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IFC Supports Microfinance Conference to Boost Economic Growth in Eastern Europe and Central Asia


In Almaty:
Assel Choibekova
Phone: +7 7272 980 586

E-mail:
AChoibekova@ifc.org


Almaty, Kazakhstan, May 18, 2011—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is supporting a conference organized by Microfinance Center, to reorient microfinance towards a balanced growth that will help to increase access to finance for microentrepreneurs and the general population in Europe and Central Asia.

IFC Azerbaijan & Central Asia Microfinance Transformation Support Project is sponsoring the Microfinance Annual Conference in Prague from May 18 through May 20 in order to let microfinance players from Europe and Central Asia participate in a knowledge-sharing and learning event. The conference will bring together microfinance players, policymakers, donors, and investors for sessions on transformation, over-indebtedness, dealing with fraud, and social performance.

“The financial crisis exposed the cracks in the system that were building up over time and offered many lessons and opportunities for improvement. It is now time to review our expectations towards microfinance and what microfinance can realistically deliver,” said Grzegorz Galusek, head of Microfinance Center. “The conference will offer an opportunity for debate and reflection on how to revert to the core principles of microfinance.”

Praised for job creation and poverty alleviation, microfinance is now blamed for the indebtedness of clients and other misfortunes of poor people. The criticism and disappointment with microfinance grew almost proportionately with its rapid growth. Outreach to the poor quickly became an insufficient outcome, and microfinance was soon required to be sustainable, profitable, commercial, investable, transparent, and responsible.

“IFC works to improve livelihoods of people living in emerging markets by expanding financial inclusion and increasing access to finance for the poor,” said Rolf Behrndt, Regional Business Line Leader Financial Markets of IFC Advisory Services in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The IFC Azerbaijan and Central Asia Microfinance Transformation Support Project is being implemented over five years with financial support from IFC, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and Oesterreichische Entwicklungsbank to support microfinance institutions in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Kazakhstan in their corporate transformation processes and to improve the regulatory framework for microfinance in the region.

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries. We create opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We do so by providing financing to help businesses employ more people and supply essential services, by mobilizing capital from others, and by delivering advisory services to ensure sustainable development. In a time of global economic uncertainty, our new investments climbed to a record $18 billion in fiscal 2010. For more information, visit
www.ifc.org.

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About Microfinance Center (MFC)

MFC is a grassroots network of 110 member institutions that plays an active role in shaping the microfinance industry in Europe and Central Asia. Members range from banks, non-governmental organizations, social and commercial investors, and development institutions. All share an interest in microfinance, as providers of financial services, capital or technical assistance. MFC plays a catalyst role in bridging the market gap between dramatic unmet demand for microfinance services and the sector's current offering through supporting development of a wide range of financial institutions, promoting microfinance among policy makers, regulators, formal banking sector and investors. It supports members in different country contexts - from EU member states, through fast-developing Caucasian states to the poorest countries in Central Asia.