Unitus Leadership Summit 2009

November 1, 2009 Posted by Update

Though young as a movement, microfinance has seen incredible growth in recent years, even in the midst of the economic downturn and sustained global credit crisis. At the same time, increased visibility has prompted debate on topics such as microfinance effectiveness in reducing poverty. This October, Unitus MFI partners, microfinance industry experts, and others gathered to discuss these issues, report on progress in 2009, and consult on future plans at the 2009 Unitus Leadership Summit in Mussoorie, India.

“The Annual Leadership Summit provides an invaluable opportunity for the leadership of our partner MFIs to share experiences and best practices, discuss industry trends, and build relationships to support their work,” explained Windy Wilkins, Unitus Global Network Manager. This year’s summit marked the fourth and largest to date, with 27 representatives from 16 of our microfinance partners, spanning six countries and three continents.

“The focus of this year was leadership and effectiveness, which envelop many of the themes we see emerging in microfinance,” says Wilkins.

The numerous topics covered over the three days included a panel on Social Performance Management featuring presentations by four of Unitus’s partners on their work to date; a roundtable discussion on MIS (Management Information Systems); and a thoughtful four-person panel and discussion on the topic of client over-indebtedness.

In addition to the microfinance-focused sessions, the world-renowned Center for Creative Leadership conducted their “Leadership Essentials” executive leadership course..

“I appreciated the focus on leadership development and thought we were provided with really good, useful tools,” said Paul Luchtenberg, CEO of AMK.

A first for this year’s summit was an optional site visit to Mimo Finance, a microfinance organization based in Dehradun and Unitus partner since 2008. Twenty people—including MFI partners and members of Unitus staff—visited one of four Mimo branch locations, where they watched a group loan meeting, spoke with individual clients, and spent time discussing and comparing organizational practices with Mimo’s staff.

At the end of the Unitus Leadership Summit, seven Unitus partners were recognized for reaching significant client outreach milestones in 2009. In addition, Samhita, an Indian-based MFI serving the hard to reach segments of the Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh, received the Unitus Acceleration Award, while AMK—an MFI serving rural Cambodia—won the Unitus Effectiveness Award. Samit Ghosh, Founder and CEO of Ujjivan, took home the first annual Inspiring Leader Award, chosen on-site by attendees.

Adet Kachi, first-time attendee and CEO of Yehu Microfinance Trust, told Unitus, “The conference was great—very enlightening, very informative. It was worth attending—every part of it was worth coming for.”

Congratulations to all of our partners for their hard work and achievements in 2009—we look forward to seeing you all together again at the next Unitus Leadership Summit in 2010!