MFTransparency Joins Financial Inclusion Side-Event at the United Nations
On September 22, 2010 I attended a side-event during the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals Summit 2010 on behalf of MicroFinance Transparency entitled “Financial Inclusion: A Path to the Millennium Development Goals.” The intimate event was hosted by the Governments of the Netherlands and the United States, together with Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, the UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, and included a wide range of practitioners from around the world.
Over lunch, Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and U.S. Under Secretary of State Maria Otero made remarks about the current state of the microfinance industry and announced several new and exciting programs related to inclusive finance.
During her speech, Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima of the Netherlands made several key statements on the need for inclusive finance around the world. She clearly defined financial inclusion as “universal access, at a reasonable cost, to a range of financial services for everyone needing them, provided by a diversity of sound and sustainable institutions.” She avowed that “these services must be provided in a way that is transparent, responsible and can benefit clients. It is about providing clients what they need and can afford and where clients are financially educated to take the right decision.” The speech came one day before Princess Máxima presented the Secretary-General with the annual report of her work as the Special Advocate.
We at MFTransparency whole-heartedly support the clear and impassioned words of Her Royal Highness and continue to work to make sure microfinance services are provided in a transparent and responsible manner by helping industries adopt interest rate disclosure mechanisms that bring more information to clients, donors, investors, regulators and all stakeholders. With improved knowledge of the products being offered to clients in microfinance markets around the world and the true prices being charged to clients, we hope to empower clients to make better financial decisions for themselves. Ultimately, we hope to improve clients’ financial literacy levels in order to allow them to be better represented in their local financial market. Financial education, a fundamental component of achieving true financial inclusion around the world, must be implemented at all levels of the financial sector – from regulators and government officials to the managers and loan officers at financial institutions to the clients who access various financial products.