October 12

Oksana Martseniuk

‘It is Time to Rethink Microfinance’: Exploring a Sector in Transition in the Asia Pacific Region

The Asia Pacific microfinance sector is undergoing transformational change. It has seen rampant growth, as innovations in the financial sector help microfinance institutions (MFIs) boost their outreach and develop more diverse product offerings. Meanwhile, the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises these MFIs serve have become more dynamic, with financing requirements that are growing more complex. Sharp differences are emerging across the region, as MFIs undergo various transformations in their structures, adapting their business models into different types of financial institutions, such as small banks. In short, the sector is evolving from a niche segment into a mainstream industry – with all the challenges and opportunities that implies.

In response to these changes, a number of priorities have emerged. The need for an effective regulatory framework is evident. Transparent management of funding and better-functioning client protection mechanisms are also increasingly in demand. The sector needs to adapt: As the Asia Pacific Microfinance Forum puts it, “It is time to rethink microfinance.”

The conference, hosted by Uniglobal for the past 15 years, brings together diverse stakeholders committed to sustainable financial inclusion and impact investing. It features keynote speeches, case studies, panel discussions and interactive networking sessions with pioneering microfinance experts, investors, banks and finance organizations to discuss the latest and most pressing issues in the sector.

This year’s Asia Pacific Microfinance Forum will be held in Singapore on October 30-31. It will bring together MFIs, fintechs, NGOs, credit bureaus, impact investors, economists, entrepreneurs, bankers, consultants and academics – all committed to building a better world.

The event will explore the following issues:

• How can investors reinforce their footprint in the fast-growing Asia Pacific market?
• How can stakeholders create a broader, interconnected microfinance ecosystem?
• Which hedging tools are available for risk management?
• What’s the best way to implement alternative financing strategies in the sector?
• Do countries with more regulation and enforcement in the field of client protection have lower rates of over-indebtedness?
• How do greater regulation, enforcement and client protection impact investor confidence in microfinance institutions?
• How can MFIs and banks compete productively for financial resources?
• What’s the best way to enable healthy competition via regulatory measures?
• What priorities must MFIs set in order to maintain their social missions?

Speakers will include representatives of the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, BlueOrchard Finance Ltd, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank Group, LeapFrog Investments, Unitus Capital, the Aspen Institute, Triple Jump and Accion International, among many others. NextBillion is a media partner of the event.

Join the conversation: Learn more or register here.


Oksana Martseniuk is the chief marketing officer at Uniglobal Utilities in Prague.

Photo courtesy of Jahoo Closeau.




financial inclusion, impact investing, microfinance