Wall Street, UN experts mark International Year of Microcredit

Monday, June 13, 2005

The financial industry joined the United Nations today to discuss how the growing microfinance sector can benefit from the expertise of Wall Street.

As part of the United Nations International Year of Microcredit, Wall Street professionals focused on their role-making financial services available to the vast numbers of poor and low-income people around the world who currently need them. In her opening remarks, Nane Annan, wife of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, told attendees about her personal experiences meeting women who have benefited from microfinance.

“The Year of Microcredit is a chance to highlight what women in poverty can do when given a chance, and the important roles that access to credit, savings, and other financial services play in their lives”, said Mrs. Annan.

Tom Easton, New York Bureau Chief of The Economist, moderated an expert panel on how Wall Street can apply sophisticated financial solutions to the emerging sector of microfinance.

“We are just at the beginning of the relationship between the microfinance world and the traditional financial sector. This relationship will grow quickly from now on”, said panellist Jack Lowe, CEO of BlueOrchard Finance. Mr. Lowe added “the challenge is to be able to allow private capital to accompany the microfinance growth, and to do so with full confidence, reasonable return, and a real and tangible contribution to the developing world”.

Mr. Lowe and other experts stressed that microfinance must be viewed an investment opportunity. “Microfinance is not a charity”, said Maria Otero, President and CEO of ACCION International, and long-time microfinance champion. “One of the pillars of our work has been to connect those institutions banking the poor with international capital markets.”
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Source: UN News Centre