The success of microfinance as a powerful tool to bring financial services to previously unbanked populations is a result of dedicated work by both practioners and academic researchers around the globe. Field reports and academic literature abound with new findings and recommendations for future action to build a truly inclusive sustainable financial system worldwide.
Since its establishment in 2001, BlueOrchard has continuously pursued its mission to foster innovation in microfinance. Peter A. Fanconi, Chief Executive Officer, has now announced a long-term initiative to partner with prestigious academic institutions in order to train a new generation of microfinance experts and to gain even better insight into some of the hotbutton issues in microfinance.
A member of the Perlmutter Institute Global Executives Council at the Brandeis International Business School, Peter has initiated a program of summer internships allowing deserving graduate students to pursue research projects in one of BlueOrchard’s seven offices worldwide. Following the end of the academic year, the first two students from Massachusetts have now taken up residency in Geneva and Phnom Penh. “We are happy to welcome these talented young people to our team and to give them the opportunity to apply their academic insight and previous work experience to questions of microfinance,” states Peter, adding that he considers the creation of opportunities for interaction with corporate and institutional partners at multiple levels a mutually beneficial endeavour for both the students and the BlueOrchard investment team. According to Peter, the cultural fit with BlueOrchard couldn’t be better, not least because Brandeis University’s “Outstanding Community Involvement” was highlighted recently by the Princeton Review. “One of the core objectives of our programs is to provide cross border internship opportunities to our future leaders, who seek to do well in business and good for society,” says Bruce R. Magid, Dean of Brandeis International Business School.
While the education of tomorrow’s leaders in questions of inclusive finance is one of the key tenets of BlueOrchard’s strengthened cooperation with the world of academia, a second initiative aims to bring together world-class researchers with experienced practitioners to address burning development issues. BlueOrchard and the Centre for Finance and Development at the Graduate Institute Geneva are exploring the idea of conducting an in-depth study on the social impact of microfinance. Under the leadership of Professor Jean-Louis Arcand, renowned for his groundbreaking methodological work in the field of impact studies, a team of faculty members would partner with senior investment officers at BlueOrchard to assess progress out of poverty of microborrowers according to innovative measures of multidimensional poverty.
Lisa Sherk, Head of Social Performance Management, is well aware of the ambitious nature of this project, but confident that together with Professor Jean-Louis Arcand and his team, BlueOrchard will be able to move the industry forward in its understanding of the impact of microfinance services on clients.
BlueOrchard values highly the importance of long-term partnerships and by strengthening its academic ties, aims to deepen its commitment as a socially responsible and sustainable investment manager to the greater development of the inclusive finance industry.
BlueOrchard Finance S.A. was founded in 2001 as the first commercial manager of microfinance debt investments worldwide. To this day, the company has deployed in excess of USD 2bn in loans to microfinance institutions, providing access to microcredit to over 30 million individuals across 50 countries. Investors in BlueOrchard-managed funds include private and institutional investors, supranational institutions as well as renowned foundations. The company employs highly experienced staff with backgrounds in traditional and development finance including 23 investment professionals in Geneva, Zurich, Luxembourg, Lima, Phnom Penh, Bishkek and Nairobi.