Financial inclusion has become a reality for many poor and low income populations in developing countries as suggested by the most recent data from the Global Findex survey. Microfinance has played a key role in this regard, with the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report 2015 estimating that 3,098 microfinance institutions (MFIs) lent to more than 211 million borrowers across the world by the end of 2013. While microfinance is now approaching forty years of age, there is still much to do if poor and low income households are to be effectively integrated both from a financial and social perspectives.
The 5th European Microfinance Research Conference will draw together ideas from Europe and beyond which tackle the inclusion problem. How do MFIs ensure they reach the financially excluded? How can microfinance products be tailored to meet the specific needs of different groups amongst the financially excluded? How can new instruments as agent banking and mobile money be put at the service of the poor? How can the microfinance sector keep its identity as a relevant development tool while facing ‘old’ problems (poverty, gender discrimination, client over-indebtedness, etc.) as well as new challenges such as the impact of climate change and the refugee crises? Research has a crucial role in addressing these questions.