Microcredit can ensure prosperity, even for the smallest

The final virtual conference of the ATM for SMEs project was held on 8 December.
Tibor Szekfü, director of the consortium leader Fejér Enterprise Agency summarized the project learning and achievements:

The ATM for SMEs project has come to an end. At the start of the programme, very ambitious goals were set: explore all the good microfinance practices and the underlying social needs. All this with the aim to help the local communities and the European Union itself to improve their operations and create social justice and prosperity.

We hope that the good practices revealed will help authorities work more effectively in the future, and ensure that groups excluded from the money market can access high level financial services.
The ATM for SMEs consortium consists of local microfinance agencies, managing authorities, Ministry and an international professional organization from all across Europe. Now, at the end of the programme, we can say that we achieved our goals and also exceeded them. Studies have been carried out, local action plans have been adopted and good practices have been published. On the website: www.microfinancegoodpractices.com interactive tools are available. We have also made a short film which summarizes the most important lessons learnt in the field of microcredit in Europe so it can also be understood by non-professionals.

The conclusion: if we allocate public money for addressing a social problem to which microcredit is assigned as a tool, we must definitely start from the logic of using public money. In other words, we need to focus on the problem to be solved and not on the tool itself. The socially desirable result is to ensure social justice and prosperity to the groups who are excluded from financial services.

Obviously, this logic is not in line with the profit oriented aspect of financial investors. Communities – whether they are local communities or the European Union itself – should not make the mistake of acting as financial investors, not focusing on the social problem to be addressed. Public money allocated for microcredit should not be used for generating profit. The return on programme funding should be assessed at the level of the whole society. This can be reflected in the ability of the target social group to pay taxes, to be self-employed or to create jobs.

Videos of the final conference are available here:

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