On July 14-15th, the Financial Research Associates in association with The Silicon Valley Microfinance Network (SVMN) proudly hosted the Microfinance West: The Investment Opportunity conference at the Hilton in Fishmerman's Wharf here in San Francisco. The purpose of the conference was to focus on investment opportunities in the microfinance world, as microfinance has quickly expanded beyond the realm of philanthropy to also include an amalgamation of technological innovation and big retail investments. Premal Shah, Kiva's president, attended the conference on behalf of Kiva along with about one hundred other leaders and entrepreneurs in microfinance, international development, human rights, health, and law. Some of the impressive conference speakers included: microfinance guru Elizabeth Funk (Dignity Fund); Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures); Louise Schneider-Moretto (Women's World Banking); Sharlene Brown (Grameen Foundation), and many others. For a detailed itinerary and complete list of the event's speakers, click here.
Following the first day of the conference on July 14th, Kiva hosted an intimate cocktail reception at its mission district office for all of the conference attendees and Kiva staff. The purpose of the gathering was to encourage a vibrant discussion of the current state and future of microfinance amongst the dedicated leaders and participants in the microfinance, technological, and financial industries. Over 80 people attended the reception, including Kiva staff and conference attendees. Over cocktails, cheeses, fruits, and various deserts, the Kiva staff was provided with the valuable opportunity of meeting experts from the technology field, such as Sean Foote (Labrador Ventures); the microfinance world, such as Roger Frank (partner of Developing World Markets); and the investment world, including: Bhatki Mirchandani (associate, Lehman Brothers). Both staff and the conference attendees exchanged ideas and opinions in regards to the current successes of microfinance. Ideas were also exchanged as to how financial investors and technological experts can continue to work in conjunction with microfinance institutions (MFIs) and non-profits to expand microfinance successes across the globe. Given the incredibly diverse backgrounds (geographically and industry-wise) of the conference attendees, it was nice to have a reception where experts could come together with the common interest of doing social good and alleviating poverty.
The cocktail reception was a tremendous success and Kiva was thrilled about the turn out! While the reception was supposed to last from 6:30-8:30pm, many attendees left close to 10 p.m. In the informal setting, Kiva staff had a wonderful time meeting and mingling with an incredible group of key industry leaders, financiers, and practitioners. We certainly hope to continue to build lasting relationships with all the key players in the microfinance industry, and it was an honor to be in the company of like-minded individuals.
Kiva would like to especially thank www.Broadbent.com for donating wine to the event! We appreciate this gesture a great deal and it very much contributed to the success of the evening.