Wrapping a full week here in Jordan which included a meeting of our Microfinance CEOs Working Group, the Social Performance Task Force, the Client Protection (SMART) Campaign, and of course time with the able team from FINCA Jordan.
All the Industry Initiatives are making headway, thanks to the fine leadership provided by Frank Giovanni and Laura Foose (SPTF), Beth Rhyne and Isabel Barres (SMART), Chuck Waterfield (Transparency) and of host of others in supporting roles. Whereas a little over a year ago none of these initiatives had attracted much interest or buy-in, today greater numbers of microfinance organizations see them as vital to the success — and even the survival — of the industry. While criticism from the media and academia has subsided, the more serious threat from disabling regulation appears to be just getting started. A number of countries have recently come up with very ill-advised legislation with the potential to do great damage to the MFIs and our clients. The great fear is that there will be a populist political backlash along the lines of Andhar Pradesh that will sweep away decades of hard work. And bad legislation — actually any kind of legislation — is very difficult to change once it is in place.
As an industry, we are woefully behind the curve of developing effective advocacy progams. That must be the next big thing on our agenda.