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IDB to hold microenterprise forum in Guatemala

The Inter-American Development Bank will hold September 4-5 in Guatemala City the 6th Inter-American Forum on Microenterprise, a conference devoted to a key sector that generates nearly half of the jobs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This year’s forum will focus on what can be done to help microenterprises weather economic turbulence in a crisis-prone region, where some 50 million of these small businesses provide crucial sources of income and employment for millions of poor families.

IDB President Enrique V. Iglesias is due to open the event on Thursday, September 4 at the Westin Camino Real conference center. The forum, which is being organized by the IDB’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Division and the Guatemalan Ministry of Economy, will bring together hundreds of participants from around the world.

Participants will include microentrepreneurs from various countries in the region and experts from international aid and development agencies, non-governmental organizations, social investment funds, microfinance institutions, credit unions, commercial banks, business services firms, universities and government agencies involved in microenterprise development.

The main theme of the conference, How Can We Confront Changes and Manage Risks for the Development of Micro and Small Enterprises? addresses both the enormous potential of this often-overlooked economic sector in Latin America and the Caribbean and the strategies and tactics practitioners are adopting to cope with tough times.

Some of this year’s workshops and plenary sessions will address issues such as:

  • The toll of economic crises on small businesses and microenterprises
  • How will international trade pacts affect the region’s microentrepreneurs?
  • How do microfinance institutions survive in times of crisis?
  • How can Latin America foster entrepreneurship?

Other forum events will include a business matchmaking session where microentrepreneurs will have opportunities to discuss potential deals with executives from larger companies; a study tour to successful local microcredit and business development programs; an exhibition center with stands featuring leading institutions in the field of microenterprise and microfinance and a crafts fair for products made and marketed by microentrepreneurs.

On the evening of Thursday, September 4, the IDB will hand out the Inter-American Awards for Microenterprise Development, its annual prizes for outstanding institutions and individuals who promote microenterprise and community development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In a separate event on Wednesday, September 3, the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund will hold a conference on the links between remittances, microfinance, and community development in Central America. This meeting will also take place at the Westin Camino Real conference center.

The IDB is the leading source of financing for microenterprise development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 1978, when it started the Small Projects Program, the IDB has invested over $800 million in more than 500 microenterprise-related initiatives, including projects that have been instrumental in helping build some of the region’s foremost microfinance institutions.

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