The Microcredit Summit campaign was launched in February 1997, to reach 100 million of the poorest families, with microcredit and other financial and business services by 2005. The campaign aims to make a significant dent in poverty by building on the demonstrated success of microcredit programs to reach the poor, especially women, and help them become self-reliant.
The first Summit held on February 2-4, 1997, brought together 2,900 participants from 137 countries, including many heads of governments. Each year since then, the Summit has organized Meetings of Councils, including global meetings and regional meetings, to offer the opportunity for microcredit practitioners, advocates, donors and others committed to the Summit's goal to assess progress, discuss challenges, and identify strategies for overcoming those challenges.
The Summit meetings have centered on the core themes of the Summit which are
- Reaching the poorest
- Reaching and empowering women,
- Building financially self-sufficient institutions, and
- Ensuring a positive measurable impact on the lives of clients and their families.
The Microcredit Summit + 5, the first summit level meeting since 1997, will be held on November 10-13, 2002 in New York City. The MCS + 5 expects to bring together 3,000 delegates from more than 140 countries. Among those
confirmed to attend are President Vicente Fox of Mexico, Ms Zanele Mbeki, first lady of South Africa, Queen Rania of Jordan, Senator Hillary Clinton and U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.
Since 1997, Grameen Trust has actively supported the Summit campaign, disseminating information about the campaign to its 112 partners worldwide as well as to the 410 members of the Grameen Global Network. GT itself
continues to provide seed and scaling up funds, training and technical assistance to practitioners around the world. GT in collaboration with its partners, committed to reach 10 million of the poorest households as a part of its own commitment to reach the Summit's goal. The 112 organizations in 34 countries directly funded by Grameen Trust, currently reach 1 million poorest families in 2002. Grameen Global Network, through its members, collectively reach 4.5 million poorest families around the world.
The Project Director of Grameen Trust's Kosovo project, KGMAMF, will speak during the break out session on "Microfinance in Challenging Environments". In addition, Grameen Trust, under its Grameen Global Network program, will host two associated sessions during the Summit. The first on "Grameen Bank II" will be held on November 11 from 1:45 pm- 2:45 pm. A second session on "Innovations of Grameen Trust Partners" will be held on 12 November from 2:00-3:00 pm. Both sessions will be chaired by Professor Muhammad. Grameen Trust will also host a display booth for distribution of materials and publications.
Grameen Communications, another enterprise concerned with IT development, will also demonstrate applications of Loan Monitoring and Accounting Software for Microfinance Practitioners.
According to the 2001 report of the Microcredit Summit, practitioners had collectively reached 19.3 million poorest clients by the end of 2000 as part of the campaign. According to the Summit report, the growth rate per year is 37%, just a percentage point below the 38% needed to reach the 100 million goal.
However, the challenges ahead are great. An estimated 1.2 billion people in the world live on less than US$ 1 a day and the number is rising. In this context, the Summit + 5 will have the opportunity to powerfully show that sustainable microcredit for the very poor can play an important role in achieving the Millenium Development Goal of halving absolute poverty by 2015.
By Lamiya Morshed, Grameen Trust