2015 was a year full of contradictions. The world agreed on a new sustainable development agenda and to commit to climate change mitigation and adaptation. At the same time war in Syria and growing instability in the Near East have impacted the lives of millions.
In microfinance we have discussed the enormous differences between developed markets while in many countries and niches there is huge unmet demand for reliable and fair financial services. Client centricity was one of the buzz words – to focus on what clients really need and want.
Driven by refugee crisis, climate change and economic uncertainty I would argue that the focus on a bottom-up process will continue in 2016. Needs are changing and the job throughout the microfinance chain – MFIs, funders, regulators, auditors & raters, investors and donors – will be to be attentive whether we are really addressing the issues we should be addressing.
For LMDF this means to look at our strategy to scale emerging microfinance institutions and the impact their produce in view of a changing set of challenges. With 1/3 of our financing ultimately dedicated to smallholder agriculture we will need to dig deeper to understand the sustainability of land-use and agricultural practices financed.
70% of those ultimately financed are women – how will households and gender relations evolve in an environment with more economic uncertainty and lower growth? Is our pioneering work in the area of financing for education and green microfinance really pointing in the right direction?
What remains certain is that a focus on the needs of the poor and most excluded remains at the heart of what we do. And that should provide guidance for our actions in 2016.
I wish you a happy and prosperous new year!