The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its Quarterly Letter # 34 in which it notably presents a new section in the form of a space dedicated to the Foundation’s partners: supported organisations, founders, technical and financial partners testify about their actions, their projects, their links with the Foundation and the impact of their work in the field. In this edition, also discover the Column of Sara Belbachir, Solidarity banker who completed a mission with the Moroccan microfinance institution Al Karama.
In addition, the Foundation’s Newsletter presents its latest news and in particular the partnership signed with the UNHCR and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) for the implementation of a four-year programme aimed at promoting access to financial and non-financial services for refugees and host communities in Uganda.
Founded in 2008, under the joint leadership of Crédit Agricole SA and Professor Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Grameen Bank, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is a cross-business actor which contributes to the fight against poverty through financial inclusion and social impact entrepreneurship. Investor, lender, technical assistance coordinator and Fund advisor, the Foundation supports microfinance institutions and social enterprises in nearly 40 countries.
Launched in 2018 by the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation, Crédit Agricole S.A. and Crédit Agricole Centre-Est, Solidarity Cents aims to finance entrepreneurship projects by mobilising Crédit Agricole employees who are invited to donate 50 cents when paying for their meals in collective restaurants. For the 2019 edition, thanks to the support of employees, € 8,657 will be donated to Entrepreneurs du Monde to finance the ICI programme (Incubation, Creation, Inclusion) which supports entrepreneurship projects for refugees, single parents and homeless people in Lyon.
The campiagn took place in parallel at the Crédit Agricole Campuses in Montrouge, Saint-Quentin and Lyon from 18 to 22 November. Crédit Agricole S.A., the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole Centre-Est will embrace the generosity of their employees by contributing to the collection.
Last year, Entrepreneurs du Monde also received € 7,000 through the operation, which helped strengthen the ICI programme. All together, 20 collective training sessions were organised and 18 people supported to structure their entrepreneurship projects. Entrepreneurs du Monde’s objective is to support 40 project applicants by 2020.
Back to the images oin the launching event
To launch the 2019 edition of the campaign, Crédit Agricole welcomed on November 4, on the Montrouge Campus, Rania, entrepreneur and Syrian refugee financially supported thanks to the 2018 campaign. After leaving Syria and thanks to the ICI Project (Incubation, Creation, Inclusion) of Entrepreneurs du Monde funded through Solidarity Cents, Rania launched her catering service to share the traditional dishes of her country.
Watch the video of the operation which presents Rania’s journey and the testimonies of the staff who participated in the operation. vidéo
Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA in June 2018, Solidarity Banker is a skills volunteering programme open to all Crédit Agricole group employees for microfinance institutions or impact businesses supported by the Foundation. Discover the Column of Sarah Belbachir, Solidarity Banker of Crédit Agricole SA.
Solidarity Banker… but, why?
The first time I spoke to my acquaintances about the Solidarity Bankers programme, I was told «banker and solidarity … isn’t that a bit contradictory?» For many, these two words have a hard time resonating in unison. However, when I discovered the Solidarity Bankers programme, I met passionate people, sincere ambitions and concrete actions. Far from being fine words, the programme won me over by the values ??it inspires and its willingness to work directly on the ground.
So I immediately applied for a mission to strengthen the anti-money laundering and ant-terrorism financing system (AML-ATF) of Al Karama, an institution funded by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit du Maroc that offers microloans to people excluded from the traditional banking system, in particular women.
Very soon after applying, I had confirmation that my application had been accepted. My mission therefore began in Montrouge, at the premises of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation for the preparation phase. With the help of Edouard, Violette and Carolina (1), we defined the schedule and the objectives. They introduced me to the main concepts of microfinance, and provided me with specific contextual elements on Al Karama, on the Moroccan economy and the microfinance sector in Morocco.
Take-off to Rabat!
On July 13, I finally flew to Rabat. For ten days, I was going to devote myself to a topic that was part of my area of ??expertise, but in a different sector, in a different size structure and in a cultural context different from my daily life.
The first two days were devoted to raising awareness among top management on the risks linked to AML-ATF and how to prevent them. AML-ATF training was organised by Crédit du Maroc teams within the framework of a skill-sharing patronage. It was an opportunity to exchange views on Crédit du Maroc’s VSE / SME financing practices and understand the market in which Moroccan microfinance institutions will diversify.
The discussions that followed with Al Karama’s team allowed me to familiarise myself with the functioning of the institution, to identify the strengths in terms of AML-ATF and the elements needing strengthening.
The next step was to elaborate a more detailed action plan, so that Al Karama integrates its AML-ATF obligations gradually and according to priorities. In collaboration with Edouard Sers of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, who joined me on this part of the mission, we thus defined precise recommendations, with one manager per action and a three-year implementation schedule. The challenge was to draw up a realistic and achievable action plan for Al Karama, in light of its ressources and its workforce.
The action plan was very well received by the Al Karama Executive Committee to which we presented it on the last day of the mission. The next step is now in the hands of Al Karama, who will implement this roadmap.
My mission was punctuated by two visits that marked my experience. Al Karama organised visits to agencies and clients, one in urban areas and the other one in rural areas. The first took place in the city of Temara, on the outskirts of Rabat. After some discussions with the branch manager and loan officers, we visited a client who received a microcredit in his traditional Moroccan clothing store. This first visit allowed me to better understand the functioning of a microcredit agency and to see how the procedures are actually applied in the field.
The second visit took place in Larache, in the north of Morocco. We first visited a rural agency which offers agricultural services to the inhabitants of the region. We went to a watermelon and peanuts field to meet with a farmer who has received a microcredit to develop its activity with a larger field. I was able to confirm the impact of microcredit on the development of small farming and the strengthening of rural economies.
These meetings allowed me to understand microfinance as closely as possible and to see what concrete finance can achieve. But above all, these meetings have been an unforgettable human experience.
This was just a taste … I came back to Paris with the desire to get further involved.
In partnership with CA CIB India, the Foundation has granted a guarantee equivalent to € 5 million to the Indian microfinance institution Annapurna, for a loan granted in local currency by CA CIB India. Annapurna Finance Pvt. Ltd (AFPL) was established in 2009, and is now one of the top ten NBFC-MFIs in the country. The institution provides financial services to low-income populations. Its main objectives are to provide financial assistance for economic empowerment and to give priority to women and to involve them directly in production activities through Self-help groups and access to finance. As of today, the institution serves 1.6 million active borrowers, 99% of which are women and 85% of which live in rural areas.
Similarly, in Myanmar, the Foundation has granted a new loan for a total amount equivalent to € 2.3 million in local currency over a four-year period to VisionFund Myanmar, a microfinance institution that lends small sums of money to people who do not have a measurable credit history, assets to secure the loans, or access to mainstream financial providers. As of today, VisionFund Myanmar serves over 190,000 clients, 86% of whom are women and 59% of whom live in rural areas.
Also in Myanmar, the Foundation has granted a new loan in local currency equivalent to € 1.8 million over a four-year period to Proximity Designs, on behalf of Proximity Finance, a microfinance programme whose mission is to addres extreme poverty by treating the poor as customers. To date, the programme has 117,000 active borrowers, 69% of whom are women.
Finally, in Cambodia, the Foundation has granted a loan equivalent to € 1.6 million to Chamroeun, a historical partner of the Foundation since 2010. Chamroeun is a microfinance institution that provides financial services to the poorest, those excluded from the range of more commercial microfinance institutions. The institution serves over 30,000 clients, 82% of whom are women.
More information on the Foundation’s partners here.
Through technical assistance provided within the framework of the African Facility scheme, AMZ was able to develop an Agriculture Loan Evaluation System to enhance its credit assessment of its agriculture loans to smallholder farmers. This is a new innovation in Zambia and in the region at large.
What are AMZ Zambia’s activities and objectives?
Susan Chibanga, CEO of AMZ Zambia: AMZ was established by the Agora Group eight years ago, and ever since we have been engaged in contributing to the economic well-being of the financially excluded and underserved rural populations. We aim to provide appropriate financial services: village group loans, agricultural loans, MSME loans, microinsurance and mobile money services. Agricultural loans and rural financing in general are expensive due to the need for service delivery at the doorstep of the customer. Our partners have contributed through the provision of technical assistance on several projects including digitalization of our processes and the development of the Agriculture Loan Evaluation System. (*)
How does technical assistance improve the agricultural microcredits granted by AMZ?
With this technical assistance, we have created a tool to help us assess creditworthiness of our agriculture product customers: The Agricultural Loan Evaluation System. This is a resource developed with help from the Frankfurt School of Business. The tool makes it possible to determine the tenor and payment frequency of the loan to be granted by simulating the repayment models depending on the type of crop being grown by small and medium-sized farmers. We conducted a pilot project on corn, soybeans, tomatoes, watermelon and peanuts during an agricultural season. We now wish to deploy it more widely.
Going forward we plan to extend this product in all branches of our operation and also develop a mobile application for the tool. It will be relevant to combine it with our customers’ credit ratings and more secure authentication systems: signature by stylus or even by facial recognition. Experience shows that the tool reduces risk exposure for both our institution and our beneficiary clients. Technical assistance will help us improve the efficiency of our lending.
What are AMZ’s growth prospects?
We are already established in 6 of the 10 provinces of Zambia and we want to extend our activities to the whole country. We also hope to become a deposit-taking institution medium term, as part of our product diversification and expansion strategy. Our positioning in the territories will remain decisive, with a portfolio of 10 to 15% of the dedicated agriculture loan over the long term. A vast majority of our clients, even those accessing other products, are small farmers.
(*) In order to develop rural and agricultural financing, AMZ Zambia works with national organizations (FSDZ, RUFEP) and international lenders (Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, Oikocredit, FMO, Triple Jump, Global Partnership Lendahand), some of which, such as the Foundation, are also coordinators of technical assistance missions from which it benefits.
KAMPALA: The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation (GCAF) today launched a four-year programme to promote access to financial and non-financial services for refugees and host communities in Uganda.
The programme is an innovative blended financial approach with public and private funds coming together to facilitate finance for refugees and host communities. Access to affordable credit services is essential for refugees to start, build and expand enterprises, to meet their daily needs and to be more resilient to emergencies. In addition, access to other types of financial services such as savings, payments and insurance is key to ensure the inclusion of refugees in the formal financial sector and promote their self-reliance and resilience.
An innovative approach
This is a first-of-its-kind programme designed to incentivize both microfinance investors and financial service providers (FSPs) to extend their financial services to refugee and host populations. The project is currently piloted in Palorinya refugee settlement, in northern Uganda and in Kampala and will be gradually expanded to other targeted refugee-hosting districts.
“It is an effective way of using development aid, where we mobilize capital from other investors and thus ensure that scarce humanitarian funds can be released to go to refugees with the greatest need,” says Director General, SIDA, Carin Jämtin.
GCAF will provide debt funding to three FSPs with a guarantee from SIDA, which will also fund the technical assistance of the programme through its humanitarian allocation. The Foundation will coordinate, together with UNHCR, the technical assistance component in order to support the three FSPs to develop an offer of products and services, including financial literacy and business development trainings, for both refugees and members of the host communities.
For UNHCR, the project is in line with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and respond to the call to work with development agencies and the private sector to find lasting solutions for refugees. Many refugees are entrepreneurs, having been business owners in their country of origin or having entrepreneurial skills to start or expand a business activity in their host country. UNHCR Representative in Uganda, Mahoua Parums hailed the initiative and said, that, “Financial inclusion is a key component of achieving long-term solutions for refugees, as it helps them rebuild sustainable livelihoods. Many refugees decide to start a business once they settle in the country of asylum and microfinance can help them make their business grow, avoid aid-dependency and contribute economically and socially to the host communities.”
Through this programme, refugees will receive entrepreneurial training, equipping them with essential skills such as business plan development, financial literacy (including working with the banks), pricing and marketing.
“At the Foundation, we are convinced that microfinance institutions, while adapting their products and services, have an active role to play in promoting the financial inclusion of refugees. Opportunities for digital finance, an in-depth knowledge of each group’s characteristics, regular follow-up and appropriate non-financial services should stimulate such an involvement.” Says GCAF’s Managing Director, Eric Campos.
In total, some 100,000 refugees and hosting Ugandans would be able to access financial services (credit and savings) 70 percent being women. The project will support the creation and development of small businesses such as farming, handicrafts, catering, and trading.
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation continues to make significant investments in Sub-Saharan Africa, its priority intervention area, with three new investments.
In South Africa, the Foundation financed SEF. Founded in 1992 in Limpopo province, the poorest region of the country, SEF provides microcredit to women living in poor, rural communities. SEF has gained considerable international recognition for its poverty-targeting methodology, the Participatory Wealth Ranking, one of the first such tools officially recognised and promoted by the Microcredit Summit Campaign. The institution that serves 197,359 active borrowers (99% of women and 56% of clients below the National Poverty Line), has been granted a first loan equivalent to €3 million in local currency from the Foundation.
Similarly, the Foundation granted a first loan in local currency equivalent to € 250,000 to the microfinance institution MLF Zambia. The MicroLoan Foundation Zambia (MLF-Z) is a not-for-profit specialist microfinance provider that was established in 2008. Its activities are overseen by the Microloan Foundation which has its headquarters in the UK and is regulated by the Charity Commission. MLF-Z’s main activity is providing low-income women living in predominantly rural areas of Eastern, Southern and Central Provinces of Zambia with short-term loans for productive purposes. The institution, that lends exclusively to women, serves over 11,000 active borrowers. This investment has been conducted within the framework of the African Facility scheme, implemented in partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD).
Also within the framework of the African Facility, the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation has granted a new loan to the microfinance institution PMBF SA (ex-SOFIPE) in Burkina Faso, for a total amount in local currency equivalent to € 750,000 over a three-year period. PMBF-SA is a microfinance institution that grants loans and offers financing for imports and other financial products to small entrepreneurs. As of today, the institution serves around 17,000 clients, 67% of which are women.
Further information on the Foundation partners here.
In November, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation again signed a partnership in Palestine with the microfinance institution FATEN, for a loan of an equivalent amount in local currency of one million euros. The Foundation now has two partners in Palestine where it has been present since 2012.
FATEN, an NGO that provides financial products and services to small entrepreneurs in the country, as well as farmers who own isolated land near the Israeli separation wall. Its product offering includes group loans, individual loans, Islamic loans, and housing and start-up loans.
FATEN is the largest microfinance institution in the region and is active in remote areas. The current stability has allowed the institution to develop while continuing to serve a majority of women, with a strong presence in rural areas and refugee camps.
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 multi-business operator that 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 White Paper published by the International Confederation of Crédit Agricole (CICA) in November is intended to be a contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals for more resilient and better protected agriculture in the face of climatic hazards.
Since its creation in 1950, the International Confederation of Crédit Agricole (CICA) organizes each year a Congress, now called Rencontres. It is an opportunity to present studies and exchange views on subjects of common interest to the heads of banking and financial institutions members of the Confederation.
These Meetings take place on all continents in order to offer members access to other countries and agricultural, banking and cultural realities.
On the occasion of the 6th World Congress on Agricultural and Rural Finance held on November 12 and 13 in New Delhi, CICA published The White Book of Agricultural Insurance, the fruit of 23 contributions that shed light on the challenges of agricultural insurance. Through the testimonies of different actors in all regions of the world, the White Paper aims to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, for more resilient and better protected agriculture in the face of climatic hazards. Crédit Agricole’s FARM has collaborated closely in the production of advertising, which highlights how risk management is a key condition for improving the economic, social and environmental performance of agriculture, in both the North and the South.
In recent months, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has continued to develop its portfolio with new investments in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
It has thus granted a new loan to the microfinance institution Monte Credit in Montenegro, for a total amount of € 1 million over a three-year period. Monte Credit offers its clients primarily agricultural and business loans, according to the individual loan methodology. To date, the institution, which manages a portfolio of € 7.4 million, has around 4,600 clients, 55% of whom are women. 56% of its clients live in rural areas.
The Foundation has also granted two new loans totaling € 2.5 million to the Georgian microfinance institution Lazika, whose mission is to facilitate access to financial services tailored to entrepreneurs. With a € 14 million portfolio, the institution now has around 11,000 clients, 47% of whom are women and 75% of whom live in rural areas.
Finally, the Foundation granted a new loan over a three-year period to OXUS Tajikistan for an amount of €1.2 million. OXUS Tajikistan is a microfinance institution that focuses on rural areas where over 80% of its clients live and work. To date, the institution has around 14,000 clients, 39% of whom are women, and manages a portfolio of € 11.3 million.
With these new investments, the Foundation now has 16 partners in 7 countries in the area, which represents an outstanding portfolio of € 16.6 million, that is 19.8% of the total outstandings portfolio managed by the Foundation as of end of October.