Programme recognizes the global contribution microentrepreneurs make to their families and to their communities. By emphasizing innovative poor people, the GMA Programme raises awareness and understanding while helping shed light on the question of why so few poor people have access to financial services.

The 2004 GMA awards were held in 8 countries: Afghanistan, Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mexico, Mozambqiue, Pakistan and Rwanda, as well as a local contest held in New York City. Winners received monetary prizes and awards and had the opportunity to open 17 stock exchanges throughout the world as a reminder of their contribution to the world economy. Meet the winners of the 2004 contest!

What is new about the 2005 GMA Programme?
The 2005 GMA Programme has expanded to 31 countries worldwide. In the 2004 GMA Programme, 111 microfinance institutions submitted 574 contestant applications. Now we seek participation from at least 700 Microfinance Institutions and anticipate that over 3,000 contestant applications will be submitted. The growth of the Programme in such a short time frame proves that, regardless of geographic location or financial status, when given an opportunity, all microentrepreneurs can create successful and sustainable enterprises.

To learn more about the 2005 GMA Programme click here.

How does the GMA Programme contribute to the International Year of Microcredit?
The GMA Programme places microentrepreneurs on center stage and illustrates how microfinance empowers the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in impoverished communities worldwide. The Programme bolsters investment and increases the visibility of microfinance to donors, national governments, and private sector businesses, thus helping build more inclusive financial sectors and contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Who is involved in the Global Microentrepreneurship Awards Project?
The 2005 GMA Programme is being spearheaded by a Steering Committee comprised of the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the Citigroup Foundation, and students from universities worldwide who are members of the Microentrepreneurship Student Alliance. But in order to really make the 2005 GMA Programme an even greater success, we are looking to microfinance institutions, NGO's, governments, and private businesses to become actively involved.

To learn more about who is involved in the 2005 GMA Programme click here.

How can I get involved?
One goal of the GMA Programme is to create the next generation of microfinance networks and partnerships, comprised of public, private, and nonprofit organizations, students, practitioners, and community groups. We are actively seeking to recruit additional volunteer groups and individuals to participate in the GMA Programme and encourage those interested to contact us.

To learn more about how you can get involved in the 2005 GMA Programme click here.

Is it possible to purchase merchandise made by a microentrepreneur?
In an effort to promote products manufactured by microentrepreneurs we created "Made by Microentrepreneur". Made by Microentrepreneur is an online marketplace that offers the wares of entrepreneurs from various regions of the world with each artisan's product telling a distinct story of how microcredit has enriched their lives.

When will the Global Microentrepreneurship Awards take place?
The 2005 GMA Programme is currently being organized at the country level. In November 2005 each participating country will have their own Awards Ceremony that will showcase the accomplishments of winning contestants. Highlighting the Awards Ceremony, we aim to have winning contestants 'ring' the opening bells of local stock exchanges throughout the world.

To learn more about the timeline of events for the 2005 GMA Programme click here.

For additional information on specific events occurring in each of the participating countries or to learn more about how you can get involved, please visit www.gmaprogramme.org or contact: Carola Saba, UNCDF Associate Programme Manager - Carola.Saba@undp.org

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Public Service Announcements
  Michael Douglas
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  Aishwarya Rai
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  Souad Massi
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National Committees
An unprecedented global response to the call for building inclusive financial sectors is now underway, through the establishment of National Committees. Member states were requested to establish national coordinating committees to facilitate activities and to create a dialogue on best practices for building inclusive financial sectors in their country. Each National Committee assesses the challenges that poor people confront in accessing financial services and decides upon activities and initiatives to address these issues. Key factors that are stressed throughout this process include membership diversity and partnership, creativity, effectiveness in communication and outreach, the level of governmental support, private sector engagement, and increased public awareness.

To date over 90 countries in all levels of development have pledged their support to the International Year of Microcredit. National Committees or Focal Points had been established for 46 countries, comprising high-level representatives from 35 governments, 60 United Nations local offices, 41 multinational agencies, 177 microfinance networks, 13 central banks as well as key members of the private sector and civil society.

