USAID Supports First Microfinance Conference in Southern Sudan
UA Africa Command, US Embassy Sudan -
JUBA, Central Equatoria,
The U.S. government, acting through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) and the Microfinance Association of Southern Sudan, will sponsor Southern Sudan’s first microfinance conference July 20-21, 2010 in Juba.
The Southern Sudan Microfinance Conference will provide a forum for stakeholders to exchange views about the status of microfinance in southern Sudan and develop a strategy to advance microfinance in the region.
Keynote speakers include Barrie Walkley, Consul General, U.S. Consulate Juba; Laurence Clarke, World Bank Country Manager; H.E. Minister of Commerce and Industry Stephen Dhieu, GOSS; and H.E. Minister of Cooperative and Rural Development Dr. Anne Itto, GOSS.
The conference will provide a forum for GOSS and donors to hear from Sudanese microfinance practitioners and other groups involved in microfinance in southern Sudan. Conference participants will review the progress of microfinance operations in southern Sudan; current international microfinance experience and practices; and outline challenges facing microfinance institutions in the region as well as donor and practitioner objectives.
The conference will include technical sessions, an overview of experiences to date, and a discussion of international best practices and their application in southern Sudan. Participants will develop the first stage of a comprehensive microfinance strategy for southern Sudan. The draft strategy will be circulated for further discussion to interested conference participants following the event.
Currently there are three main microfinance institutions (MFIs) operating in southern Sudan, including two international MFIs–Finance Sudan and BRAC–and one Sudanese–Sudan Microfinance Institution. There are also several smaller start-up institutions, as well as the newly established Microfinance Association of Southern Sudan operating in the burgeoning arena. Limited institutional capacity, lack of resources, inadequate physical infrastructure, and a nascent policy environment are all common challenges faced by MFIs operating within southern Sudan, and are issues that will be addressed during this conference.
The USAID-funded Generating Economic Development through Microfinance in Southern Sudan (GEMSS) project is a three-year activity designed to strengthen and support the region’s microfinance sector. GEMSS, implemented by AED in partnership with ACDI/VOCA, builds on USAID success in establishing a microfinance industry in southern Sudan in 2003, and strives to bolster the capacity of the region’s microfinance institutions and sector-supported organizations.