Technical assistance: the digitalisation of GRAINE in Burkina Faso


The GRoupe d’Accompagnement à l’INvestissement et à l’Epargne (GRAINE SARL) [Investment and Savings Support Group, private limited liability company] offers individual and group loan products in Burkina Faso to a mainly female clientele in rural areas. The African Facility programme has enabled the organisation to digitalise its operations and products.


Under the African Facility, GRAINE has benefited from a €131,000 grant from the Agence Française de Développement for the implementation of 18 technical assistance missions in various fields (governance, financial management, process review, human resources management, etc.). The Foundation has also granted three loans to GRAINE for a total amount of €1,262,000 since 2015.


As part of its digitalisation project, GRAINE wanted to offer innovative financial products, distribution channels and services to its clients such as SMS banking, improve data reliability and have a real-time view of activities. Thanks to the African Facility, GRAINE benefitted from the support of a technical assistance provider, in particular for the implementation of a new cloud-based information and management system, secure data migration, and user training.


As a result of this mission, GRAINE has improved information management and data reliability and security significantly, and has reduced the risk of error when entering transactions. The centralisation of databases has also enabled the institution to gain a real time view of activities and to improve its monitoring and reporting to the authorities.


GRAINE hopes to continue to digitalise by providing loan officers with tablets so that they can record client information, receive repayments/savings deposits, and eventually prepare loan applications and disburse loans in the field. The digitalisation of financial education training modules will also allow for more efficient training processes. Finally, GRAINE hopes to develop a network of external agents to provide local service to clients.

This article was published in “Our technical assistance offer”, accessible here

The Foundation publishes its 2021 Integrated Report

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its 2021 Integrated Report which retraces the highlights and key figures of the year. As of December 31, 2021, the Foundation managed €78.5 million in assets for 71 microfinance institutions and 10 social enterprises in 37 countries. Women’s entrepreneurship and the development of rural economies remain at the heart of the Foundation’s action: 90% of the 9.2 million beneficiaries of supported institutions are women and 81% live in rural areas.

To increase the resilience of our partners, we coordinated 130 technical assistance missions, the strongest activity in this area in the history of the Foundation. The African Facility developed with the French Development Agency, ended successfully, supporting since its launch 26 small microfinance institutions with a strong social vocation, in 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is within this context that the Foundation has decided to carry out a review of its technical assistance offer in 2021, eight years after the launch of its first missions, with the publication of “Our technical assistance system“.

Throughout the year, the Foundation pursued its quarterly surveys, allowing continuous monitoring of the impact of the health crisis on the microfinance sector. At the same time, the Foundation published, with ADA and Inpulse, a Covid-19 Report which brings together the lessons of this period and the future prospects for the sector. Thanks to this regular monitoring, our responses have been better adapted to each situation, combining new financing, technical assistance, rollovers and, very exceptionally, debt restructuring. The Foundation also continued to promote initiatives in favour of the protection of clients and staff of microfinance institutions.

The year was also marked by the renewed confidence of donors. The Foundation has benefited from a new grant from the European Investment Bank to promote financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have also launched a new programme to develop microinsurance in Africa and Asia with PROPARCO and the International Labor Organisation (ILO).

It also strengthened ties with the Crédit Agricole group, in particular via Banquiers Solidaires. With this skills volunteering scheme, open to all Group employees, the Foundation is strengthening its technical support for funded institutions and enterprises. This represents nearly 30 missions launched in favour of about twenty organisations since the inception of the programme in 2018.

The Foundation has also strengthened its climate commitments. It joined the Manifesto of the French Coalition of Foundations for the Climate and obtained funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support adaptation projects to climate change of partner institutions’ clients.

Download the Report

The Foundation’s job interview: Investment Officer

In the early years of its existence, the Foundation focused on financing microfinance institutions, gradually specializing in smaller institutions, located in rural areas and mainly benefiting women who develop small income-generating activities.

In this interview you will discover the testimony of Sébastien Simonot, Investment Officer, who explains his job.

