Last night, Women’s Forum, in partnership with UNICEF and Accion, held a special presentation and discussion on how successful micro-finance programs in developing countries help empower women. The two keynote panel speakers were Willow Shire, Executive Consultant at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Erika Eurkus, Senior Director for External Affairs of Accion, a global nonprofit organization with the mission of giving people the financial tools they need to improve their lives.
Micro-finance is an increasingly popular development approach, particularly in developing countries, that provides an appropriate range of high quality finance services, including savings, insurances, and fund transfers, to low-income or poor individuals. Additionally, micro-financing helps promote gender equality, which allows women to have more active roles in both society and their families.
In her presentation, Eurkus from Accion talked about Accion’s micro-financing projects which support low-income people. Accion has 63 institutions in 31 countries helping 13 million people. She showed a video starring two women helped by Accion; one was able to start up her own jewelry making business and another who now runs her own restaurant.
Shire first showed a tear-inducing promotional video from UNICEF, and then went on to discuss specifically UNICEF’s Communal Banking project in Bolivia. Her project helps train women from rural areas in finance and operations. This approach stressed the importance of business planning, continued education and also provides complementary educational courses on hygiene, sanitation, and environmental awareness.
The question and answer period following the presentation showed the varied interests of the attendees; with questions ranging from education, to financial particulars and of course the social impact of micro-financing on women across the globe. Accion and UNICEF stressed their differences (success in the city vs rural etc) but also showed how very similar they are and how important their work is.
The event was a great success with over 40 attendees and a lengthy networking reception afterwards. Check out more pictures of the event on our Facebook page!!!
Please join us in our upcoming events. We have more exciting plans in the works!!