First Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum

Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum

The Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum: a major new industry initiative 

Explore the differences, similarities and opportunities for achieving financial inclusion within this unique region!

The Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 11-14 July 2016 and aimed to strengthen the level of cooperation and knowledge exchange between countries and institutions to progress financial inclusion within the Greater Mekong Subregion, namely: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, and China (specifically Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region).

The Forum has addressed the region’s priority issues, including:

  • the role of national development strategies
  • best practice regulation and supervision
  • the use of technology and alternative delivery channels
  • the provision of client education and consumer protection
  • developing infrastructure that will enable financing for micro, small and medium enterprise
  • creating and promoting coordinated action and partnerships between the private sector, governments and development partners
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More information about the event on the Banking with the Poor Network website.


Interview with Olivier Massart, Executive Director of ADA

Interviewed at the conference, Olivier Massart shares his support to Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum and, among others, recalls the role of ADA as a catalyst.



Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum in media


This first edition of the event gathered more than 300 participants 
As one of the highlights from the forum, we can already tell you that the Cambodian Finscope study was officialy launched.

Below you will find links to some articles from the press in the Mekong region:


Visit our YouTube channel to watch all videos of regional television about the event:



Two workshops and one training given by ADA!

On July 11, several workshops and training sessions have been held at the Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum. ADA has been also present there and guiding three of these parallel events to the main conference.

Workshop 1: Research Meets Asia - Enhancing Financial Inclusion in the Asia Region Facilitator

In this workshop participants had the opportunity to hear from Asian and International doctoral students, researchers and experts, who have shared and discuss their research papers and findings. The aim of this workshop is to stimulate knowledge sharing between researchers in Asia to boost academic and university activity in the region and to serve the improvement of local financial practices. This Research Meets Asia workshop will be the second in a series of workshops that are organized around the world, to ensure productive dialogue between practice and theory in terms of financial inclusion. It will leverage research on innovations, gather expertise from different sectors, and potentially those which are currently outside the microfinance world; but which have the potential to bring about change, by identifying opportunities and new ways of fostering inclusive finance methodologies.

This workshop was specifically focused on two themes: social performance and digital financial services.


Workshop 2 : SIMFI – A Microfinance Institution Simulation Platform Facilitator

The workshop is based on a web-based simulation training tool called SIMFI. This interactive tool emulates a typical microfinance market. Participants are separated into groups of 2 to 5, each one responsible for managing a fictitious microfinance institution in the same market. Each group or MFI will be required to make strategic, financial and risk related decisions that will have an effect on the overall performance of the MFI. The workshop is designed to create a competitive environment where the participants compete directly with other microfinance institutions within the same market with sustainability as a main objective.


Workshop 5 : Microfinance Product Diversification – Introduction and Peer Exchange Facilitator

The objective of the workshop is to introduce participants to the concept and methodologies used for diversifying products and services in a microfinance institutions portfolio.  A case study on loans destined for young entrepreneurs will be used as a concrete example. The workshop will combine theory, peer exchange and a discussion on the product diversification needs of participating MFI’s. Participants will be asked to complete a questionnaire beforehand to focus the discussions topics relevant to the Cambodian and Lao markets.



The first Mekong Microfinance Investor’s Fair

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Don’t miss the opportunity to meet your future business partner!

After being organized 7 times in Africa, the Investor's Fair has been replicated for the first time in the Mekong region. The objective of the Microfinance Investor’s Fair is to bring microfinance institutions (MFIs) together with the investors active in the sub region. By encouraging these partnerships and exchanges of experiences, the Fair aims to increase access to external funding for MFIs.

The first Mekong Investor’s fair will take place on Thursday 14th July 2016, at the Intercontinental hotel in Phnom Penh, following the Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum. The Forum ended by a successful investor’s fair gathering 15 investors and around 30 MFIs from the Mekong region. More than 100 speed dating sessions organized between investors and MFIs.

How does the Fair work?

The morning of the event is dedicated to speed-dating sessions between MFIs and investors. These sessions are the perfect opportunity to meet a maximum amount of shareholders.
These sessions are programmed in advance by the organizers according to specific requests received from investors and MFIs prior to the event. In order to plan these sessions, the organizers are collecting participants’ data in advance via online forms.
Each speed-dating session is 25 minutes long. The afternoon agenda will be more flexible and will include the possibility of taking private appointments with all exhibitors.


4 questions to Christian Baron, Executive Advisor (ADA)


Christian Baron, Executive Advisor at ADA, will be the moderator of the 4th session of the conference, entitled "The impact of finance on the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)." We wanted to ask him some questions about his experience, his opinion on the subject and the role of ADA in MSME development. Check out his answers!

On July 12, the 2nd day of the Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum, you will moderate the session on supporting the development of MSMEs. Can you tell us about your experience on this topic?

Christian Baron: I worked for more than 25 years in the microfinance sector, one of whose objectives is to develop financial services tailored to the development of MSMEs. I also had the opportunity to manage projects and achieve expertise missions for many years on the development of non-financial services to MSMEs, particularly on access to vocational training.

Why is it so important to be concerned about the development of MSMEs?

C. B.: The session will focus specifically on the development of SMEs. Microfinance has been developed primarily targeting microentrepreneurs. Some financial institutions were gradually interested in medium-sized enterprises ( "upscaling" of MFIs and "downscaling" banks) but much remains to be done in this area. It is particularly important to worry about the development of SMEs because they can have an impact in terms of economic development but also on job creation and structuring of industries, in agriculture and food, for example.

How do you see the evolution of the microfinance sector and SMEs in the Mekong region? What role  ADA can play over there?

C. B.: The development of microfinance varies enormously between countries of this region. In Cambodia, we can consider that the development of the sector is very advanced with many MFIs of significant size, operating very professionally with a regulation that, globally, enabled this development. In other countries, like in Myanmar for example, the development of this sector is very recent. The regulations certainly need to evolve and competent human resources needs are enormous.

ADA is already active in the region and is ready to expand its activities there, especially in countries where microfinance is less developed.

In your opinion, what impact can this conference have on the future of the microfinance sector?

C.B.: We hope that this event will develop an exchange of experience between actors in countries where the microfinance sector is highly developed with those where it is not or less developed. These exchanges could afford to learn at different levels, whether at the MFIs themselves (products, organization, skills, etc.) and their environment (regulation adapted to the activities of MFIs, MFIs' access to finance they need whether in capital or loans, etc.).



Rond dans carré blanc

The Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum is an ideal opportunity to share ideas and solutions to build a stronger regional economy.

BWTP Network Chairman Chandula Abeywickrema


The 1st Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum is an initiative of the Banking with the Poor Network (BWTP) and organized by the Foundation for Development Cooperation (FDC) and Appui au Développement Autonome (ADA), in partnership with the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s SHIFT programme and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Forum is being hosted by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC).

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