Friday, July 20, 2012

Boulder Institute of Microfinance

Boulder Institute of Microfinance (BIM) was established in Boulder, Colorado 18 years ago. It is an institute that specializes in providing education and training on microfinance for microfinance practioners, donors, investors, development agencies and regulators. It was part of University of Colorado Boulder Campus along with Economic Institute.

Eight years ago, BIM moved to Turin, Italy and is now housed at International Training Center of International Labor Organization, as part of United Nations. To carry out the name "Boulder" meaningful, there is one boulder in the yard.

ILO's ITC Turin Campus has several buildings but laid out in a way they form the world map with each building symbolizing each continent. It has dormitory style hotels on campus so that hundreds of people may be able to stay on campus for an extended period of education or training.

BIM holds Annual Boulder Symposium every year. The Symposium centers around a theme of "Training for Sustainable Development." For this year's 18th Annual Boulder Symposium, 260 people have come from 70 countries, including 55 from Sub-Saharan countries. At last night's special topic session, attendees introduced themselves and I felt like the whole west African countries were present. 

Campus Map showing the World Map
The Annual Boulder Symposium lasts three weeks in total and all participants have to choose a track. The option tracks are management, policy and development. Each track requires the completion of six courses, including four mandatory courses and two electives. Each course has five two and half hour classes. Moreover, each morning, there are plenary sessions that cover a wide range of topics that are relevant to the microfinance industry.

I started working in the microfinance industry without any prior training and knowledge. I was able to survive for the past three and half years probably based on my banking and general management experiences. The more I work, however, the more I feel I need to learn. This Annual Boulder Symposium helps me do just that. It gives me historical perspectives, practices in different countries and different organizations, current issues, technical skills etc.

I am grateful for this opportunity to learn about the micro finance at large and specific topics. - Jeffrey  

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