Microfinance USA Conference Launches This Week in SF

By Bryan Stubbs

If growing from a regional to a national conference over the course of a single year is any indication, next week’s Microfinance USA conference (May 20 & 21 in San Francisco) is sure to attract plenty of attention.

Concentrating primarily on domestic microfinance, it “will bring together investors, policymakers, social entrepreneurs, practitioners, small business owners, and curious individuals to explore how microfinance produces jobs, increases incomes, and creates opportunities to build stable and sustainable communities.” A host of industry veterans will be speaking including Martin Eakes, founder of Self-Help, Premal Shah, president of Kiva, Janie Barrera, founding president and CEO of ACCION Texas-Louisiana and Peter Bladin, executive VP of programs and regions for the Grameen Foundation.

I will be writing from the conference starting on Thursday. Given the role of banks, governmental agencies, foundations, NGOs and investors within microfinance (real or perceived), lively and interesting discussions are sure to take place given the importance of access to capital for low-to-moderate income businesses and their growth in the United States. Who is active in this space and how successful are they in reaching out to our communities? Where do their funds come from? Is the model sustainable domestically? Role of technical assistance with the loans? What are the real costs of these loans? Is a role for larger investors available within microfinance (SKS Microfinance’s IPO in India)? Can anyone get involved? Is the CDFI or the SBA a dying model? We invite your comments on all aspects of this conference.

Sessions this year will include: scaling global microfinance, challenges within the economy for microfinance, raising capital, SBA microenterprise program, rise of P2P lending, micro-entrepreneurship, student-led microenterprise, behavior economics with microfinance and serving the unbanked.


Bryan Stubbs has spent the last decade working to positively impact our communities through entrepreneurial and consultative initiatives at the Chicago Sustainable Business Alliance (senior advisor) and Chicago Community Ventures (director). Most recently he finished a five-month residency at San Francisco’s Presidio Graduate School, researching the role of early adaptation of sustainable business practices on start-up ventures versus traditional start-ups (with the goal of affecting policy on the federal level). He earned a Master’s of Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from the University of Illinois.

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