Sanabel Annual Conference: An opening worth celebrating

June 7, 2011

At the opening session of Sanabel’s 8th Annual Conference, Hassan Faried kicked off the conference by introducing the theme of the event: Microfinance in the Arab Region - Challenges of the Past and Opportunities of the Future. Some of the challenges he highlighted included the lack of service providers and business development consultantancies to support the microfinance industry, a lack of diversified financial services, security concerns and regional instability. But he went on to state that the recent instability caused by revolutions and crises in countries like Egypt—his home and the home of Sanabel, the Microfinance Network of Arab Countries—also offer hope and opportunities for microfinance. Microfinance institutions will have a major role to play in helping people take control of their own destinies, according to Faried.

Following Hassan Faried, Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Jaffar Hassan, spoke briefly about the importance of microfinance in Jordan and what the conference’s host country is doing to encourage the sector. He pledged the government’s support for MFIs, especially in their service to women, rural populations and the very poor.

The session closed with a moving awards ceremony for the winners of the 2010 Grameen Jameel Microfinance Awards, presented by the Director/President of the Jameel Foundation, Fady Jameel. After the awards presentation for the Islamic Microfinance Challenge 2010 award winner, Al Amal Microfinance Bank of Yemen, and the MFI awards, there was a short panel for the microentrepreneur award winners to tell a little about themselves and their businesses. Their businesses ranged from an accessories and cosmetics shop, a chemical and solvents business and a print shop, to a kindergarten, soap manufacturer, and a food processing kitchen.