Each spring, the San Diego Microfinance Alliance hosts a summit event to bring together local professionals and community members for a time of learning and networking. It is one of southern California’s largest microfinance events and draws roughly 250 professionals, students, academics, volunteers and members of the general public that want to learn and become more engaged in microfinance work based in San Diego.
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Previous Summit Events

2015 Summit: Promoting Fairness and Transparency to Empower Microfinance Entrepreneurs

The 2015 San Diego Microfinance Summit brought together leading microfinance practitioners to discuss best practices surrounding the topic of client protection and client advocacy. Alex Rizzi, the Deputy Director at Smart Campaign shared valuable insights about how the principles of The Smart Campaign are being adopted by microfinance organizations around the globe to benefit entrepreneurs. The expert panel discussion gave event participants greater opportunity to understand the power of prioritizing the needs of those who benefit from microfinance-related products and services.

Speakers & Panelists

  • Alex Rizzi – keynote
    Deputy Director, The Smart Campaign
  • Valery Belloso – panelist
    Chief Business Development and Strategy Officer
    ACCION San Diego
  • Craig McIntosh Dennis Mello – panelist
    Professor of Economics
    Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies
    University of California, San Diego
  • Dennis Mello panelist
    Global Program Officer, Women Empowered Initiative
  • Kasra Movahedi – panelist
    Technical Advisor for Economic Empowerment Programs
    International Rescue Committee
  • Stephen Conroy, Ph.D. – panel moderator
    Professor of Economics
    Faculty Director, Center for Peace and Commerce
    University of San Diego

Dinner Vendors

  • Los Tito’s Mexican Food  |  619-475-2160
  • Red Sambusas & Catering – East African Cuisine  |  619-245-7946

2014 Summit: Expanding Horizons of Microfinance

Leading microfinance practitioners, social entrepreneurs, and other community members participated in the 2014 San Diego Microfinance Summit to explore the expanding horizons of the microfinance industry. Larry Reed, the Director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, gave the keynote address and set the tone for a day of lively discussion and inspiration by reflecting on current needs within the microfinance industry. Innovative organizations such as Kiva, GiveDirectly, Edify and Puddle were featured during an interactive keynote panel session which was followed by two afternoon breakout sessions: The Changing Horizon of Local Micro Lending: Impact, Innovation, and Advocacy and Emerging Models: Returning to Traditional Ways of Saving and Sharing. The event presentations concluded with a discussion between Larry Reed and Chris Crane (CEO, Edify) about the intersection of microfinance and education.

Speakers & Panelists

  • Larry Reed – keynote
    Director, Microcredit Summit Campaign
  • Jonny Price plenary panelist
    Kiva Zip
  • Jean Claude Rodriguez plenary panelist
    Co-Founder, Puddle
  • Paul Neihaus – plenary panelist
    Co-Founder, GiveDirectly
  • Craig McIntoshplenary moderator
    Professor of Economics, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies
    University of California, San Diego
  • Chris Crane plenary panelist
    President & CEO, Edify
  • Paula Cordeiroplenary moderator
    University of San Diego

Lunch Vendors

  • Laeticia Martha Garay  Mexican Food, Catering
    phone: 619-366-6102
  • Yuyu Manshadi – Asian and Persian food, Catering
    phone: 858-279-9589  |
  • Hasno Ali – East African Cuisine – East African Food, Catering
    Sells at various Farmer’s Markets
    Phone: 619-277-0047
  • Olivia Laryea – Olivia’s Kitchen
    Ghanian West African Food, Catering
    Sells at Various Farmer’s Markets
    Phone: 619-261-7699  |

2013 Summit: Microfinance Bus Tour and Networking Reception

Celebrating 5 years of furthering the reach and efficacy of microfinance in our region, the San Diego Microfinance Alliance (SDMFA) partnered with the University of San Diego (USD) to promote the TEDx AshokaU event while also offering unique microfinance-focused events such as a Microfinance Bus Tour and a networking reception. Participants of the Bus Tour climbed aboard a shuttle provided by an Iraqi refugee entrepreneur and visited several other local business owners who have benefited from access to capital and other forms of business support provided by microfinance organizations based in San Diego. 

At the evening’s TEDx AshokaU event, internationally-acclaimed presenters shared innovative ideas that are affecting positive social change today. Included among the speakers was Chris Crane, of Edify. As leader in international microfinance, Chris shared his insights into the ways in which microfinance can be used as a tool to support affordable private schools in developing countries. Attendees of the TEDx AshokaU event were invited to continue the conversation at a networking reception sponsored by the SDMFA and featuring food provided by local entrepreneurs and beneficiaries of microfinance loans and related services. The evening was filled with conversations among local social entrepreneurs and thought-leaders as they explored new approaches to solving major social challenges such as poverty alleviation and greater access to capital for entrepreneurs.

2012 Summit: Innovation & Technology

With over 200 enthusiastic attendees, the 4th Annual San Diego Microfinance Summit was a day rich in both conceptual discussion and direct support of microfinance. The event focused on exploring cutting-edge developments in microfinance models and technological advances among borrowers and their lending microfinance institutions. Chris Dunford, Senior Research Fellow and former president of Freedom From Hunger gave the keynote presentation and emphasized the continued need for human connection even as technological advances are implemented in previously marginalized populations. Rob Gailey of Point Loma Nazarene University moderated a panel comprised of microfinance borrowers with the conversation focusing on their use of technology to reach their market and grow their businesses.

