Sanabel's 2018 Conference Agenda

Sanabel's 2018 Conference Agenda

➯ Tuesday November 6, 2018

From Sustainable to Responsible Finance

The State of Responsible Finance Practices and Considerations in the Arab Region


9:00 – 9:40

  • Opening remarks by Youssef Bencheqroun, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Sanabel Network.
  • Welcome remarks by Dr. Ahmed Al Hussein, Chairman of the Board, Tanmeyah Jordan Microfinance Network.
  • Keynote speech by H.E. Dr. Ziad Fariz, Central Bank Governor.

9:40– 10:00  

10:00 - 11:15  

The 2017 Global Findex report and data set released by the World Bank in April 2018 showed that financial inclusion is on the rise globally, accelerated by mobile phones and the internet, but gains have been uneven across countries. It also found that men remain more likely than women to have an account.

This plenary will present the state of financial inclusion in the Arab World and the opportunities to advance access to and usage of financial services in the region in a responsible manner.



As a sector dominated by not-for-profit companies and NGOs, the vast majority of MFI Boards in the region are voluntary. This less formalized governance structure can at times, be an obstacle to more strategic management and oversight of the MFI and requires a robust system in place to ensure the Board of Directors is able to effectively play its governance role.

This session will discuss the ways in which MFIs can and have improved their corporate governance practices, the most important challenges faced by MFI management and Boards in managing their governance as well as the role regulators can play in ensuring sound corporate governance practices across the sector.


By the early 1990’s, the journey of microfinance industry was initiated in the Arab region through few non-governmental organizations, later recognized as NGOs/MFIs, offering microcredit services and products to low-income people whom were very successful in reaching out and serving such population. Over the years, these NGOs/MFIs started to offer a wide range of financial and non-financial services and products to different marginalized populations which resulted in an evolution in the industry. Regulators became more aware of the potential of these NGOs/MFIs and their needed support to other conducive regulatory reform that could both enhance and increase outreach and ensure that clients are protected and well informed. However, the microfinance regulation in almost all the Arab countries still prohibit the establishment of deposit-taking MFIs except for Yemen, Syria and Sudan although, expanding financial services to marginalized population is important to increase financial inclusion. Regulators perceive deposit-taking MFIs as a threat to clients and the financial sector because they can lose their operations due to unethical practices as happened in other countries like Rwanda. This session will discuss the opportunities along with the challenges of introducing deposit-taking MFI in the Arab region through sharing the experience and lessons learnt from other regions and highlight the needed capacities within the MFIs and the needed regulatory and supervisory requirements to ensure consumer protection and stability of the financial sector.



Because of the brutal and ongoing wars and conflicts in many Arab countries in the recent years, the Arab world has experienced an extraordinary influx of refugees whom are facing fundamental challenges and exclusion. Evidence from many refugee’s programs illustrates that financial service providers (FSPs) can contribute to the financial inclusion of refugees by expending their financial and non-financial services to such vulnerable population but firstly, they need to understand their financial needs and dispel misconceptions about them. Serving the refugees will reduce their vulnerability, increase their self-reliant and resilient, foster their social cohesion and improve their local economy. Therefore, this session will discuss the current situation of refugees in the Arab world in terms of access to finance, the barriers that they are facing and the funding opportunities available along with showcase good practices followed by regional FSPs to serve such a market segment.


This panel will present the CERISE- SPI4 tool, a social performance audit tool to help financial service providers achieve their social mission. The presentation will present the benefits of using SPI4 by giving examples of successful cases. It will also present the resources available to guide you on the journey of Social Performance Management and an overview of the use of SPI4 in the MENA region. The presentation will be illustrated by the testimony of an FSP and an investor.


This year Sanabel is hosting The Arab Financial Inclusion Innovation Prize (AFIIP) 2018; the prize is organized by Reda Maamari and Alexander Reviakin and aims to reward innovations in the microfinance sector in the Arab world which can increase the outreach and reduce the costs of financial services to better serve low-income businesses and individuals, with a cash prize up to 50,000 USD.

In its inaugural year, AFIIP received over 100 proposals from across the Arab world. These proposals were evaluated on their innovative potential, impact on the sector, marketability and feasibility in a two-stage judging process by experts in the field: Jenny Atout Ahlzén, Lowell Campbell, Bashar Chalabi, Petar Chavdarov, Nadine Chehade, Jake Kendall, Reda Maamari, Peter McConaghy, Nidal Qanadilo and Sarah Willis.

The finalists will present their ideas during Sanabel’s 2018 Conference and the winner(s) will be announced at the closing ceremony of the conference on Wednesday 7th of November at Fairmont hotel Amman, Jordan.

16:00 - 16:30  

16:30 - 17:45  

The Universal Standards for SPM were initially developed by, with and for specialized microfinance and inclusive finance service providers to better manage and monitor their performance toward social goals. However, the Universal Standards have increasingly attracted attention from commercial banks.

This session will provide a short introduction to the Universal Standards for SPM and how they are being used today. It will then present the latest research on the relevance of the Universal Standards to Banks, including implementation and benefits.

