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FSVC Monthly Update – Strengthening Microfinance Institutions in Lebanon, and More

FSVC and Carnegie Corporation of New York Host 2018 Symposium in Alexandria, VA

Left picture: China’s Ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, delivers remarks at the FSVC/Carnegie Symposium; Alexandria, VA, July 2018.
Top right picture (from left to right): Nathan Sheets, former U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs; Adam Szubin, former Acting U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence; Vadim Grishin, Consultant at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and former Executive Director for Russia, World Bank Group; and Andrew Baukol, U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Monetary Policy.
Bottom right picture (from left to right): Randall Guynn, Head of the Financial Institutions Group, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP; Yan Liu, Assistant General Counsel, Legal Department, International Monetary Fund; Chad Kilbourne, FSVC Managing Director; Andrew Spindler, FSVC President & CEO; and William Mills, CEO for North America at Citi.

On July 11-13, FSVC and Carnegie Corporation of New York hosted the latest in a series of annual symposia in Alexandria, VA, convening over 30 leading experts from the U.S., China, Russia and the European Union to discuss challenges confronting the global financial system and their impact on relations among the countries informally represented at the table.

Topics discussed included the opportunities and risks posed by new financial technologies (fintech), the impact of financial sanctions and compliance requirements on global correspondent banking, and ways to address the current global shortage of capital to fund small businesses. Participants explored practical policy recommendations to address these challenges. FSVC is now working with participants to translate the ideas discussed at the symposium into action.

The FSVC/Carnegie symposia, which FSVC has held annually since 2000 with financial support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, offer a unique venue for thought leaders to exchange views on challenges confronting the global financial system and related policy matters. This dialogue is more important than ever today.

Lebanon: Strengthening Microfinance Institutions

FSVC volunteer experts Kristin King and Leslie Hoffman working with AEP Executive Director Lara Hassoun (in the middle) on a feasibility study template; Beirut, July 2018.

Lebanon is one of the top five microfinance markets in the Arab Region, with over 50,000 borrowers and a gross loan disbursement of over U.S.$50 million. Microfinance can serve as an entry point for lower income individuals to join the formal financial sector.

To support the safe growth of microfinance in Lebanon, FSVC, in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded LIFE project, has been helping individual microfinance institutions strengthen their internal capacities.

On June 25-30, two FSVC volunteer experts worked with the Association D’Entraide Professionelle (AEP) to help strengthen and standardize the way it collects information from potential borrowers. Specifically, they walked AEP loan officers through an application process that meets international standards to show them what information borrowers need to provide. The FSVC volunteer experts then helped AEP design a new loan application form based on these standards.

As a result, AEP is now better equipped to assess loan applications and the capacity of potential borrowers to repay their loan, which will help them extend more lending safely to micro-businesses in Lebanon.

Moldova: Encouraging Public Participation in the Budget Process

FSVC volunteer expert Theodore Kniker during a workshop session with civil society organizations; Chisinau, July 2018.

In 2017, the International Budget Partnership (IBP) included Moldova for the first time in its annual Open Budget Survey. IBP is an organization that measures countries’ progress in increasing fiscal transparency through three key components: transparency, legislative oversight and participation. The IBP Survey pointed out that Moldova is particularly weak with regard to public participation in the budget process.

To address this issue, FSVC organized a workshop with Moldovan civil society organizations (CSOs) on how to design and launch a communication campaign to inform citizens about budget transparency. In particular, the FSVC volunteer experts discussed the role of CSOs in encouraging citizen engagement. They presented methods to assist the public in analyzing the budget, and helped CSOs develop their own communications plan.

Thanks to this workshop, CSOs are now better equipped to analyze budget data and launch advocacy campaigns to increase public participation in the budget process.

FSVC Takes Part in the Annual Meeting of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering

FSVC Director Edward Sia (left) and FSVC President & CEO Andrew Spindler (right) participate in a meeting at the APG annual conference; Kathmandu, July 2018.

On July 22-27, FSVC participated in the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) annual meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal. APG is an inter-governmental organization focused on ensuring that its members effectively implement anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) international standards in Asia, the Pacific, North and South Asia regions. FSVC recently obtained official observer status at APG thanks to its experience and expertise in providing AML/CFT technical assistance in the region.

During the meeting, FSVC President & CEO Andrew Spindler delivered a presentation on FSVC’s perspective on the impact of de-risking, and potential solutions to prevent the loss of correspondent banking relationships that link countries to the global financial system. FSVC Director Edward Sia presented the technical assistance that FSVC is providing to the Republic of the Marshall Islands to build their AML/CFT supervisory capacity, and maintain their ties with international financial institutions.

This conference enabled FSVC to better understand the AML/CFT needs of APG member states, and how FSVC and other donor organizations can potentially be helpful in addressing them.