VIENNA (Austria), 6th June 2019 - The European Microfinance Network (EMN), the leading network for the promotion and development of microfinance in Europe, is today organising its 16th Annual Conference in partnership with Erste Group Bank AG.
Featuring a completely different format and agenda, more than 200 participants from 25 countries are meeting today at the Erste Campus in Vienna to network, get inspired, and to work on the future development of the microfinance sector.
The conference participant list is made up of microfinance practitioners, service providers, academics and researchers who are interested in the recent developments of the sector, as well as representatives from the other interested parties including policy makers, NGOs and guarantee-granting institutions.
FinTech and new finance models: turning challenges into opportunities
Artificial intelligence and financial technology (FinTech) are developing and becoming more affordable at high speed. In addition, the rise of social entrepreneurship, crowdfunding platforms, alternative inclusive and sustainable finance players have an impact in current microfinance business models and processes
In view of the loss of traction to mobilise funders that microfinance is experiencing, the sector is looking to turn challenges into opportunities in order to start the new renaissance.
A redesigned agenda for a one-day conference
With this in mind, the innovative activities planned for the one-day conference include:
- Break-out sessions on soft skills for personal & professional development: soft skills help facilitate human connections. That's precisely the aim of the EMN conference.
- Cooperation meetings focused on real collaborative possibilities. Cooperators will work together on their specific and common institutional stakes to share their concerns and knowledge, discussing the ways in which further cooperation could play a part, by facing daily common challenges.
- Speed Networking: based in the principle of "speed dating", it will be dedicated to establishing contacts between MFIs and their potential Social Investors and/or EU Policy Makers.
- Inspirational messages from international keynote speakers: Christian Gansch (Grammy-award winning conductor and producer) and Ali Mahlodji (Co-Founder, Chief Visionary & Chief Storyteller of Whatchado, entrepreneur).
In addition, to boost cooperation and networking and to help connecting for the future, this year’s conference includes an app that will allow participants to register for the sessions, establish meetings with peers, access to the attendees list and conference sponsors and get practical and logistical information to make the most of the event.
Key messages from representatives of the sector
Throughout the day, attendees will have the opportunity to seek inspiration from outstanding representatives from the sector.
On behalf of the host-Erste Group, the conference shall be opened by the bank’s CEO Andreas Treichl and Peter Surek, Head of Social Banking Development. In reference to his welcome address to the conference participants, Peter Surek said: “We are very honoured by the opportunity to co-organise the EMN conference. The aim of this year’s conference is to achieve a balanced mix of sky’s-the-limit inspiration and down-to-earth cooperation – which is exactly what we need in today’s world faced with new challenges.”
Ann Branch, Head of Unit, DG Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion at the European Commission, will also be sharing her insights with the audience during a Q&A session towards the end of the conference.
The closing ceremony deserves special mention with the presence of Royston Braganza, CEO of Grameen Capital India. Braganza will be joined by Elwin Groenevelt, President of the European Microfinance Network, and Lucija Popovska, Chairwoman of the Microfinance Centre.
Asked about the expected outputs of the 16th EMN Annual Conference, Groenevelt said “I am really excited about this new format. We want to captivate and inspire our members through different speakers and by giving lots of room for networking and learning from each other. That has proven to be one of the strongest benefits of the network. The app will facilitate this and help foster and maintain new relationships forged at the conference. Connecting for the future!”.
The EMN Annual Conference will be followed in the evening by a social event that will take place in the historical Palais Ferstel.