Three Solidarity bankers missions are available

Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A, Solidarity bankers is a skills volunteering programme open to Group employees for microfinance institutions or impact businesses. The objective of this programme is twofold: it is a way of acknowledging the skills acquired by Crédit Agricole group employees and provides additional support to microfinance institutions and partner companies of the Foundation. Thanks to this scheme, the Crédit Agricole group reiterates its commitment to support employees’ solidarity initiatives.

Missions to be filled!

1. “Financial Audit / Reporting” mission for Kossam in Senegal

A subsidiary of Laiterie du Berger, Kossam’s mission is to develop an inclusive and sustainable dairy industry in Northern Senegal. Created in 2019, after a Solidarity Bankers mission, Kossam collects milk from 450 local breeders, to whom it provides market services (food, fodder), advice and training. The Solidarity bankers mission [which could be carried out by 2 Solidarity bankers] aims to support Kossam and Laiterie du Berger in strengthening the financial team and reporting. Depending on the health context, the mission will be carried out at the end of 2020 or early 2021 in Senegal.

2. “Fundraising” mission in favor of PPSE in Cambodia

Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE) is a Cambodian social enterprise created in 2013 that produces circus shows and has recently launched an animation and graphic design studio. PPSE employs art graduates from PPSA, a non-profit organization that supports underprivileged children and youth. An online Solidarity bankers mission will aim to consolidate the new PPSE business plan (developed in response to the Covid-19 crisis) and to support a fundraising and merger process. The mission is planned for the last quarter of the year.

3. “Human resources” mission in favor of Oshun in Senegal

Created in 2018, Oshun is a social enterprise that provides quality water services for the most vulnerable populations in rural Senegal. As part of a structuring process after a strong development, a Solidarity bankers mission will help simplify Human resources management, recruitment and general management. The mission is planned for the last quarter of the year in Senegal, but the calendar will depend on the context generated by the Covid-19.

How to apply?

  • Click on the link “Find a project
  • Enter in the the search bar: “Fondation Grameen”. All the Solidarity bankers missions will appear!
  • Click on the offer of your choice, you will find all the information requested for your application.
Contact: Carolina VIGUET
Head of Communication & Partnerships

The Foundation grants a new loan to Mikra in Bosnia-Herzegovina

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation continued to invest in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and has just granted a new loan in local currency equivalent to € 1.2 million to the Bosnian microfinance institution Mikra, over a of three-year period. This is the second loan granted to the institution following the 1 million euro loan in 2018.

Mikra is a Tier 2 microfinance institution founded by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) that started operations in 1993. Its mission is to provide responsible access to financial services to the poorest but economically active population, mainly women (70.2% of its 13,400 clients). The institution offers the poorest gainfully employed population access to affordable and quality financial and support services in order to reduce poverty and encourage entrepreneurship. The institution promotes the equality and freedom of Bosnian women, which are necessary preconditions for the success of their businesses and their social emancipation.

With this loan, the Foundation now has an outstanding amount of € 24 million euros in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, which represents 25% of the outstanding amount managed by the Foundation.


Created 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 40 countries.

For more information on the organizations supported by the Foundation, click here.

Supporting financial inclusion of refugees in Uganda

In November 2019, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation launched a three-year programme to promote access to financial and non-financial services for refugees and host communities in Uganda. This is a unique programme designed to inspire microfinance investors and microfinance institutions to extend their financial services to refugees.

Within this framework, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is in charge of managing technical assistance and support for microfinance institutions so that they develop a range of products and services tailored to refugee populations. The Foundation also grants loans to institutions to provide them with the necessary resources for loans to refugees and host communities.

UGAFODE: First funded institution

The first institution supported under this programme is UGAFODE Microfinance Limited. Thanks to a loan equivalent to € 540,000 and the technical support provided, UGAFODE has opened an agency in the Nakivale refugee camp, in the district of Isingiro, which will help strengthen the resilience and autonomy of refugees in the host communities.

For UGAFODE, this programme follows a successful pilot financial inclusion project for refugees in Kampala. Thanks to the support offered under the programme, and the loan from the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, thousands of refugees will be able to access credit and money transfer services.

