mercredi 27 juillet 2011

6 non-practitioner microfinance leaders who shaped the industry growth

Microfinance Focus, July 27, 2011: Modern Microfinance industry has traversed a long journey since a great social invention by Prof. Yunus in Bangladesh. It has established itself as one of the effective tools to fight poverty. The industry however had a bumpy ride and witnessed many ups and downs of-late. A slew of controversies hit some of the most promising microfinance regions and some serious questions have been raised about its effectiveness. Yet, the good work of industry is not easy to write off.
Microfinance development has not just been contributed by pioneers and its practitioners but also by a number of leaders who have created microfinance enabled services to assist industry to take its right shape. These leaders have played an important role in the growth of Microfinance sector globally and made important contributions at the pyramid’s bottom.
Microfinance Focus team has reviewed the contribution of some of these leaders and has listed out six non-practitioners who shaped the industry’s growth. We understand that this list is not exhaustive and may include many more leaders who stand worthy of sharing this space. This is simply a starting point and we welcome our readers to suggest more deserving names.

Alex Counts

Who is he?
Alex Counts is President and CEO of Grameen Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on enabling the poor to escape poverty, using microfinance and technology. Alex Counts founded the Grameen Foundation in 1997. While at Grameen Bank, he worked and studied under Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and helped to establish the bank’s flagship newsletter, Grameen Dialogue. Mr. Counts chairs the board of Project Enterprise and serves on the boards of Fonkoze USA and the PLAN Fund. In 2007 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Horace Mann School.

Contribution to Microfinance Sector:
In 1997, Alex Counts founded the Grameen Foundation with $6,000 in seed capital funded by the founder of Grameen Bank, Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and has since grown the organization to a global network of 52 microfinance partners in 28 countries.
Grameen Foundation is a dynamic, nonprofit that fights global poverty through its network of microfinance partners in 28 countries in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Through this network, it has impacted the lives of an estimated 31 million of the world’s poor.
Through its Strategic Services Unit, the foundation is engaging the global microfinance industry by championing innovations focused on capital investment in microfinance, poverty measurement, human resources, and technology. The foundation has now grown to a leading international humanitarian organization with an annual budget of approximately $25 million.

More than one million microloans have been generated to 9.4 million people through Grameen Foundations Growth Guarantee Program allowing several people to begin their journey out of poverty. $160 million has been leveraged to support the micro finance programs in about 13 countries and 600000 clients are being supported through Mifos at the micro finance institutions around the world. More people are being given an opportunity to change their lives, everyday.

Sam Daley Harris

Who is he?
Sam Daley-Harris is the Director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign. He is the founder of RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund, a lobbying organization that seeks to create the political will and develop mass educational strategies to end hunger and the worst aspects of poverty. The Microcredit Summit Campaign is a project of the RESULTS Educational Fund. Sam Daley Harris is currently leading phase II of the campaign to help boost the UN’s Millennium Development Goals for 2015 – Reaching 175 million of the world’s poorest and ensuring that 100 million families come out of $1- a day poverty, lifting half a billion people out of extreme poverty.

Contribution to the Microfinance Sector:  
The first Microcredit Summit, organized by Sam Daley Harris was held February 1997 in Washington, DC which had approximately 3,000 in attendance from 137 countries. The outcome of the first Summit was the launch of a "Campaign" to reach 100 million of the world’s poorest families, especially the women of those families, with credit for self-employment and other financial and business services by the year 2005. This campaign called the Microcredit Summit Campaign started by Sam Harris is an American non-profit organization which aims to bring together microcredit practitioners, advocates, educational institutions, donor agencies, international financial institutions, non-governmental organizations and others involved with microcredit around the goal of alleviating world poverty through microfinance.


By December 31, 2007, the Campaign counted 3,552 microfinance institutions that reported reaching more than 154 million clients. These institutions are located worldwide. Of the 106 million poorest clients, 94 million of them (88.2 percent) are being served by the 76 largest individual institutions and networks reporting to the Campaign, all with 100,000 or poorer clients.

Jacques Attali

Who is he?
Professor, writer, Honorary Member of the Council of State, Special Adviser to the President of the Republic from 1981 to 1991, founder and first President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London from 1991 to 1993, Jacques Attali is currently CEO of A&A, an international consulting firm specialized in new technologies, based in Paris, and President of PlaNet Finance an international non-profit organization assisting microfinance institutions all over the world. PlaNet Finance is the most important world institution of support to the microfinance.  PlaNet Finance advises and finances the development of the microfinance in 80 countries.

Contribution to Microfinance Sector:
Jacques Attali is the first and the current president and founder member of PlaNet Finance, an international non-profit organization  founded in 1998 in Paris, France. Planet Finance has the mission to alleviate poverty through the development of microfinance, thereby increasing the unbanked and underbanked's access to financial services. It provides access to financial services to the poorest populations, the financial intermediaries including banks, cooperatives, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and microfinance institutions. The association supports microfinance efforts by federating financial intermediaries and providing them with operational services. PlaNet Finance also works with the private sector (banks and financial institutions), international agencies, and government to facilitate the creation of an efficient microfinance sector.

