Empowering the Grassroots Economy
Microfinance for Growth and Happiness
November 24-25, 2005
Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok
Empowering the Grassroots
Microfinance for Growth and Happiness
November 24-25, 2005
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Thailand hosts conference on microfinancial services AND sustainable development
(original press release)
“Empowering the Grassroots Economy: Microfinance for Growth
and Happiness” will be held November 24-25, 2005 at the Shangri-La Hotel in
Bangkok. The international conference is hosted by the Government Savings Bank
of Thailand and co-sponsored by the Secretariat of the Prime Minister, the
Ministry of Finance and other Thai government ministries and agencies.
Minister of Thailand Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra will deliver the welcoming keynote,
addressing the use of microfinance and grassroots empowerment as part of an
integrated approach to sustainable poverty alleviation and balanced national
emphasis on strengthening the grassroots is an effort to empower our country’s
most important asset, its people, so that they can take charge of their own
lives and build more wealth and a better future for themselves, for their
children and—not trivially—for the rest of the nation,” the Prime Minister said
in a letter announcing the conference. “Why shouldn’t local economies be turned
into knowledge-based economies, too? We want to liberate the latent economic and
social power in our grassroots communities and start them on a path towards
economic prosperity and sustainability, so that they can become more
self-reliant, more innovative and more productive.”
Thaksin will be joined by a panel of world leaders in a public dialogue
discussing the sometimes-controversial role of microfinance in government
keynotes will be delivered by recognized thought-leaders in microfinance and
grassroots development (see attached)
grassroots “Customer Panel” will offer perspectives from the “end-users” of
policies and programs. Successful and sustainable microfinance programs must
begin with an understanding of the needs of individual grassroots customers and
the hidden economic dynamics of grassroots communities.
Interactive sessions and workshops on topics related to administration,
operations, design and delivery of microfinance products and services will be
covered in concurrent sessions for government policymakers, program
administrators and program operators:
Effective Government Regulation and Support
Designing Microfinance Products and Services
Appropriate Microfinance and Grassroots Technology
New Programs for Microinsurance
Dealing with Growth and Sustainability
Asset Capitalization Lessons Learned
New Programs for Microsavings
Studies and Demonstration Exhibits will showcase Thai programs such as the
Village Fund, People’s Bank, Poverty Eradication Caravan, Fix-It centers and One
Tambon One Product (OTOP).
The Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy
conference will include a special presentation on “The Philosophy of Sufficiency
Economy.” Proposed by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Sufficiency Economy
advocates taking a middle path in life as the optimal route for personal conduct
at all levels: individuals, families and communities. His Majesty counsels
moderation, self-reliance, honesty and integrity while exercising knowledge with
prudence. While certainly complementary to the nation’s Buddhist heritage,
Sufficiency Economy espouses a secular philosophy. It does not reject either
economic theory or economic progress. Neither does it denounce globalization, as
some have tried to interpret. Instead, the middle path the King’s philosophy
speaks to is a lifestyle governed by contentment, balance, sustainability,
resilience and interdependency.
philosophy has played a unique and important role in the shaping of development
policies and programs in Thailand towards grassroots empowerment.
conference, we are offering to share the case study of Thailand’s efforts, while
seeking to learn from the experiences and best practices of others,” says Mr.
Goanpot Asvinvichit, President and CEO of the Government Savings Bank of
Thailand (GSB), who chairs the conference organizing committee. With almost 100
years of experience delivering grassroots customer service, GSB has become an
internationally recognized leader in the delivery of microfinancial services to
more than 1.4 million customers directly though its People’s Bank operation and
more than 13 million through its financing of other government programs such as
the Village and Urban Community Fund.
Goanpot outlined the objectives of the conference as follows:
To promote and support internationally the role of microfinance as
a critical policy tool for effective and sustainable poverty reduction and to
encourage multinational cooperation in the development and improvement of
To offer, as a case study, Thailand's government policies and
programs to alleviate poverty and stimulate economic and social development at
the grassroots level.
To create a forum for the exchange of learning, best practices and
technology in development of microfinance and delivery of financial
opportunities and service for grassroots-level populations worldwide.
To contribute to the United Nations’ designated “International
Year of Microcredit 2005”, particularly the stated goal of increasing
international dialogue at the highest levels.
has many years of experience with microfinance. However since 2001, the
Government has made it the centerpiece of an integrated and innovative “Dual
Track” Policy, according to which the modern industrial and business sectors are
encouraged to prosper efficiently in order to create one part of the country’s
wealth. The other part of the country’s wealth, however, must be created at the
grassroots level through government-assisted programs such as microfinancial
services, asset capitalization, small enterprise incentives, and local product
marketing support, while insuring that all people have access to housing,
healthcare and education.
2001, Thailand has, with these goals in mind, pursued an aggressive and
progressive blend of economic and social development policies, adapting and
inventing global best practices in grassroots empowerment. The new key to
sustainable and sound growth should be creating greater opportunities for people
to thrive by expanding their access to capital, to technology and to markets.
The result has been an accelerated recovery from the devastating economic and
social effects of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and significant progress
toward the nation’s stated goal of eliminating poverty in Thailand by 2010.
poverty alleviation is the primary goal of the Thai government’s Dual Track
Policy, a national economic strategy based on grassroots revitalization had many
The policies unleash the tremendous, untapped intellectual capital
and entrepreneurialism inherent in traditional crafts and rural occupations.
Integrated programs create a multiplier-effects by complementing
those existing skills with modern financial services, production and information
technologies, and cutting-edge management and marketing expertise.
The national economy gains both flexibility and stability through
expanded diversity of the economic base.
Economic opportunity and stimulation reach more people throughout
the country than only stimulating of industrial activities, which are
concentrated in urban areas.
Grassroots activities are less dependent on imported technologies,
materials and components, so there is less impact on trade and account balances.
Information about the Thai government’s microfinance and development policies is
www.gsb.or.th. Additional details about speakers and programming will be