In each country the National Committee has a high degree of flexibility with the activities and events that are coordinated. Already hundreds of conferences and seminars have been planned throughout the Year and 27 countries have even developed a formal public awareness campaign to reach even the remotest region. Such awareness raising activities focus on introducing quality financial services to the poor and lower income people and are designed to reach a wide-ranging audience. Many governments realizing the benefits of microfinance have initiated innovative ideas at promoting the Year.

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The Data Project: What Type of Access Do Poor and Low Income People Have to Financial Services?
The Data Project: What We Know and What We Need to Know

What is the Data Project?
The data project will bring together a small group of expert statisticians and researchers to address current data gaps, anticipate future needs, and build agreement on the best way forward for governments, private sector and multilaterals to gather concrete data on the access to microfinance.

How does the Data Project contribute to the goals of the Year of Microcredit?
Although there is a broad consensus that microfinance is widely and increasingly used, there is little hard data about who provides it, in what form it is provided, who receives it and at what cost. Hard data, by itself, will help develop financial markets and would aid governments, donors, banks, and the media in identifying where to broaden and improve financial access for all people. The breadth and scope of microfinance makes collecting this information a difficult task - one that will require the combined efforts of governments, private financial institutions, consultancies, and the major international public financial institutions. Although some research efforts have been attempted, none are comprehensive and all would benefit from pooling resources.

Who is involved in the Data Project?
Headed by Mr. Stanley Fischer, Governor, Bank of Israel, the United Nations, World Bank and IMF will bring together a team of expert statisticians and researchers, their institutions, as well as from governments and private sector. This team will collaborate on developing the methodology for the survey research, which will be moving forward in full gear after the launch of the Year of Microcredit in November 2004.

How will the Data Project be developed?
The data project will begin by examining the rich anecdotal information, and already available and institutional data looking at the gaps. The next step will be to debate, devise and delineate methodologies in pilot countries. A keystone to this data will be its value to governments, financial sector supervisors and private sector.

When will the results of Data Project be published?
The goal will be to have a rich set of hard data on pilot countries by the fall of 2005.

For more information, please contact Christina Barrineau at christina.barrineau@undp.org.
Click here for the latest on this project including related papers and information on the October workshop.

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Student Networks: Student Contributions to the Year of Microcredit

What is the Student Network?
A network of Year of Microcredit Student Ambassadors from graduate schools all over the world are working to educate their respective institutions through the planning of events, special projects and symposia. As universities are not isolated from global events, this network will maximize outreach to the next generation of microfinance practitioners and development specialists.

How does the Student Network contribute to the goals of the Year of Microcredit?
The Student Network will maximize outreach to the next generation of microfinance practitioners and development specialists.

Who is involved in the Student Network?
The number of schools participating in the Student Network is constantly increasing. As students, student organizations, and faculty throughout the world learn about the tremendous opportunity that is at hand to make a positive contribution to the Year, and to their community, the Network will continue to flourish. The strong linkages that are created through the Student Network ensure that their efforts will continue long after the Year has come to a close.

Some of the schools and universities that are active members of the Student Network include:

Harvard University —
Harvard Business School
John F. Kennedy School of Government

New York University —
Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
Stern School of Business

Universidad Central — Chile

Columbia University —
Columbia Business School
Columbia School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)

Cornell University

Yale University —
Yale School of Management

Universidad de Chile

University of Pennsylvania —
Wharton School of Business

Northwestern University —
Kellogg School of Management

University of Virginia —
Darden Graduate School of Business

The Cambridge Microfinance and Development Venture Capital (MADVC) Network —

How is the Student Network developed?
The Student Network is always looking to include additional schools and universities from all parts of the world. Students and student organizations interested in becoming a part of the Student Network often begin by starting a microfinance oriented club or student group. The UNCDF has a great information packet that describes how to develop and engage students to become active in such a group and is available by contacting info@yearofmicrocredit.org.

To learn how your university can become part of the Student Network please contact Christina Barrineau at Christina.barrineau@undp.org for more information.

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The Launch of the Year: November 18, 2004 officially launched the International Year of Microcredit 2005.

To launch the Year of Microcredit, an effort was undertaken by Harvard
University Business School students to organize microentrepreneur awards and winning microfinance clients rang the "opening bells" of stock exchanges around the world.

