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MIF and People’s Bank of China host first International Seminar on Microfinance in Latin America and China

Nov 2, 2012

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, and the People’s Bank of China (PBC) this week held the first ever exchange of best practices in microfinance between China and Latin America.

The International Seminar on Microfinance in Latin America and China brought together more than 30 experts from Latin America and from China to present and discuss success factors, lessons learned, and latest trends and innovations in microfinance.

Two hundred government officials and representatives of the People’s Bank of China, Chinese development banks and rural credit unions as well as Latin American microfinance specialists attended the seminar, which took place in Hainan, China, Nov. 1–2.

The event, another step toward deepening the ties between two of the world’s fastest growing regions, allowed participants to gain new insights and explore future collaborations in the microfinance industry.

China and the countries of Latin America have pursued somewhat different approaches for making financial services available to microenterprises and low-income populations. In both regions, microfinance has played a strong role in promoting financial inclusion and growth of small businesses. In the Latin American region, microfinance institutions serve about 15 million borrowers, with microcredits totaling nearly $19 billion. The exchange of knowledge will allow each region to adopt practices that further strengthen the performance of the sector.

“Latin America has been quite successful converting non-governmental organizations to regulated institutions and has seen banks create successful microfinance operations, called downscaling,’’ said Julie T. Katzman, IDB Executive Vice President. “We have shown microfinance can be both profitable and deliver social benefits. Latin America as a region has shown that investing in strong regulatory systems and tools like rating and credit bureaus pays big dividends in stability. We hope this seminar will strengthen microfinance in both regions and the relationship between China and Latin America.”

Plenary sessions and discussion groups of the seminar focus on business models for expanding financial inclusion, best practices in regulation and supervision, ratings, funding of microfinance portfolios, and innovative products and distribution channels for microcredit and other financial services.

MIF General Manager Nancy Lee gave a presentation on the factors that have contributed to a successful microfinance sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, including strong regulatory frameworks in the region, and diversity in financial products and services offered by microfinance institutions.

Three new reports commissioned by the MIF on best practices for microfinance were released at the event:

-Microfinance regulation: Lessons from Bolivia, Peru and the Philippines: describes sound practices of the regulation and supervision of microfinance institutions.

-Microfinance in Latin America: analyzes the leading characteristics of microfinance in Latin America and presents lessons for development of a sound financial system that serves the poor.

-Global Microfinance Ratings Comparability: proposes a simple framework designed by a collaboration of four leading specialized ratings agencies for comparing specialized microfinance ratings.
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