The workshop brought together policymakers and microfinance practitioners to share best practices and build capacity among APEC member economies, particularly developing economies, in this vital area.
Some 2.7 billion adults are “unbanked,” according to the World Bank. That means they do not have the opportunity to save, get loans, manage their finances and grow their businesses through formal or secure financial services.
The workshop covers harnessing new technologies to increase access to financial services, particularly mobile banking, diversifying financial products and services, risk management and consumer protection in microfinance and gender equity.
The workshop is part of a multi-year APEC program that aims to showcase best practices in microfinance in the region. APEC recently completed a case study on Viet Nam with the aim of providing recommendations to policymakers in promoting sustainable, market-based microfinance. The case study will also inform other economies in the region on the key issues for commercially sustainable microfinance.
As part of this program, APEC has also produced a list of best practices specifically relating to women-owned micro-enterprises. Women face numerous and unique challenges, such as gender discrimination, as they try to enhance their businesses and would benefit from greater access to financial services and markets.
The list of 23 practices, including possible affirmative action policies for women, such as special financial funding services and dedicated lines of credit, aims to guide government policymakers in APEC member economies in determining support to women’s micro-enterprises.
The program is just one of the APEC initiatives aimed at improving financial inclusion in the region. APEC, the US Treasury and the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank organised a seminar in February in San Francisco that gathered financial policy makers and other experts to further work in this area.
Econonomica Vietnam contributed to the workshop with a country case study which it co-authored with Nathan Inc. and by presentating the case study at the plenary of the workshop.
Please visit our Resource Centre for the Vietnam Country Case Study and the Presentations at the workshop.