Refugees will also receive training in entrepreneurial management that will equip them with essential skills such as developing business plans, financial management, pricing and marketing.

Funding for other microfinance institutions is being analysed within this programme to support refugees and host communities. In total, nearly 100,000 Ugandan refugees and hosts are expected to be able to access financial services and training through the programme, 70% of them women. The project will support the creation and development of small businesses in sectors such as agriculture, crafts, catering and commerce.

For more information on the programme, click here.

A resumption of activities under operational and financial constraints

ADA, Inpulse and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation have joined forces to closely monitor and analyze 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 regular 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.(1)

In short

This article is based on the answers provided between July 23rd and August 6th 2020 by 91 partners located in 42 countries, split between Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America (2). Feedback from these microfinance institutions (MFIs) allows us to observe the continuous evolution of the sanitary crisis linked to the COVID-19 virus. While the measures to reopen borders and to revive the economy have multiplied during the month of July, our partners mention significantly that the virus now directly affects their customers and employees.

In such an uncertain and evolving context, MFIs have been braving the challenges they face for more than a quarter now. With operational difficulties still ongoing, institutions remain vigilant about their portfolios and the risk they carry, which seems to have stabilized overall, albeit at a much higher level than before the crisis. Nevertheless, some signals are encouraging on other issues. For example, the vast majority of MFIs believe that they can survive the crisis without major strategic changes. In addition, it appears that the issue of liquidity has been rather well managed since the beginning of the crisis.

However, the battle against the virus is not won, and its repercussions are particularly strong on the informal sector of the economy. It appears that clients in the informal economy are more affected, particularly as they do not ultimately benefit from the aid measures that states can provide. Nonetheless, MFIs are sensitive to these needs and some of our partners are considering providing specific services to help their clients cope with the crisis.

1. Operational constraints remain relevant for MFIs

In general, our partners are reporting progress regarding the easing of containment measures in their countries, following the first relaxations that took place in some regions of the world in June (notably in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa). Comparing the responses of our partners who answered to our July and June surveys (3) (graph below) reflects the improvement of operational difficulties. Moreover, these figures are in line with the general results obtained for the month of July.

MFIs in each region report an improvement in travel opportunities for their staff. However, this remains a major constraint in Latin America and the Caribbean, while less than 20% of MFIs in other areas are affected by this issue. Moreover, even if mobility is improving, meeting clients in the field remains an important issue for more than 30% of MFIs. Finally, with the exception of Latin America, meeting clients in branches seems to be the least problematic solution today.

In fact, while there has been an overall enhancement in interaction with clients in all regions, collecting loan repayments or disbursing new loans at standard pre-crisis levels remains very difficult, with such challenges being encountered by more than 50% of the MFIs surveyed in each region (70% and 66% respectively overall). Such difficulties are ultimately linked to national or local regulatory constraints.

“Though other MFIs start operating their process, we still wait for full release by the regional government” – Partner in Myanmar

Especially as MFIs are still busy restructuring client loans in July (80% of respondents).

“Communication on the postponement of instalments is a barrier to the repayment of loans” – Partner in Senegal

Although we have been observing the singularity of the Latin American zone in the responses collected over the last few months due to a particularly difficult COVID-19 sanitary context, the information we gathered shows that the situation is not settled yet in the other regions.

In fact, doubts about a potential normalization of MFIs’ activities have not been dispelled for now, as the health crisis remains the central issue of the current period and as it persists. The news in July were notably highlighted by the punctual resurgence of a number of cases in some countries. For the first time in our surveys, this is significantly demonstrated by a sharp increase in the proportion of partners who are affected by the health crisis, both among their staff and their clients (see graph below (4)).

Thus, at the global level of the survey, 51% of our partners told us that among their customers, some have contracted COVID-19. Almost a third indicate that this also concerns their employees. Although we do not have data to know the respective proportions of customers and employees concerned, this trend is still meaningful. More specifically, more than three out of four MFIs in Central Asia and Latin America reported having clients infected with the virus (one out of two in June). While Latin America is largely affected on both the client and staff sides, the figures are also slightly higher for the staff of MFIs in Europe and Central Asia. South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa seem to be generally less affected on this point, but figures encourage us to remain vigilant.

