Solidarity Bankers Podcasts: Episode N.1

Interview with Carolina Viguet, Head of Communication & Partnerships, GCAF
Conducted by: Mireille de Kerleau, Communications Manager, CACEIS

1. A few words about the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation?

The Foundation was created in 2008 by Crédit Agricole and Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize laureate who founded the world’s very first microfinance bank in Bangladesh. Our mission is to fight poverty through financial inclusion and impact entrepreneurship.

In concrete terms, we will finance and support with technical assistance missions microfinance institutions and social businesses that serve primarily women and rural populations in Africa, Asia and Europe.

2. What is the Solidarity Bankers programme?

The Solidarity Bankers programme is part of this technical assistance offer. It is a skills volunteering scheme launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA in 2018 that is open to all employees of the Crédit Agricole Group, entities and Regional Banks, for the benefit of the organisations financed by the Foundation.

These are two-week pro bono missions in the field or longer but remote missions that are carried out by 1 or 2 Crédit Agricole employees to support an organization financed by the Foundation on a specific need. This may thus entail building a business plan for a new project, establishing the organisation’s marketing plan for the next three years or strengthening the financial plan of the beneficiary company.

3. Who can be a Solidarity Banker?

All employees of entities of Crédit Agricole and Regional Banks in France and abroad are eligible. But there is still one condition: they must have solid expertise in the subject of the mission. We really have all types of profiles, from Directors and Senior profiles to employees with 2-3 years’ experience but who are experts in the subject of the mission.

4. How does the system work?

I would say there are four steps:


  • We determine the mission following a specific request from the company we are financing;
  • We launch a call for applications for the mission on our website and also on the Crédit Agricole SA sponsorship platform, CA Solidaires;
  • We then carry out a traditional recruitment process via interviews conducted by the Foundation’s team to select one or two Crédit Agricole employees (depending on the complexity of the mission).


  • An agreement is signed by the Solidarity Banker’s employer, the beneficiary organization and the Solidarity Banker
  • For field missions, there is also a preparation to be done before leaving on mission: there are interviews, documents to be read, so that the 2-week field mission is as efficient as possible


  • There are many exchanges, progress points, workshops, training sessions and many meetings with the teams of the beneficiary businesses or microfinance institution as well as end customers.


– For example, the Solidarity Banker will finalize the HR plan that has been requested or the business plan of the new product to be launched within 3 or 4 weeks after the mission.

5. Does the employee have to take time off for a Solidarity Banker mission?

Not necessarily. There are 3 possible options for carrying out the mission: a) in a volunteer capacity (during the employee’s leave); b) as skills-based sponsorship (within the framework of the employment contract), or it is mixed, so part of the mission is done during the leave and another part within the framework of the employment contract. This is decided by the Solidarity Banker’s employer. There is no obligation on the employer’s part, but in point of fact, all the participating Crédit Agricole entities and Regional Banks participating have always given days of sponsorship.

6. What is your assessment, within the Foundation, of the Solidarity Bankers programme?

It has already been three years. The programme was launched in 2018. Three years after it was launched, the success of the programme confirms the commitment of employees and the Group’s desire to support social impact projects. The programme has launched around thirty missions in some 15 countries for around 20 organisations supported by the Foundation. There are over 300 days of missions planned or carried out in the form of skills volunteering by around 30 Solidarity Bankers.

Besides, some missions launched in 2021 are still available and about ten missions will be launched this year. So to all the potential Solidarity Bankers who are listening to us, go to our website or contact me, because great impact missions are waiting for you.

Access the podcast here

“Making finance work for refugees” by the ILO

Each month, the International Labor Organisation (ILO) publishes “Social Finance Brief”, a publication that traces the journey of financial service providers around the world. In the January 2022 edition, the ILO documented the journey of the Uganda Agency for Development Limited (UGAFODE), an organisation supported by the Gramen Crédit Agricole Foundation.

UGAFODE is one of the microfinance institutions benefiting from a programme launched by the Foundation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to promote financial inclusion and non-financial assistance to refugees and host communities in Uganda.

Through the programme, UGAFODE opened a mini-branch in the Nakivale refugee camp in Uganda. It received financial support for the opening of the branch in Nakivale and technical support, coordinated by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, to develop a range of products and services adapted to the needs of refugees.

