Microfinance Chair – Presentation
When we talk about microfinance in Europe, we think of micro-credit, small amounts of credit for people who cannot find solutions through conventional banks. But microfinance encompasses a much broader field that ranges from micro-insurance to micro-savings, micro-venture capital, and so on. We must therefore expand our scope of action and make microfinance a true economy serving those who are currently excluded.
The topic of microfinance aligns perfectly with MBS’ values, which are: ethics, openness and diversity, responsibility and overall performance. Since she joined MBS in 2015, Anastasia COZARENCO, PhD in Economics and a specialist in European Microfinance, has wanted to create a chair dedicated to microfinance in developed countries, alongside the Microfinance Institution (MFI) Créa-Sol. Several microfinance chairs exist in France, but they focus on developing countries. Academic studies on the subject are still relatively scarce.
For more than 10 years after the creation of the MFI Créa-Sol, demand for micro-credit, whether from individuals or entrepreneurs, has continued to grow. Microcredit, thought to be reserved for developing countries, is nowadays a perfectly adapted response to the fight against banking and economic exclusion in developed countries.
Through this chair, thanks to academic research and teaching, Montpellier Business School and the MFI Créa-Sol have confirmed their shared vision, in which academic actions contribute to the search for creativity and for meaning for each individual, manager, and organisation.
MBS is committed to conducting applicable, high-impact research within the professional world. The decision to create a chair is, therefore, particularly relevant. In addition, the microfinance industry has been growing in Europe and the United States since the 1990s. Currently, there are very few academic studies dedicated to this subject. However, data already exists and the sector has a need for rigorous studies and analyses to better understand its customers’ needs, the impact of its products, and the prospects for development in an environment where regulation can be restrictive.
For the MFI Créa-Sol, the work of this chair will initially allow it to measure its actions and evaluate its strategy. Its employees are aware of the risk factors (which are relatively low) and the three- and five-year success rates for project leads, and have a sense of the overall satisfaction of recipients. But this is not enough. It is essential to be able to further measure, in a more scientific way, the true effectiveness of its involvement on both an economic and social level.
The chair’s main mission is to better understand the impact of this involvement on various microfinance stakeholders in developed countries and to design new tools that will give the industry greater efficiency and sustainability, given the various legislative and economic constraints.
For the academic world, the chair’s subject is ground-breaking. Its work will help provide a better understanding of the sector. The various research projects will result not only in publications in academic journals, but also in professional journals (articles published by the European Microfinance Network or Microfinance Centre dedicated to professionals, for example) and in consumer magazines. This work will bring about an undeniable interest in microfinance within our society, so as to leave nobody behind, and also to permit the various stakeholders to base their decisions on scientific results and methods.
The business world is beginning to understand the philosophy behind microfinance, and patrons share the idea that supporting this industry allows people in financial need to “get back on their feet” and thus contribute to social cohesion in Europe.
The professional world has recognised that promoting business creation isn’t just fostering job creation and creating wealth locally, but it also contributes to the economic success of the regions in which they are established. The benefits of this economic success will be particularly beneficial for civil society.
The new economic order of the Western World, one based on individual success, creates situations of great financial difficulty for the underprivileged segments of our population. It is our duty to bring these two worlds together for the future of our society, or risk the widening of a very dangerous and eventually irreversible gap. Individual success only makes sense if it is shared, and microfinance provides a link between those who have succeeded and those who want to succeed.
Dr Anastasia Cozarenco, Chair holder: firstname.lastname@example.org