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The Role of Microfinance Networks in Challenging Environments
by Laura K. Meissner in 2006
Community of Practice: Association Development
This technical note explores how regional and national microfinance networks, also called microfinance associations (MFAs), can help to strengthen the microfinance industry in challenging environments-those affected by conflict or natural disaster. It identifies and discusses ten of the most important roles of networks in challenging environments: serving as an information clearinghouse; disseminating and promoting best practices; attracting and encouraging coordination among donors; bringing disparate players together; facilitating linkages between MFIs and other development organizations; providing a space for lateral learning; providing or facilitating access to training for MFIs; fostering transparency through performance monitoring; advocating for an enabling policy environment; and encouraging a long-term outlook in the industry. This technical note uses the experiences of MFIs and microfinance networks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Sierra Leone, and other countries affected by conflict or natural disaster to build a picture of the role of networks in challenging environments. It outlines how networks are established in such situations, and explores how networks in these environments can improve the microfinance industry.