Over the past 12 years, PlaNet Finance has developed into a group of organizations (PlaNet Finance Group) providing a diverse set of services. PlaNet Finance's international network holds activities in close to 80 countries around the world through a network of 700 staff. It has supported 1,500 microfinance institutions financing more than 9 million people.

Chuck Waterfield

Who is he?
The developer of the micro-financing software Microfin, Chuck Waterfield has served as micro-financing director at CARE International and MEDA. He has taught courses at the School of International & Public Affairs at Columbia University and Southern New Hampshire University. He is also an independent micro-financing consultant. His client list includes CGAP, the SEEP Network, Opportunity International, and Aspen Institute. In 2008, he founded MicroFinance Transparency and works as the CEO and President.

Contribution to Microfinance Sector:
Chuck Waterfield founded Microfinance Transparency in July 2008, to enable transparent communication between suppliers and consumers of microcredit products by presenting information on credit products and their prices in a clear and consistent fashion. In addition, MF Transparency undertakes the equally important role of developing and disseminating straightforward educational material to enable all microfinance stakeholders to better understand the concept and function of interest rates and product pricing.        
In 1997, Mr. Waterfield, commissioned by CGAP, developed Microfin which is a software designed to serve as an integrated part of a comprehensive business planning framework of MFIs, addressing both strategic and operational issues.  Microfin’s five-year financial projections serve as a key part of the operational planning process and covers key elements such designing financial products and services, establishing marketing channels and projecting activity level, determining institutional resources and capacity, developing a financing strategy and analyzing projected financial statements and ratios.

Since MF Transparency’s launch, 785 industry leaders, including MFIs and Apex Banks currently serving 110 million clients worldwide, have signed the endorser statement. The industry continues to grow into one that is dynamic and far-reaching.
Over 2,000 managers of MFIs from dozens of countries worldwide have been trained in the use of Microfin, which has been adopted as the “industry standard” for financial modeling of MFI operations.

Graham A N Wright

Who is he?

Graham A.N. Wright played a key role in the designing and establishment of the MicroSave programme and is currently the Programme Director for India. The core of market-led approaches used by MicroSaveespecially the Market Research for MicroFinance tools has been pioneered by Graham. He has a career spanning over two decades of development experience under pinned by five years of experience in management consultancy, training and audit with a leading accounting firm in Europe.


Graham A N Wright established the MicroSave programme which focuses on putting the clients at the centre of the business. It typically starts using MicroSave’s acclaimed Market Research for MicroFinance or Strategic Business Planning tool kits, but focuses on product development and delivery systems, as well as customer service strategies and optimizing processes while minimizing risks. MicroSave offers technical assistance and training to financial service providers in these and many other areas.
He helped in the development, testing and implementation of a sustainable rural savings and credit programme for BURO, which has now established its significance as a micro-finance institution in Bangladesh.
He provided long-term technical assistance to develop a rural finance system, using self-help “Savings and Loan Groups” linked to strong cooperatives in a remote mountainous area of the Philippines.


Several of MicroSave’s Action Research Partners, including Equity Building Society in Kenya, Tanzania Postal Bank, Uganda Microfinance Union and Teba bank in South Africa are already benefiting from moving to an increasingly market-led approach. By designing the products which are more suited to the customer’s needs, Graham has given a new perspective to the micro-finance sector.

Sanjay Sinha

Who is he?
Mr Sanjay Sinha is the Managing Director of Micro-Credit Ratings International Limited (M-CRIL) – a company established to carry out professional assessments (ratings) of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and provide research and other services designed to promote the flow of investments into microfinance. He has specialized in sub-sector analysis of activities of relevance to the livelihoods of poor people, microenterprise promotion and BDS in addition to microfinance.

Contribution to the Microfinance Sector:

He is co-founder of EDA Rural Systems Private Limited, one of the leading development consultancies in Asia and parent company of M-CRIL. The establishment of M-CRIL emerged out of EDA’s experience with MFIs and from undertaking policy studies in the field of microfinance. M‐CRIL is the world leader in the rating of microfinance institutions (MFIs).  By December 2010, M‐CRIL had undertaken around 700 financial and social ratings and assessments of around 400 institutions covering 32 countries of Asia, Africa and Europe.M‐CRIL was the pioneer in the rating of MFIs in India; it has been engaged with Indian MFIs since 1998 when the Indian microfinance sector was in its infancy.
Most notably, in his recent writings and in numerous conferences over the past couple of years, he has warned of the dangers for the future of the industry resulting from uncontrolled growth shifting the focus from clients to an ethos of promoter hubris and self‐enrichment. Sanjay Sinha was inducted as a Member of the UN Advisors Group on Inclusive Financial Sectors.

M-CRIL ratings have not only facilitated the flow of funds, but they have also resulted in important systematic changes and enabled the design of capacity building initiatives for MFIs. It has helped to reduce MFI risk and support institutions and microenterprises to incorporate best practices in their systems.

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