"Microfinancing" - a method of funding for community-level entrepreneurs to jump-start local economies - is the focus of a three-day anti-poverty conference which opened today at the Bangkok headquarters of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
Underscoring the need for small-scale loans and grants, ESCAP's Deputy Executive Secretary Keiko Okaido said that many countries in the Asian and the Pacific region not only suffer from absolute poverty, but also face widening income gaps. "These conditions could lead to social and political conflicts if they are not addressed in a timely manner and with effective measures," she warned.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand told participants that the successful promotion of the grassroots economy would serve as powerful force to support a broad range of wealth-creating activities. "Such force will be self-sustained and growth-oriented as local communities and expand their commercial activities and linkages, ultimately providing a productive foundation for the economy," added Somkid Jatisripitak.
The meeting, which is expected to adopt a Bangkok Declaration on Microfinance, has attracted the participation of representatives of close to 30 countries.