“More than 10 clients have died from Covid-19” – Partner in Honduras

2. MFIs continue to face major financial issues

As we witnessed since the beginning of our surveys, the increase in portfolio at risk and the reduction in outstanding portfolio are the two main direct consequences of the crisis for a microfinance institution. Other financial difficulties are to a lesser extent and are stable from June to July (figure below5). This is the case in all regions except Central America, where our partners who responded to all of our surveys indicate problems and growing fears regarding equity, lack of liquidity or increased expenses.

The details of the analysis show that the contraction of the credit portfolio is a heterogeneous phenomenon. Among all respondents, 39% of Central Asian MFIs indicate that they are suffering from a reduction in their portfolio, compared to 55% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 71% in South Asia and 88% in Latin America during the same period.

On the other hand, it appears that the increase in portfolio at risk is a common problem for all MFIs, regardless of their region or size, and concerns more than 80% of our partners. However, if the PAR 30 of microfinance institutions has deteriorated since the beginning of the crisis, it is no longer undergoing major changes between June and July, although it remains at a much higher level than before the crisis. As shown in the graph below, the PAR30 structure of the partners in the sample of 54 MFIs is stable from one month to the other. Moreover, we observe this trend across all of the surveyed MFIs: between 15 and 20% of the MFIs see their PAR30 decreasing or remaining stable, while around 40% have seen their PAR30 increase without doubling since the end of 2019. Finally, the riskiest cases represent between 30 and 40% of the respondents.

“[It is difficult] to cover the expenses of provisions for doubtful debts” – Partner in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Luckily, all these difficulties should not be too harsh for our partners. When asked about possible strategic changes because of the crisis, 93% of respondents do not anticipate any changes in the short or medium term. Therefore, our partners do not feel concerned by potential sales of a part of their assets, being placed under administrative supervision or being liquidated, which is a sign of a certain confidence in the future.

Finally, the latest information from our partners indicates that a liquidity crisis seems to have been avoided, with 24% of respondents highlighting this problem (compared to almost 40% in our May survey). In details, the proportion of MFIs raising this point in each region does not exceed one third.

The first explanations lead us to the many extensions of maturities granted to MFIs by their foreign and local investors, but also to the reduced levels of disbursements since the beginning of the crisis. We also note the low proportion of MFIs that have suffered from significant withdrawals of savings, which has helped cash management. Among the MFIs reporting this difficulty, most are from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and do not show significant additional liquidity needs compared to other MFIs. These different factors influence the liquidity needs of MFIs. Thus, on a global scale, 47% of the respondents have no additional funding needs for 2020. For almost a quarter of the MFIs outside Sub-Saharan Africa, these needs even decreased. Last, only 25% of those surveyed report significant additional needs.

3. In July, the informal sector is exposed

Microfinance institutions are still exposed to the crisis, and so are their clients. In fact, 92% of our partners indicate that clients in the informal economy are either moderately affected by the crisis or are the most affected ones. Like all other entrepreneurs and clients of MFIs, they face reduced activity, but also suffer from the consequences of the major international and national measures to manage the pandemic, for instance in the tourism, textile or cultural sectors… With limited means of relief and a reduced activity that cannot generate sufficient income, they would be more vulnerable. This point is raised overwhelmingly in Central Asia and Latin America (two thirds of respondents from these regions) while in Sub-Saharan Africa, the feedbacks indicate that clients in the informal economy are affected in the same way than those in the formal economy.

“Due to prevailing market and economic conditions, it is hard for the small businesses to revive their usual economic activities to the level they were before COVID-19 crisis” – Partner in Sri Lanka

The reasons given by our partners are mostly about financial matters: the vulnerability of workers in the informal sector would come from the lack of financial support from governments to the sector. This explanation is given by a vast majority of surveyed MFIs (78%), which also note (57%) that clients in this sector do not have access to adapted non-financial services (business development, financial education, health education, etc. ). The lack of insurance services is also underlined by 50% of MFIs. In contrast, the lack of access to savings services is hardly mentioned.