Afternoon breakout sessions were equally dynamic with topics ranging from the popular pricing of microfinance products to the most effective implementation of technology within microfinance institutions. Chuck Waterfield of Microfinance Transparency emphasized the importance of transparency among practitioners when determining pricing for loan programs among various populations. Discussions during the “Technology in Microfinance” session centered on the use of technology among microfinance institutions and the work that is being done to increase efficiencies and decrease overhead costs. The “Innovation in Microfinance Models” panel focused on new programs and initiatives being employed by organizations such as Erase Poverty, PCI, and the International Rescue Committee.

Speakers & Panelists

  • Christopher Dunford – keynote speaker
    Senior Research Fellow
  • Chuck Waterfieldspeaker
    Microfinance Transparency
  • Sean Carpenter – panelist
  • Sara Smith – panelist
    International Rescue Committee
  • Joanna Wamuth – panelist
    Erase Poverty
  • Joshua Miller panelist
    ACCION Texas, Inc.
  • Peg Rosspanelist
    The Grameen Foundation
  • Maika Hemphillpanelist

Featured Entrepreneurs

Lunch Vendors

  • Red Sambusas & Catering – sambusas and East African cuisine
    Sells at various local Farmer’s markets  |  619-245-7946
  • Olivia’s Kitchen – Ghanaian West African Cuisine
    Sells at various local Farmer’s markets  |  619-291-7699
  • Jet’s Catering – tamales
    Araceli Lopez: 4447 Avenida Del Gado, Oceanside, CA
    phone: 760-681-6332,
  • Carnitas Snack Shack – slow roasted pork
    2632 University Avenue, San Diego 91945  |  619-294-7675


2011 Summit: Exploring Domestic Microfinance

The 2011 San Diego Microfinance Summit focused on the need for access to capital for entrepreneurs living in the United States and exploring the types and levels of financing provided by domestic microfinance lenders. Event participants heard from Claudia Veik, CEO of the California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO) as well as several local entrepreneurs who have received loans to help them launch or grow their businesses. Four afternoon breakout session were offered, covering a wide range of topics including: International Microfinance, Careers in MicrofinanceDomestic Microfinance, and Microfinance and Holistic Development.

Speakers & Panelists

  • Claudia Viek – keynote
  • Gina Harmanplenary panel
    CEO, ACCION Network
  • Giovanna Masciplenary panel
    Regional Director for the Americas, Kiva

Featured Entrepreneurs

  • Mario Lewis – Imperial Barber Shop
    6377 Imperial Avenue, San Diego  |  619-255-1103
  • Hamadi Machiwa – Hamadi Mobile Mechanic  |  619-384-0864
  • Malou Gibson – La Dolce Vita Wellness Center
    1445 Skyline Drive, Lemon Grove, CA  |  858-523-8064
  • Angela Maweu – Angel Green  |  877-436-5544

Lunch Vendors

  • Red Sambusas – East African Catering  |  619-245-7946
  • African Flavor Food – Serving Ethiopian/Somali Cuisine
    Sells at various local Farmer’s markets  | 619-277-0047
  • Savory Deli & Market – Serving Paella
    4661 Park Blvd., San Diego  |  619-683-3772
  • Banana Leaf Tamales – Serving Tamales
    1445 Skyline Drive, Lemon Grove, CA 91945  |  619-549-0510

2010 Summit

The San Diego Microfinance Alliance welcomed Yeardly Smith as the keynote speaker for the 2nd Annual San Diego Microfinance Summit. Smith is an Emmy award-winning actor, novelist and playwright who is best known as the voice of Lisa Simpson on the Emmy award winning television series The Simpsons.  She is passionate about microfinance and shared about her experiences visiting with women in Haiti, both pre- and post-earthquake and addressed the impact of microfinance.As a donor and volunteer, Smith has  partnered with Grameen Foundation on a special initiative geared toward expanding microcredit and related services to those living on less than a dollar a day. The keynote session was followed by a panel discussion focusing on impact the global economic meltdown is having upon the poor in developing countries and how different microfinance organizations are responding.

Speakers & Panelists

  • Yeardly Smithkeynote
    Award-winning actor, novelist, and avid supporter of microfinance
  • Chris Craneplenary panelist
    President & CEO, EduLeap, Inc.
  • Peg Ross – plenary panelist
    Grameen Foundation
  • Sean Carpenterplenary panelist
  • Elisa Sabatini – plenary panelist
    Executive Director, Via International
  • Robert Gailey panel moderator
    Director, Center for International Development
    Point Loma Nazarene University
  • Terry Provance breakout session speaker
    Executive Director, Oikocredit, USA
  • Chris Nayvebreakout session speaker
    Associate Director, Center for Community Learning
    University of San Diego
  • Elana Cruzbreakout session speaker
    La Maestra

2009 Summit

The first annual San Diego Microfinance Summit featured a keynote address given by Lynn McMullen who has been engaged in the field of microfinance for over twenty years with federal policy, advocacy, and program evaluation. More recently she has been working to develop programs for AIDS orphans, vulnerable youth and voluntary home based care networks in rural South Africa.

They keynote address was followed by panel discussions about microfinance efforts in San Diego and international microfinance. In addition, local microfinance borrowers shared their experiences and the ways in which having access to business capital helped them achieve their dream of entrepreneurship.

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