(PRESS RELEASE – November 13, 2008) – An exciting new organization for microfinance and enterprise development practitioners, researchers, policymakers and laypersons will be officially launched in Canada on November 18th 2008, in Gatineau, Quebec, in conjunction with CIDA’s International Cooperation Days 2008.
Women Advancing Microfinance (WAM) Canada is a voluntary membership organization for men and women working in or interested in the fields of microfinance and enterprise development. WAM Canada was created to help advance and support women working in these fields through the promotion of educational, training and leadership opportunities, and by working to increase the visibility of global microfinance and enterprise development work amongst Canadians.
WAM Canada is a chapter of WAM International, which was launched in Washington DC in 2003 to support women in the microfinance en enterprise development industries and to:
· advance the provision of financial services to the poor;
· advance and support women’s leadership in the microfinance and microenterprise industries through education and training, by promoting leadership opportunities, and by increasing visibility of their participation and talent while maintaining a work/life balance;
· extend economic opportunities to women globally; and
· continue to raise gender issues with a collective voice.
WAM International already has chapters established in the United States, Ecuador, Kenya, Uganda, the Central and Eastern European Region, the Arab Region, and counts hundreds of members globally.
Canadians and Canadian organizations are leading-edge contributors to the microfinance and enterprise development industries. Individuals from NGOs, government, independent consultancies, universities, and foundations joined together in the beginning of 2008 to found a Canadian WAM chapter.
To highlight the launch of WAM Canada, a cocktail reception will be held on November 18th 2008 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Le French Quarter, 80 Promenade du Portage, Vieux Hull, Quebec.
The event will feature remarks by Mary Coyle, Director of the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University, Anne Folan a founder of WAM International, and Linda Jones, chair of WAM Canada.
The official launch coincides with the International Cooperation Days 2008, an international forum organized by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Microfinance refers to the provision of financial services, such as savings, credit, money transfers, and insurance, to low-income individuals, to enable them to smooth their income, invest in economic opportunities, build their assets, cope with emergencies, and plan for the future. Microfinance has proven itself to be an effective and powerful tool for alleviating poverty and reducing the vulnerability of poor women and men, and underpinning their ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals on their own terms, in a sustainable way. Microfinance initiatives are present in practically every developing country; yet it is estimated that in most developing countries, fewer than 10 percent of low-income households have access to basic lending and saving services.
About Enterprise Development:
Enterprise development endeavours to sustainably integrate disadvantaged microentrepreneurs – smallholder farmers, small-scale manufacturers, handicraft producers, petty traders and others – into effective market systems. Incorporating approaches such as value chain development and business development services, the goal of Enterprise Development programs is to empower rural and urban communities to build assets and generate prosperity through small business growth.