INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM:
Microfinance as a Tool for Peacebuilding

 

January 22-23, 2009
Cali, Colombia

The main objective of this event is to explore how microfinance can serve as a tool to promote peace and stability for victims of conflict and poverty alike. Innovative and sound public policies are needed to support the successful operation and expansion of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in conflict-ridden societies like Colombia and other developing nations.

 

There is a pressing need for income generation activities in conflict and post-conflict societies. As these communities strive to overcome conflict, microfinance programs can contribute to the economic and social stability needed to deter the resurgence of violence. Massive demobilization of ex-combatants and reparation programs for victims are actual opportunities for MFIs to provide these individuals with access to credit, savings and other banking services.

 

Experience with microcredit in these settings has been limited and further complicated by a host of factors affecting both victims and ex-combatants. Some of these factors include lack of training and proper oversight as well as government reparations programs that only provide short terms solutions. Nonetheless that should not impede the development of innovative approaches that can be both functional and easily replicated.

 

The symposium will address the need for a revision of the existing regulatory framework and public policies to strengthen the foundation of a successful and vibrant network of MFI’s meeting the needs of this underserved population.

 

This event will gather a group of experts from around the world to discuss how to maximize the effectiveness of microfinance in rebuilding societies in conflict and post-conflict situations. The invitees will include policy makers, government officials, NGO/civil society organization leaders, businessmen, academics as well as practitioners of microfinance in countries that have suffered conflicts such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan, Afghanistan and Kosovo. An estimated 1,500 attendees is anticipated.

 

Among the specific topics to be covered are:

Key components of successful microfinance programs

  • What are the differences between providing microcredit in urban and rural areas?
  • What are the pros and cons of making credit available for start-ups?
  • What are the pros and cons of incorporating training as a component of microcredit programs?
  • To what extent is the success of microfinance programs linked to gender and to cultural factors?

Sustainability

  • What are the pros and cons of striving for sustainability - the commercial model?
  • Are the sources of credit sufficient to support growth without sustainability?
  • Is sustainability of MFIs possible with interest rate caps? What other government policies are needed to support sustainability?

The role of Government

  • Regulation and supervision of commercial and non-profit microfinance institutions

Microfinance and development

  • How does microfinance contribute to economic growth?
  • How does microfinance support democracy?
  • Does microfinance contribute to real income growth (accumulation) in order to take the poor out of poverty?

Microfinance and reintegration

  • What are the pros and cons of providing seed money to victims and/or ex-combatants for start-ups?
  • How does microcredit microloans to those being reintegrated differ from the usual microcredit programs?
  • What are the main features that need to be addressed when planning and implementing microfinance programs in conflict and post-conflict settings?
  • How can equitable democratic access to resources be deemed essential to strengthening peaceful coexistence be assured?