“There has never been a better time to put new ideas on the table” said Uli Grabenwarter (European Investment Fund) when setting the scene for the debate at the second  the Alternative Finance Forum (AFF) 2021 sponsored by the EIB Group and organised by KEPA (Business and Cultural Development Centre), which took place on 13 October in Thessaloniki (Greece) on the theme “Money. Technology. Purpose”.

Professionals from the “alternative finance” space – impact investors, microfinance and micro-equity providers, social and FinTech entrepreneurs, crowdfunding experts and NGOs –  discussed the current and future societal and environmental challenges, and the role of money and technology in solving these.

Improving and recalibrating their venture to “make it better” was a returning topic among the participants’ stories. This matches what investors want, said Cyril Gouiffes (EIF). Before impact investors decide to invest in a venture, they look at the purpose its founders are following. That is because a successful social impact venture does not compromise on financial return and social impact.

One of the participants’ conclusions was the hope and imperative that money and technology be employed for a solid purpose. Fintech, alternative finance modes and investment in social, ethical and environmental impact should not remain the “alternative”, but should become the “norm”, said Uli Grabenwarter..

In conclusion, Francisco de Paula Coelho, Dean of the EIB Institute, praised the alternative finance community for their drive, and for their humility to learn from failures and always improve.

The EIB Group, through the Institute, is sponsoring the Alternative Finance Forum which is targeted at professionals in the social and alternative finance space, as well as business and FinTech leaders interested in developing solutions for the unbanked globally.

The Institute complements the activities of the European Investment Bank Group (EIB and EIF) in the area of microfinance.