The ILO Social Finance Brief describes the evolution of UGAFODE’s decision-making and operational process to become an actor of inclusion serving refugees and host communities. UGAFODE is an example of good practice for the microfinance sector and a great story of the impact of the action of the Foundation and its partners in the field.

Download the Brief here.

€10 million partnership in favour of African entrepreneurship between EIB and the Foundation

FGCA/Didier Gentilhomme

16 February, 2022

Small entrepreneurs across Africa to benefit from €10 million partnership between European Investment Bank and the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation

  • Ongoing cooperation to strengthen access to microfinance by rural and underserved entrepreneurs impacted by COVID pandemic
  • Scheme to back microfinance institutions in different countries across Africa, with a focus on gender inclusion
  • Africa private sector to benefit from local currency financing and support for smaller microfinance institutions

Access to finance by entrepreneurs and businesses impacted by COVID-19 in rural regions in Sub-Saharan countries will be enhanced by a new €10 million targeted financing initiative launched by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation ahead of the first EU-Africa summit since the pandemic.

The latest cooperation between the European Investment Bank, the world’s largest international public bank and the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation, a leading supporter of microfinance across Africa, will focus on ensuring that small business can access finance, create jobs and combat poverty.

“Ensuring that entrepreneurs and communities across Africa can access finance is essential to unlock opportunities, accelerate social inclusion and strengthen economic resilience to challenges unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The EIB is committed to supporting microfinance across Africa and we are pleased to strengthen over long-standing cooperation with the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation. The €10 million engagement launched today will directly benefit small businesses across the continent.” said Ambroise Fayolle, Vice President of the European Investment Bank.

“Delivering targeted financing in fragile regions is capital to beat poverty, prevent social exclusion and unlock opportunities that drive economic growth. This new cooperation between the EIB and our Foundation will strengthen access to finance by entrepreneurs in sectors impacted by COVID and in remote and rural communities.” said Eric Campos, Managing Director of the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation.

The new pan-African microfinance partnership was formally agreed in Brussels earlier today ahead of the EU-Africa Summit at the EU-Africa Business Forum.

Improving private sector access to finance in disadvantaged communities

The new cooperation between the EIB and the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation will help to scale up microfinance activity across Africa by providing long-term and local currency financing to local microfinance institutions.

The investment is expected to finance more than 147,000 loans to self-employed and micro-enterprises, alongside sustaining up to 36,000 jobs. Reflecting the importance of empowering women and girls across Africa the scheme will support an estimated 98,000 loans to female entrepreneurs.

Tackling challenges holding back microfinance in Africa

The new operation will support smaller microfinance institutions than those that the EIB can finance directly. These microfinance partners are often also unable to receive financing from local commercial banks and cannot scale up.

The initiative will benefit financial and social inclusion and is expected to support entrepreneurs in remote regions, micro business run by women and young people who have limited or no access to financial services. This vulnerable and underserved segments are also the most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporting fragile regions across Africa

The Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation will be able to allocate the loan across the many microfinance institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. The network of partner microfinance institutions spans sixteen countries across the region, including fragile ones such as Benin, Togo, Niger and Malawi.

Building on longstanding cooperation between microfinance partners

The European Investment Bank and the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation have worked together to strengthen microfinance across Africa since 2018 and strive to enhance microfinance best-practice and help entrepreneurs to improve business skills through technical assistance projects.

The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank and since the pandemic has provided more than €8 billion for new investment across Africa.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.
Created in 2008 at the joint initiative of Crédit Agricole and Nobel Peace Laureate Pr. Muhammad Yunus, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation finances and supports through technical assistance microfinance institutions and social enterprises in around 40 countries.

Plastic Odyssey Lab: meeting with plastic recycling entrepreneurs

Plastic Odyssey collects and develops plastic recycling technologies and solutions to distribute them in open-source to as many people as possible. They are embarked on a laboratory ship, which will leave in 2022 for a world tour along the most polluted sides of the planet. At each stop on its expedition around the world, Plastic Odyssey’s floating recycling workshop will welcome entrepreneurs from around the world to help them test, prototype and develop their plastic recycling solutions.

