European Microfinance Week got underway today in Luxembourg, with over 450 practitioners, investors, academics and support providers gathering at Abbaye de Neumünster to explore this year's theme of 'Financial Inclusion for Sustainable Development'.

The annual European Microfinance Week (EMW), held this year from 18 to 20 November 2015, was organised by the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP), which is supported by the Luxembourg Government in its aim to provide a knowledge sharing network in the field of microfinance. The EMW is the major annual event of the microfinance industry, combining debates, discussions and workshops for all sectors of the European microfinance community working in developing countries. More than 4000 opinion-leaders, top management of banks, funds and other financial institutions, practitioners, academics, analysts, raters and industry commentators are welcomed to present key innovations and challenges.

Wednesday 18 November 2015 constituted, as ever, a day of Action Group meetings and other day-long workshops ahead of the official conference on 19 and 20 November. This initial day allows Action Groups to meet and present their work conducted over the previous year and to plan their objectives for the coming 12 months. These sessions were then followed by the University Meets Microfinance Award Ceremony, before the day drew to a close with a convivial evening reception sponsored the e-MFP Digital Innovations for Financial Empowerment Action Group.

Today and tomorrow involve plenary sessions, workshops and the now-annual European Microfinance Award. The opening plenary was led by the editor of MicroCapital under the theme of 'Assessing limits: Towards Sustainable Growth in Microfinance' and featured the presentation of two leading projects developing early warning metrics for overheating markets and overindebtedness as well as the discussion of strategies for managing said risks from two important microfinance investors.

Other plenaries will include 'Sustainable Development Goals and Financial Inclusion', looking at how financial inclusion fits within the next incarnation of development goals; and Friday's closing plenary of 'Where do we Go From Here: the Future of Microfinance', which will attempt to peer into the crystal ball of financial inclusion to forecast the changes, challenges and opportunities which lie ahead.

The winner of the 6th European Microfinance Award will be announced this evening at the European Investment Bank (EIB). The Award, organised jointly by the Inclusive Finance Network (InFiNe) Luxemboirg, e-MFP and the Government of Luxembourg, in cooperation with the EIB, will recognise excellence and innovation in the uniquely difficult contexts of post-conflict and post-disaster financial services. One of three finalists, selected from a record 47 applications from 28 countries, will by presented with the €100,000 prize by Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg.

Peter Maurer, President Committee of the Red Cross; Dr Werner Hoyer, President of the EIB; and Mr Romain Schneider, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, will all be present at the ceremony.

"Sustainable Development has never been more important in financial inclusion that it is today, with clients facing the challenges of civil conflict and natural disaster, including those resulting from climate change," commented Anne Contreras, Chairwoman of the e-MFP Board, of the 2015 European Microfinance Week. "With the recently announced Sustainable Development Goals taking the place of the expiring Millenium Development Goals, it gives me great hope to see at this European Microfinance Week such a wealth of ideas on how we can innovate in providing financial services in a sustainable and scalable way".


Photo by European Microfinance Platform