Dear Friends,

We stand today at the threshold of a new frontier. Over the horizon lie uncharted experiments in sustainable development and technology, unanswered questions on best practices for gender equity and youth employment, and unresolved debates on the most effective social and financial inclusion policies that create shared solutions for social change. It would be an easier task to stay the course and accept the status quo, but we believe current times require innovativeness, boldness and determination.

The Microcredit Summit Campaign, in partnership with the Arab Gulf Fund Program for Development (AGFUND) and the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, invites you on a journey over the horizon. Join us as we explore “Frontier Innovations in Financial Inclusion” at the 18th Microcredit Summit — under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, vice chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council — this March 14-17, 2016, in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. More than 700 people from the Middle East, Africa, and beyond will explore how microfinance and financial inclusion strategies can create clear pathways out of poverty for the most vulnerable segments of society across the globe.

In recent years, Africa and the Middle East have experienced success, especially with innovations in growing mobile money accounts and experimentations in sub-Saharan Africa. Recent Global Findex 2014 numbers show there is a major opportunity in expanding financial inclusion among women and the poorest households in Africa and the Middle East. But outreach is still low in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), compared to other regions. We must do more to reach those new frontiers in social and financial inclusion for women, youth, the elderly, people with disabilities, and those living in poverty.

Leaders from around the world will convene at the 18th Microcredit Summit to partake in partnership building, knowledge-sharing, and thoughtful discussion around practices and policies that promote outreach, put clients at the center, and accelerate social change. The Summit agenda will explore these questions:

  • How do we advance national financial inclusion strategies that create the appropriate policies and regulatory framework that promote social inclusion for all?
  • How do we create more innovative pathways that build resilience and empower those who are often excluded, including women, the elderly, and those living with disabilities?
  • How can we use financial inclusion to promote entrepreneurship and provide the appropriate products and services to empower the youth?
  • How do we ensure a full range of microfinance products and services reach those who are socially and financially excluded?
  • How can we capitalize on the natural synergies between different sectors to contribute to the success of the Universal Financial Access 2020 goal, the World Bank 2030 goals, and the U.N. Global Goals?

Twenty-sixteen marks the beginning of a seven-year endeavor to make the United Arab Emirates one of the world’s most innovative nations in the world. Join us in Abu Dhabi, the pearl of the emirates, to engage with leaders from microfinance institutions, global development organizations, foundations, social investment firms, and corporations alongside high-level government officials. Together, let’s inspire one another with new challenges and unify ourselves to bring about this change.

Innovation is the only way to make our mark on history. The future will belong to those who embrace the unknown, the terra incognita in our sector, and dare to explore what lies beyond. Let us rise to the challenge together and deliver on our shared responsibility to the most vulnerable and marginalized.


IMG_1633_Larry Reed

Mr. Nasser Bakr Al-Kahtani, the CEO of AGFUND

Larry Reed, Director
Microcredit Summit Campaign

Nasser Alkahtani, Executive Director
The Arab Gulf Programme for Development (AGFUND)

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