FINCA - Building tomorrow together


Blog posts with the tag "Microfinance"

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to journalist Elizabeth Matsangou from World Finance, on a topic close to my heart – female empowerment. An excellent outcome of this conversation was an insightful article from Elizabeth, detailing the benefits and challenges facing the microfinance community, and the role women can play in driving it forward.

Microfinance products can be truly life changing. When targeted at women, it can empower them by providing them with personal income. The ripple effect of this empowerment can also benefit communities from the bottom up, by promoting increased employment and productivity.  Microfinance now stands as an ideal way to grow the economies of developing states.

No one said it was going to be easy. Elizabeth’s article raises important questions about the obstacles to this development, most notably that a lack of education can impede the effectiveness of microfinance.  Financial literacy lies at the heart of effective microfinance, and at FINCA, we are taking great strides to ensure that education and investment is at the core of our future strategy.

Microfinance is one piece of a much larger puzzle. But it has proven itself, time and time again, to be an effective method to foster equality and growth in the world’s most impoverished communities.

Read the full article from Elizabeth here

In this interview, I had the opportunity to discuss our village banking model in detail —  how we found our client base, raised money, and staffed the organization — and to share the moving story of Cissy Sekyewa, a FINCA client and successful entrepreneur.

When asked, “Is microfinance alone enough to get people out of poverty?” I stated that we need to expand our reach into other sectors including health, education, and energy. This led me to discuss one of our pilot programs, FINCA + Clean Energy, in Uganda, which provides training sessions for energy entrepreneurs and access to small loans that allow them to purchase solar powered products.

I want to thank Ed Mitchell for having me on the show, and to those who have listened and shared.

On Tuesday, I appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box Europe, where I had the opportunity to discuss the growth and change of the microfinance industry over the past 30 years. In this clip, I talk about how we went from being the “disrupters”, to the “disrupted”. Watch:


It’s been a banner week for FINCA! On Tuesday night we celebrated FINCA’s 30th Anniversary at Parliament; gathering together all who bring their skills, expertise, and enthusiasm in support of our organization’s groundbreaking initiatives. FINCA’s Executive Leadership Team with all our subsidiary CEOs were joined by an unprecedented gathering of 150 social enterprise supporters and thought leaders.

Richard Kennedy, the Managing Director of FINCA UK, opened the event by highlighting how FINCA has demonstrated the ability to engage the donor and private sectors to fuel our growth. He also mentioned the growing partnerships which FINCA is developing in the UK with corporations, foundations and social investors to promote our shared social and economic goals.

Laura Hemrika of Credit Suisse described their six year strategic relationship with FINCA which involved the development of ground-breaking local currency bond funds in excess of $60 million, grants for training and development of agricultural products, and opportunities for CS employees to work shoulder-to-shoulder with FINCA subsidiary employees on various products in the field.


FMH board member Rachel Robbins talked about the role of the board in providing strategic guidance management in the development of future plans.

In my own remarks, I described the future strategy of FINCA, which involves the development of social enterprises in the non-financial sectors of healthcare, renewable energy, water and sanitation, education, and agriculture.


The next morning, we held a roundtable discussion at The Ivy Club with senior journalists representing the BBC, the Guardian, Bloomberg, Channel 4, Arise TV, The Economist, New African, the Times, the Independent, Ten Alps, Responsible Investor, and Xinhua News Agency. In addition to these esteemed members of the press, we were honored to have with us Lord Collins of Highbury, Shadow DFID Spokesperson, Michael Mercieca of Young Enterprise, Carolyn Clarke of PwC,  Jonathan Tanner of Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, Amanda Mann and Laura Hemrika of Credit Suisse, and Rachel Robbins.

The full video blog will be online next week.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who has been a part of FINCA’s remarkable journey!






Photographs taken by Garry Samuels of Get Shot Photography

Two somewhat contradictory articles on the Millennials and Entrepreneurship appeared recently, one by Scott Shane claiming that young people are less interested in starting their own businesses than were people of my generation (Boomers), and the other by Annika Small, suggesting that interest in self employment among this group is on the rise. To be fair, the articles quoted different studies that compared different population samples across different time frames – the classic “apples to oranges” quandary. But, clearly, interest in entrepreneurship among Millennials can’t be both increasing and abating, can it?


But wait:  where the authors are in agreement is that if you add the word “social” to the mix (as in “social entrepreneur”), then there is an unambiguous trend among Millennials towards a desire to create a better world vs. fatten their bank accounts.   Annika Small sees Millennials as “looking for radical solutions to social problems rather than creating a product or service that will make them a stash of cash.”    Shane finds that “young people have broader goals life goals than their parents did when they were in school. Millennials may be less focused on being successful entrepreneurs because they think it is important to achieve other goals, like being good parents and citizens.”


It is, of course, possible both to improve society and make wads of money, as the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley have done.   The difference with Social Entrepreneurs is that we focus on curing some societal ill or injustice as the top priority. But like all entrepreneurs, we strive to do so in a financially sustainable way.  Microfinance is probably the best example of a social enterprise that started out trying to put capital into the hands of the poorest micro entrepreneurs in developing countries so they could create their own businesses and bootstrap themselves out of poverty, and has grown into an industry that has transformed the global financial sector. Players in the microfinance industry today include commercial banks, payments companies, retailers, money transfer companies, telecoms as well as the pioneers like FINCA who started the revolution.

What excites me is to see more and more young people entering the Social Enterprise space, bringing their passion and new ideas for creating a more just world with less poverty.   The kind of disruption that my generation created in the ‘60s, and which birthed microfinance, is seeing its echo in a whole new generation of social entrepreneurs.

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