Microfinance and Inclusive Finance are characterized by the provision of financial services (such as savings, loans, insurance and remittances) to people who have been left out of the traditional banking systems, often low-income individuals who lack collateral and credit history. Microfinance is widely viewed as a sustainable solution to alleviating poverty.
The Committee on International Social Enterprise and Finance (ISEF) supports the development of business and finance methods that improve the well-being of society and the environment in both broad and distinct ways. The Committee was founded in 2012 as the Committee on International Microfinance and Financial Inclusion to explore international investment tools that aim to viably alleviate poverty through two primary means: (1) investment in individuals, by providing financial services to those left out of traditional banking systems because they lack access, collateral, and credit history, and (2) investment in companies, organizations, and funds that intend to generate a measurably beneficial social or environmental impact alongside financial returns.
As the industry matured, we followed the related market and policy evolutions. Institutional investors (particularly North American and European development finance institutions), pension funds, and endowments began to play a leading role in the advancement of these investments, beyond microfinance loans to all asset classes, with an initial focus on private equity, venture capital, and green infrastructure. Concomitantly, we explored the influence of innovations such as virtual currencies, benefit corporations, social impact bonds and UNCITRAL’s working group focus on simplified legal entities to facilitate small and medium enterprise development. Along the way, we determined the committee name should reflect this growth.
Social Enterprise includes business ventures of all forms, often small businesses, that integrate certain societal objectives into their means of making a profit. The enterprise may seek to promote a particular social good or simply operate holistically in a community- or environmentally-oriented way, and its considerations and effects may be on a local or global scale. Social Finance comprises the financial products and services that help these ventures accomplish their goals, including by leveraging, aggregating and allocating private capital. With an array of approaches across jurisdictions, together, Social Enterprise and Finance tackle some of the most challenging issues facing society and our world today, through mechanisms that add economic value.
A “natural glue” among many disciplines, Social Enterprise and Finance includes and intersects with many workstreams in the commercial, finance and nonprofit sectors, such as social entrepreneurship, banking and e-banking, insurance, secured transactions, security interests, derivatives, alternative dispute resolution, technology, capital raising, economic development, poverty eradication, natural capital, human rights, women’s rights, and the committee’s original focus on mechanisms that equip the economically disadvantaged to participate in financial systems that have traditionally excluded them. Weaving together the corresponding interests of various NYSBA committees and chapters, the committee strives to work with these related practices where they meet.
The Committee serves as a resource and community for individuals interested in and participating in Social Enterprise and Finance and related sectors to network, collaborate, and learn.
NYSBA Uncitral Note
Financial inclusion and the Law Series
- Mobile Banking and Access to Finance In Africa
- Crowdfunding and the JOBS Act
- Agriculture-based Communities and Access to Finance