The Smart Campaign is a global initiative to incorporate strong client protection principles into the financial inclusion industry. The Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Certification programme publicly recognizes those institutions providing financial services to low-income households whose standards of care uphold the Smart Campaign’s seven Client Protection Principles. These principles cover such important areas such as pricing, transparency, fair and respectful treatment and prevention of over-indebtedness.
The certification programme contains a rigorous set of standards against which institutions are evaluated by independent, third-party raters that are licensed by the Smart Campaign. The raters are established, specialized rating agencies with extensive experience, having analyzed hundreds of institutions to date.
In 2019, in addition to the action of Chamroeun, partner of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation since 2010, this initiative also publicly recognised the action of two other microfinance institutions, partners of the Foundation, as Client Protection Certified for meeting strong standards of client care: Musoni (Kenya) and Salym Finance (Kyrgyzstan).
These institutions join almost 120 others in over 40 countries that have been certified since the programme was launched in January 2013.
For further information about Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation partners, please click here.
To launch the 2019 edition of Solidarity Cents, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, Crédit Agricole SA and CA Center-est welcome on November 4, on the CA Campus in Montrouge, Rania, A Syrian entrepreneur and refugee supported through the operation.
After leaving Syria and thanks to the ICI Project (Incubation, Creation, Inclusion) of Entrepreneurs du Monde funded via Solidarity Cents, Rania was able to create its catering service to discover the traditional cuisine of her country. Come to exchange with Rania and taste her culinary specialties.
Launched in 2018 by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, Crédit Agricole SA and CA Center-Est, Solidarity Cents aims to finance entrepreneurship projects by mobilizing Crédit Agricole employees who are invited to donate 50 cents when they pay their meals at the CA Campuses restaurants.
Thanks to the support of Crédit Agricole employees, € 7,000 were paid to Entrepreneurs du Monde in 2018 to finance the ICI Project, which supports entrepreneurship projects for refugees, isolated parents and homeless people in Lyon.
This year, the beneficiary of the operation will be Entrepreneurs du Monde again. The operation will run in parallel at the Crédit Agricole Campuses in Montrouge, Saint-Quentin and Lyon from November 18 to 22.
The event is exclusively reserved for employees of the Crédit Agricole Group. To register, please contact email@example.com
On the occasion of The African Microfinance Week (SAM, the FinDev portal asked a number of questions to Eric Campos, Managing Director of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and CSR Manager of Crédit Agricole SA on the adaptation of microfinance institutions to climate change.
How can inclusive finance help to achieve the SDGs in Africa?
Inclusive finance is a voluntary initiative of the financial sector to create positive social impact while creating financial value so as to make this undertaking sustainable. When socially effective, microfinance is an instrument of inclusive finance. But this can hold true also for the conventional financial sector which can seek to combine the financial return of the means and resources deployed with social impact. Inclusive microfinance makes it possible to foster access to financing for segments of the population which have been traditionally excluded from the banking sector. In this respect, it supports the consumption by segments of the population with low income, often from informal sources, who are at times relatively more vulnerable (rural communities, women, young job seekers) and enables them to build a little capital. When such financing supports the development of small businesses, the latter in turn create growth, boost employment and stimulate the local economy.
What is the role of MFIs in the face of climate change, in particular in Africa, a continent particularly vulnerable to these upheavals?
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has stressed that urgent action is needed to support small concerns in their efforts to adapt to climate change. Farmers, nomadic herders, fishermen and small forest owners all depend on activities which are closely and inextricably linked to the climate. The negative effects on the food supply are getting worse, and may even deteriorate into disaster in certain particularly vulnerable areas. It is therefore urgent to bolster the resilience of the small family farm faced with an upheaval in operating conditions. The African continent is more exposed in this respect, because only 0.25% of the 178 million insured farmers in the world are African.
In the face of climate change, access to financial services is essential because it contributes to supporting the stability of farming activities when MFIs manage to reach farmers in rural areas. Nevertheless, there is no denying that enormous challenges still lie ahead. Heavy investments are needed to improve agricultural productivity, develop rural infrastructures, and foster the establishment of companies processing agricultural products and engaging in agri-industrial activities. Microfinance continues to be an overly isolated tool which is not yet matched up to the continent’s challenges because there is no ecosystem to support the modernization of agriculture.
In particular, how can MFIs support rural populations and small producers?
Whereas these farmers should ideally have adequate financial security and good livelihoods, they actually lead a life of daily struggles. They are faced with limited access to agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilizers, water, agrichemical products, agricultural tools and machinery) and to markets. They are henceforth regularly exposed to unexpected meteorological events that affect their production and therefore their income, without any insurance coverage. Farmers are often helpless against the ravaging effects of climate change.
The MFIs are often the only recourse a farmer has to finance his working capital requirements. They provide a variety of financial products that seek to adapt to the activities of the rural world. When MFIs are socially committed, they also provide “on-site support” which bolsters their effectiveness (workshops, on-site visits and risk assessment, advice on the purchase of raw materials, etc.). The sector of microfinance therefore remains the only alternative to usurers in very many rural areas. These institutions can also provide agricultural insurance products, which however are still prohibitively expensive for village agriculture which continues to be mostly at the subsistence level.