Countries around the world also observed this groundbreaking day and Year with diverse activities and programs ranging from theater to panels on the future of microfinance to documentary films.

After a kick off gala on the night of the 17th in New York, the official launch day at United Nations Headquarters began with a special performance by the UN International School children's choir with world-renowned musicians Anggun and Souad Massi.

Then the lights went down for a video message from Secretary General Kofi Annan. He urged those observing the Year to recognize that poor people should be viewed as part of the solution to development and not part of the problem. He reminded us that microfinance is not charity but a way to extend the same rights and services to low-income households that are available to everyone else. This message was shown at launches all over the world from Switzerland all the way to Mongolia.

Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury (Bangladesh), Vice-President of the General Assembly, speaking on behalf of General Assembly President Jean Ping, noted that shundreds of millions poor people worldwide still lacked access to finance and spoke about the role of governments in facilitating this access.

As the moderator of the event, Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of UNDP, pointed out that microfinance is more than just an income-generating tool. Read his full speech here.

Jose Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, spoke about institutional outreach and the importance of serving a broader client base. Click here for his full speech.

Princess Mathilde of Belgium, Spokesperson of the International Year of Microcredit, focused attention on the spirit of entrepreneurship and the importance of the international community's commitment to eradicating poverty to give poor people a better stake in the fabric of society's economic and financial life.

Recounting her personal experiences, Titiek Winarti, the Indonesian winner of the Global Microentrepreneurship Awards, articulated the need for services catered to women business owners. She had used $50 in savings to start a textiles business employing handicapped people to make and export clothes.

Mark Malloch Brown then opened the floor for statements by country delegations.

Sultan Ibrahim Yousouf Al-Mahmoud (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said microcredit had allowed people to increase their incomes, acquire assets, reduce their vulnerability to crisis, and fight their way out of poverty with dignity. He also spoke of the roles of Member States, the United Nations, international financial institutions, the private sector, and civil society in moving microcredit and microfinance forward and cited the Year as an opportunity to share ideas on innovative uses of microfinance schemes in broadening choices for the poor. Click here for the full statement.

Dirk Jan Van Den Berg (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that microcredit clients, particularly women, were able to translate increased incomes into improvements in education, health, nutrition, and better management of household emergencies. Women were able to attain new roles as cash income earners and managers of household incomes, increasing their confidence and equipping them better to overcome social, economic and cultural inequalities. Click here for the entire statement.

Regis Avanthay (Switzerland) said that in order for microfinance to be effective, it must be based on sound and sustainable policies tailored to the specific needs of each country. The hope was expressed that the International Year would be part of the multilateral dialogue on the Monterey Consensus. Switzerland recognized the impressive work done in the field of microcredit and microfinance by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Katherine Mckee (United States) said the US had been working with civil society and the business sector to promote microfinance for over 25 years, spending some $100 million per year in the field. She said it was important to support diverse partners in the microfinance area, including domestic banks, credit unions, leasing companies and even non-financial institutions, like agricultural suppliers. She also stressed that the needs of poor people extend beyond credit to savings, insurance, remittance services and financial education. She concluded by saying that the only way to reach a deeper financial sector was to understand who was being served and to use that knowledge to develop better services for currently excluded households. Click here for her full speech.

Representatives of the private sector, UN Agencies, governments, microfinance partners and non-governmental organizations attended the day's program.

After the ceremony, excerpts from a documentary on the microenterprise movement by producer Sterling Van Wagenen gave a glimpse into the challenges and victories of poor and low-income entrepreneurs.

During the afternoon, high-level roundtables looked ahead to the future of the microfinance sector and examined the constraints to inclusive financial sectors. Listen to the webcast here.

A final plenary session offered the Advisors Group the opportunity to summarize the discussions of the day and to present a vision of how to move forward.

To read the entire Year of Microcredit launch summary, including industry leaders' discussions about the state of the microfinance industry, click here.

To view photos from the launch, click here.

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Mark Malloch Brown, Chef de Cabinet, Office of the Secretary General to the United Nations

Mark Malloch Brown,
Chef de Cabinet, Office of the Secretary General to the United Nations
"By directly empowering poor people, particularly women, microfinance has become one of the key driving mechanisms towards meeting the MDG's, specifically the overarching target of halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015."
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