MicroFinance Transparency and AMFA Kick Off Transparent Pricing Initiative in Azerbaijan
Microfinance Transparency and AMFA To Hold Workshop, Kick Off Transparent Pricing Initiative
LANCASTER, PA, USA & BAKU, AZERBAIJAN, September 17 – MicroFinance Transparency (MFTransparency) and the Azerbaijani Micro-finance Association (AMFA) will co-host a training workshop in Baku at the Hotel Respublika on the 8th of October, 2009 following the AMFA Investors Fair on 7th October 2009. The workshop will train industry professionals on issues related to pricing transparency and consumer protection and will mark the launch of MFTransparency’s Transparent Pricing Initiative in the Azerbaijani Republic.
AMFA is a network of microfinance institutions operating in Azerbaijan whose 26 members serve over 250 thousand clients representing more than USD $300 million in loans. AMFA’s partnership with MFTransparency demonstrates the commitment of Azerbaijan’s microfinance industry to transparency and consumer protection.  www.amfa.az
The partnership formed in discussions resulting from AMFA’s invitation to MFTransparency CEO and Founder, Chuck Waterfield, to present at the Azerbaijan Investors’ Fair. MFTransparency saw an excellent opportunity to conduct its pricing project for the first time in Central Asia.
MFTransparency Vice-President Alexandra Fiorillo commented on the partnership, “We are very excited to bring our pricing initiative to Central Asia and to work with such a dedicated network like AMFA. Azerbaijan’s microfinance industry has seen many successes in the recent past and has developed into one of the clear leaders in the region. Now is the perfect time to reflect and focus on consumer protection and pricing transparency.”
During MFTransparency’s Transparent Pricing Initiative, the group will collect data on interest and fees charged on each microfinance loan product in Azerbaijan in order to calculate the accurate, true price (Effective Interest Rate) on those loans. MFTransparency will then post that data for the public to see and learn from on its website (www.mftransparency.org).
The need for an initiative in transparent pricing has arisen in recent years as microfinance drew negative press attention for allegedly excessive interest rates and the use of confusing product pricing. MFTransparency has pointed out, “For example, a quoted interest rate of 3% per month can result in an APR between 36% and 96% and beyond”  MFTransparency hopes to establish an industry standard for cost calculation that will allow for easier product comparison.
Microfinance was introduced in Azerbaijan in the mid-1990s as a strategy for addressing the economic needs of as many as 1 million internally displaced persons who were uprooted during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia and has evolved to serve other areas and sections of the population. For more information please see Historical Background 
MicoFinance Transparency is an international non-governmental organization founded in 2008 with the purpose of facilitating transparent markets through the dissemination of true cost information to all market stakeholders. MFTransparency represents an industry movement toward fair practices and responsibility. Based in the United States, the group has previously been active in Bosnia, Peru, Cambodia and Bangladesh. For more information please visit (www.mftransparency.org). Grameen Bank’s Dr. Mohammad Yunus and Elizabeth Littlefield, CEO of CGAP, as well as more than 200 industry professionals and organizations have committed to transparent pricing by endorsing MFTransparency and its initiative. For information on MFTransparency staff please see Who We Are.
The Azerbaijani Micro-finance Association (AMFA) is the microfinance industry organization in Azerbaijan. Founded with 10 members in 2001, AMFA has grown in number to 26 organizations serving over 250 thousand clients with a portfolio of over USD $300 million. AMFA supports the health of microfinance in Azerbaijan through training, and conferences as well as actively working with the government to define their regulatory framework. For more information please see www.amfa.az.
About the AMFA Investors’ Fair
The 1-day AMFA Investors Fair at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan, on October 7, 2009 will focus on governance of MFIs and banks, financial risk management in today’s market, client protection, and will also offer learning opportunities on innovative products in microfinance as well as provide access to private and social capital investors. The conference is expected to include representatives from several of Azerbaijan’s government agencies and will include the participation of investors, microfinance institutions and service providers. For more information please see www.amfaconference.com
The Transparent Pricing Initiative in Azerbaijan is sponsored by KfW
For questions relating to this press release please contact:
1 – Azerbaijan Micro-finance Association. “The Matrix” http://amfa.az/sehife.php?lang=eng&page=0300 Accessed 9/17/2009.
2 – Microfinance Transparency. “The Need for Transparent Product Pricing.” 2009.
3 – Azerbaijan Micro-finance Association. “Historical Background” http://amfa.az/sehife.php?lang=eng&page=0000 Accessed 9/17/2009.
4 – Azerbaijan Micro-finance Association. “Investor Fair” http://www.amfaconference.com Accessed 9/17/2009.