The Social Protection Sector in the Human Development Network in conjunction with the Social Protection Sector of SAR, AFR, LAC, and CGAP are pleased to sponsor a cordially invite you to a Seminar/Discussion on presentation by
Syed Mesbahuddin Hashemi, Sr. Microfinance Specialist, CGAP
Chair: Mansoora Rashid, Sector Manager, SASHD
Discussants: Elizabeth L. Littlefield, CEO of CGAP
Margaret Grosh, Lead Economist, HDNSP
Anne Ritchie, Sr. Financial Sector Specialist, OPD
Parmesh Shah, Lead Rural Development Specialist, SASAR
Microfinance – or financial services for the poor – has proven to be a powerful tool to break the exclusion of poor people from formal financial services. But, with some notable exceptions, microfinance has not been able to provide services to the poorest and the destitute. They are however the focus of another fundamentally important development initiative – safety nets. Interestingly, the microfinance discourse has generally ignored safety nets or deliberately distanced itself from it. Microfinance practitioners often equate safety nets to grants and subsidies that distort markets and hamper efforts to become sustainable. In turn, safety net experts commonly associate microfinance to credit that creates indebtedness and increases poor people’s vulnerability. This has led to a missed opportunity. Microfinance requires further innovations to reach ever poorer clients, while safety nets can help poorer people to help themselves through careful, programmed use of financial services alongside grants. Working together, microfinance and safety nets can open up a space to reach the poorest and to create pathways for them to chart their way out of poverty.
This discussion seeks to initiate a dialog between the experts in social protection and microfinance, to test out new ideas on carefully linking microfinance and safety net programs to reduce poverty amongst the poorest.
"Graduating the Poorest into Microfinance: Linking Safety Nets & Financial Services" (269kb pdf), CGAP Focus Note No. 34, February 2006