Day 5 – SAM – Technology with a human touch

The conference may be winding down and the hangovers from last night’s dinner may be severe, nonetheless life goes on.

On this last day of the conference, I have continued talking to MFIs. This time I have focused on what they have learnt.

One key takeaway that has been coming through over the course of the week regards digital financing. Many MFIs have noted its potential for changing the way things work. I’ve spoken to several MFIs who are in the middle of digital transformations and mentioned the huge potential that arises from increased connectivity between offices and the potential this gives for oversight. Others have commented on how easy the disbursement and repayment process can be as a result of fintech. One of the institutions we work with has even introduced internet banking!

Yet with all these innovations, one message came through. Human relationships are at the centre of microfinance.  This can not be ignored going forward. A key message coming through is that technology can be used- but it needs to be tech with a human touch.

Meanwhile, I have also taken the chance to think about what I have learned. I have been struck by our MFIs and all their actions they are taking in terms of climate adaptation. I have learnt a lot more about Africa, and the challenges and opportunities of youth populations – but how MFIs still struggle in this regard. I’ve seen the close links between Luxembourg and Burkina Faso at work and realised both countries have a lot to learn from each other. I’ve also seen the energy and vibrancy with which entrepreneurship develops – even outside a conference centre.

Then there is always the lesson that I should already have learnt – buying large hats at the impromptu market outside the conference is not such a good idea when traveling with hand luggage alone.