What are the Essentials for Advancing Financial Inclusion?

Posted By Lory Camba Opem

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Boulder Institute for Microfinance just delivered a week-long program for senior financial inclusion professionals entitled Back to Boulder: Strategic Response to Risk in Microfinance Markets.”  Hosted at IFC in partnership with Boulder, the program was timely and most relevant.  It sought to address shifting landscapes for traditional microfinance delivery and those expanding services through digital finance channels.  It proactively engaged financial institutions that were operating in a myriad of markets and regions, including those which were yet to face unforeseen risks, and those managing to successfully deliver financial inclusion services, notwithstanding today’s volatile macroeconomic environments and increasing competition.

As such, the program was carefully structured to give participants the option to choose from two parallel tracks, depending on their financial inclusion strategy and business needs.  One track focused on strategic risk governance and management; and the second track focused on knowing the customer through new/enhanced tools in customer segmentation, behavioral economics and big data analytics. The program was enriched by candid discussions and interactive class participation from nearly 100 CEOs and senior managers from microfinance institutions from more than 35 countries.

The 5-day program is the first of its kind, which combined IFC’s more than two decades of practical experience in microfinance as investor-advisor, and Boulder’s expert-based learning methods which culled the latest data, research and evidence on microfinance sector trends, emerging risks and transformative strategies.

martinMartin Holtmann, Manager of Microfinance and Digital Financial Services at IFC said, “As IFC continues to support expanded financial access through the diversification of financial products and delivery channels, it is imperative that financial institutions are equipped with the skills to grow sustainably. This program enables IFC to leverage its experience in investment and private sector development with Boulder’s distinguished history of educating world leaders in microfinance. “

Robert Christen, President at the Boulder Institute added “At the Boulder Institute of Microfinance we see this program as one of a series of bobnew offerings designed to keep microfinance institutions
competitive and capable of delivering on their social mission in an ever-changing world.  We hope that through our programs financial
service providers can confront strategic risks through innovation that serves clients more completely in a next generation of products and channels.”

Since pioneering commercial microfinance in the early 1990s, IFC has continued to lead innovation in microfinance, using developments in technology, financial products, and policy to help financial institutions reach a greater number of people in a more cost-effective way. As of June 30, 2016, IFC had over $5 billion in cumulative committed investments in more than 128 MFI partners across 56 countries. In 2015, IFC clients provided 51.2 million microloans worth $59.5 billion.

The peer-learning program ultimately provided microfinance CEOs and senior management with enhanced knowledge and tools to address major risk trends facing MFIs globally. The program gave participants essential techniques for comprehensive risk management, good governance, and customer approaches to deepen responsible financial access for the millions of excluded worldwide. These are the core essentials for advancing financial inclusion.

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our six decades of experience to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY16, our long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $19 billion, leveraging our capital, expertise and influence to help the private sector end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org

About Boulder
Boulder Institute of Microfinance is a not-for-profit organization that has been dedicated to broadening financial inclusion systems through sustainable microfinance programs for the past 22 years. We offer training to senior and mid-level professionals from an array of institutions dedicated to providing microfinance services as a way to fight poverty. Our goal is to both inform and transform. To accomplish this, our program participants are challenged to think critically through intense, interactive seminars and elective courses, analyzing strategic aspects of the industry, debating paradigm shifts, learning through practical case studies, working with new tools, and understanding microfinance best practice. For more information, visit: www.bouldermicrofinance.org