Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Microfinance Talk near Wall Street

Attended a talk last night on microfinance by Magnus Magnusson of the United Nations Capital Development Fund. The event was held downtown, just blocks from Wall Street, by the United Nations Association of New York, Young Professionals for International Cooperation. The room was packed with young finance analysts interested in finding microfinance opportunities for their banks.

Magnusson made some great points on fairness worth reflecting on:

  • The world's richest 500 people are richer than the poorest 416 million people.
  • Globally, 115 million children are denied basic primary education.
  • The average Japanese lives 35 years longer than someone living in Burkina Faso.

  • On financial exclusion: While 99 percent of Demark's population has bank account, in Zambia only 5 percent of the population has one.
  • The minimum amount to open a checking account (as a percent of GDP per capita): More than 50 percent in Uganda, 40 percent in Malawi, and 20 percent in Ghana.
  • Only one percent of Africans have a loan or credit facility with a formal financing institution.

Magnusson sees microfinance as a powerful solution to these inequities. Microfinance is in all regions of the world, reaching 90 million clients, with more than 3,000 microfinance institutions, and 1,000 NGOs, foundations, and agencies.

1 comment:

Steve Dorst said...

Interesting stats. I can't believe the inequality. What are some of the best microfinance operations, in your opinion - helping the most people?