Each year, e-MFP launches the European Microfinance Award, in conjunction with the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the Inclusive Finance Network Luxembourg (InFiNe.lu). The Award invites applications from financial institutions that are innovating, exploring and testing new ideas, that go beyond their core financial services, and exemplify the evolution of the microfinance sector beyond boilerplate microenterprise credit.
We’re excited to announce today the launch of this, the 7th edition of the Award, focused on Microfinance and Access to Education, all details of which can be found on the Award website.
Like previous years with their focus on social performance management, or the environment, or last year’s Award concerning microfinance in post-disaster and crisis contexts, the 7th Award will shine a spotlight on institutions that are innovating in something very difficult – and very important. Education may give the biggest ‘bang for your buck’ in international development. There are massive knock-on effects in health, women’s empowerment, enterprise and livelihood development that come from ensuring access to quality education for children and adults.
We know that increasing both the level of access and quality of education among low-income populations in poor countries is very difficult. States have budgetary constraints. Infrastructure is expensive. Parents often carry a huge, unsustainable burden of the cost – which affects their livelihoods. To find models that minimise pressures on parents, ensure quality education and universal access for children, and the right vocational trainings for young adults to be able to find fulfilling employment well matched to their aspirations and needs? There could hardly be anything more worthwhile.
MFIs and the financial inclusion sector can play an important role here, and the 7th European Microfinance Award will see institutions experimenting, being bold or taking risks in this area. It will recognise the role of microfinance in enabling access to education for children and skills training for youth and adults to enhance their employment opportunities, as well as in improving education quality in the process.
So we are looking forward to applications from a wide range of financial institutions around the world, tackling this issue from both the supply side (supporting schools and other providers) and demand side (supporting families and students), with both financial and non-financial services (such as Education to Employment services involving vocational training and capacity building) and shining a path for others to follow. Many of these initiatives will involve partnerships – with government, schools, private companies, other financial institutions, NGOs or other entities. We welcome all applications that meet the eligibility criteria, found in the Explanatory Note on the Award site. And here at e-MFP we are excited to hear who has been doing what in this field so far, and where they’ll be leading everyone else.
The prize of €100,000 will be presented on 17th November 2016 during the European Microfinance Week in Luxembourg.
For more information on the eligibility criteria and to apply, visit www.european-microfinance-award.com