Plastic Odyssey and its partner Crédit Agricole are organizing “PO Lab: meeting with plastic recycling entrepreneurs” at Village By CA in Paris on February 16 from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The programme

1 – Pitch of the winning PO Lab projects

A look back at the 1st edition of the PO Lab, with the pitches of the 5 winners:

  • Conchyl’Innov, Charlotte Rhone
  • Plasti-Cycle, Daovone Sribouavong
  • Recycled plastic skateboard, Jason Knight
  • Purple Alternative Surface, Pierre Quinonero & Sebastien Molas
  • Mon empreinte plastique, Alban Desbarax & David Le Gall

`2 – Round Table: Plastic pollution & recycling solutions in Africa and Asia: context, challenges and perspectives

With inspiring speakers:

  • Matthieu Witvoet: 27-year-old eco-adventurer, member of Circul’R, who cycled around the world in 2017 to find out about good plastic recycling practices.
  • Pascale Martel Naquin:Former Director of the CEFREPADE association, who has supported skills building and waste recovery actions for more than 20 years, especially in Haiti and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Said Benhamida: CEO and co-founder of Mika, a startup that collects and recycles plastic waste along the Moroccan coast.
  • Jean-Baptiste Grassin: Managing Director of Nomad Plastic and Research and Strategy Manager at Plastic Odyssey.

This meeting can be followed on Webex.


The Village by CA is a network of start-up accelerators supported by Crédit Agricole. It relies on innovation ecosystems to support the transformation of businesses in the regions. Find out more: //

Covid-19: Crisis evolution in some of our countries of intervention

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has been monitoring the evolution of the health crisis in its countries of intervention to better understand its effects on supported microfinance institutions and their clients. After Covid-19: the impact of the crisis on microfinance, this new publication compiles data and analyses from some of the countries where the Foundation works.

The Foundation has chosen to use accessible, quantitative and qualitative measurement tools. The quantitative indicators focus on the number of Covid cases and the number of deaths, which are analysed on average over 7 days and as a proportion of 1 million inhabitants in order to have comparative data. The percentage of fully vaccinated inhabitants is also taken into account to assess the effectiveness of the vaccination campaign in the country. The qualitative measurement tools are based on the government’s actions in response to the crisis, the pandemic’s impact on the economy and the health mapping (red, orange or green countries) developed by the French government.

Sources are exclusively from relevant entities: the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, International Monetary Fund, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, French Ministry of Public Health, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Bank and World Health Organisation.

With this publication, intended for policy makers, funders, operators and microfinance institutions, we hope to contribute to the understanding of the effects of Covid-19 on the microfinance sector in order to better prepare, innovate and respond to the crisis.

Download the document here.

Digital Technology at the Heart of the Strategic Orientations of Microfinance Institutions

ADA, Inpulse and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation joined forces in 2020 to monitor and analyse the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on their partner microfinance institutions (MFIs) around the world. This monitoring was conducted periodically in 2020 and 2021 so as to get a better view of the development of the crisis worldwide. The conclusions presented in this article follow the last study conducted in November 2021. With this regular analysis, we hope to contribute, at our level, to the charting of strategies and solutions adapted to the needs of our partners, as well as to the dissemination and exchange of information by and between the different stakeholders of the sector.

The results presented here are from the 8th survey in the joint series (1) of ADA, Inpulse and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. The 70 institutions that responded are located in 39 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA-24%), Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA-38%), Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC-20%), South and Southeast Asia (SSEA-9%), and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA-9%) (2).

1. Despite the recovery in operations, growth is limited by weak demand

The COVID-19 environment improved substantially for our partner microfinance institutions in the 2nd half of 2021. More specifically, as of November 2021, 64% of them reported that the measures taken to contain the epidemic in their countries had eased compared to those experienced in the summer, and 70% of respondents (49 MFIs) no longer faced COVID-19-related constraints in their operations.

MFIs in Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Lithuania, Moldova and Romania) stand out as an exception to this dynamic, since some of them (7 MFIs out of 13 in this sub-region) report a hardened context during this period, linked to the resurgence of the epidemic in the region in the last quarter. This is reflected in the difficulties in meeting clients in the field or in branches and therefore in conducting activities in general (collection and disbursement of loans).

It is in this changing context that MFIs have been operating for almost two years now. Although conditions are improving, operational performance has remained below expectations as the surveys continue: 53% of respondents (37 MFIs) report that they have not met their disbursement targets since the beginning of the year. This phenomenon is encountered globally in every region, with the exception of LAC (where most partners are located in Central America).

