About the Conference

XV ANNIVERSARY NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MICROFINANCE AND FINANCIAL INCLUSION

Microfinance. Revolution

Saint-Petersburg, 16-18 November 2016

Concept Paper

About the Conference

The National Conference on Microfinance and Financial Inclusion (hereinafter, Conference) is the largest annual professional forum which traditionally brings together representatives of all microfinance industry stakeholders, such as federal and regional authorities, the industry’s regulator, international development institutions, self-regulatory and advocacy organizations, leading microfinance institutions, and also senior representatives of the banking sector, Russian and international microfinance community, academia and business, analysts, and experts.

The Conference for many years has been the central annual event in the sphere of microfinance, co-organized by the National Partnership of Microfinance Market Stakeholders (NAMMS) and its strategic partners. Held since 2002, it has attracted hundreds of participants from Russian regions and worldwide. Over the past seven years, the Conference has featured in the Top Three of the Global Entrepreneurship Week campaigns held in more than 150 countries.

The Conference agenda includes plenary sessions, round tables and discussions which address some of the most pressing issues faced by the microfinance industry, such as financial inclusion, innovation in the financial sector, efforts to promote microfinance institutions serving SMEs and the general public, and also the social aspects of microfinance, such as consumer protection and financial literacy in the sphere of financial service provision, and other aspects of responsible lending. The conference discussions often serve as a strategic framework for Russia's microfinance industry development in the following year.

Over the years, the Conference guests of honor have included high-profile Russian and international politicians and public figures, such as the UN Secretary General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands; the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Founder of the Grameen Bank Professor Muhammad Yunus, Russian Business Ombudsman Boris Titov, and Secretary of the Russian Civic Chamber Aleksander Brechalov.

With NAMMS as the Conference organizer, it is noteworthy that this year's XV (Fifteenth) Conference coincides with the tenth anniversary of NAMMS. The initiative to create an association which today brings together all segments of the microfinance market was first proposed by Mikhail Mamuta who served as NAMMS first president for eight years. Largely due to NAMMS and its members' efforts, microfinance has become a full-fledged part of Russia's financial system, actively contributing to financial inclusion for households and small businesses. Today, NAMMS membership includes:

- "The Russian Microfinance Center" Foundation

-  "The League of Credit Unions" National Union of Credit Cooperatives and Their Associations

- "Razvitie" Association of SME Support Agencies

- The Association of Russian Banks

- "Narodnye Kassy" Non-profit Mutual Insurance Society

- The Union of Rural Credit Cooperatives

- REMA, the Russian E-money Association

- "Microfinance and Development" Self-regulatory Organization of Microfinance Institutions

- "RAL" Regional Association for Professional Protection of Pawnshop Sector Participants

- "Soyzmicrofinance" Self-regulatory Organization of Credit Consumer Cooperatives

- The "National Association of Pawnshops" Union

- The National Association of Pawnshops

- "OPORA Russia" NGO of Small and Medium-sized Entreprises

- "The National Association of Credit Cooperatives" Self-regulatory Organization

All NAMMS members are co-organizers of the Conference.

Goals and Objectives of the 2016 Conference

The choice of title of the XV Anniversary Conference is not accidental. By definition, a revolution (from the Latin revolutio, "a turn around") is a radical and fundamental change, a developmental leap associated with total departure from the prior state of things. This description fits exactly the kind of transformation experienced by Russia’s microfinance industry in recent years.

Since the end of 2015, a number of laws have been enacted changing significantly the approach to the microfinance market regulation, including the Law on Self-regulatory Organizations in the Financial Market and amendments to the Laws on Microfinance Activities and Microfinance Organizations and on Credit Cooperation. The new legal provisions have effectively created a new type of microfinance market, which is now more transparent, beneficial to society, client-oriented and responsive to clients' needs.

Even the industry itself may not yet fully realize how profound the changes have been, but taken together, they can fairly be described as revolutionary. Now, the main objective for the industry and its regulator is to adjust their course and prove the industry's worth in the new and challenging economic circumstances, get rid of the burdensome problems that used to affect it at early stages of development, and move on towards a better future.