MFIs are already thinking about how to meet the needs of their clients. Thus, 48% of MFIs reporting a vulnerable informal sector say they plan to launch financial education programs, and 33% imagine supporting clients in the management of their activity. However, only a small proportion of them forecasts launching micro insurance products (maximum 11%). MFIs justify such motivations with two main reasons: getting closer and focusing on under-served populations, but also to respond to a demand for adapted offers during a particular period. For some MFIs, this could translate into other initiatives, such as the development of the agricultural segment (still strongly mentioned by MFIs) or by the development of digital solutions for clients. As a partner in Latin America tells us:

“The financial education and business management program is being planned by digital means to introduce customers to the use of social networks to sell their products, since the main problem they have had is that their places of sale have been closed down or customers are not arriving because of the risk of contagion”

The results of this article highlight the operational and financial difficulties encountered by MFIs during this first semester, but also their first steps in understanding the problems and finding solutions. In this context, the future challenges us to continue questioning ourselves about the best recovery actions for each region, how they can be implemented and how the various actors in the microfinance sector can directly and indirectly contribute to its revival.



1 The results of the previous surveys are available here for the first one and here for the second one.
2 The total number of MFIs that responded to the survey for each region is as follows: South Asia (“Asia”) 14, Latin America and the Caribbean (“LAC”): 24, Europe and Central Asia (“ECA”): 18, MENA: 6, and Sub-Saharan Africa (“SSA”) 29 (total: 91 institutions). The small sample from the MENA region does not allow for the monitoring of the figures for the zone.
3 This comparison is based on a sample of 54 MFIs: 12 in Asia, 7 in EAC, 13 in LAC, 22 in SSA.
4 This comparison is also based on the sample of 54 MFIs.
5 This comparison is also based on the sample of 54 MFIs.

Solidarity bankers: a new mission in Senegal

Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A, Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme open to Group employees for the benefit of microfinance institutions or impact businesses. The objective of this programme is twofold: it is a way of acknowledging the skills acquired by Crédit Agricole group employees and provides additional support to microfinance institutions and impact companies supported by the Foundation. Thanks to this scheme, the Crédit Agricole group reiterates its commitment to support employees’ solidarity initiatives.

What are the Solidarity bankers missions?

International volunteer assignments are available to employees on behalf of microfinance institutions or social impact companies supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.

The missions are carried out within the framework of philanthropy or volunteer work. Crédit Agricole S.A. covers airline ticket and insurance. The beneficiary institution pays any internal transport costs, catering and accommodation expenses. The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation will prepare and coordinate the mission.

Since the programme was launched in 2018, fourteen missions have been carried out, both in volunteering and in skills sponsorship.

A mission to fill!

A ten-day field mission in terms of HR support is to be provided to Oshun in Senegal for the last quarter of 2020.

Oshun Senegal was created in March 2018, shortly after its parent company Oshun in France. Oshun proposes inclusive solutions allowing the most sensitive populations access to water while promoting the establishment of a virtuous and community-based local ecosystem. The company distinguishes itself by its innovations in terms of rural development, connectivity and water treatment.

Oshun Senegal has grown from 1 to 20 employees in just over 2 years (June 2018 – August 2020). Oshun Senegal is completing a process of structuring with the recruitment at the end of August of an Administrative and Financial Manager (AFM) whose mission will be to manage all the support functions of Oshun Senegal (accounting, finance, HR, logistics, purchasing) and allow the company to gain administrative autonomy from the parent company.

Mission objectives:

  • Organization and training of the team
  • Definition and mastery of HR rules and processes
  • Implementation of monitoring tools

How to apply?

  • Click on the link “Find a project
  • Enter in the the search bar: “Fondation Grameen”. All the Solidarity bankers missions will appear!
  • Click on the offer of your choice, you will find all the information requested for your application.


Carolina HERRERA
Head of Communication & Partnerships