Report on the 3rd African Microfinance Conference: New Options for Rural and Urban Africa
This paper presents a report on the third African Microfinance Conference held in Uganda, titled New Options for Rural and Urban Africa. The conference discussed segmentation of markets, and costs and risks for clients as well as financial institutions. The discussion revealed that:
- New financial institutions are educating themselves about value chains;
- Farmers groups, insurance providers, banks and financial institutions must work together in a mutually beneficial way;
- Customer awareness is important;
- Standard products need to be redesigned to make them more accessible.
The conference discussed the Ugandan experience in the development and evolution of its performance monitoring tool. It also looked at issues such as government protection, consumer education and role of the private sector. Lessons learned from the conference include:
- Variety of new products available such as cell phone banking and internet banking can reduce costs and risks to clients;
- Institutions need to invest time and resources in creating different market niches for new options;
- Climate change has brought in new challenges, and products such as weather insurance, tree planting and renewable energy sources are important.