Evidence of meeting #27 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was microfinance.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Dale Patterson  Member, Board of Directors, Opportunity International Canada
  • Keith Weaver  Member, Board of Directors, MicroEnsure LLC
  • Larry Reed  Director, Microcredit Summit Campaign
  • Doris Olafsen  Executive Vice-President, Opportunity International Canada
  • Margaret Biggs  President, Canadian International Development Agency

4 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

That's why I made the question....

4 p.m.

Director, Microcredit Summit Campaign

Larry Reed

Yes, absolutely. I agree.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

I don't think you have a choice.

4 p.m.

Director, Microcredit Summit Campaign

Larry Reed

The challenge is to find how microfinance can work better with other development interventions.

Keith spoke about health insurance; how can we provide financing for education, not to be a sector to itself, but rather a supportive element of the process of development? People in poverty face many constraints, and access to finance is only one of them.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dean Allison

Thank you very much.

Mr. Van Kesteren, you have seven minutes, sir.

March 14th, 2012 / 4 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you all for appearing before us.

You're all NGOs, so you are not-for-profit organizations, correct? I'm curious and I commend you for the work you've done. You talked about some of the problems you had. I'm going to suggest something. I don't know if we can get into a discussion about this, but the problem I can see with an NGO, as opposed to the private sector, is that really you want to get this money out there; that's great, that's wonderful, but there's a real push to get people to take advantage of these services. Am I right in saying that? That's really your objective. Your objective is to get out there, and so on.

I'm looking for the balance. We have a little expression in the House. We'll say, “He's mowing your grass.” Are you sometimes mowing the grass of...? We had, for instance, the Bank of Nova Scotia here, Scotiabank. It has some microfinance services as well. Do you cross over into the private sector sometimes? Is there a little bit of maybe a conflict there at times? Do you find that?

4:05 p.m.

Executive Vice-President, Opportunity International Canada

Doris Olafsen

Conflict in...? Is competition what you're referring to?

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Yes.

4:05 p.m.

Executive Vice-President, Opportunity International Canada

Doris Olafsen

I think we've recognized there's enough room for all of us in the sector because, Larry, you mentioned a percentage of how many entrepreneurial poor are actually being reached globally. We identify where we can best serve with our services in the countries where we can work.

I think there's enough room for many to be in a microfinance business. That's why I think accountability and transparency are critical. The metrics, the measurements, the intervention are true to the business mandate we have as a not-for-profit organization. Holistic transformation is our mandate, so we're very focused on not just delivering finances but delivering services as well.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Are your interest rate charges competitive with the private sector's?

4:05 p.m.

Executive Vice-President, Opportunity International Canada

Doris Olafsen

Very much so.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Reed, you're from the States.

4:05 p.m.

Director, Microcredit Summit Campaign

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

What part of the States are you from?

4:05 p.m.

Director, Microcredit Summit Campaign

Larry Reed

Chicago.