In a few words, what is your Investment Officer Job about?

The investment officer job consists of establishing and developing sustainable partnerships with microfinance institutions, and organisations that provide financial and non-financial services to low-income population.
A big part of our job is devoted to identifying these potential partners, through an in-depth analysis of their financial, social and environmental performances. The first phase is desk review, on a basis of the documents the institution sent us, and then on site during our due diligences missions. We also regularly exchange with the institutions we already have in our portfolio to evaluate the evolution of their financial, social and environmental performances, and to assess their financial and technical needs in order to strengthen our partnerships.

What was your path? Is there a typical career path to be an Investment Officer?

I started my career in commercial banking, first at Crédit Lyonnais, then at Crédit Agricole CIB. After a detour into the humanitarian field, I moved into the microfinance sector a dozen years ago, approximately when the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation was created. During these 12 years, I led management and consulting missions for microfinance institutions in Haiti and Africa. I joined the Foundation in the summer of 2020, and I cover for it several areas in Africa as well as the Middle East.
I would say that there is no typical career path at the Foundation. The Investment Officer profiles are varied, but they have a common trait. We all have training and experience in economics and finance, coupled with exposure to the field of development and humanitarian work.

What are the strengths of your job?

This job gives us the opportunity to observe the innovation that microfinance institutions bring to their services to vulnerable populations. Despite the difficult contexts in which they must operate. The in-depth analysis of these institutions, particularly through on-site visits, and meetings with their clients, reminds us of the Foundation’s ambitions: to promote social entrepreneurship and financial inclusion. Finally, on the cross-functional aspect of the job, an Investment Officer works with all the Foundation’s teams: Middle Office, Risk, Technical Assistance, and Communication.

Why did you choose the Foundation?

The sector of financial inclusion has grown considerably in the recent decades. Many funds exist to support these institutions, both financially and technically. From the outset, the Foundation has equipped itself with the tools to intervene with small institutions with a high social impact. On the other hand, it has been able to intervene in areas where many other operators did not intervene, in fragile countries, particularly from an economic, social and climatic point of view. Today we have significant feedback experience in many countries, particularly in Africa, which contributes to the strength of our identity.

Watch the interview

The Foundation’s jobs interview: technical assistance

Starting 2013, the Foundation wanted to complement its approach with a targeted expertise intervention to strengthen the operational performance of its partners. For nine years now, we have been developing, coordinating and implementing technical assistance programs.

In this interview, you will discover the testimony of Victoire Binson, in charge of technical assistance, who explains her job and its impact.

In a few words, what is the Foundations technical assistance offer?

Technical assistance is an additional support mechanism for the Foundation partners. These may be microfinance institutions or social enterprises, the modalities of intervention are varied. It can be participating in training, support missions, but also co-financing for the acquisition of equipment. The Foundation plays a coordination and technical assistance role in the framework of programmes in conjunction with our technical and financial partners. Therefore, by the end of December 2021, it was almost 380 technical assistance missions that have been launched and coordinated by the Foundation.

What programmes did the Foundation develop?

The technical assistance offer of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation kept on expanding since the launch of our historical program: the African Facility in 2008, which aims to strengthen small MFIs in rural areas. Since then, we have also launched a technical assistance programme financed by the government of Luxembourg and coordinated by the EIB, in order to build the capacity of microfinance institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, in Uganda, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and thanks to funding from the Swedish cooperation, we were able to enable refugee populations to access financial and non-financial services.

What are the technical assistance programmes of the Foundation that are open to Social Enterprises?

We also have other programmes open to social enterprises. First, the Solidarity Bankers programme, which aim to enhance the skills of Crédit Agricole Group employees and allows our partners, microfinance institutions and social enterprises, to benefit from pro bono missions in the field, in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. Finally, we have one last programme that is called the SSNUP programme, whose objective is to strengthen the resilience of small producers and the structuring of agricultural value chains in Africa and Asia.

