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"Microfinance in Africa" conference to be held April 19-20

The two-day networking conference titled “Expanding Financial Access in Africa: Prospects and Innovations in Microfinance” at Lehigh University’s College of Business and Economics is proceeding as scheduled on April 19 and 20—with the exception of the keynote address by Dambisa Moyo.

The conference is one of the first ever held outside the African continent, where nearly 400 million people live in poverty. It comes at a time when Lehigh’s Microfinance Program is growing in reputation and reach.

Moyo, a global economist and the author of Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa, was scheduled to give the conference’s keynote address at 4:10 on Monday, April 19, in the Zoellner Arts Center’s Baker Hall, but her public lecture has been cancelled. Moyo is unable to attend the conference because her flight from London to the United States was cancelled due to the disruption in air travel caused by Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull  volcano.

The conference’s agenda features Marguerite Robinson, author of The Microfinance Revolution, and officials from LIPAM International, Omtrix, ACCION, the AfriCap Microfinance Investment Fund and other microfinance institutions (MFIs).

The event is cosponsored by the Calmeadow Foundation, Lehigh’s Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise and the university’s office of international affairs. It will be held at the Rauch Business Center.
 
Microfinance programs are widely regarded as the most promising approach to tackling poverty on a global scale. They provide small loans ranging from $50 to $500 to help the working poor start up and expand businesses.

Lehigh’s first annual Microfinance Innovation Roadmapping Workshop, co-sponsored by IBM held here in 2008, was lauded as a breakthrough conference for the industry’s information technology professionals.

Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics has ramped up its microfinance activities  in recent years, sponsoring programs in countries including Peru and Honduras.

Lehigh’s Microfinance program, established in 2005 during the United Nations International Year of Microcredit, is housed in the College of Business and Economics.

Faculty and students have worked with MFIs and conducted microfinance research in Honduras, Peru, Cambodia, Ghana, Mozambique, and Zambia. Trips to Zambia and Tanzania are planned this summer.

To register for the conference, please contact Rosemary Krauss at the Martindale Center at rhk0@lehigh.edu or 610-758-4771.

Story by Tom Yencho

Posted on Monday, April 19, 2010

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