August 29, 2018 will undoubtedly be an unforgettable day for the employees and peasants who work for the company VERT Ltd in Kenya: the long-awaited inauguration of the new factory in Machakos, which should allow VERT Ltd to move up a gear .
Until now, this social enterprise, of which the Foundation has been a shareholder since 2016, only had a fairly small warehouse in the suburbs of Nairobi, near the airport, to receive fresh vegetables (green beans, peas, etc.) that it mainly exports to the Netherlands and Belgium. The new plant consists of two main buildings and was funded by capital contributions from the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and the other new shareholder Kampani, a Belgian investment fund. With this new facility, VERT Ltd will be able to increase the export volume of fresh vegetables, but also develop a new line of products: the manufacture of mango pulp and passion fruit mainly for the local market and, ultimately , the marketing of dried mangoes for export. In addition, the plant includes a closed circuit for the use of water in the process of extracting pulp and reprocessing wastewater for the local consumption of drinking water.
It is therefore with great pride that the Foundation participated in the inauguration alongside the founders of VERT Ltd, Jane and Nderito Maina, employees of the company, representatives of smallholders and local authorities (Kenya Association of Manufacturers, County Representative, Micro Enterprise Support Program Trust). For the 1,800 small farmers with whom VERT Ltd works directly, this factory is a lever to significantly increase their income and the possibility of diversifying their production. By promoting stable export opportunities or for local markets, VERT Ltd will be able to amplify its role and increase its social and economic impact with smallholder farmers in Kenya.
Crédit Agricole Group: a key partner of the Foundation
The Foundation was created in 2008 under the joint impetus of managers of Crédit Agricole S.A. and the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for 2006 and founder of the Grameen Bank, Professor Yunus. The Crédit Agricole Group has supported the Foundation’s microfinance and social business activities from the outset.
It is under this historic partnership that CACIB granted a €14-million loan to the Foundation. This loan in dollars and euros makes it possible to continue and increase the Foundation’s commitment to the financial inclusion of underprivileged populations by creating or strengthening small businesses that generate income in the countries where it operates.
Renewed growth activities for the Foundation
The loan granted by CACIB contributes towards the funding of the Foundation’s development plan which has set a target of €100 million for its commitment portfolio by 2021. At the end of August 2018, the Foundation’s outstanding amount in loans granted to microfinance institutions stood at €58 million and the total in loans granted (by the Foundation) since the beginning now exceeds €200 million, or four times its initial capital.
The Foundation has entered into solid partnerships with BPI subsidiaries which enable it to operate henceforth in countries in which the Group is present, in particular in retail banking lines of business.
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is a historic partner of Convergences, an advocacy and mobilization platform set up to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A member of the Steering Committee of the Microfinance Barometer since it was created, the Foundation has reaffirmed its commitment alongside Convergences by becoming a financial partner of this reference publication for the sector. Dedicated to the theme “What profitability for microfinance?” the Barometer 2018 explores the topic of microfinance from its many facets.
This 9th edition was unveiled at the 11th Convergences World Forum held in Paris last September 3rd, with the participation of Philippe Guichandut, inclusive finance development manager at the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, and other experts and committed players from the sector.
Microfinance Barometer 2018
This year, the Barometer announced annual growth of 15.6% of the credit portfolio of microfinance institutions and 5.6% in the total number of borrowers. The microfinance sector makes a significant contribution to financial inclusion in rural areas: two thirds of the borrowers from institutions in Africa and Asia live in rural areas. Women continue to be the preferred target of the sector worldwide, with an 82% coverage in 2017.
The 2018 edition of Barometer features two articles from the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation also. During a joint interview on the profitability of the sector, Eric Campos, General Manager of the Foundation, presented the positive results of the Foundation which finances and supports more than 60 MFIs with a high social performance. “We operate in more than 30 countries in which our partners serve more than 3.5 million beneficiaries. It is altogether possible to be balanced and sustainable on the financial front while having an impact on the social front”, Mr Campos stated.
In an article co-authored with Sébastien Duquet of Symbiotics, Philippe Guichandut highlighted the new challenges of financial inclusion: “Being more effective means that institutions must be able to adapt to the new challenges of the digital age to deal with keener competition and the emergence of new players, while adapting to the diversified needs of their clients.” To meet these challenges, microfinance institutions will need new investments and reinforced technical support – two levers which will remain at the heart of the action of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.
The results of the Microfinance Barometer 2018 reaffirm the dynamism of the sector and its role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is proud to support the Barometer so as to develop the actions of microfinance players and promote sustainable financing and a better shared economy.