The low levels of disbursements are related first and foremost to difficulties experienced by MFI clients. The two most common reasons given (54% and 49% respectively) for the MFIs that are not growing at the expected levels this year are the deteriorated risk profile of clients and the reluctance of clients to take out new loans. This justification is further confirmed by the fact that 53% of respondents still have a higher risk portfolio than before the crisis. This persistent increase in risk and the situation of a portion of the MFIs’ clients with little or no needs consequently limits the possibilities of MFIs for development.


2. Digitalization remains the top priority for microfinance institutions

A gradual and contrasting economic recovery notwithstanding, the proactive approach of MFIs to adapt to current and future challenges continues to be demonstrated as the months go by. We have noticed that the crisis has fuelled reflection on strategic issues since its onset. At the end of 2021, 47% of MFIs confirm that the important areas of work for the coming years have emerged with the crisis. Above all, the topics most mentioned at the beginning of the pandemic (product development for agriculture, adaptation of the offer, digitalization) are still at the heart of the directions that partner institutions should take.

The implementation of (internal and external) digital solutions is considered the main area of development. Digitalization is essential to overcome the difficulties of direct contact with borrowers, a subject that has been highlighted since the beginning of the pandemic. We also note that the appeal of digitalization is found in all regions, but that it is more or less pronounced depending on the size of the MFI: 69% (9 MFIs) of Tier 1 (3) institutions are thinking of launching new digital products and services, while this concerns only 47% (15 MFIs) of Tier 2 and 24% (5 MFIs) of Tier 3 institutions.

The other strategic areas cited are mentioned to a lesser extent. 30% of the respondents nonetheless plan to focus more on the agriculture sector. The responses on this subject do not show a marked correlation either in terms of MFI size or location; only the SSEA region shows a particular interest (67%). This echoes the testimonies we collected a year and a half ago: this sector appeared to be one of the least affected by the COVID-19 crisis. This intention to invest more in the agricultural sector is particularly positive as this sector represents an economic, social and environmental challenge for the years to come.

Finally, another point that stands out among the responses of our partners is the training and awareness-raising of clients on various topics: the use of digital solutions (27%), financial education (27%), health (11%) and environmental protection (11%). While these topics are less popular, they are related to the MFIs’ areas of development mentioned above and highlight the need to support clients so that they can adapt to these changes.

3. The capacity to implement these strategies varies according to the size of the MFIs

We note that 76% of the MFIs have already started to implement measures related to these strategic lines and 16% plan to launch actions in this direction in the coming months. Thus, only 7% of the sample have less clear perspectives on this point. A certain time lag in the implementation of these measures emerges however, depending on the size of the institutions: the vast majority of Tier 1 MFIs (93%) have already implemented such measures, whereas this proportion drops to 77% for Tier 2 and 64% for Tier 3 MFIs.

These differences by MFI size (which we already noted in our 2020 work on the direct consequences of the crisis on MFIs (4)) are also reflected in the level of support expected from external stakeholders (investors, donors, etc.). Whereas technical assistance (69% of responses) and dedicated funding (66%) are the two components that stand out the most for making progress on these issues, they are much more requested by Tiers 2 and 3 MFIs. Similarly, the ECA MFIs are the only ones to show a certain independence on this subject, with a third of the respondents in the zone not stressing any need for support.

The larger MFIs therefore appear to be better equipped and more autonomous after the crisis to meet their next challenges, as they were at the peak thereof. At the same time, some of the smaller MFIs also confirm strong orientations for the years to come, albeit to a lesser extent. They are no less ambitious even though they have fewer resources.


(1) The results of the first seven surveys are posted on //, // and //
(2) Number of MFIs per region: ECA: 17 MFIs; SSA: 27 MFIs; LAC: 14 MFIs ; SSEA: 6 MFIs; MENA: 6 MFIs.
(3) Tier 3 MFIs have outstanding loans of less than US$5 million, Tier 2 MFIs between US$5 million and US$50 million, and Tier 1 MFIs over US$50 million.
(4) //

The African Facility: review of our first microfinance technical assistance scheme

In 2013, alongside the French Development Agency (AFD), the Foundation launched its first technical assistance programme: the African Facility. The objective of this scheme is to support small and medium-sized rural microfinance institutions, with a strong social impact, in Sub-Saharan Africa. Eight years after its launch, the Facility’s results bear witness to the importance of providing not only financial but also technical support to partner microfinance institutions.

