The first African Microfinance Week (referred to as ‘SAM’, the French acronym) has opened in Kigali with a call to microfinance institutions (MFIs) to turn finance access challenges into opportunities.
The meeting, which convened over 600 international inclusive finance professionals, will run from October 19-22, 2021 with a focus around the topic of resilience in the COVID-19 pandemic, sharing Pan- African insights and expertise on all aspects of inclusive finance.
The main objective of the 2021 edition is to define strategies and actions for strengthening the resilience of financial service operators and beneficiary populations to shocks like the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.
The meeting showed that there is less access to loan and deposit services as well as low financial literacy among financial inclusion challenges, thus MFI’s should turn these bottlenecks into opportunities by adapting services to needs and capacity to specific clientele.
Rwanda Finance Minister, Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana said financial inclusion is one of the core drivers of an inclusive economy and the government of Rwanda has invested significantly in removing systemic barriers to the uptake of financial services.
“This is demonstrated by the level of financial inclusion which today stands at 93%. However, the negative economic impact of COVID-19 has shown that we need to work towards sustaining financial inclusion gains,” Ndagijimana said.
The Luxembourgish Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Franz Fayot, said that Luxembourg actively supports SAM activities as it is an opportunity to deepen relationships with African countries.
Fayot said that the ultimate aim of Luxembourg’s new inclusive and innovative finance strategy is to contribute to the eradication of poverty and to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“We have a thriving and diverse inclusive finance sector with key actors in Luxembourg. We collaborate with many countries to support economic development and are eager to share our regulatory and technical expertise to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable segments of the population,” Fayot said.
Patrick Losch, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Support for Autonomous Development (ADA) said that their mission at SAM is to support the inclusion of under-banked populations in the financial system to enable them to save for future needs or to start their own businesses.
“In particular, we aim to increase the resilience of local microfinance providers to shocks such as the current Coronavirus crisis so that they can continue to support African farmers and start-ups with the banking and insurance products they need to grow their businesses sustainably and autonomously.
SAM gathers key microfinance organisations, investors and service providers from all over Africa in one place which enables us to unlock efficiencies, launch new partnerships and create investment opportunities.
The week will also host an Investor Fair bringing together microfinance institutions, investors in inclusive finance and business partners from different countries and sectors at pre-arranged speed-dating sessions and an Innovators’ Village to showcase the work of tech companies, NGOs, training centres, insurance companies and consulting firms operating in Africa to a unique audience of microfinance professionals.