These objectives are reflected in the Russian Financial Market Development Strategy for 2016-2018.

The Conference will cover the following priority topics:

  • Enhancing the role of microfinance in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises; strengthening the mechanisms of state support for MFOs and CCPs as providers of SME financing; creating conditions for MFIs' effective engagement with government and support institutions to ensure SME access to finance;
  • Protecting the rights of financial consumers as an essential condition of the microfinance industry development. Discouraging unfair market conduct, increasing the microfinance sector's transparency, introducing standards for microfinance practitioners' business reputation and professional development, taking further steps to combat criminal and quasi-criminal business practices. Disclosure and advertising, financial literacy;
  • Promoting proportional regulation by making a distinction between microfinance vs. microcredit companies, and identifying microfinance organizations which primarily serve entrepreneurs: taking stock of early results of the market reforms designed to mitigate systemic risks, enhance the market's stability, and optimize the regulatory burden;
  • New financial products and technology for SMEs; using microfinance instruments to promote the uptake of financial innovation in SMEs;
  • Encouraging commercial banks to expand their lending to SMEs;
  • Introducing self-regulation in the microfinance market (legally required as of 11 January 2016 by Federal Law No. 223-FZ on Self-regulatory Organizations in the Financial Market): approaches to ensuring compliance with the legal requirements, adopting standards for self-regulatory organizations (SROs) and their members to make sure that the rules of market conduct are transparent and clear to all; promoting MFI portfolio securitization and refinancing of MFI loans to SMEs;
  • Improving the mechanisms of handling property liabilities in SROs of credit consumer cooperatives (CCs), promoting cooperative governance standards, and expanding the scope of CC operations;
  • Improving the pawnshop market transparency; establishing procedures for market access approval, and expanding the types of business operations.

 A TIMELINE

of the National Microfinance Conferences

 2002

The First Conference"Microfinance in Russia: Development Perspectives" (Moscow). The conference was attended by approximately 120 people.

2003

The Second Conference "Microfinance in Russia: New Frontiers of Development" (St. Petersburg). The conference was attended by 196 representatives of the microfinance community.

2004

The Third Conference"Microfinance in Russia Today and Tomorrow:  Trends in Growth" (Moscow). The conference was attended by more than 300 people.

2005

The Fourth Conference"Microfinance in Russia: Successful Strategies for Economic Growth" (St. Petersburg). The conference was attended by more than 400 people.

2006

The Fifth Conference "Microfinance in Russia: Components of Success. Past Experience for Future Growth" (Moscow). The conference was attended by 434 people.

2007

The Sixth Conference "Microfinance in Russia: Building an All-Inclusive Financial System" (Moscow). The conference was attended by more than 500 people.

2008

The Seventh Conference "Microfinance in Russia: New Technologies of Success" (St. Petersburg). The conference was attended by 534 people from 42 Russian regions and 28 other countries.

2009

The Eighth Conference "The role of Microfinance in Overcoming the Financial and Economic Crisis" (Moscow). The conference was attended by 500 people from 51 Russian regions and 22 countries.

2010

The Ninth Conference "Microfinance in Russia on the Threshold of Change: Lessons of the Crisis and New Opportunities" (Moscow). The conference was attended by 489 people from 62 Russian regions and 18 countries.

2011

The Tenth Conference "New Decade, New Challenges: Regulation as a Driver of Development" (Moscow). The conference was attended by 540 people from 66 Russian regions and 23 countries.

2012

The Eleventh Conference "Access to Finance for All and for Everyone: How to Ensure Socially Responsible Development of the Financial System?" (Kazan). The conference was attended by approximately 500 people from 56 Russian regions and 11 countries

2013

The Twelfth Conference "Innovation and Consumer Protection – Implementing Client-Centric Approach" (Moscow). The conference was attended by more 500 people from 59 Russian regions and 13 other countries.

2014

The Thirteenth Conference "Market Formation and Evolution under Megaregulation.  Challenges and Opportunities for CCs and MFIs" (St. Petersburg). The conference was attended by approximately 500 people.

2015

The Fourteenth conference "Microfinance. v. 2.0.  Reloading" (St. Petersburg). The conference was attended by more than 600 people.