The African Microfinance Week (SAM), known by its French acronym “Semaine africaine de la microfinance,” is a biennial event that serves as a prominent platform for the advancement of financial inclusion in Africa. This prestigious gathering attracts professionals from various sectors, including investors, microfinance institutions (MFIs), researchers, banks, networks, innovators, and governmental representatives. The 6th edition of SAM, held in Lomé from the 16th to the 20th of October, 2023, brought together over 1,100 participants from across Africa. Among those in attendance were Anne-Sophie Bougouin and Dominique Lesaffre, representing the Federation of European Social and Ethical Enterprises (FEBEA).
What is SAM?
The African Microfinance Week, or SAM, is an essential event in the African financial inclusion landscape. Held every two years in a different African country, SAM’s primary objective is to create a unified African platform for exchanging ideas and addressing the inclusive finance challenges facing the continent. The event facilitates collaboration and knowledge sharing among professionals to drive the development of financial inclusion in Africa.
Structure of SAM
SAM spans five days, with each day dedicated to various events. These events aim to address a wide range of issues related to inclusive finance and foster collaboration among stakeholders. The structure of SAM includes:
- SAM Conference: This two-day event features discussions on specific topics related to inclusive finance, with participation from global speakers and sector experts.
- Investors’ Fair: A full day is dedicated to fostering partnerships between MFIs and investors. This includes 20-minute “speed-dating” sessions where investors can connect with MFIs aligning with their investment goals.
- Innovators’ Village: Approximately 30 exhibitors showcase their innovative financial products and services to SAM participants.
- Training Sessions and Workshops: Over 20 training sessions and workshops, covering a variety of topics such as agricultural finance, digital finance, microinsurance, and social performance, are organized in collaboration with partners.
- Sponsored Events: Additional events are held at the request of sponsors, addressing specific topics and challenges.
SAM’s Thematic Focus in 2023
The 6th SAM, hosted in Lomé, featured the theme “Inclusive and Sustainable Finance: How to Reconcile the Challenges of Socio-economic Inclusion and the Transition to a Resilient and Ecological Economy”. This theme underscores the critical role of inclusive finance in addressing both socio-economic inclusion and environmental sustainability.
The conference sessions during the 6th SAM included thought-provoking topics:
- Carbon Markets and Environmental Service Payments: New Opportunities for Local Communities.
- Beyond Taxonomies: The Role of Regulators in Boosting Inclusive and Sustainable Finance.
- Migration and Climate Refugees: Inclusive Finance as a Vector for Peace and Stability.
- Placing Climate Issues at the Heart of Finance: New Business Models for Financial Institutions.
- Transparency and Impact: Measuring the Real Effect of Sustainable Inclusive Finance to Avoid Greenwashing.
These discussions delved into the critical challenges facing African economies and how inclusive finance can play a pivotal role in achieving socio-economic inclusion while addressing the pressing concerns of climate change and environmental sustainability.
The 6th African Microfinance Week in Lomé marked a significant milestone in the pursuit of inclusive and sustainable finance in Africa. With over 1,100 participants, the event showcased the commitment of professionals, organizations, and governments to collaborate and address the unique financial inclusion challenges of the African continent. The diverse range of topics discussed during the conference sessions emphasized the importance of inclusive finance in building a more equitable and sustainable future for all Africans. Anne-Sophie Bougouin and Dominique Lesaffre’s representation of FEBEA at the event demonstrates the organization’s dedication to promoting ethical and socially responsible financial practices on a global scale.