A peer exchange, facilitated by the SEEP Network extending its capacity building services through the Livelihoods and Inclusive Finance (LIFE) program, was presented to the staff and board members of the Lebanese Microfinance Association (LMFA). On January 14, 2018 four LMFA board member representatives, two LMFA staff and one member of the LIFE team took to the air from Beirut and landed in Baku for a three-day peer exchange, hosted by the Azerbaijan Microfinance Association (AMFA).

The purpose of the trip was to gain and share experience with an advanced and a successful network. To build an association that can be sustainable on its own and have its proper influence in the financial industry.
Some of the learnings we gained during that trip were:
– An MFA can also develop its own social mission while supported by all MFI’s.
– It takes time and dedication to build a solid association that is respected by the financial entities in the country.
– Work on setting an appropriate communication strategy to build up a network.
– Have a launching event for LMFA and through that create events to ascertain sustainability.
– Maintain good relations with central banks and regulators as they are key into the business development.
– Listen to the members’ and industry’s needs and develop strategies to support their interest.

The topics discussed were directly related to our current status and situation and the content was very rich in information.

The visits we had to the various third party entities were handpicked precisely. Still, some clarification was needed, ahead of time, as to the purpose of each visit to maximize their value and exchange. The amount of time dedicated to the presentations was small versus the content, spreading it over one more day would have been better.

More interactivity was needed to involve both teams and make the exchange more productive.

It was in general a positive experience for the LMFA staff and the members who joined.