What are the main impacts of the programmes?

The Foundation has just published a report on its technical assistance programme, in which we identified three direct impacts. First, the technical assistance helps strengthen the operational performance of its partners. Secondly, technical assistance allows the development of new services such as digitalization or micro insurance. It also helps to reach new targets such as refugees. Finally, through its technical assistance programmes, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation promotes innovative practices and strengthens its ties with the main players of the inclusive finance sector.

What are the future projects?

Technical assistance is an integral part of the Foundation’s new 2022-2025 strategic plan, and is a major focus of its development. In 2022, we are also launching a programme with the International Labor Organization and financed by Proparco. It will enable us to support 12 of our microfinance institutions in Africa and Asia to develop micro insurance products. We have strong ambitions in terms of digital technology and resilience to climate change. And we are also working on setting up new support systems to help our partners deal with this major transition.

Watch the interview

Technical assistance: Green microfinance with RENACA in Benin

RENACA provides individual and group loans to a predominantly female clientele in six regions of Benin. RENACA has received support under the African Facility to strengthen its actions in inclusive green finance.


Under the African Facility, RENACA has received a €182,000 grant from the Agence Française de Développement [French Development Agency] for the implementation of 18 technical assistance missions in various fields (information system, business plan, etc.), including a mission to strengthen inclusive green finance. The Foundation has also granted three loans to RENACA since 2013, for a total amount of €1,738,000.


Faced with the deterioration of ecosystems, RENACA wanted to engage in inclusive green financing activities, particularly through the financing of agricultural activities that preserve forests and biodiversity and activities that contribute to reducing the vulnerability of clients to climate change. The institution thus benefitted from the support of an international firm (YAPU Solutions) to chart a green strategy and to assess and develop its green product offering.


Thanks to this mission, a diagnosis was made of RENACA’s actions in the area of inclusive green financing and the institution benefitted from advice on developing its product offering. The mission also helped raise awareness among the staff and governance on the topic of inclusive green finance and climate smart agriculture. An institutional green strategy and an action plan were also devised, allowing RENACA to clarify its objectives in terms of inclusive green finance.


Following the mission, several priority actions were defined, including the organisation of awareness raising sessions on inclusive green finance for RENACA agents, the definition of a list of activities excluded from financing because they are harmful to the environment, the charting of an environmental and social policy, and the development of an environmentally friendly agricultural product offer.

This article was published in “Our technical assistance offer”, accessible here

Chamroeun Microfinance: A Solidarity Banker in Cambodia

© Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation/GODONG

Chamroeun Microfinance Plc is a Cambodian institution that puts social mission at the very heart of its business model. It provides financial services to poor segments of the population which are excluded from the offer of other more commercial microfinance institutions.


The Foundation has granted 8 loans to Chamroeun Microfinance Plc since 2010 for a total amount of €5,054,000. The institution also benefited from the Solidarity Bankers programme in 2018. An expert in International Human Resources from the Crédit Agricole group, went on a two-week field trip to support Chamroeun Microfinance Plc’s teams in identifying and implementing an Human Resources strategy.


Faced with transformation challenges, Chamroeun Microfinance Plc needed to adapt its business model, strategy and HR policies. In 2017, despite a restructuring, the institution was still facing HR issues, such as team turnover and the need to hone the skills of operational staff, as well as supervision issues in some branches. The objective of the mission was therefore to support the institution’s HR function in adapting and improving its strategy, policies, procedures and management tools.


The Solidarity Banker assessed the existing HR tools and procedures, proposed a 2-year HR strategy and ways to promote leadership within the organisation. Thanks to this operational support, Chamroeun Microfinance Plc, which was in the process of completely transforming its business model and renewing its management team, has been able to implement an effective human resources policy. After the mission and thanks to the trusting relationship created with Chamroeun Microfinance Plc management, the Crédit Agricole expert was also able to provide punctual support, upon request, for the implementation of his recommendations.

This article was published in “Our technical assistance offer”, accessible here