The XIV National Conference on Microfinance and Financial Inclusion
Microfinance v. 2.0
About the Conference
The annual National Conference on Microfinance and Financial Inclusion (hereinafter, the Conference) is the most representative and important microfinance industry forum in Russia and the central public event of the year in the sphere of financial inclusion.
The Conference brings together representatives of all microfinance sector stakeholders, including federal and regional authorities, the industry’s regulator, international development institutions, self-regulatory and advocacy organizations, leading non-bank professional lenders, and also top-level representatives of the banking sector, the Russian and international microfinance community, business leaders, analysts and experts.
Attending the Conference is a good opportunity to learn about innovation in the sphere of financial inclusion and exchange views on some of the key issues in the development of retail finance. Supporting the Conference will allow sponsors to present and promote their products in a targeted and efficient way to an audience of operators in the markets of SME lending, microfinance and digital finance, and to publicize their programs in the context of current public policies.
More generally, the former Conferences' takeaways and resolutions have often served as a framework for the development of Russia's microfinance industry in the next year.
Over the years, the Conference guests of honor have been prominent Russian and international high-profile politicians and public figures, including 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; the Russian Business Ombudsman Boris Titov, and Secretary of the Russian Civic Chamber Aleksander Brechalov.
The National Partnership of Microfinance Market Stakeholders (NAMMS) has been the all-time Conference organizer, and the Russian Microfinance Center, the Association of Russian Banks, OPORA Russia, and other NAMMS members have traditionally served as its co-organizers.
Goals and Objectives of the 2015 Conference
Over the past two years since microfinance providers and credit cooperatives were brought under the supervision of the Bank of Russia via the Bank’s two new structural units, building an effective relationship has been a key objective for the microfinance industry and its regulator. Now comes the time for the industry's structural development issues to come into focus, replacing the former agenda of its legalization and transparency. In each segment of the market of non-bank professional lenders, the regulator jointly with the market participants are planning further reforms to improve the operators' financial sustainability, transparency and investment attractiveness for both domestic and external investors, and to enhance the impact of financial inclusion on social and economic stability. The regulator has involved relevant expert groups and stakeholders in designing amendments to both the federal legislation and the Bank of Russia’s acts and regulations. The upcoming reform to enhance the industry's professionalism follows the Bank of Russia-approved comprehensive action plan to improve financial inclusion, including the adoption of better policies for the development of financial markets in the interest of consumers.
The Conference participants will discuss the changing role of microfinance in the current financial landscape; key lessons learned by microfinance innovators (both the regulator and the market participants) in the past two years; what can be done at the new stage of "reforming" the market to implement a new and better version of microfinance—Microfinance v.2.0—and help non-bank professional lenders to attain a new level of performance in carrying out their mission to improve financial inclusion in Russia.
The Conference will cover the following priority topics:
- The industry reform as a measure to ensure its further development: what qualitative changes can be expected for non-credit financial institutions; changing the regulatory requirements to ensure proportional regulation; initial steps in implementing the reform, i.e. introducing a distinction between microlending and microcredit MFOs, adding the category of "entrepreneurial" MFIOs; bringing pawnshops under regulation and supervision; and establishing prudential supervision of agricultural credit cooperatives;
- Strengthening the special role of microfinance in supporting SMEs; creating mechanisms of state support for MFOs and the CCs, i.e. credit guarantee facilities for MFOs from the Agency of Credit Guarantees and a system of savings guarantees for CCs;
- Steps taken by the Bank of Russia to prevent unfair practices by non-bank professional lenders, and their effect; measures to improve regulation and supervision; prospects for mandatory self-regulation with an expanded mandate and role for SROs, and relevant standards;
- Promotion of responsible lending: international experience and Russian practices. Financial literacy, consumer protection and promotion of business ethics in MFOs and CCs: legislation, prospects for the introduction of performance standards for non-bank professional lenders, client-centered approaches to debt management and collection, and the Financial Ombudsman's role;
- Enhancing the impact of measures to improve MFOs and CCs' sustainability; required reserve allocations as a way towards ensuring sustainability;
- Digital finance as an innovative instrument of inclusive finance.
A Timeline of the Russian Microfinance Conferences
The First Conference "Microfinance in Russia: Development Perspectives" (Moscow). The conference was attended by approximately 120 people.
The Second Conference "Microfinance in Russia: New Frontiers of Development" (St. Petersburg). The conference was attended by 196 representatives of the microfinance community.
The Third Conference "Microfinance in Russia Today and Tomorrow: Trends in Growth" (Moscow). The conference was attended by more than 300 representatives of Russian MFIs, public authorities, organizations supporting the Russian microfinance sector, and the banking community.
The Fourth Conference "Microfinance in Russia: Successful Strategies for Economic Growth" (St. Petersburg). The conference was attended by more than 400 people from Russian regions and other countries, including representatives of the microfinance community and banks, policy-makers and government officials, and microfinance and business experts.
The Fifth Conference "Microfinance in Russia: Components of Success. Past Experience for Future Growth" (Moscow). The conference was attended by 434 people from the Russian regions and other countries, including representatives of the microfinance community and banks, policy-makers and government officials, and microfinance and business experts.
The Sixth Conference "Microfinance in Russia: Building an All-Inclusive Financial System" (Moscow). The conference was attended by more than 500 people from Russian regions and other countries.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 some 500 people from 56 Russian regions and 11 countries.
The Twelfth Conference "Innovation and Consumer Protection Implementing Client-Centric Approach" (Moscow). The conference was attended by over 500 people from 59 Russian regions and 13 countries. The conference participants represented more than 200 organizations, including some 60 credit consumer cooperatives, about the same number of SME support funds, and some 80 microfinance institutions.
The Thirteenth Conference "Market Formation and Evolution under Megaregulation: Challenges and Opportunities for CCs and MFIs” (St. Petersburg). The conference was attended by over 500 people.