Iraq’s 12 microfinance institutions in cooperation with the USAID-Tijara Provincial Economic Growth Program are holding an Inclusive Financial Services Stakeholders Conference in Erbil on October 3 and 4. The theme of this year’s microfinance event will be “Transforming Inclusive Financial Services for Increasing Outreach”.
The conference will bring together leaders from 12 microfinance institutions (MFIs) that provide financial services throughout Iraq. The forum will attract Iraqi policy makers, international rating institutions, donors, commercial bankers, and representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Since 2003, Iraq’s microfinance industry has made 313,300 microloans with a total disbursed value of over $729 million. Iraq’s microfinance industry currently has 84,000 clients, over 16,218 of whom are women, with an outstanding loan portfolio of $123 million. Many borrowers operate subsistence businesses, farms, or cottage industries. Small companies create jobs which contribute to greater stability, economic diversification and prosperity in Iraq.
Participants at the forum will discuss opportunities for making financial services even more inclusive by discussing ways MFIs and the Iraqi industry as a whole can provide micro loans to larger numbers of people.
The forum will discuss ways to make this transformation possible, namely institutional reform, transparency, governance, how to better serve vulnerable groups such as youth and women while developing new, demand-driven products and alternative collaterals. Strategic business planning and the development of a credit bureau also will be studied. Planet Rating, Shore Bank International and the Central Bank of Iraq will be among those participating.