Closing European Microfinance Week 2018

European Microfinance Week was closed by e-MFP’s Chairwoman, Laura HEMRIKA of Credit Suisse. She reflected on the past week and on the openness with which speakers and participants shared innovations, challenges and lessons learned. She felt that the combination of expertise and motivation resulted in excellent outcomes: enriching existing discourses and providing new directions for financial inclusion.

She in particular reflected on the enthusiasm with which the conference embraced the subject of FinTech and digital finance’s future in financial inclusion digitalisation which was, aside from being so eloquently presented by Graham Wright the previous morning, also a major takeaway from the Financial Inclusion Compass (the paper based on the inaugural trends survey that e-MFP conducted in 2018, and which was released during this conference). Hemrika expressed the hope that instead of seeing FinTech as a threat it would be conceived as offering opportunities for clients and institutions. Successful cooperation between inclusive finance and FinTech requires thinking beyond digitalisation of processes on the side of financial service providers, while on the side of FinTech companies these is a need to recognise the strong knowledge of financial inclusion among MFIs. She reminded the audience that “inclusive finance was and remains itself a disruption” and to not lose that spirit and mindset as the industry seeks to create the most effective synergies and opportunities with the FinTech space.

She expressed her hope for everyone to have found topics of interest: either on digital solutions but also within the different streams and thematic events. She addressed that also in areas of SPM, housing, youth, customer protection and many others, great strides were made. She particularly mentioned the emerging synergies between humanitarian aid and financial inclusion, with sessions around refugees and other migrant populations. She stated that this is a challenge which will remain with us for the foreseeable future.

She congratulated Advans Côte d’Ivoire on winning the European Microfinance Award 2018 “Inclusive Finance through Technology”, and highlighted the outstanding programmes and work of the two other finalists: ESAF Small Finance Bank (India) and KMF (Pakistan). She reminded the audience that the topic of the 2019 Award will be on financial inclusion and resilience to climate change.

Hemrika concluded the conference with a special thanks to all the members, speakers, moderators and guests for sharing their expertise, commitment and time. She thanked the staff of the Abbaye de Neumünster and Good Vibes, and the interpreters for their much-appreciated work and support. Finally, she gave special thanks to the e-MFP team for their tireless work and the sponsors for their financial and non-financial support.