Microfinance Conference Opens at UCC

The 9th Microfinance Conference organized under the auspices of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the College of Humanities and Legal Studies has opened at the University of Cape Coast (UCC). The two-day conference under the theme "The Future of Microfinance: Sustainability of Microfinance Institutions and Financial Inclusion" is being attended by players in the industry across the country". There will be presentation by various speakers from both industry and academia on various topics on Microfinance. In a speech delivered on his behalf by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Prof. George K.T. Oduro, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, said the emergence of microfinance was basically to provide easy access to finance for the financially excluded poor and also to be conduit of poverty reduction. However, he noted, with time a number of issues regarding the sustainability of microfinance had emerged. “Recent happenings on the microfinance landscape in Ghana have engendered multiple concerns that need critical appraisal and effecting addressing", he said. Prof. Ghartey Ampiah indicated that the theme for the conference was most appropriate especially in the light of the collapse of some microfinance institutions in the country such as DKM which led to the loss of substantial sums of money by clients. According to Prof. Ampiah, global attention to issues of microfinance and financial inclusion had been heightened in recent times and had become priorities for some countries in the developing world. “It is imperative for economic growth to enhance greater and easier access to finance by the poor and financially excluded and microfinance is to bridge this gap”. The Vice-Chancellor said there had been a remarkable increase in the number of microfinance institutions in Ghana in the last couple of years. He, however, said recent evidence suggest that, the impact of these institutions had been mixed coupled with critical operational challenges leading to adverse outcomes such as collapse of some of them as well as some clients committing suicide. That, the Vice-Chancellor, said had brought to the fore the urgent need to revisit the microfinance paradigm. The Provost of College of Humanities and Legal Studies, Prof. Dora Edu-Buandoh, said recent happenings in the sector make it important for academia to engage industry on the future of microfinance in the country. Prof. Edu-Buandoh said over the years, proceedings of the conference had affected policy formulation regarding the industry. She called for the need to look at Microfinance in poverty reduction and at the same time wealth creation adding “the College is ready to partner industry to make it a reality." Delivering the keynote address, the Executive Director of Ghana Microfinance Institutions Network (GHAMFIN), Mr. Yaw Gyamfi, said microfinance had been accepted as a tool for poverty alleviation and financial inclusion in Ghana. “The microfinance sector has become a major conduit for the provision of financial services to the poor, low income and micro enterprise who are rejected by the banking system on the basis of being high risk," he said. Mr. Yaw Gyamfi noted that the microfinance landscape in Ghana had changed significantly over the last two decades and also their activities were not exclusive to them alone due to the emergence of new financial inclusion paradigm and the growing numbers of financial institutions. According to him, studies had shown that prudent risk management, adherence to best practices, regulatory framework, corporate governance, access to resources, technology and innovations,staff training and motivation were the significant drivers of success for microfinance institutions in Ghana. He hoped the conference would contribute significantly to enhance the growth of microfinance in the country. The Director of the Directorate of Academic Quality Assurance and Planning, Prof Kofi Awusabo-Asare, chaired the function.