Today, microfinance is widely recognized, indeed celebrated, for its role in combating poverty. Over the past few years, the microfinance sector has grown rapidly throughout the world, in terms of both the number of stakeholders and amounts of money involved. Evidence of the microfinance boom can easily be found in Switzerland, where the number and range of institutions have grown constantly, making it one of the world’s leading countries in the sector today, spearheaded by companies such as BlueOrchard and responsAbility, as well as specialized actors such as Symbiotics and FIG.
Following a series of informal meetings, these and other Swiss organizations decided to set up a national platform, similar to the one in the Netherlands (www.microfinance.nl) and at the European level (www.microfinance-platform.eu) to promote microfinance in Switzerland and worldwide. Thus, the Swiss Microfinance Platform (SMP) was established on 4 October 2007. This not-for-profit association aims to provide the opportunity for stakeholders to meet, keep one another informed of their activities, and exchange information and experiences, with a view to creating synergies and fostering joint initiatives.
The SMP currently has 26 member institutions and 7 individual members. Remains open to all microfinance stakeholders in Switzerland – institutions or individuals, professionals or volunteers, specialists or beginners – whether as analysts, political decision-makers or investors, and irrespective of their vision of microfinance.
To facilitate information exchange and joint initiatives, the SMP set itself the initial task of determining who’s who in Swiss microfinance. It undertook a broad survey designed to provide a snapshot of the sector in Switzerland.