The mission of the Microfinance Committee is to inform and educate the FWA membership and the public about microfinance and to support microfinance initiatives throughout the world through non-financial and financial means.
Committee made its debut as a full committee from prior status as special project. In February, 2008, the FWA approved scholarship grants to two leading microfinance institutions to enable their women leaders from outside the United States to participate in their U.S.-based training programs, which were developed by two leading business schools. This continued in 2009. For 2010 the committee recommended approval of a grant to Fonkoze, Haiti, one of the largest microfinance institutions. The grant will support rebuilding of the organization’s infrastructure which was badly damaged during the earthquake in January 2010.
The committee meets every 6-8 weeks to discuss its key areas of activities and ways in which to engage committee, FWA members and the public. The committee usually organizes 1-2 public events per year, reviews and recommends grants for scholarship or other important needs for microfinance institutions, and supports together with the Graduate Scholars committee, 2 graduate students at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs who are interested in pursuing a career in microfinance.
Committee Meeting Schedule
1-2 events per year, small to medium-sized public conferences featuring recognized industry leaders in microfinance.
Message from the Co-chairs
We are excited about the activities of the Microfinance Committee and we will work hard to engage committee members and the FWA in the important field of microfinance. During the coming year we will focus on developments in the U.S. in microfinance and also look at adjacent initiatives such as housing, healthcare and education that work alongside microfinance practitioners to improve the lives of the poor.
Recent Event Highlights
Our event on June 3, 2010 was an interesting opportunity to reflect on how the financial crisis affected microfinance institutions in Latin America in 2009 and the outlook for 2010 and beyond. Latin America is home to the many of the more developed microfinance institutions such as Compartamos in Mexico and Mibanco in Peru, and they have both performed well during the crisis. This compares differently to events in Nicaragua where institutions faced several crises in the market and the longer term attractiveness of this market may be jeopardized.
The committee through its events and scholarship awards has 1) provided education to a broad audience about the developments in microfinance, 2) raised critical funding for one of the most important microfinance institutions in Haiti who will be there to support their clients, and 3) funded future leaders for the industry through its support of the Graduate Scholars program at Columbia’s SIPA.
View from a Committee Member
I have been a member of the Microfinance Committee since first joining the FWA in 2005. As a professional in microfinance, I have found membership on this Committee incredibly rewarding because of the wealth and range of experiences of the Committee members. There is a broad scope of exposure and experience with the field of microfinance among the members, and this diversity enriches our discussions and exchanges.
The events that we have organized have touched on critical and cutting edge topics for microfinance. The Committee Chairs have a keen sense of how to ensure that our events cover in-depth and innovative content while catering to our target audience of non-microfinance professionals. I believe that this Committee serves a critical role in linking the increasingly interconnected worlds of microfinance and formal financial services, and I’ve greatly enjoyed being a part of this effort. –Elizabeth Lynch, Women’s World Banking
2010 Lenore C. Albom Microfinance Program
Please support the Lenore Albom Microfinance Giving Program. This year’s funds will be directed to Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest microfinance institution, to help rebuild its infrastructure which was severely damaged by the earthquake earlier this year. A total of $4,300 has already been contributed towards this year’s $7,000 goal.
Please help us raise the remaining $2,700 by June 30th.