Wed | Dec 13, 2017

FOROMIC to address urgent entrepreneurship, urban inclusion and climate change issues

Published:Monday | October 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM

More than 1,000 people from across the Americas - or even further away -  will later this month gather in Montego Bay, St James, for the 19th annual Foromic conference, the region’s most important event focused on financial inclusion and how it drives economic development and innovation.

This is the first time Jamaica will host Foromic, and only the second time the conference is taking place in the English-speaking Caribbean.

It is a unique opportunity for people working in financial services, business and entrepreneurship development, and impact investment to network, learn about key trends and challenges in the region, and explore opportunities to work with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

When the first Foromic took place in 1998, there were only about 200 microfinance institutions in the region, serving 1.5 million clients, and the sector was highly dependent on subsidies from nongovernmental institutions. Today, the region boasts one of the world’s most diverse, stable, and inclusive financial systems, with more than 1,000 providers -most of them regulated and sustainable - and 20 million clients. This shift from microfinance to broad-based financial inclusion happened through a lot of hard work, openness to innovation, and catalytic partnerships.

With the groundwork laid and microfinance increasing being seen as the means to achieving high-impact economic growth. Foromic will be aiming to answer several questions, including whether there are ways for talented micro and small entrepreneurs to get the financing they need to build their firms and create jobs.

Just as the microfinance sector is looking to sharpen its focus and reach new sectors and segments, so too is the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), Foromic’s organiser.

For over two decades, the MIF has served as an “innovation lab” for the IDB, responding to emerging needs in Latin America and the Caribbean and partnering with local actors to pilot market-based development solutions.

"This year has been a transformative one for the MIF, as we have sought to maximise our impact by channeling our work into just three thematic areas - climate-smart agriculture, inclusive cities, and the knowledge economy,"' the IDB said in a statement.

"By bringing our vast expertise, including our groundbreaking work in fostering innovation in financial inclusion, to these three topics, we believe we can make a meaningful contribution to regionwide innovation, sustainability, and opportunity."