Aug 02, 2017

Access to Education – Why Finance Matters

Monday 11th September 2017, from 5.30 to 7.30 pm, followed by an “apéro”
Hosted by Credit Suisse at Forum St.Peter, St. Peterstrasse 19, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland


Kamran Azim, Kashf Foundation
Nathan Byrd, Opportunity International
Maria Teresa Zappia, Blue Orchard

Chaired by Bernd Balkenhol, Swiss Microfinance Platform (SMP)

Access to quality education is a challenge for low-income populations in poor countries. Budgets for education are often the first to be curtailed when the fiscal space shrinks. Families often carry a correspondingly larger burden to ensure the schooling of their children. Independent “private” schools, needed to fill the gap left by the government, equally struggle to keep up with the large demand in communities. MFIs can help both schools and households better manage the financial implications of schooling.  The size of the opportunity is enormous.

Hosted by the e-MFP, SMP and Credit Suisse, this event will address the factors that matter in applying microfinance to ensure adequate, affordable quality education and how to effectively achieve scale in this area of financial inclusion. The panel will introduce the winner and one of the finalists of the 2016 European Microfinance Award which focused on Microfinance and Access to Education. It will also explore the perspective of investors and technical assistance providers who are key in growing the sector responsibly.

To this end, we are delighted to welcome three education finance specialists:

Kamran Azim is the Chief Operating Officer at Kashf Foundation, where he oversees the country level business activities in the network of over 230 branches and service centers spread across Pakistan. As a part of the Executive Body of Kashf, all key functions including Operations, Research, HR, Learning and Legal, report to him. Mr. Azim is a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA) with over 20 years of diversified and multi-sectoral experience. He is a regular lecturer and contributor to sectoral dialogues on best corporate governance practices especially for Micro and SME sector in Pakistan. Finally, he has been invited as key note speaker at international development events hosted by WWB and Trust Women.

Nathan Byrd is head of the Education Finance group at Opportunity International, Nathan is responsible for the strategic direction and leadership of EduFinance programs across the globe. The group aims to adapt the value proposition of microfinance into sustainable, scalable, and impactful products and services that assist families, students, schools and their communities in tackling the major problems facing educational access and quality in the developing world. Prior to joining Opportunity International, Nathan directed operations for the International Rescue Committee’s presence in Afghanistan, and served as Director of Operations for Latin America and then Vice President for Strategic Development at Covenant House International.

Maria Teresa Zappia is BlueOrchard Finance Chief Investment Officer. At BlueOrchard she has developed a number of PPP impact investing funds with development financial institutions. Maria Teresa has worked in the EM finance sector for over 20 years including work with EBRD, ADB, ODI and OECD Development Centre both in the field and in head-office. Before joining BlueOrchard Maria Teresa worked as Senior Banker in the Group for Small Business -i.e. EBRD's microfinance and SME finance team- and managed a portfolio of microfinance/SME credit lines. She holds a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University and a Degree in Economics from the University of Florence (Italy).

 To register for this event please RSVP before 6th September, the SMP coordinator at

Every year, the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) launches the European Microfinance Award, in conjunction with the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the Inclusive Finance Network Luxembourg ( The Award invites applications from financial institutions that are innovating, exploring and testing new ideas that go beyond their core financial services and show the relevance of access to finance for a whole range of Sustainable Development Goals.

 In 2016, the Award was attributed to Kashf Foundation of Pakistan for its support of low-cost private schools, with Opportunity Bank of Uganda Ltd and Fundación Génesis of Guatemala the runners-up, from a field of 30 applicants from 19 countries.

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