Microcredit Summit Campaign, AGFUND to Organize the 18th Microcredit Summit: Frontier Innovations in Financial Inclusion

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Around 700 people from Africa, the Middle East, and beyond will gather March 15-17, 2016, in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., for a 3-day conference. High-level government officials, global development leaders, and others will look at financial inclusion and microfinance services that reach the most vulnerable and marginalized and help improve their lives.

A microfinance client, General Coordinator for PRONAFIM, Mexico's Secretary of Economy, Governor of the State of Yucatán, Muhammad Yunus, and Larry Reed (director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign)

Dignitaries at the 17th Microcredit Summit, which built a vision for the next generation of financial inclusion and microfinance services

The strength of microfinance is in creating linkages among key influencers in the development and financial inclusion. -- Larry Reed

The Microcredit Summit Campaign, in partnership with the Arab Gulf Programme for Development (AGFUND), announced that the 18th Microcredit Summit will be held in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., on March 15-17, 2016. The Summit agenda will engage delegates in a thoughtful discussion around effective ways to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized and the microfinance services and financial inclusion strategies that promote inclusive, sustainable economic growth and social empowerment that helps improve their lives.

Financial inclusion is "the first step" in achieving the World Bank’s twin goals by "giving people the tools to get out of poverty [by 2030] and into shared prosperity," as explained by Alfonso García Mora at the 17th Microcredit Summit in Mexico last year.

"The strength of microfinance is in creating linkages among key influencers in the development and financial inclusion ecosystem in order to better ensure that a full range of microfinance products and services reach those who are socially and financially excluded," said Larry Reed, director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign. "This Summit will guide the discussions on how we can expand the frontiers of financial inclusion to create shared solutions for social change."

The 18th Microcredit Summit will feature successes in Africa and the Middle East, especially the growth of mobile money accounts and experimentations in sub-Saharan Africa. Recent Global Findex 2014 numbers show there is a major opportunity in expanding financial inclusion among women and the poorest households in Africa and the Middle East. Though outreach is still low in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), compared to other regions, promoting changes in national strategies could significantly increase financial inclusion in the region. The Summit will convene Central Bankers, Ministers, and sector leaders from MENA to identify the most effective national financial inclusion strategies that enable an environment of greater outreach and social change.

The AGFUND International Prize Award will also be presented at the 18th Microcredit Summit to "Innovative programs that alleviate unemployment among youth." The Prize, which is worth US$ 500,000, was established by AGFUND with the aim of spurring innovation and creativity in human development. It consists of four categories specified for projects implemented by UN agencies or international and regional NGOs, national NGOs, government ministries and public agencies, and individuals. In pursuit of AGFUND's strategic objectives, which put poverty alleviation at the forefront of its priorities, the Prize puts forward a number of subjects that address poverty alleviation and social and financial inclusion of the poor. According to Mr. Nasser Alkahtani, executive director of AGFUND. "AGFUND is establishing banks for the poor,” he said, “and is determined to promote financial inclusion through microfinance best practices and products that help increase the productivity capabilities of many of the poorer segments."

An estimated 700 people from around the world will gather to discover successful models that will break through new frontiers. The "18th Microcredit Summit: Frontier Innovations in Financial Inclusion" will serve as a platform to create linkages among key influencers in the global development and the financial inclusion ecosystem and coordinate their efforts.

It is expected that other partners will be joining the event as sponsors and will be announced in the near future.

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The *Microcredit Summit Campaign*, a project of RESULTS Educational Fund, is a global network of institutions and individuals involved in microfinance and is committed to expanding microfinance to the world’s poorest families and helping them lift themselves out of extreme poverty. The Campaign convenes microfinance actors to promote best practices, to stimulate the exchange of knowledge, and to work towards alleviating world poverty through innovations in microfinance.

*AGFUND* (Arab Gulf Programme for Development) established in 1980 upon the initiative of HRH Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, is a regional development organization based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. AGFUND’s main objective is to alleviate poverty through Microfinance and financial inclusion. AGFUND’s efforts have till now yielded with the opening of nine Microfinance Banks namely in Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Palestine, Mauritania, in addition to Sierra Leone. Moreover, AGFUND is expected to expand the frontiers of its initiative’s to include Morocco, Tunisia, the Philippines, Comoros and Senegal. Within its goal to alleviate poverty, AGFUND has built a solid partnership with the Microcredit Summit Campaign since the Summit inception and has actively participated and supported its activities worldwide. In addition, AGFUND supports its targeted groups through an effective, collective effort with its Partners, the United Nations Development Organizations, international and regional organizations, governmental and NGO bodies across the least developed countries.

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Faisal Ahmed
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