Barbados to play pivotal role in regional financing for small businesses

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday, August 16, 2012 – The biggest annual microfinance and microenterprise development event in Latin America and the Caribbean will be brought to Barbados for in October.

Barbados will host this year’s XV Inter-American Microenterprise Forum (Foromic 2012) from October 1 to 3, marking the first time ever that the event will be held in an English-speaking Caribbean country.

More than 1,000 participants are expected to attend Foromic, which this year will focus on innovative ways to unlock entrepreneurship. It is being organized by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, in collaboration with the Government of Barbados.

Green finance, savings products for low-income populations, and financing opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs in the Caribbean are among key topics on the agenda.

Impact investors and delegates from financial and microfinance institutions, associations of microentrepreneurs, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, foundations, and academia working in the area are all expected to participate.

According to organisers, since 1998, the microfinance sector has come a long way. While in 1998, the region had only 205 microfinance institutions serving 1.5 million customers, today Latin America’s close to 700 institutions attend to more than 12.5 million customers who receive more than US$15 billion in loans annually.

The first day of the conference will focus on Barbados and the Caribbean, with panels discussing development opportunities for small businesses, microfinance, entrepreneurship among youth and women, and emerging business from renewable energies.

The conference program for the second day will highlight innovative financing models for small and medium-sized businesses as well as expanding business models to provide financial services for the poor beyond microfinance to include savings. As in previous years, the latest developments in microfinance are at the centre of the event, which will have panels presenting lessons learned about the effective use of new technologies in providing financial services, improvements in corporate governance, and promising innovations in rural and agricultural finance

The last day features panels on impact investing as an opportunity for the Caribbean, and ways to unlock women entrepreneurship. Finally, improving client protection and financing models to finance green businesses, particularly related to renewable energy and energy efficiency will close the conference.

During the event’s inauguration, the MIF will deliver the Inter-American Awards for Microenterprise Development. The ceremony will announce awards for the following categories: best microfinance and microsavings institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the best institution promoting livelihoods opportunities for disadvantaged youth.

Also during the inauguration, the MIF will announce the winner of the award for excellence in local entrepreneurship in Barbados, sponsored by Citi Foundation. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)