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Paraguay’s President Lugo, Princess Máxima of the Netherlands to open Microenterprise Forum

Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima of the Netherlands and Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno will open the 11th Microenterprise Forum, which will take place October 8–10 in Asunción, Paraguay.

The forum is the principal event on microenterprise in Latin America and the Caribbean, where there are some 65 million of these small businesses. Microenterprises, which typically employ no more than 10 people, generate about half the jobs in this region.

More than 1,000 delegates from the Americas and Europe will attend the forum at the Conmebol Convention Center in Asunción. The event draws participants from microfinance institutions, credit unions, commercial banks, social investment funds, foundations, consulting firms, government agencies and international organizations.

This year’s forum, organized by the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) and the Paraguayan government, will focus on two central issues: how to help more microentrepreneurs move into the mainstream economy and how microfinance institutions can practice “responsible finance”, particularly in terms of transparency in lending.

“As the microfinance industry melds with the mainstream financial system it will face new challenges, such as an increasing exposure to shocks,” Moreno said. “This forum will give us a timely opportunity to discuss how the global financial crisis may affect microfinance in Latin America and how this industry can protect its own clients from unfair lending practices.”

Princess Máxima, who will be attending the forum as a member of the United Nations Advisory Group on Inclusive Financial Sectors, will address in her speech the latest developments in inclusive finance.

During the forum the IDB and Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF) will present a new edition of the Microscope, a report on the business climate for microfinance in Latin America and the Caribbean covering 20 countries in this region. The report was commissioned by the IDB and CAF from The Economist Intelligence Unit.

The IDB, the leading source of multilateral financing for development in Latin America and the Caribbean, has provided more than $1 billion since 1978 to promote microenterprise-related projects. Through the MIF it has supported the expansion of some of the biggest microfinance networks in this region and key innovations in this industry, which last year provided some $9.2 billion in microcredit to nearly 8.1 million clients.

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