Through the African Facility, the Foundation and the AFD have supported 26 microfinance institutions, which have themselves financed income-generating activities of more than 500,000 borrowers with average loans of €200. The programme, that allowed carrying out 328 technical assistance missions, has covered many areas of expertise, from the development of environmental strategies to the digitalisation of the credit granting process and the strengthening of the governance.

The Facility has strengthened the risk profile and consolidated partner institutions. Although it is complex to isolate the effects of technical assistance on the performance evolution, the Foundation was able to observe the impact of the Facility within the framework of “Our technical assistance offer“, a study carried out with the support of CERISE, an organisation specialising in impact measurement. It shows an overall increase in the number of active borrowers and outstanding credit, an improvement in operational self-sufficiency as well as efficiency gains for beneficiary institutions.

To close the programme, the Foundation organised in October 2021 in Kigali, on the sidelines of the African Microfinance Week, the last and 6th Facility Forum, gathering all the beneficiaries and partners. This was an opportunity to assess and highlight the best practices of the scheme.

Today, technical assistance is one of the Foundation’s key areas of expertise. What started as a single and beautiful adventure with the African Facility is today a set of six technical assistance schemes, with a €7.1 million portfolio under management in 2021. Being a vehicle for change and resilience, technical assistance is a strong line of development for the Foundation and will be an integral part of the 2022-2025 Strategic Plan.

Microfinance must play a greater role in helping vulnerable populations cope with the effects of climate change

“The need to act in the face of environmental risks is a logical consequence of the mission that our institution has set itself: come to the aid of the most vulnerable populations.”

Historically organized to promote access to finance for vulnerable populations, the microfinance sector must change its tools and methods of intervention in a climate and environmental emergency that can no longer be ignored. Rural populations living in economically fragile areas are very exposed to these effects in fact, as they are dependent on agriculture and have difficulties in accessing basic services (access to water, energy, acceptable sanitary conditions, etc.).

We conducted a series of qualitative interviews with the microfinance institutions that are partners of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation so as to gain a better understanding of these mechanisms. This approach enabled us to identify the main environmental risks gauged by these institutions and the means implemented to prevent and address them. We share here some elements of analysis as well as the avenues of reflection that our partners have already embarked upon.

1. Meteorological risks are in most urgent need for response

Natural disasters of meteorological origin and the disruption of the seasonal cycle are having an increasing impact on the activities of MFI clients. For 65% of our partners, meteorological risks will be the most important environmental threat in the near future. Vulnerable and rural populations in particular are more exposed because they depend on agriculture, their infrastructures are fragile or they have difficulties in accessing healthcare. Our partner institutions share many examples of disruptions that impact their clients’ business. Droughts affect yields and reduce access to clean water, and floods destroy crops and infrastructure and interrupt supply chains.

The scale and nature of environmental risks vary greatly by region. Sub-Saharan Africa is the geographical area where our partners suffer the most from meteorological risks, which have already materialized for 40% of them. Significant risks of soil erosion and pollution are also reported in this region more than elsewhere. Conversely, health risks linked to air pollution are more worrying for our partners in Eastern Europe and South East Asia.

2. Strong awareness, but not very significant implementation yet

Our partners are largely aware of the environmental risks that weigh on their activities. The vast majority of respondents (88%) consider that protecting their beneficiaries against environmental risks is part and parcel of their mission. This does not necessarily translate into concrete actions at the moment, however. The commitment of the institution’s governance appears to be an indispensable prerequisite: many institutions indicate that decisions in this direction are taken and implemented only when governance is really involved in monitoring environmental issues. Of the 88% of respondents who believe that environmental aspects are included in their mission, 16% do not yet have tangible governance involvement in these issues.

3. Institutions are not yet sufficiently proactive on environmental issues

One of the levers for encouraging institutional governance to take action is client demand: many institutions have observed that when clients express their expectations regarding specific services or financing relating to the climate transition (irrigation equipment, adapted seeds, access to energy, etc.), boards of directors are more inclined to want to develop new offers and to ask their teams to be more involved in this issue. Only 40% of our partner MFIs get explicit requests from their clients on these environmental issues however, which suggests that there is real potential on this point.

The influence that donors can also have reinforces this institutional commitment. Many among our most advanced partners on these subjects have been encouraged or supported by their own financiers to define an environmental strategy or to design inclusive green finance products. This is the case for four of the seven Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation partners with whom we conducted qualitative interviews.

