Microfinance should not stand alone, it needs to come as part of a rounded policy aimed at fighting poverty effectively. This is the opinion of Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, wife of the country's future king, as expressed in her address at the RNW Microfinance, who profits? event held in the Peace Palace in The Hague on 25 January 2010.
Other speakers at the meeting included Dutch Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders. His speech was followed by a lively debate with four prominent figures from the world of development and microfinance.
Another high point came in the form of a live interview at the Peace Palace with Linda Flores, a tortilla baker from Nicaragua, who has been able to improve her life and that of her family through microfinance. Before speaking to the meeting in English, Princess Máxima started out by addressing Linda Flores - in Spanish - to thank her for her frank and refreshing expression of her thoughts and views.
The event also featured two comic intermezzos by Dutch comedian Erik van Muiswinkel, who held a mirror up to those present at this well-attended afternoon as he reflected on various issues, including the differences between the developed and developing world, in an amusing performance.
The debate with the four panel members was also opened up by presenter and host Vanessa Mock to those in the hall and beyond. Microphones were available for those wishing to present their views from the floor, whilst the social network site Twitter presented a live feed of views coming from further afield. 'Microfinance doesn't work in a time of crisis' and 'microcredit serves no purpose if you don't provide the recipients with financial training too', were just two of the positions up for discussion at the RNW-hosted event.
At the end of the meeting, RNW Director General Jan Hoek gave a commitment - with the firm support and authority of Editor-in-Chief Rik Rensen - that Radio Netherlands Worldwide will not forget the issue of microfinance. Both promised that in the years to come, the subject will continue to feature strongly in RNW's output across all the media platforms on which it operates.