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International Symposium on Microcredit in Bonn, Germany

AMERSFOORT, The Netherlands, June 6 /PRNewswire/ --

- Small Loans for Great Change

Issues surrounding credit for development will be examined by microfinance providers and practitioners convening in Bonn, Germany on June 10, 2005, for a symposium hosted by Oikocredit, one of the largest private financiers of the microfinance sector. The symposium creates an opportunity for socially responsible investors to learn about how their investments affect the lives of people on a low income.

"Lending to the less wealthy is not as simple as it might seem," says Tor Gull, Managing Director of Oikocredit. "Microcredit is most successful when it reflects the needs of the client. But the less well off are a complex market."

Social marginalisation, illiteracy, inefficient markets, conflicts or economic disasters are all part for the course for microcredit practitioners. Tailoring financial products to support a sustainable relationship in such a setting requires the flexibility as well as an in-depth local knowledge of the issues.

The symposium entitled 'Small loans - great change; building a future with microfinance' will address issues such as the difficulty of accessing those on a low income in rural areas. Few organisations have accepted the higher risk and cost of bringing microcredit to rural areas, seen as essential to rural development and reducing urban migration.

With poverty relief, microcredit brings additional benefits such as access to health care and education which reduce the risk of HIV infection. Interest rates, a sensitive issue for socially responsible investors, are also high on the agenda. The reality for microcredit providers is that costs in the field and risks are substantial, and interest rates have to reflect this.

Among the less fortunate, women tend to be more disadvantaged than men. While many microcredit providers tailor loans to reflect the realities of women, such as illiteracy and a lack of collateral, microcredit can overload women by making them care-givers as well as bread-winners. Yet microcredit empowers women to make strategic decisions on the financial health and welfare of their families.

The symposium promises a strong representation from microfinance providers and practitioners, as well as testimonies from beneficiaries such as Irene Quilca, from Confianza, Peru who will exchange best practices in the field of lending to the less wealthy. Over 500 attendees are expected to attend the event, which coincides with Oikocredit's 30 anniversary. More information can be found at www.oikocredit.org.

Press conference: 12.30 hrs., June 10 at Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung Pressesaal, Welckerstr. 11, 53113, Bonn

SOURCE Oikocredit



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