Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day One of the Summit

The Microcredit Summit started today and in the opening session we heard from the President of Kenya, the Queen of Spain and a Princess from the Netherlands but the most dynamic speaker was Professor Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Laureate and Managing Director of Grameen Bank) talking about the global financial crisis and the worlds poor. He said now is the time to redesign financial architecture to reinvent these institutions to serve all. What a powerful man and message.

In another session Ingrid Munro and her team from the Jamii Bora Bank (yes, they are a bank now) were the stars talking about all the program they have developed and success stories like my friend Joyce who I met on my last trip.

I attended a session on “reporting standards” because it ties in with so many things we are trying to do at Seventh Generation. It was organized by the SEEP Network (Small Enterprise Education and Promotion) connecting microenterprise practitioners from around the world. Presenters from Palestine, Uganda, Kenya and the US talked about best practices in their countries; some of them are applicable to business.

I met a fascinating woman who works for the UN in Sudan and Care fundraiser who invited me to a party on Friday night. Since my name tag says Whole Planet Foundation, I usually have lots of explaining to do when I meet new people.

Some of the microcredit clients were selling their wares in booths outside the meeting so I will not have to go to the market for presents.

My reflections on the first day…
• There are so many amazing things going on in the world that give me hope for the future
• Business can and should do more to help alleviate poverty
• I want to be a part of this movement in a peripheral way now and more involved when I am able to retire from full-time work

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