Attendees of last week’s first ever St. Louis Microfinance Conference got to hear from practioners, participants, and researchers about the innovative work happening around microfinance locally, nationally, and global. The conference was hosted at UMSL and sponsored by the Incarnate Word Foundation, Citi Community Development, the Nonprofit Management & Leadership at UMSL, and the Public Policy Research Center at UMSL.
The keynote speakers for the event were exceptionally qualified to speak about global microfinance and they included Robert Annibale (Global Director of Citi Microfinance and Community Development), Pamela Flaherty (President of Citi Foundation), and Michael Sherraden (Founding Director of the Center for Social Development at George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University). By far the best part of the conference though were the panels that featured local organizations doing amazing working in microfinance and asset building. It was amazing to hear about how much work was being done locally around microfinance and hear the excitement from the ~150-person audience. We heard from a range of local organizations including justine PETERSEN, the Incarnate Word Foundation, the International Institute, Assets for Independence, Beyond Housing, micrOlin, and others.
The conference organizers did a great job of both getting the audience involved and educating the attendees. Each registration fee ($25 per person) was put towarsd Micro-Investment Grants of $1,000 that will be used to assist in advancing local and global microfinance programs. Thirteen different organizations were competing for grants and attendees were allowed to vote once to determine who would get the funding. The three winners were:
- North Grand Neighborhood Services
- Center for the Acceleration of African American Business
- Osman Sapir, Beekeeping Apprentice (International Institute supported business)