Marc Elvinger is Partner at Elvinger Hoss Prussen and President of Friendship Luxembourg
Could you tell us more about your background and your interest in development cooperation?
I became interested in development cooperation when I was at university in Aix en Provence. That was when I first started to do voluntary work for a number of NGOs. That drew me to Paris, where I completed a master’s degree (DEA) in development law.
I joined Frères des Hommes Luxembourg when I moved back to Luxembourg and then became successively member, board member and Chairman of the Board of Action Solidarité Tiers Monde. I am particularly interested in issues relating to the North-South divide, grassroots movements and rural development.
How did you get involved in inclusive finance?
My interest in development issues is what drew me to inclusive finance. It was a way for me to work on development issues including from a legal angle. For instance, I worked on transforming ADA’s LuxMint financing programme, which provided loans and guarantees to support the growth of microfinance institutions, into an open-ended investment fund (SICAV) that is now called the Luxembourg Microfinance and Development Fund (LMDF). I also worked on certain matters with the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.
Inclusive finance has enabled me to combine my profession as a lawyer and my personal interest in development issues.
Could you describe the work done by ElvingerHoss in the field of inclusive and impact finance?
As already mentioned, ElvingerHoss provides support for certain development players. It was also heavily involved in preparing the bill on the creation of the “social impact company” (SIS) status. It is true that, due to utterly conservative reactions from certain actors of the social sector and lack of courage of the minister in charge, the law did not, at the end of the day, become the milestone it could have been. But as many other matters, that was out of my control and I still have hope that, at some point of time, there will be a chance to catch up with this missed opportunity.
As Chairman of Friendship Luxembourg, what are the projects you are currently working in the development sector?
Friendship Luxembourg is part of Friendship International, a network of not for profit entities that are operating in support of Friendship Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi Microfinance Regulation Authority (MRA) has very recently granted a sister concern of Friendship a licence to operate as a microfinance institution (MFI). In this context Friendship Luxembourg will, apart from financial support, essentially provide technical support, while the MFI in Bangladesh will provide the financial services and products. Friendship works in remote areas where there are relatively few microfinance institutions. Above all, Friendship’s Sustainable Economic Development program systematically combines access to finance with training and other technical support so as to enable the clients to get maximum benefit from the loans extended to them.
Alongside its involvement in strengthening Friendship’s microfinance work, Friendship Luxembourg wants to support Bangladeshi craft workers by directly importing hand-crafted Bangladeshi products into Luxembourg in order to market them here.
Presently Friendship is also very active in the Rohingya camps, notably in healthcare, including through the introduction of a telemedecine programme. It is also working in education, among others in partnership with Unicef, as well as on a WASH/sanitation programme and reforestation solutions to avoid landslides in the camps.
What is your key interest in inclusive finance?
The programmes currently supported by Friendship Luxembourg cause me to have a particular interest in microinsurance matters, notably the most effective manner to incorporate insurance mechanisms into credit solutions Index-based insurance presents a great potential for small scale farming but it will take more time to get it within the reach of clients such as those Friendship is typically working with.
If you would like to change / improve one thing in the sector of inclusive finance what will it be? How InFiNe.lu and Luxembourg could contribute to it?
It is important that we build many more bridges between those who become interested in development when working on inclusive finance related matters and those who have to deal with inclusive finance when working on development solutions. For now there is a major gap in communication between these two groups.
InFiNe.lu is the Luxembourg platform that brings together public, private and civil society actors involved in inclusive finance. The value of InFiNe.lu lies in the wide range of expertise characterised by the diversity of its members.
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Picture 1 © Pallab Seth