What concrete actions does the Grameen Crédit Agricole foundation take on this subject in Africa?
Rural life is the cornerstone of growth in developing countries. Rural areas have high growth potential but because of lack of means and resources, they are being deserted by their inhabitants who migrate to areas of potential employment and go to live on the fringes of cities. This development issue of rural economies is also linked to the necessary bolstering of subsistence agriculture to address malnutrition against the background of exponential population growth, and the promotion of the entrenchment of populations around jobs in the agricultural sector.
The Foundation is a contributor to rural development. 40% of the loans granted are earmarked for Sub-Saharan Africa. We are effectively present in some fifteen countries, and the Foundation’s financing policy is geared primarily to rural areas and women. The principles of action are marked by the need for the management of the social and economic performance of our partners. We promote responsible finance through strict eligibility criteria and a systematic economic and social performance analysis. As the fight against poverty cannot be waged alone, however, we take action alongside other committed stakeholders. With openness, determination and ability to listen, we call for the convergence of actions and agendas.
What do you expect from SAM 2019?
The battle against climate change is a global challenge for which we call on all parties to face up to their responsibilities. But the resilience of populations and economies is a local challenge which requires public and private stakeholders who are capable to contribute, in their respective area of responsibility, to the modernization of their regions. The SAM is a place for exchange, learning, information and sharing. It is also a place where a coalition of the willing is being built. We hope that the 2019 edition will bring us the optimism of determination and the energy of inspiration.
OSHUN, a partner of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, is a social start-up that aims to guarantee access to clean water to everyone, especially in developping countries.
OSHUN was created from the alliance of three French companies, each one leader in their respective fields, with the idea of adopting a social approach while having the framework and rigor of entrepreneurship.
The Providence technology developed by OSHUN is unique. In addition to answer all the problems related to the potabilisation of the water, the Providence technology is autonomous in energy, easy to transport and to maintain, connected in real time, and payable numerically at a fair price.
In Senegal where the company operates, OSHUN is 1 000 000 liters of water produced and distributed during the first year of activity, 65 rural jobs created in one year, 65% of them occupied by women, and a decrease in waterborne diseases of 30% in adults and 80% in children.
Created in 2008, under the joint impetus of the directors of Crédit Agricole S.A. and Professor Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Grameen Bank, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is a cross-business actorthat contributes to the fight against poverty through financial inclusion and entrepreneurship with a social impact. As an investor, lender, technical assistance coordinator and fund advisor, the Foundation supports microfinance institutions and social enterprises in nearly 40 countries.
The Smart Campaign, a global initiative to incorporate strong client protection principles into the financial inclusion industry, has publicly recognised Chamroeun, partner of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation since 2010, as Client Protection Certified for meeting strong standards of client care. The institution joins more than 115 others in over 40 countries that have been certified since the programme was launched in January 2013.
“We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Chamroeun,” said Isabelle Barrès, Director of the Smart Campaign. “Their willingness to do the work it takes to prepare for and undergo the intensive process of evaluation is indicative of their deep commitment to their clients. They have shown that this bar is achievable in the area of client protection. Their example will catalyze a movement towards certification within the broader industry.”
The Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Certification programme publicly recognizes those institutions providing financial services to low-income households whose standards of care uphold the Smart Campaign’s seven Client Protection Principles. These principles cover such important areas such as pricing, transparency, fair and respectful treatment and prevention of over-indebtedness. The certification programme contains a rigorous set of standards against which institutions are evaluated by independent, third-party raters that are licensed by the Smart Campaign. The raters are established, specialized rating agencies with extensive experience, having analyzed hundreds of institutions to date.
Chamroeun has long demonstrated a commitment to client protection. Prior to undergoing certification, the institution was evaluated by the Smart Campaign on its practices and contributed to the development of Campaign tools to help advance the sector.
Launched in 2013 by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) [French Development Agency], the “Take-off Facility for agricultural and rural microfinance in Africa” (African Facility) aims to support microfinance institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. After a successful first phase (2013-2016), with 16 funded partners and € 6 million in disbursed loans, the second phase of the program will support 25 rural microfinance institutions.
With the coordination of the Foundation, AFD financing for Phase II is structured around 3 elements: a loan of € 6 million for the credit activity; a € 2.2 million grant for technical assistance; and an ARIZ portfolio guarantee to cover 50% of the credits granted.
The results of Phase II
Phase II of the program already has 22 microfinance institutions supported (including 10 new ones), which at the end of June 2019 represent more than 400,000 active borrowers, 70% of whom are women and 66% live in rural areas.
In terms of technical assistance, beyond the tasks related to the reinforcement of financial management and risks, new themes are integrated into the program, such as social performance management, microinsurance, digitalization and green microfinance. In addition, 79 technical assistance missions were launched. Furthermore, the 29 microfinance institutions’ Managers and Directors received a scholarship to participate in the Boulder training in Turin in 2017 and 2019.
Finally, all institutions confirmed their participation in the Facility Partners’ Forum organized in October 2019 in parallel with the African Microfinance Week in Ouagadougou. This will be an opportunity to make a point of step of the impact of the program and strengthen the links between the partners supported.