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Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems

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Fostering Resilience in the Middle East: A People-Centered Approach to Risk Reduction

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Explore the Disaster Risk Reduction Initiative

This webinar explored three innovative approaches used by Vitas Group and Global Communities to successfully grow the financial inclusion sector in the Middle East over the last 20 years, despite the region’s persistent political and economic instability. The webinar showcased the development of community- and people-focused disaster management planning in Iraq, with a relentless focus on customer relationships to support business continuity in Palestine, and also touched upon the use of long-term funding with political risk insurance to address capital constraints during times of instability in Lebanon.

Key questions that were addressed in the webinar include: 1) What are people-centered strategies to promote financial inclusion in a DRR context? 2) What products and services lead to rapid recovery, both for financial institutions and clients, after the initial onset of disaster and crisis? 3) What are lessons learned about financial inclusion and recovery from shocks?

This webinar was hosted by SEEP's Disaster Risk Reduction Program.


Ziad Halaby, General Manager, Vitas Lebanon

Ziad HalabyZiad Halaby has been the General Manager of Vitas Lebanon, since early 2005. Mr. Halaby has expertise in microfinance, corporate finance, NGO, and MFI management in Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Belgium, and Lebanon. Mr. Halaby currently serves on the Board of Directors of Sanabel, the Microfinance Network of the Arab Countries, as well as Vitas Romania. He is a Charted Management Account and is fluent in Arabic, French, and English. He holds an MBA from the American University of Beirut as well as an MSc in Financial Risk Management from FUSL Brussels.

Amer Hidmi, Operations Manager, Vitas Palestine

Amer HidmiAmer Hidmi has been with Vitas Palestine since February 2011 and has over 11 years of experience in financial economics. Prior to joining Vitas Mr. Hidmi held many positions including CEO at the International Peace and Cooperation Center, Operations Manager at IT Absolute in Riyadh, KSA, and Business Development Manager at United Securities Ltd. He has served as a Vitas network trainer since 2013. Mr. Hidmi holds a Master’s degree in Economics from Al-Yarmouk University, a Training of Trainers certificate from Birzeit University, a PMP certification from Cyprus International Institute of Management and, is an International Certified Microfinance Expert (ICME) from Frankfort school of Finance.

Rola El Amine, Vitas Iraq

Rola El AmineRola El Amine is the Marketing and PR manager for Vitas Iraq, responsible for the development and implementation of strategic marketing and PR plans, and plays an integral role in Vitas Iraq’s approach to ‘soft security’, leading all community engagement and charity activities. Rola has 15 years of experience in marketing and communication for banks and microfinance institutions. Throughout her career, she has developed marketing strategies, communication plans and branding exercises for a diverse portfolio of international brands and services in various Arab countries, including RAKBANK Dubai, Impact BBDO, Publicis and Saatchi & Saatchi, through which she gained exposure and understanding for different cultural nuances and target market needs. She has developed training material and conducted training courses for loan officers and call center agents on marketing and customer service. She has a BA in advertising from the Lebanese University and is certified as TOT for the BYB (build your business) program by Microsoft.


Christina Washburn, Global Communities

Christina WashburnChristina Washburn is the Brand and Staff Engagement Manager for the Development Finance division of Global Communities, and its microfinance holding company, Vitas Group. With 10 years of experience in financial inclusion, she is currently responsible for setting and executing the brand and communications strategy for Vitas Group, and ensuring that the institutions’ people practices align with the brand and the industry’s best in class standards. Prior to her current role, she provided technical support to Global Communities’ microfinance institutions around the world, and played a key role in the launch and management of the loan guarantee facility featured in the case. She has a Joint-Honours B.A. in International Development Studies and French Language and Translation from McGill University and an MBA from Georgetown University.

Miranda Beshara, Arabic Microfinance Gateway

Miranda BesharaMiranda Beshara is the Editor of the Arabic Microfinance Gateway, the Arabic associate site of the CGAP Microfinance Gateway. The Arabic MFG is the most comprehensive resource on financial inclusion for the Middle East and North Africa Region. Miranda has over fifteen years of experience in economic and social development with expertise spanning the fields of microfinance and financial inclusion, gender and women’s rights, youth and child protection, conflict resolution, and institutional capacity building. She has worked with a range of institutions in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Miranda was among the first management team of Sanabel, Microfinance Network for Arabic Countries and was responsible for training and membership development. She is a Certified Microfinance Expert from the Frankfurt School for Finance & Management. Miranda has recently participated in the SPTF-UNHCR Training of Trainers on the Global Guidelines for the Financial Inclusion of Refugees. She holds an MA in Economic and Social Development from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, USA, and a BA in Economics from the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Miranda is fluent in Arabic, English, and French.

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