The Adelante Foundation was recently represented by six top managers and seven board members at the Global Microcredit Summit in Valladolid, Spain. Microfinance institutions from around the world were able to partake in workshops, courses, presentations and other events on using microcredit to eradicate global poverty. Speakers at the Summit included some of the most influential practitioners in the industry, such as the founder of Grameen Bank in Bangledesh, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, co-founders Lynne Patterson and Carmen Valasco of Pro Mujer and Finca International’s founder John Hatch. Since the Adelante Foundation’s methodology is based on the Grameen Bank model, a special moment for our team was meeting Dr. Yunus.
After the conference, the delegates from our team in Honduras reflected on what they had learned and ideas for the upcoming 2012 year. One theme that resonated with many of our team members is the use of educational loans to improve opportunities for our clients and their families. Unfortunately, insecurity attributed to delinquency is escalating in Honduras, and improving economic opportunities for young people is an important solution to this social problem. Income earned by our clients is spent on education for their children, but paying for secondary school, university, or skills- training still remain a challenge. Offering educational loans to foster better opportunities for the children of our clients is an area of interest, and as General Manager, Sophia Anderson, puts it, ¨This way we might be able to reduce the number of young Hondurans that wind up becoming delinquents because they weren’t offered a better opportunity¨.
The relationship between microfinance and agricultural production also surfaced as a crucial component to reducing rural poverty. The provision of loans or training sessions for agricultural production would enhance income generation from agriculture. Many farmers already work with credit, but some are still excluded for a variety of reasons. A step towards developing this type of loan product would be determining where microcredit would be most needed. In the upcoming year, the Education Department is already planning to offer interactive workshops on agricultural production in order to boost profits and improve household food security.
Climate change is a global issue that will affect every nation in the future. Using microfinance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was another topic that emerged during the Summit. Loans to purchase products that reduce emissions, such as solar panels or high efficiency stoves, also have the added benefit of moderating household expenses. Claudia Nunez, Director of Accounting and IT, remarks, ¨A high efficiency stove is a product option that is being implemented by many institutions to help the problem of climate change and also clients’ economies¨. Climate change can not be neglected since the underprivileged will suffer the most from the impacts of a warmer climate.
Lastly, the summit reiterated the importance of offering clients the opportunity to save with microfinance institutions. National regulations often prohibit the development of savings accounts with unregulated banking institutions, which is a challenge faced by many microfinance institutions globally, including the Adelante Foundation. This is the case in Honduras, so one potential solution being investigated is becoming a regulated institution. However, this change would never be undertaken if it would compromise our mission to serve Honduras’ rural poor. The Summit reaffirmed our commitment to solving this problem so that our clients can save more.
Each of the team members that attended the Summit reflected on how the Adelante Foundation is achieving its mission to improve the quality of life of the rural poor in Honduras. The ideas and themes presented here are just a few of the highlights that transpired. Jose Luis Saldivar, Zone Supervisor and Agency Supervisor for the El Progreso branch, affirms, ¨I enjoyed the Summit because that’s where ideas are born and this is a big help to microfinance institutions from around the world¨. In considering how the Adelante Foundation compares to other similar institutions, our team felt that while there are improvements to be made, we should be proud that we are so strongly committed to our mission.