Press Release: Microfinance Leaders Welcome Sharlene Brown to Helm Working Group

WASHINGTON – The Microfinance CEO Working Group, a collaborative effort by ten leading international organizations that promote financial inclusion around the world, welcomes Sharlene Brown as Executive Director.

The Working Group’s Co-Chairs Lauren Hendricks, Executive Director of CARE’s Access Africa program, and Scott Brown, President and CEO of VisionFund International, shared their excitement at Ms. Brown’s appointment:

“We are delighted to find such an energetic and qualified person to lead us as we strengthen our mission to bring financial inclusion to all vulnerable communities. Our group is committed to nurturing innovation in the microfinance field to deliver loans, savings, insurance and other essential services to the poor.  Sharlene’s demonstrated success promoting the best practices in microfinance will be an asset to this work.”

The Working Group comprises ten international organizations working to reach the most financially underserved communities, including low-income women, the rural poor, and those living at the very bottom of the economic pyramid. The member organizations collectively reach 71 million active clients via 251 microfinance institutions in 73 countries, and nearly 6 million clients via savings groups in 49 countries around the world. Together, the ten member organizations committed to opening a total of 70 million new accounts around the world by 2020.

Ms. Brown joins the Working Group after serving as National Director of Oikocredit-USA where she raised investment capital and provided development education on microfinance and social performance to investors with more than US$35 million in assets. Ms. Brown also worked with the Grameen Foundation, a member of the Microfinance CEO Working Group, as a Senior Program Officer for their Social Performance Management Center where she oversaw projects for microfinance institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle-East/North Africa. She has also worked in the socially responsible investment marketplace as a business development manager for Domini Social Investments and as research associate for the Social Investment Forum.

“I am thrilled to lead the Working Group as its members work to ensure that microfinance continues to be a vital tool in the toolbox for low-income communities working their way up the economic ladder,” said Ms. Brown. “As we strive to expand options for those who are unbanked and underserved, we recognize the importance of building partnerships with an array of like-minded stakeholders with the shared goal of improving lives through access to quality financial services. I look forward in playing a role in building those collaborations.”

Ms. Brown will work closely with the ten Microfinance CEO Working Group members: Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion; Shameran Abed, Director of BRAC’s microfinance program; Lauren Hendricks, Executive Director of CARE’s Access Africa program; Rupert Scofield, President of FINCA International; Kathleen Stack, Interim President of Freedom from Hunger; Steve Hollingworth, President and CEO of Grameen Foundation; David Simms, Global Chief Development Officer and President, Opportunity International, U.S.; Maria Cavalcanti, President and CEO of Pro Mujer; Scott Brown, President and CEO of VisionFund International; and Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking.