A Solidarity banker in Kenya

By Eva Hoglund, CFO at EFL (Poland)

Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA in June 2018, Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme aimed at all Crédit Agricole group employees for the benefit of microfinance institutions or impact businesses supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Read the interview with Eva Höglund, Crédit Agricole’s Solidarity banker, who left for Kenya in 2019 to support Musoni, a microfinance institution funded by the Foundation.

Beginning of the adventure

When I discovered the Solidarity bankers mission in favour of Musoni, a microfinance institution in Kenya, it was immediately obvious to me: it was made for me. The objective of the mission was to accompany Musoni in the implementation of a strategic planning and monitoring system. Not only it was a beautiful solidarity and sharing mission, in a country that I did not know, but I also had the impression that the qualities and experience requested were a description of my own professional career. I immediately gathered as much information as possible about Musoni and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.

Soon after I applied, I was informed that my application had been accepted and I immediately started preparing my mission. The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation team was very supportive during this first phase: together we established the mission’s objectives and agenda. This was followed by reading sessions of Musoni’s presentation documents and strategic plan.

During the summer preceding the mission, I also had numerous exchanges and conference calls with Musoni to ensure that we shared the objectives and had a common vision of the working method to be followed. From my point of view, good preparation is essential and this phase was the key to the success of my mission.

Heading to Kenya

On 26 October 2019, departure for Kenya for a 15-day field mission. I was leaving for a mission in line with my skills and knowledge of the microfinance sector, but in a structure and cultural context different from my daily life. It was therefore not without a little apprehension that I landed in Nairobi. The welcome I received from David Camara, Investment Advisor at the Foundation, who I had previously met in Montrouge, was reassuring.

On Monday morning, we started with the meeting to launch the field mission with all Musoni’s employees who were going to contribute to establishing the strategic planning and monitoring mechanism. The presence of Stanley Munyao, CEO of Musoni, and David, representing the Foundation, was important to underline the importance of the project. Musoni gave itself all the means to succeed by sending Amina Jaberney, a consultant who was going to accompany me during my field mission in order to ensure afterwards the operational implementation once my mission was over.

During the first week, Amina and I conducted interviews with Musoni’s management, as well as agencies’ employees. We compiled the key points to remember and translated them into vectors consistent with Musoni’s mission and vision. The second week consisted of validating and ensuring the adherence of Musoni’s teams to the proposed strategic management system. In order to ensure that the mission was going according to expectations, we held Steering Committees with the CEO every 2 days. On my last day in the field, we were able to present a complete set of the system validated by Musoni’s management.

Back to Paris

Once my mission was over, Amina took over with Judy Ndungu, Musoni’s Human Resources Director. The final implementation meeting, gathering all the employees, was held on 13 July 2020. The performance evaluation of the first half of the year will be carried out based on our work. What a satisfaction!

I am very pleased to have taken this opportunity offered by Crédit Agricole and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. This assignment will remain an unforgettable experience. It allowed me to experience from the inside how a microfinance institution operates in a fast-changing market. I met some very nice people and I am proud of the result we were able to achieve, together, in such a short period.

Newsletter #36 to download here

The Foundation publishes the Newsletter N.36

The Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation publishes its Newsletter N.36. The end of July marks the fifth month of the global health and economic crisis. All countries have been affected but, like the impact of extreme weather events, the health crisis is profoundly unequal in that it affects the most vulnerable populations most severely.

Since the end of February, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation’s teams have been working on several major initiatives. First, we have established a rapid and ongoing dialogue with the organisations we support so that we can understand the effects of the crisis, the measures taken and their needs accordingly. Secondly, we have adapted our monitoring and analysis tools and our requests for information, particularly with regard to business continuity plans and short-term cash flow plans. At the same time, we led an international coordination of lenders and players in inclusive finance to act together, in consultation, to prevent any liquidity shock that would have destabilized the sector. Finally, we regularly published articles on the Covid-19 Observatory and on social networks to share our analyses and inform stakeholders.

Five months after the beginning of the crisis, we feel that this first wave has been well managed by the microfinance institutions, which have all shown great professionalism. We would also like to highlight the remarkable support and attentiveness of our own financiers: Agence Française de Développement, Proparco, the European Investment Bank, Crédit Agricole and its entities Crédit Agricole CIB and Amundi. The sector’s remarkable resilience has undoubtedly been strengthened thanks to these concerted and convergent actions between donors and microfinance institutions operating in all parts of the world.

In this edition of the Newsletter, you will discover, among other things, details of the International Coalition coordinated by the Foundation in response to the Covid-19 crisis and two projects that we launched during this complex period: the new website and the Foundation’s first Impact Report. This new website and this Report are yours: administrators, the Grameen network, the Regional Banks and Crédit Agricole entities, donors, technical partners and supported organisations. It is also our way of paying tribute to you.

We continue to monitor closely the effects of the health crisis and our mobilization, on which you know you can count, is constant.

Download the Newsletter N.36 here.

The cooperative capital company: a model for the “World after” Coronavirus

By Éric Campos , CEO, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation & Bagoré Bathily, Chairman and CEO, Laiterie du Berger

The global shock of 2020 shows the absolute necessity to rethink our economic system. Health and climate emergencies no longer leave us any choice. Without structural change, the risks of social, political or environmental tensions will become more and more important every day.

We would like to submit the idea of a socially different model of company for the collective discussion: the cooperative capital company, a company whose capital remuneration is shared by and between shareholders and employees thanks to an arrangement under which employees receive part of the dividends directly when there is a payout. The ownership of capital is a factor of exclusion of populations, particularly with regard to the younger generations — the labour force. If we wish to build a sustainable and harmonious future, it is crucial to resolve the issue of a fair redistribution of the value created by growth and therefore by the company.

Today, capital is owned by the shareholders and leveraged by the employees. Their fates are inextricably related, yet no direct link really exists between them. We think it is possible to bring them together by establishing a convergence of their interests, thanks to new rules where employees become usufructuaries of part of the company’s capital. The shareholders provide the funds, the employees deliver the added value. And finally, everyone deserves their share.

The idea is there. It may sound iconoclastic but it is realistic in fact, i.e. a company whose dividends are now shared between shareholders and employees in a fundamental way by giving employees a share in the use of the capital.

This is what we call the cooperative capital company. In order to become one, the company must include a special provision in its articles of association that allows for employees to receive a share of the profits if dividends are triggered. It thus grants them a place as usufructuary shareholder. For their part, the shareholders remain equity holders and owners of the shares, but with the difference that they opt to become bare owners for a specific part of the capital, the yield value of which they transfer to the collective wage earners. To that end, they must accept a reduction in the nominal value of their share – for example through the effect of a capital increase by issuing securities – and transferring the difference to those who “manufacture growth” —  the employees. Idealistic? Astonishing? Bizarre? Far from it.

The shareholder-investor must admittedly bear a certain “cost.” He is asked to pay a sort of “ticket of admission” to productive capital. But there is nothing confiscatory about this. With no loss of ownership, he opts to invest in another form of value: human beings. His wager is that, supported by reinforced cohesion, the company will be able to grow better and be better valued in the long term. It is an entrepreneurial reasoning of dynamic reconciliation.

Such a system has many advantages. For employees, it obviously provides direct access to a new channel for redistributed value in a spirit of socially equitable cooperation. This is essential in a global context where the gap between the richest and the middle classes has been widening steadily in recent decades.

For shareholders, there is an innovative pre-emptive role so that labour value can be included in the creation of capital wealth, thus giving investment an entrepreneurial and societal dimension beyond its financial purpose. It has been shown that investments that are steered in environmental, social and governance terms (ESG criteria) have performance potential – and above all a future.

Finally, for companies, and in particular those whose projects are part of a corporate social responsibility mission, this is an instrument of resilience. They put themselves in the position of no longer considering employment as an adjustment variable but rather as a legitimate, structuring gene. By accepting to put shareholders and employees on equal footing, a new balance and a promising dialogue will be established. It is, in a way, the City that enters the Company.

The cooperative economy has long been a response to the excesses of the times it goes through. Its longevity can be explained by its capacity to adapt and hybridize. It has sprung many branches. Our proposal is a current translation, a step aside, a bud on the tree.

The cooperative capital company goes far beyond the mechanisms of profit-sharing and employee participation, which consist of paying a bonus linked to the enterprise’s performance or representing a share of its profits. Cooperative capitalism acts on the cornerstone of the company and its capital, by having the stakeholders share responsibilities. The wage earners join the ranks of shareholders whose governance is part of a process of openness and convergence of interests, without sacrificing their prerogatives. Transparency in terms of social and environmental impact is imperative for the cooperative capital company, whereby the instrument consists of the measurement and control of what is known as extra-financial performance as well as the publication thereof.

We can see in social businesses or mission-based enterprises in which we intervene as managers or directors the extent to which the concern for economic inclusion pushes the company to combine its interests with those of its ecosystem. This is true in many places around the world where we are involved, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where we work with livestock farmers and agri-food chains. Economic inclusion is unquestionably a way to pursue in order to restore to human societies the enlightened paths and hope they need. There is no utopia in such vision, but the free and civic conviction that the world cannot be built otherwise than with and for each other.

Read the complete article here

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Éric Campos is the General Manager of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, a foundation specializing in microfinance and social entrepreneurship, and Head of CSR at Crédit Agricole S.A. Bagoré Bathily is the founding Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of La Laiterie du Berger, a social business that promotes the dairy industry in Senegal.
(Co-editor: Julien Foulc)

Covid-19 affects microfinance institutions of different sizes in different ways

@Designed by pikisuperstar / Freepik

ADA, Inpulse and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation have joined forces to closely monitor and analyse the effects of the COVID-19 crisis among their partners around the world. This monitoring will be carried out periodically throughout the year 2020 with the purpose of evaluating the evolution of the crisis. Through this constant and close analysis, we hope to contribute, in our own way, to the structuring of strategies and solutions tailored to the needs of our partners, as well as the dissemination and exchange of information among the different actors in the sector.

The results presented in this article come from the second wave of a joint (1)survey by ADA and Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, Inpulse having decided to join the initiative for odd-numbered waves. The responses were collected from 18 June to 1 July from 108 microfinance institutions (MFIs) based mainly in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC, 46%), Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA, 29%), Asia (14%) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA, 10%), with a single MFI from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This panel of respondents spans a relatively diverse range of MFI sizes, with 49% of Tier 2 MFIs,(2) 35% of Tier 3 MFIs and 16% of Tier 1 MFIs. Figure 1 shows their regional distribution.

Figure 1. Respondents by region and tier

MENA Tier 2

In short:

The latest wave of the survey reveals that the crisis faced by MFIs has laid bare the structural strengths and weaknesses specific to their sizes: the biggest MFIs (Tier 1) appear better equipped to overcome the financial difficulties resulting from the health crisis and epidemic containment measures, as well as to take crisis management measures and make use of the specific measures put in place by local authorities. Smaller MFIs (Tiers 2 and 3), on the other hand, are more likely to offer their clients non-financial services to help them cope with the situation and are eager to continue developing non-financial services in the future. More generally, if they are considering launching new products or services, it is mainly to meet the needs of their clients rather than following their strategy or reducing risks. While big MFIs appear to be more resilient in times of crisis, small ones are also rising to the challenge and staying true to their powerful social mission. This is a real strength for these institutions, which should not be neglected in favour of more autonomous structures during the current crisis.

The biggest MFIS are less exposed to financial difficulties…

Since June, epidemic containment measures have been relaxed in certain regions, particularly Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, the operational difficulties faced by microfinance institutions have ebbed in these regions since May,(3) but they are still very much present in Latin America and the Caribbean, where containment measures are still in place and a higher percentage of MFIs still find it difficult to move around, meet clients in agencies and, therefore, to disburse loans and collect loan repayments, as can be seen in Figure 2. For example: 76% of MFIs in the Latin America and the Caribbean region report that their staff is finding it difficult to move around, compared to 23% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Figure 2. Operational difficulties faced by MFIs by region:

As explained in our previous article, these operational difficulties are having an impact on the portfolio and its quality in all MFIs. However, the resulting financial difficulties vary by MFI size. Overall, the biggest MFIs are less likely to face these types of problems, with lower percentages of Tier 1 MFIs reporting difficulties in repaying funders (12% versus 22.5% of Tier 2 and 3 MFIs), insufficient equity capital to cope with the crisis (6% versus 29% of Tier 2 and 3 MFIs) or lack of liquidity (2% versus an average of 29% of Tier 2 and 3 MFIs), as can be seen in Figure 3. Tier 1 MFIs appear better equipped to absorb the impact of the crisis on their financial situation.

Figure 3. Financial difficulties faced by MFIs by size

Although an increase in the portfolio at risk is the main difficulty faced by all MFIs, this increase varies by MFI size. Tier 1 MFIs have experienced smaller increases than other MFIs, as can be seen in Figure 4: only 12% of Tier 1 MFIs report that their portfolio at risk at 30 days has doubled or more than doubled compared to end 2019, versus 44% of Tier 2 MFIs and 57% of Tier 3 MFIs. In contrast, 35% of Tier 1 MFIs report a stabilisation or decrease in this indicator, versus 17% of Tier 2 MFIs and 8% of Tier 3 MFI.

Figure 4. Changes in the PAR30 of MFIs compared to end 2019 by MFI size

…and more likely to implement crisis management solutions…

The governments of most countries have taken measures to help microfinance institutions to weather the crisis. However, not all MFIs are benefiting from these measures. While the exact percentages vary from one region to the next, probably due to differences in the communication and implementation of these measures (e.g. MFIs in Asia are more likely to report making use of a certain number of measures), geographic location does not appear to be the sole determining factor for making use of certain government measures: bigger MFIs are also more likely to benefit from them, as can be seen in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Government measures from which MFIs have benefited by MFI size

This size effect is real because it cannot be explained by a specific distribution of MFIs by region. For example, when it comes to rescheduling or cancelling the payment of taxes and the non-provision of loans affected by COVID-19, a regional analysis shows that MFIs in Asia are more likely to benefit from these measures despite Tier 1 MFIs being in the minority in this region. Similarly, when it comes to liquidity lines, MFIs in Sub-Saharan Africa are among the most likely to benefit from them despite Tier 1 MFIs being few and far between in this region. As for the operational and crisis management measures implemented, the types of measures again vary by MFI size (Figure 6): For example, 100% of Tier 1 MFIs in the sample restructured client loans, versus an average of 69% of other MFIs. They are also more likely to engage with supervisory authorities to explore the possibility of suspending prudential regulations during the crisis. In contrast, Tier 3 MFIs are less likely to use their liquidity plans or implement new digital solutions.

Figure 6. Operational and crisis management measures taken by MFIs by size

…while small MFIS continue to focus on their clients’ needs

In contrast, despite facing significant challenges, the smallest MFIs continue to focus on their clients’ needs: for example, they are more likely than Tier 1 MFIs to have surveyed their clients to better understand the impact of the crisis (Figure 7). On the other hand, although they were less likely to disburse emergency loans to their clients, they were more likely to implement measures that went beyond their core business to better meet the needs of their clients during the health crisis. For example, more of these MFIs launched hygiene awareness campaigns on hygiene or provided clients with emergency kits. Bigger MFIs were less likely to offer these types of direct services to clients, instead forging partnerships with specialised
organisations.

Figure 7. Crisis response measures for clients by MFI size

More Tier 1 MFIs reported interest in launching new products or services in the medium term; as shown above, these MFIs have fewer financial constraints and, therefore, more room for manoeuvre in this regard (Figure 8). More specifically, while few MFIs overall are planning to launch microinsurance products in the future, Tier 1 MFIs are the most likely to do so. They are also more likely to want to increase their focus on agriculture or launch new digital products and services. The smallest MFIs, on the other hand, also want to start offering non-financial services such as financial literacy and business development services.

Figure 8. New products, services or markets that MFIs wish to develop in the medium term, by size

The motivations for MFIs to focus on new markets or develop new products or services also vary by size (Figure 9): Among those that reported wanting to launch at least one new product or service and stated their motivations (76 out of 108 respondents), the desire to meet the new needs of clients and/or follow new market trends was more frequent among Tier 3 MFIs than among MFIs in other tiers. In contrast, there are fewer that base this choice on following their strategic plan or striving to reduce risks.

Figure 9. Main motivations for MFIs to focus on new markets, products or services by size

The focus of the smallest MFIs on their clients’ needs will probably become one of their strong points during this crisis.

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(1) The results of the first wave of the survey of ADA, Inpulse and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation’s partners
can be found here: //www.findevgateway.org/paper/2020/06/beyond-difficulties-posed-covid-19-crisis-newopportunities-are-emerging-microfinance
(2) Tiers are defined according to the value of their total assets: over USD 50 million for Tier 1, USD 5 to 50 million for
Tier 2 and under USD 5 million for Tier 3.
(3) See the results of the first wave of the survey, available via the above link.

The Foundation finances microfinance institutions in Mali and Romania

© Philippe Lissac

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation funded two new partners, including one in a new country. With these two new partners, the Foundation currently supports 83 organisations in 40 countries.

It thus granted a first loan for a total amount in FCFA equivalent to €1.5 million to Cofina Mali, a subsidiary of Cofina SA which provides inclusive financial services. The institution offers loan, savings and money transfer services to micro and small businesses but also to individuals. It also provides financial education and business development trainings. Cofina Mali has over 2,500 active borrowers, 28% of whom are women.

The Foundation also invested for the first time in Romania, in the form of a guarantee of a total amount in local currency equivalent to €1.5 million granted to the microfinance institution VITAS. VITAS provides loans to near 2,000 clients, mostly micro- and small enterprises and to individuals, for home improvements. The institutions has its roots in the CHF Romania, an NGO that was founded in 1995 as one of the first microfinance institutions in Romania. Today, Vitas is one of the main players in the Romanian microfinance market.

See all the organisations supported here.

Impact of COVID-19 on Refugee Saving Groups in Uganda

VisionFund Uganda has been working in Obongi district since May 2019 and has disbursed US$ 92,000 to 100 savings groups, supporting 2,264 individual group members. VisionFund started training saving groups in Yumbe district late 2019, but has not financed any group yet. Savings groups have been operating in both districts for some time and all the interviewed groups have been in existence for at least two cycles (or two years). VisionFund Uganda is the first MFI to offer loans into those groups. Between April and May, a study was conducted to understand the effect of COVID-19 on savings group (SG) on both host and refugee communities.

Savings Group Meeting Behavior

The majority (81%) of the groups are still meeting; only 19% of groups have stopped meeting. The main strategy has been to keep meeting (65%), but in small groups as per government requirements on social distancing. One explanation for the stronger resilience of the refugee groups may be that these groups had more support in their formation than host groups. Almost all refugee groups are still saving (some are saving less) while 24% of host groups have stopped saving. The conclusion is that refugee groups have not only adapted to the new meeting guidelines but have also found ways to continue meeting, showing higher levels of resilience.

When asked about the future of the group, of the overall 417 participants 65% expected to continue to save. However, it is worrying that 28% of all respondents expected to drop and for host communities this was up to 39% of respondents. It is important to better understand what this means long term.

Impact on Households

Households were stressed on two fronts. 88% of all respondents reported an increase in staple food prices, which puts pressure on household budgets. Almost all refugee respondents (96%) reported the increase, which probably reflects the reduction of their WFP rations. At the same time, 92% of all respondents reported some level of financial stress due to either lower business activity (34%), decreased income (23%), challenges to save (25%) and food insecurity (11%). It’s safe to conclude that all households were stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but even though refugees were stressed at a higher level, they proved to be more resilient.

Despite these stresses, households are not resorting to increased demand for the SG social fund or selling their assets (87% haven’t had to sell any assets). In terms of demand on the savings group social fund, 58% of the groups reported no change in number of requests (with little difference between host and refugee), but did note that those who did request use of the social fund, the amount was significant.

Business impact

Savings group members engage in multiple economic activities. Similar to other studies on the impact of COVID-19, 93% of all respondents reported some level of reduced income. More than half of the groups reported either a big reduction in income (47%) or a complete stop to income (11%). Interestingly, 6% reported an increase in income reflecting that there are business opportunities even in a crisis.

Resilience

A last question asked how groups were adjusting their businesses due to the COVID-19 crisis, this shows a range of different activities that households are doing to survive. This again shows how refugees are adjusting in various creative ways to the stresses they are facing.

In conclusion, the three following points can be highlighted:

  • Refugee savings groups are resilient: The demonstrated resilience of these refugee savings groups (compared to host groups) continues to support the thinking that the formation and support for refugee savings groups is a key response to livelihoods for long term refugee communities.
  • COVID-19 is having a dramatic impact on the livelihoods of the rural poor: This survey was undertaken in a remote part of Uganda which supports anecdotal evidence that rural communities are as much impacted as the more visible impacts of COVID-19 on people livelihoods.
  • Surveys can be done safely in a lockdown situation: Finally, this report shows that even in a lock down situation, using a simple digital tool and practicing social distancing guidelines surveys can be done quickly.

Further information on VisionFund’s Refugee Microfinance programme in Uganda here.

The Grameen Agricole Foundation approved as a new CSAF global affiliate

© In Venture

The Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF) is an alliance of social lending institutions, also referred to as impact-first agricultural lenders, targeting agricultural businesses in the “missing middle” in low- and middle-income countries, and focused on creating a thriving, sustainable and transparent financial market to serve the financing needs of small and growing agricultural businesses in low- and middle-income countries worldwide. CSAF members include AgDevCo, Alterfin, Global Partnerships, Impact Finance, Incofin Investment Management, Oikocredit, Rabo Rural Fund, responsAbility Investments AG, Root Capital, Shared Interest Society, SME Impact Fund, and Triodos Investment Management

Its mission is to facilitate market entry and increase lending to agricultural businesses in the missing middle, focus the agriculture finance sector on reaching and supporting the livelihoods of the world’s 450 million small-scale farmers and promote responsible lending principles, including social, environmental and corporate governance standards, among all financial institutions serving this market.

In June, the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation has been unanimously approved by the CSAF global members as a new global affiliate. The Foundation and the Council will work together in the years ahead to strengthen CSAF and its efforts to build a growing and high-impact financial market serving agricultural enterprises globally.

Further information on the Foundation’s mission here
Further information on the CSAF here

The AFD Group grants a €10 million loan to the Foundation to promote microfinance

© Philippe Lissac

A €10 million loan has just been granted by the Agence française de développement Group (AFD), represented by its subsidiary Proparco, to the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. This loan will enable the Foundation to develop its support for microfinance institutions, which provide guidance and support, mainly in Africa, to populations excluded from the traditional banking system. The AFD Group has also pledged to support the Foundation with a €900,000 grant that will enable it to set up a microinsurance technical assistance programme.

Nearly 4 out of 10 adults in the world do not have a bank account. This means that 1.7 billion people are excluded from the traditional banking system. This problem is at the heart of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation’s action. For nearly 12 years, it has been financing and supporting microfinance institutions that serve populations excluded from the traditional banking system, mainly women (85%) and rural populations (82%), in some 40 countries.

The Agence française de développement Group, which has been supporting the Foundation since 2013, has granted a €10 million loan to the Foundation in order to bolster its action in favour of small and medium-sized microfinance institutions based mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

€900,000 grant to support microinsurance

The insurance penetration rate in Africa is well below the global level. Yet, insurance is a lever for economic and human development. It has a significant impact on improving the quality of life and protects human capital from certain risks, so as to preclude the need for emergency adjustment strategies.

Since 2011, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has been supporting microinsurance through research activities and technical assistance projects for the institutions it guides and supports.

A €900,000 grant from the Agence française de développement Group will enable the Foundation to develop its microinsurance technical assistance offering to the organizations it supports.

“We share the AFD’s ambition to help the fight against poverty and inequality throughout the world. We are very proud of the trust that the AFD Group has placed in us over many years. This new funding will enable us to strengthen our action in favour of microfinance institutions, particularly in Africa. We will also be able to bolster our capacity to support the development of insurance products and services, including agricultural insurance. This partnership will in turn enable the clients of such institutions –low-income households, women, small farmers and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises– to protect themselves better, to be more resilient”, affirms Eric Campos, Managing Director of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Head of CSR at Crédit Agricole SA.

“At a time when the coronavirus crisis could jeopardize the activity of many African entrepreneurs, access to financial services is an essential lever more than ever before for supporting the private sector and reducing inequalities. Against this background, I am proud of the mobilization by the Agence française de développement to support the most vulnerable African businesses, particularly in the informal sector. This is what the partnership with the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is all about, through which the AFD Group is pursuing its commitments in favour of financial inclusion. By enabling the Foundation to increase its portfolio of loans, capital, guarantees and technical assistance to microfinance institutions, the AFD is taking action to support Africa’s population, which is the most entrepreneurial in the world”, says Rémy Rioux, Chief Executive Officer of the Agence française de développement.

Further information about AFD here
Further information about the Foundation here

A Consortium to support microfinance in Africa during Covid-19 crisis

© In Venture

In the economic crisis linked to Covid-19, the occurrence of a liquidity and / or solvency crisis turns out to be one of the main risks microfinance institutions are facing. To deal with this, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, the Microfinance African Institutions Network (MAIN), International Solidarity for Development and Investment (SIDI) and the ACTES Foundation are creating a consortium to better support the organizations supported in Africa.

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In April 2020, MAIN sent a questionnaire to all its members in order to gather their needs and find out what type of support the network could offer them. The results of this survey show that most of the institutions questioned encounter difficulties in managing their liquidity and wonder how to continue to serve their customers in a sustainable manner in such a context.

It is in this context that the Consortium was formed, which brings together the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, MAIN, SIDI and the ACTES Foundation. The objective of the Consortium is to provide the organizations supported with risk analysis and management tools in order to anticipate and better manage the impact of the crisis on their liquidity and solvency.

The Consortium will thus offer 50 microfinance institutions, including 31 partners from the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, mainly in West and East Africa, support on the theme of liquidity and solvency risks management. The target organizations are mainly small institutions (Tiers 3: loan portfolio <10 million dollars), very present in rural areas.

The support will take the form of a cycle of three online training courses for each institution, workshops and personalized coaching, which will be provided by Cabinet Senbumo. In addition to liquidity and solvency management, institutions will be trained on the subject of resumption of activities following the Covid-19 crisis. The programme will start on July 06, 2020 and will last for 6 weeks.

Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its 1st Impact Report

In order to give more insight to and share the results of its action, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is publishing its first Impact Report, a financial and extra-financial assessment based on 2019 activity data. The impact assessment was carried out with CERISE, an independent firm specializing in impact and social performance measurement. The purpose of this report is to provide a concise and objective overview of the Foundation’s contribution and its forms of action in favour of impact entrepreneurship and access to essential services.

Humanity is going through a period in history that it has never known. The crisis generated by COVID-19 has shaken our societies, economies, and activities. In a world where inequalities are growing and low-income populations are affected disproportionately, financial inclusion and entrepreneurship are factors for enhancing the resilience of such vulnerable populations. These are the levers of action of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, which has for nearly 12 years been contributing to the reduction of inequalities and poverty through financial inclusion and impact entrepreneurship.

Today the Foundation is publishing its 1st Impact Report, produced with methodological support from CERISE, a pioneering organization that specializes in the promotion of responsible finance. It aims to provide an objective and concise overview of the Foundation’s contribution and its forms of action. Defining its impact model, objectives, beneficiaries and action levers is the first step towards a more active management of the Foundation’s impact and social utility.

Direct impact of the Foundation

The Foundation aims to create sustainable value by reconciling social, economic and environmental impacts. Its value creation model is based on long-term support for socially efficient microfinance institutions and social impact enterprises that promote access to essential services. The Foundation moreover encourages the emancipation of women by promoting women’s entrepreneurship (85% of microcredit beneficiaries through the supported organizations are women), mainly in rural areas (where 78% of microcredit borrowers live). Sub-Saharan Africa (37% of its portfolio) and South and South-East Asia (29%) are its two geographical areas of reference.

The impact of supported organisations

The Foundation also provides technical assistance and support to the organizations financed to bolster their social and environmental performance. On the social side, the Foundation’s portfolio is assessed by using ALINUS, a tool for managing the social performance of microfinance. The microfinance institutions supported outperformed the sector benchmark (with a score of 65% vs. 53% for the sector) in all the areas assessed. The environmental performance monitoring is more recent, but is progressing. For example, 84% of the supported institutions have established a list of banned environmentally hazardous activities and 42% offer green products to fund environmental friendly practices.

Finally, the Foundation is reinforcing its impact through its cooperation with Crédit Agricole and other major players in development aid. In 2019, the Foundation worked with 51 private, public and community stakeholders in some 40 countries.

In 2020, the Foundation will continue its impact measurement work with the operational deployment of tools and a field study to verify whether its impact model is solid. It will continue to write the chapters of its history in a more collective, committed and sustainable way.

Download the Impact Report here