First Arab Microfinance Investment Symposium

Nov 2008
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November, 06 2008 - Grameen-Jameel, a social business that serves the Arab microfinance industry, is co-hosting the region's first Arab Microfinance Investment Symposium on the 30th of November 2008 in Dubai with Geneva-based microfinance fund manager BlueOrchard.

Scheduled to take place at the Emirates Towers Hotel, the Symposium will bring together investors and microfinance institutions (MFIs) from the region for the first time ever, hence demonstrating the growing importance of microfinance in the Arab World and its emergence as an attractive asset class. The latest figures reveal that the global $300 billion microfinance industry achieves average annual growth rates of 40% and investment returns of 25%.

Delivering a keynote speech entitled "Microfinance Market and Trends in the Arab World," Heather Henyon, General Manager, Grameen-Jameel, said "Microfinance is known to be countercyclical to the macroeconomic environment. As governments across the Arab region begin to create microfinance-friendly regulatory environments, the window for investment is opening."

The event is a platform for MFIs and investors to share ideas and explore opportunities in the Arab World and Pakistan. Keynote speakers and panellists include Fadi Ghandour, Founder and CEO of Aramex and Chairman of one of the leading MFIs in Jordan, National Microfinance Bank; Fadi Abdul Latif Jameel, Board Director of Grameen-Jameel; Jack Lowe, President of BlueOrchard Finance Inc.; Prashant Thakkar, Microfinance Business Head of Standard Chartered Bank; Royston Braganza, CEO of Grameen Capital India; and Deepak Khanna, Senior Program Manager of International Finance Corporation.

Ten microfinance institutions are being showcased as investment opportunities and are seeking $500 million in debt and equity financing over the next three years. The MFI panel discussion will feature Ziad Al Refai, CEO of Tamweelcom in Jordan; Hassan Faried, Executive Director of DBACD in Egypt; Essma Ben Hamida, Executive Director of enda inter-arabe in Tunisia; and Roshaneh Zafar, President of Kashf Foundation in Pakistan. The goal is to demonstrate how microfinance is not just a safe investment vehicle that could be part of a diversified portfolio but also an asset class that is socially responsible.

"Times are tough for almost everyone right now and in the near future. Solidarity with those living in poverty will require a strong commitment and much courage," said Jean-Pierre Klumpp, CEO of BlueOrchard Finance S.A. "There are still huge possibilities in the Arab world to support microentrepreneurship as only an estimated 10% of the needs for financial services for the poor are presently met."

Grameen-Jameel, a for-profit limited company jointly owned by Grameen Foundation and Abdul Latif Jameel Group, was established to facilitate the work of Arab microfinance institutions that give direct loans to uncollaterized microentrepreneurs as a way to lift them out of poverty while creating self-sustaining businesses. These entrepreneurs create jobs in their poor communities, build wealth, exit poverty and improve their standard of living and that of people around them. "It is doing good while doing well," added Henyon.

To learn more about the Symposium, go to or email

Source : Zawya

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