Interview with Mr Robert Christen
President and founding member of the Boulder Institute for Sustainable Microfinance.
Mr Christen, we would like to welcome you and this year’s Microfinance Training Programme, together with the Rural and Agriculture Finance Programme, to the ITCILO campus in Turin. Could we ask you what is new in the world of inclusive finance this year?
Over the last 20 years, we have made significant progress in ensuring the sustainability of financial service providers and in improving access. Today, the focus is on refining the products and services on offer, while taking advantage of technological progress. For decades, microfinance institutions have offered very similar products, mainly focusing on credit. We need to become more competitive and client-oriented, especially where rural clients are concerned.
How is the Boulder Institute responding to these needs?
We are constantly updating our programmes here in Turin in response to new developments in this field. For example, the participants on one of our courses this summer, Digital Financial Services, work for institutions which, taken together, serve 35 million customers. In addition, we are launching several new programmes and refining existing ones. Last summer, we launched the inaugural edition of our new Rural and Agricultural Programme. This year, we shall be launching Back to Boulder: Strategic Response to Risk in Microfinance Markets.
We understand that you come here every summer. How do you like to spend your time in Turin?
We travel around the region and make the most of local opportunities. We have especially enjoyed the Slow Food University, San Michele, Alba, the mountain passes, and visiting various sites of local significance.