Institute of micro-finance and cooperative development.

Age of the new dawn: Advancing Financial Inclusion in a Digital Age

On March 21 – 22, 2017 the region’s premier thought leadership event on financial inclusion was held in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Asia-Pacific Financial Inclusion Summit was hosted by the State Bank of Vietnam and organized by the Citi Foundation and the Foundation for Development Cooperation (FDC), in partnership with the Banking with the Poor Network (BWTP) and the Economist Group. The organizers sought to convene key stakeholders in the inclusive finance ecosystem to drive collective actions to promote positive change and inclusive growth across the region.

The 2017 Summit explored opportunities and challenges of the next generation of financial inclusion and facilitated interactions with policy-makers on the latest national and regional initiatives and frontier issues in enabling greater financial inclusion in the region. It also showcased the latest technology and innovations in financial products and services for the unbanked and underserved. Stimulating debates and knowledge exchange among thought leaders, experts and fellow practitioners for best practice programming were carried out at the event wherein partnership models that could most effectively achieve scale and impact were ventured.

Among the gathering of more than 450 senior leaders and practitioners from non-profit organizations, financial service institutions, central banks and government agencies, MFIs and multilateral organizations, 26 microfinance practitioners from Nepal were a part of this milestone event. Of the Nepalese attendees, a group of 13 microfinance practitioners were led to the event by the Chairman of CSD, Mr. Shankar Man Shrestha.

Following the Summit, the team traveled to neighboring Cambodia to learn about the microfinance practices in the country. The team met with the senior officials of the Cambodia Microfinance Association, the key institute that contributes in creating a local and international network between microfinance operators. They engaged in discussions regarding the legal and regulatory frameworks, government policies relating to microfinance, role of the Central Bank, MFIs capital structure, approach and strategies, CMA role and structure.

During their visit, the participants had the opportunity to visit two well-known MFIs, AMK MF Institution and PRASAC MF Institution and learn about their MF operation procedures, products and services, staff recruitment and development policy and problems and challenges. The team learnt that only eight of the MFIs in Cambodia have been licensed as the deposit taking MFIs and are allowed to take deposits from the general public and their own clients. This has added a new dimension to microfinance operations towards creating self-dependency in resource mobilization and providing banking services to the deprived and marginalized families in the nook and corners of the country. This practice is one of the important aspect to be followed by the microfinance sector in the country. Besides, Cambodian MFIs have created substantial impact in developing micro enterprises all over the country.

The team comprised of CEOs and Board Members from member institutions: Mr. Mani Kumar Arjyal, Executive Director of Nerude Laghubitta Bikas Bank Ltd., Morang; Mr. Yogendra Mandal, Chairman, Ms. Ribol Devi Mandal, Board Member, Mr. Bikram Raj Subedi, Member and Mr. Sanjay Kumar Mandal, Director of Jeevan Bikas Samaj, Morang; Mr. Mahendra Kumar Giri, CEO of Sahara Nepal SACCOS Ltd., Jhapa; Mr. Gopal Dahit, Patron of UNYC Nepal, Bardiya; Mr. Chandi Prasad Sharma Paudel, Chairman of Chartare Youth Club, Baglung; Mr. Ishwor Lal Rajbhandari, Chairman of Dhaulagiri Community Resource Development Centre, Baglung; Mr. Shogat Bir Chaudhari, Director of Rural Women Development Centre, Dang and Mr. Lila Nath Shrestha, Chairman and Mr. Batuk Shamsher Shrestha, Executive Director of Shrijana Community Development Centre, Siraha.