Proposed Seal of Excellence Dominates Day One of Global Microcredit Summit
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
There are summits virtually every week nowadays. Networks, funds, and commercial banks – everyone seems to be inviting everyone along to come and discuss the future of the industry. For the most part, these conferences can be little more than distractions at best. At worst, they can be junkets: opportunities for a trip to a new place while the poor MFI, which is struggling anyway, foots the bill.
The Global Microcredit Summit, one must admit, is different. For one thing, it happens every four years or so, so like the World Cup, it is somewhat special. For another thing, it is huge. 2000 delegates from over 100 countries. More than 40 workshops. Dozens of Associated Sessions. And several plenary sessions too, in which people practitioners, donors, investors, analysts, regulators, academics and the industry press are in a room together to hear about the new Big Thing.
And so it was that on Monday morning, 14th November, saw the Opening Ceremony of the Global Summit – with Queen Sofia of Spain, Muhammad Yunus, the President of the Regional Government of Castilla y Leon, the Mayor of Valladolid, the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, and Sam Daley-Harris kicking things off.
As illustrious as that group of speakers is, once the ’thank yous’ have been dispensed with (and a justly magnificent thank you was given to Sam Daley-Harris, who is stepping down from the Microcredit Summit Campaign after 15 global or regional summits), the plenary which followed got to the heart of why everyone is here: the past couple of years have seen enormous challenges, and the Seal of Excellence for Poverty Outreach and Transformation in Microfinance is a result of the consensus view that promoting ethical, sustainable, pro-poor financial services is paramount in making sure our industry moves on. It is, if you like, a return to what microfinance was always supposed to be. It may have many benefits, including to MFIs, MIVs, technology providers and humble bloggers too. But at the centre of microfinance is the client.
That is so important it bears repeating: At the centre of microfinance is the client.