Inside USD

Summit Provides Microfinance Education

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The fourth annual San Diego Microfinance Summit, being held April 4 at USD’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, emphasizes technology and innovation, two well-connected, but evolving components of microfinance.

“Innovation and technology are two ideas that are inseparable, they’re very integrated,” said Chris Nayve, director of USD’s Center for Community Service-Learning and a member of The San Diego Microfinance Alliance’s advisory board. “The role that innovation and technology plays in microfinance is not new at all.”

The summit, which runs from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m., will provide attendees the opportunity to gain more knowledge about microfinance, hear from experienced speakers and to get new insights.

The event’s kickoff features keynote speaker is Chris Dunford, former president of Freedom From Hunger, is a senior research fellow and has more than 35 years of rural development experience in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the United States.

Dunford’s talk will be followed by a microfinance panel discussion featuring local small businesses talking about a variety of topics, including their experience with technology and innovative marketing efforts to improve business.

Afternoon breakout sessions offer a chance to learn about new developments and technological advances. Panelists will discuss such topics as how microfinance models are providing additional means for the world’s poorest populations to have access to capital; technological communicative advances between microfinance institutions and borrowers; and an introduction to Microfinance Transparency, an organization committed to pricing transparency, integrity and poverty alleviation.

In addition to filling up on microfinance food for thought, nourishing meals are also part of the summit.

“The food that will be served and the marketplace of vendors that will be set up in front of the IPJ are all microfinance loan recipients,” explained Tara Jankowski, external programs manager for USD’s Ahlers Center for International Business. “All of our attendees receive a $10 gift card to shop at the local marketplace to purchase mementos of their day. By boosting finances, we’re able to touch all different areas of microfinance. Everyone is given the opportunity to be involved by trying to funnel everything back as a way to uplift the community.”

The summit will attract USD students and faculty as well as microfinance borrowers or loaners with local, domestic, and international perspectives. This is a chance to network and learn from various microfinance practitioners as well as the concept that lies at the heart of microfinance.

“Microfinance needs a social mission. It’s more than just making loans, it’s about helping people,” said Stephen Conroy, a USD economics professor. “Microfinancing is one tool for poverty alleviation. It’s an act of social justice through a business medium.”

Social justice, as well as microfinance, does not solely cater to those in poverty.

“Most people think of microfinance as a way to help out the poorest of the poor,” Nayve said. “What a lot of people don’t realize is the range of people involved in this type of financing. People benefit from $230 loans to six-digit loans.  All of these people share the entrepreneurial spirit of risk-taking, starting something new, or taking a chance to become a business. Across the spectrum, the one idea that is impeded throughout is to work toward a social good.”

— Alyssa Aninag ’13

Summit admission tickets are $20 for students and faculty and $35 for general admission. The price includes a $10 voucher to use at the Artisan Client Marketplace outside the IPJ. To register, click here.

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