4. Inspiring initiatives have already been implemented by some institutions

Several of our partners have already put in place interesting initiatives to strengthen the resilience of their activities to environmental risks and limit the portfolio’s contribution to these risks.

In order to protect clients and by extension their business, 51% of our partner institutions are making their clients aware of the vulnerability of their business to the effects of climate change (lower yields, impact of meteorological hazards, etc.). 35% of them have exclusion lists, which ban the financing of practices that weaken the activities of clients, such as the use of pesticides or overexploitation of the land, which pollute and impoverish the soil. One third of our partner MFIs train their clients in more resilient practices, especially in the agricultural sector. Finally, one of the most common actions is to promote precautionary savings, offered by 25% of the institutions. It enables small producers to make provisions and anticipate potential climatic hazards (drought, floods, cyclones, etc.).

Another effective action to protect clients is to propose specific insurance offers, particularly agricultural, but their implementation is often difficult and complex. Fewer offer emergency loans and loans with flexible conditions precedent so as to respond quickly to the needs of clients in the event of a natural disaster.

To limit the contribution of clients’ activities to environmental risks, 65% of our partners have adopted what could be called “sector policies.” These policies exclude activities that contribute to deforestation, water or air pollution or waste generation. More than 50% of our partners raise their clients’ awareness of the impact of their activity, for example the over-consumption of water or energy. 51% of the MFIs surveyed finance low-consumption equipment or transitions to clean energy. This includes, for example, low energy cooking, solar equipment and home insulation. Finally, 47% finance environmentally friendly agricultural and livestock practices. This financing is often complementary to training and awareness-raising actions for clients for strengthening agricultural value chains.

5. MFIs face many obstacles in implementing their environmental offerings

Whereas we can provide many examples of initiatives among our partner institutions, these still concern a limited number of them. Although 64% of the institutions that responded to our survey have future plans on these themes, they are confronted with financial and technical obstacles: 78% of them claim to lack the financial resources and 52% the expertise to implement their projects. In terms of financial support, the MFIs would like to have lines of financing of more than 3 years, as well as loans at advantageous rates indexed to environmental performance objectives. Technical assistance is also an effective tool to support businesses in designing new products, raising awareness and training their customers, and adapting their business to be more resilient and environmentally friendly. Our interviews revealed that receiving technical assistance plays a key role in their development, and the needs of MFIs for technical assistance are significant. In particular, many of our partners are interested in developing an agricultural micro-insurance offer, which requires a lot of resources and specific knowledge.

6. In conclusion

In order to move the microfinance sector forward on environmental issues, it seems necessary to mobilize the governance bodies of microfinance institutions. In addition to the support offered by donors, which should be strengthened, such mobilization can be achieved by learning from and replicating existing effective practices on a large scale: sharing experience by and between institutions, organizing forums and focus groups, designing adapted financial products such as microinsurance or the financing of agricultural value chains.

An “environmental protection pathway” remains to be built together with our peers and partners (like the SPTF-CERISE customer protection pathway), building on existing initiatives in the sector (Green Index, ALINUS). The practice of “green loans,” which is rapidly gaining momentum in other sectors, should be further promoted in microfinance as well. This would for instance entail offering preferential rates indexed to environmental performance targets.

Technical assistance is essential to enable institutions to implement concrete actions. As regards the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, adapting the offer to the needs of the institutions is one of the key learnings of the in-depth assessment of “Our Technical Assistance Facility.” This need for adaptation applies particularly to assignments on environmental issues: the environmental risks that affect the activity of our partners vary greatly from one region to another, and even from one MFI to another. It is therefore necessary to design a technical assistance support system that is flexible and adaptable to the specific features of the institutions and the economic situation, without imposing overly precise themes and standardized methodologies. This should be accompanied by a wide variety of possible funding for different types of technical assistance missions. Another learning identified in the publication is the need to think about models for measuring the impact of missions on environmental issues, with the formulation of precise objectives and indicators.

In order to define relevant common indicators, both in terms of direct and indirect impact through portfolio activity, it is necessary to agree collectively on good practice and common definitions. In particular, the sector can reflect on support for and the development of a more sustainable agriculture, which is undoubtedly one of the major challenges of the most fragile countries on the African continent.