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Sabine - Private Sector Operations Department (PSOD)

Sabine Spohn
Sabine Spohn, Senior Investment Specialist, Financial Institutions Division, Private Sector Operations Department

Why did you join ADB's Private Sector Operations Department (PSOD)?

I come from a small town where nobody goes anywhere. So my dad always called me the odd one out in the family as I love to travel and experience different cultures. My dad tried to mitigate this by arranging a “decent” job for me at our local savings bank. Twenty years later I was walking around some remote villages in Papua New Guinea, trying to find out how the people there manage their finances – or use money at all. In between I worked in international banks, mainly across South East Asia, I did my PhD in Development Studies with a focus on microfinance at the University of Melbourne, and managed the Asian financial sector project portfolio at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. Now I work on the regional microfinance program at ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department (PSOD). This position finally gives me the freedom to combine developmental aspects with private sector participation. And I still get to go out into the field!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Sabine in India with one of the partners' micro borrowers
Sabine in India with one of the partners' micro borrowers

I lead PSOD’s Microfinance Risk Participation and Guarantee Program. Many microfinance institutions struggle to obtain commercial funding in order to provide financial services to low-income people. Our program fills this market gap by sharing default risks with partner financial institutions that provide wholesale loans in local currency to microfinance institutions. So far, more than 2.4 million micro borrowers, primarily poor women, have been supported with more than $422 million in loans. We work in India, Bangladesh and Indonesia and hope to expand to Sri Lanka and Myanmar soon. I thoroughly enjoy working with the different cultures that you meet at ADB, in the field through our partner banks. Being out in the field, talking to micro borrowers gives me the chance for a regular reality check. Discussions with our partner microfinance institutions and partner banks challenge me to be innovative and address market demands so that ADB’s work remains relevant.

Loan officer and clients of an ADB partner, Asirvad Microfinance, Chennai, India.
Loan officer and clients of an ADB partner, Asirvad Microfinance, Chennai, India.

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