From NextBillion: Microfinance Looks Toward the Future – But Will Fintech Revive the Controversies of Its Past?
NextBillion reports on the fintech focus at EMW 2016:
Microfinance conferences have offered a unique experience in recent years. In the world outside the events, the industry has been wracked by extraordinary upheaval. It has lurched from development sector darling to punching bag, as client over-indebtedness grabbed headlines, research cast doubt upon its anti-poverty impact, and skeptics gleefully used these events to call the entire industry into question.
But in the midst of all this turmoil – and in reaction to it – practitioners at industry events were diligently reimagining their sector. Conversations shifted from the value of loans to boost microenterprises, to the diverse ways that credit and other financial services can benefit the poor. At their best, these events have provided a front-row seat to this transition, as an entire industry rebranded itself on the fly. Listening in on these conversations, it has become clear that many of microfinance's most innovative practitioners have shifted their gaze far beyond the enterprise-focused microcredit model originally imagined by Muhammad Yunus, as well as the (overly) optimistic anti-poverty narrative he helped inspire.
Case in point: the recently concluded European Microfinance Week. The conference, which took place this month in Luxembourg, featured a broad array of sessions that highlighted the diverse uses to which microfinance is being applied in countries around the world.
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