Fair Finance for All

The third edition of the European Microfinance Day will be focused on our clients.

In 2014, there were 30.6 million self-employed people in the EU. Of these, 24.5 million were women, young people (15-24 years old), seniors (50-64 years old), as well as those who were unemployed in the previous year or who were born outside of the European Union. Although this accounts for the majority of self-employment activities, people in these groups are often less likely to be involved in business creation and self-employment activities than the mainstream population. They typically face different and greater barriers to business creation and to developing their business. However, people from these groups can be successful in entrepreneurship if given the right support [1].

The figures above clearly indicate that there are still many barriers for specific groups of the population that are in need of opportunities for self-employment in order to better integrate into the society. This situation is particularly aggravated by cyclical economic crises that have an immediate impact on the offer of accessible financial services and on unemployment levels, which are considered one of the main factors for financial and social exclusion respectively.

Since most of these populations do not have such opportunities for self-employment due to the difficulties in accessing the services offered by the formal financial sector, they look towards informal financial arrangements that are onerous and come at prohibitive costs. Individuals in this excluded market segment are microfinance clients – the underserved.

But, who exactly are these clients? In general terms, different segments of the population are defined as the main target of the microfinance sector:

  • Young people, those suffering from the impact of unemployment .

  • Senior citizens that are being displaced from the job market .

  • Women, particularly single mothers.

  • Minorities (e.g. Roma) and migrants

  • Rural populations that have no access to formal financial services

  • The unemployed who have plenty of business ideas

  • Salaried workers encouraged into self-employment by businesses who are looking to reduce fixed costs

  • Low-salaried people looking for additional income generating opportunities 

These groups make up the higher proportion of clients that turn to microfinance looking for opportunities. We also cannot forget those who are exposed to unexpected financial expenses or those unable to cover even temporary basic needs (e.g. education, transport, health-care costs, etc.).

All these people are considered as the financially underserved populations, and the provision of alternative financial services to them is the ultimate objective of the microfinance sector.

For this 3rd European Microfinance Day, we will place the focus on these populations. We want to highlight their diversity, motivations, concerns, etc. and see how microfinance can better serve their current and future needs.




The Venice Declaration

All Aboard!

In the same spirit as the 3rd European Microfinance Day, the recently-held 14th EMN Annual Conference, “Financial Education to Empower Citizens. All Aboard!”, underlined the need to foster and accelerate the process of financial inclusion by focusing equally on empowering constituencies and strengthening microfinance proper for a more equal and sustainable community.

A declaration was drawn up in co-operation with all sector representatives who had gathered in Venice for the event, with the aim of promoting microfinance in Europe as an instrument for a safer and more sustainable community from a social and financial point of view.  

The idea behind the Venice Declaration was to produce a document that gathered together the common goals of the sector and that was signed by all those who concurred with the message. On a major level, this document is a useful tool at both EU and national level as it is still available for all signatories – MFIs, banks and associations – to be used for promotion and awareness-raising purposes.

About 130 people from 19 different countries have already signed the Venice Declaration, so why not take advantage of the 3rd European Microfinance Day to increase support? The Venice Declaration – All Aboard!