Three financial institutions will share their experience about implementation, challenges, and how this work has been relevant to the organizations.

An interactive session, the audience will also be invited to share their experience or observations.


New actors in agricultural finance are changing the potential to engage with and evaluate agricultural producers, and responsibly provide finance to them. The panel will discuss new businesses and business models being pursued, that microfinance practitioners may leverage upon to improve their ability to safely and profitably lend to the agricultural sector.

Both established businesses and fintechs are developing and offering new data collection channels that are changing the potential for financial service businesses, like microfinance providers, to better understand and evaluate agricultural businesses. The panel will discuss the opportunities this presents, but will cover how additional data on agricultural producers ultimately facilitates responsible finance by fundamentally allowing an accurate analysis of clients.


For leadership development to be effective, it must utilize a complete, integrated, total leadership development process. Learn about the Total Leader® Concept.

As the world of business has changed and evolved, the need for effective leaders has skyrocketed. For businesses to become truly empowering and innovative enterprises, they must develop leaders throughout the organization. In fact, the organization of the future is an organization where everyone is a leader. It is only when people can lead themselves that they are empowered to be creative and innovative.

This means leadership must be developed in every team member! This is the very foundation of our Total Leader® Concept.

19:45 - 22:45  


➯ Wednesday November 7, 2018

Our Vision Forward:

Moving Forward to Achieve Responsible Financial Inclusion: Challenges and Next Frontiers

 9:30 - 11:00

This session will provide a brief overview of responsible finance, focusing in on the Smart Campaign’s client protection principles. It will present experiences of MFIs that have begun their journey towards certification including some of the major changes that they have had to make within their institutions and the learnings that have resulted from this process. It will also shed light on why MFIs should pursue the certification even in environments where investors and donors are still not requesting it.

 11:00 - 11:45  

 11:45 - 13:15  

Technology offers unforeseen possibilities to advance financial inclusion, yet is expensive, complex and requires considerable investment into technical know-how and appliances. In order for MFIs to leverage on new technologies in a responsible way that helps them to increase their outreach to the low-income population while protecting putting the interests and privacy of their low-income clients first, MFIs need to get to terms with important issues like data safety and client protection.

Raise awareness and facilitate discussion about need for technical expertise and responsible use of technology to mitigate inherent risks, such as over-lending, over-indebting clients, mission drift/competition by commercially oriented players, etc. The session will showcase best practice examples and provide guidance for MFI practitioners on how to approach technological inventions.


As regulations is changing in the MENA region allowing new players & new ownership structures the MFIs undergo these transformations are becoming increasingly common in MENA, and as more institutions begin the process it is imperative that their senior management and governance bodies are structured and prepared for the institutional change. The focus of the session is on the process by which a credit-focused NGO or single-owner MFI creates or becomes a for-profit, share-capital company with multiple shareholders. This session will discuss the commonly-encountered challenges and resolutions that MFIs with a single owner can expect to encounter along the road to a successful transformation.

 13:15 - 14:30  

 14:30 - 15:45  

Identify and share lessons for strengthening MFI’s to weather current negative downturns and future financial crisis or economic fluctuations that pose major risks. Currency devaluation, liquidity and credit crunch, high inflation episodes, fuel and food prices shocks, war & refugees are all examples of crisis situations that MFI’s across the region are actually facing.

“Crisis has not hit microfinance system yet; in the middle of all the bad news, microfinance still works” Muhammed Yunus

This session will highlight recommendations of dos & don’ts from practical experience.


The Arab region is far behind its counterparts in Africa, Asia and Latin America in its efforts to digitalize its operations and develop a more comprehensive DFS offering to its clients. While some of the challenges are regulatory and infrastructure related, there is a lot that can be done by the MFIs themselves as a first step itself, including developing detailed DFS strategies for the institution as a whole.

This session will present the experiences of several MFIs in the region with developing DFS strategies and discuss what are the implications of digitization and developing a DFS offering for a credit-only MFIs in the region.


Blue ocean strategy is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open up a new market space and create new demand. It is about creating and capturing uncontested market space, thereby making the competition irrelevant. It is based on the view that market boundaries and industry structure are not a given and can be reconstructed by the actions and beliefs of industry players.

  • Blue Ocean Vs. Red Ocean
  • Six Principles of Blue Ocean
  • Formulating Blue Ocean Strategy
  • Executing Blue Ocean Strategy

 15:45 - 16:20  

16:20 - 17:30  

In recent years, financial inclusion has been at the top of the development agenda for a few governments in the Arab World. National strategies and regulations to advance financial inclusion are being implemented in several countries of the region, thus opening the financial sector to new players, new financing instruments, and new technology.

This session shed the light on the opportunities available for the microfinance industry and how MFIs can seize them in such a dynamic environment in order to reach untapped markets.

17:30 - 18:00  

  • Sanabel’s 2018 Award: Translating Social Mission into Practices
  • Arab Financial Inclusion Innovation Prize (AFIIP)


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