Empowering Entrepreneurs through Microfinance: Key Takeaways from the 2024 EMN Annual Conference

As part of our commitment to supporting the Microfinance sector, Natech Banking Solutions proudly sponsored and attended the 21st Annual Conference of the European Microfinance Network (EMN), held on June 20-21, 2024, in Bucharest, Romania.

Key Takeaways from the Conference

The event brought together microfinance professionals, investors, policymakers, and technology providers to address a broad range of critical topics under the slogan “Cultivating Futures – Nurturing Entrepreneurs Through Microfinance.” The conference focused on youth and women entrepreneurship, sustainable agriculture, and the financial health and resilience of entrepreneurs facing crises.

One of the highlights was the session titled “Climate change: the impact of climate change on entrepreneurs and the role of MFIs in facilitating adaptation and mitigation efforts.” It featured Fanis Mesolongitis, Regional Head – Solution Consulting at Natech, along with experts from the Cooperative Bank of Karditsa and key representatives from the entrepreneurship and investment sectors.

Here are some key takeaways from the EMN conference, with a focus on the “Climate Change” session:

1. The Role of MFIs in Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

The session underscored the critical role that Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) play in supporting small entrepreneurs as they adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The need for both financial and non-financial support was emphasized to make the green transition inclusive and empowering rather than restrictive.

Panagiotis Tournavitis, CEO at Cooperative Bank of Karditsa, highlighted the importance of tailored financial products:

“Everything is doable with the right partners. We need to invest in climate change adaptation strategy through adapted technologies.”

Panagiotis also emphasized the need for innovative financial instruments:

“We can help to finance diversified crops, storage solutions, and innovative harvesting methods, making businesses more efficient and resilient.”

2. Collaboration Between Microfinance and Microinsurance

A recurring theme was the necessity of better cooperation between Microfinance and Microinsurance to support entrepreneurs in facing climate-related challenges. This collaboration can help mitigate risks and provide a more comprehensive safety net for entrepreneurs.

As Bruno Dunkel, General Manager at Inpulse, pointed out:

“We need a better cooperation between microfinance and micro insurance to better support entrepreneurs in their climate change challenges.”

3. Entrepreneurial Resilience and Innovation

Entrepreneurs shared inspiring stories of resilience and innovation in the face of climate change. Corina Oprea, Founder at Craita Merelor, described how she built an apple farm and incorporated tourism and education into her business model, turning challenges into opportunities.

Corina Oprea shared her journey:

“‘Don’t invest there, it’s not gonna work’, it’s what I used to hear when I wanted to start a business. Still, I have invested in an apple farm. After 4 years, there are hundreds of people who are visiting the apple farms.”

4. The Role of Technology in Supporting Entrepreneurs

Technology was highlighted as a key enabler for addressing climate challenges and supporting entrepreneurs. Fanis Mesolongitis, Regional Head – Solution Consulting at Natech Banking Solutions, emphasized the importance of robust technological infrastructure and user-friendly digital solutions.

Fanis provided an insightful analogy:

“An apple grows from its core. It needs a strong core, the seed, to grow from the inside out. If this apple were rotten inside, no one would want it. We buy it because it looks shiny, red, and appealing on the outside. If the apple were black or had holes and was rotten, would you buy it? I guess not.

This is the same with technology. We provide technology with a robust core. If our core were rotten, nothing would work. We couldn’t help microfinance institutions and banks support their clients. But we also need the shiny skin—the user-friendly digital front-end that engages customers and meets their needs. The customers of microfinance institutions and banks need a digital front-end that will encourage them to use it.”

He further elaborated on the importance of technology in mitigating climate change:

“Technology is here to help us. We can gather data, analytics, and insights to make informed decisions and support entrepreneurs, MFIs, and banks in moving to the digital era. Digitalization reduces the carbon footprint by enabling online transactions, reducing the need for physical travel, and lowering hardware dependency through cloud usage. By embracing smart technology, we can mitigate the impact of climate change and promote sustainability. It’s essential to ensure a sustainable future.”

5. The Importance of Meaningful Data

Data was recognized as a crucial element for making informed decisions and supporting entrepreneurs effectively. The ability to interpret and use data meaningfully can drive better outcomes and support sustainable practices.

Fanis Mesolongitis from Natech Banking Solutions stressed the importance of data:

“We need meaningful data that actually can be interpreted and explained in a way that help the entrepreneurs, not just numbers scattered around. And then it’s a sustainable business model.”

6. Anticipation and Preparedness

Anticipating future risks and integrating them into strategies was highlighted as vital for sustainability. Raising awareness about the potential impact of climate change and its influence on activities is essential for developing effective preparedness plans.

7. Access to Finance and Spreading Knowledge

Access to finance, mitigating risks through financial instruments, and spreading knowledge were also identified as essential components to support entrepreneurs in adapting to climate change.

Panagiotis Tournavitis from Cooperative Bank of Karditsa noted that:

“For us, the challenge is to be as proactive as possible. First, we must provide access to finance for all good entrepreneurs in our region. Second, we need to mitigate risk. Most importantly, we must spread knowledge and change the mentality of the people in our area to be proactive.”


The 2024 EMN Annual Conference underscored the vital role of collaboration, innovation, and technology in addressing climate change challenges faced by entrepreneurs. Natech Banking Solutions remains dedicated to supporting this mission with cutting-edge technology, aiding MFIs and their clients in navigating the complexities of sustainable business practices.

As the conference concluded, it became evident that with the right partners and a collaborative spirit, everything is possible. The insights and connections made at this event will undoubtedly foster positive change and support the green transition for small entrepreneurs across Europe.

More about Natech: Unlock the Microfinance Opportunity

Building on two decades of banking technology expertise, Natech delivers unified, cost-effective digital solutions tailored to local and regional Microfinance Institutions (MFIs). These solutions enhance operational efficiency, improve customer satisfaction, and ensure regulatory compliance. To learn more, read about our collaboration with Microsmart or contact us for more information.

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