Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley Builds Upon Leadership Role in Microfinance

Mar 6, 2008

Morgan Stanley and Women’s World Banking host conference, drawing participants from nearly 50 microfinance institutions

New York —


Morgan Stanley and Women’s World Banking teamed together to host a ground-breaking conference on microfinance and the capital markets on February 20-21, 2008.  Nearly 300 people attended including socially responsible investors, Morgan Stanley employees and 78 members of 45 microfinance institutions (MFI’s) to discuss how MFI’s can take advantage of the increasing presence of the capital markets in the microfinance sector.

“This conference provided the opportunity for MFI’s, members of academia, investors and the financial community to discuss the growing demand for innovative financial solutions for the microlender,” said Ellen Brunsberg, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley.  “Morgan Stanley leads the market in recognizing the connection between this sector and the capital markets.  We provide access to capital, financial advice and global markets execution with the intent of helping this industry access sustainable banking services.”

“The evolution of microfinance from a community-centered, non-profit activity based primarily on charitable impulses to an asset class that global investors are vying to get into is indeed an extraordinary phenomenon,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking.  “As we celebrate the potential that these changes bring for the future of microfinance, we must also be mindful of not losing sight of our social mission of empowering women and alleviating poverty.  Morgan Stanley is playing a vital role in educating the financial industry and facilitating the capital markets needs of MFI’s.”

The conference also featured a Microfinance Case Study Competition where nine teams of Morgan Stanley employees worked with participating microfinance institutions over a four-week period prior to the conference to develop high-level, strategic case studies on topics such as optimal capital structure and ideal equity investors to present on the first day of the conference.  The competition culminated on the second day when three finalist teams presented on stage to nearly 300 conference attendees.  First place was awarded to the team working with Findesa, the largest MFI in Nicaragua.  The team built an innovative and impactful framework for assessing Findesa’s search for an optimal equity investor, and also provided creative recommendations for new capital markets instruments Findesa should consider.

“These Morgan Stanley teams represented outstanding performers at the Firm who wanted to apply their commercial skills to a strategic challenge with a social mission,” said Linda Riefler, Morgan Stanley’s Chief Talent Officer.  “In addition to providing capital markets insights into their microfinance institution partners, our employees gained valuable experience working on cross-divisional teams, managing a client relationship and learning first hand about emerging market dynamics.”

Findesa will receive three months of pro-bono advisory services from Morgan Stanley’s Microfinance Institutions Group as a result of the win.

“We felt we were a winner before the results of the contest were revealed because Morgan Stanley’s team provided us with so many innovative financial solutions to meet our business needs,” said Gabriel Solorzano, Chairman, Findesa.

Ian Callaghan, Head of the Microfinance Institutions Group at Morgan Stanley said, “Given widespread concerns about management strength at a time of great changes in the microfinance industry, the conference has been our contribution to capacity building in terms of capital markets awareness among MFI’s.  At the same time, we have been able to significantly scale up awareness of microfinance internally at Morgan Stanley.”

Other conference highlights included MFI capital markets workshops that addressed topics such as optimal capital structures, credit due diligence and investment readiness and navigating risk. James E. Austin, Emeritus Professor, Harvard Business School, moderated discussion sessions and the Case Study Competition.

Morgan Stanley has arranged $250 million of funding for microfinance institutions, providing medium-term funding for on-lending to approximately 300,000 micro-entrepreneurs in 20 developing countries.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley’s dedicated microfinance team, the Microfinance Institutions Group, operates globally to leverage local and market expertise throughout the Firm.  The group seeks to originate microfinance-related transactions for the capital markets and to manage Morgan Stanley’s direct and indirect equity involvement in microfinance.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing a wide range of investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services.  The Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals from more than 600 offices in 33 countries.  For further information about Morgan Stanley, please visit

About Women’s World Banking

Women’s World Banking is a global network of 54 microfinance providers and banks, working in 30 countries to bring financial services and information to poor entrepreneurs.  The network serves 9 million microentrepreneurs directly, and another 14 million indirectly through its bank partners and others.  The network is supported by a global team based in New York which delivers expertise in product design and distribution, access to capital markets, and customer and insight.  For more information about WWB, visit

Media Relations Contact: Carissa Ramirez, 212.762.6834