Technical assistance: testimony of two beneficiaries of the African Facility

In 2013, alongside the French Development Agency (FDA), 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. More than 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 FDA 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.

In this context, Bimas and MicroLoan Fondation, two microfinance institutions in Africa, received several technical assistance missions. Spotlight on their assessment of the African Facility. Discover the interview of Elizabeth Karinga, financial manager of BIMAS and Randall Williams former CEO, of MicroLoan Malawi who looks back on this programme.

What is your assessment of the African Facility?

Elizabeth: The African Facility has been an extraordinary adventure for BIMAS. The progress made by our institution is important. For example, when we started to be supported by the African Facility, our operations management processes were still manual, whereas, through the support of the programme, we were able to begin a digitalization process. Thanks to the African Facility, we have also improved our social performance management and the communication with our clients.

Randall: MLF Malawi joined the African Facility in 2018 and has benefited from several missions, particularly on digitalization. For example, with the assistance of the facility, we have implemented a new HR platform which has made it possible to automate some HR procedures and ensure more efficient staff management such as the management of staff leave. Prior to implementing the platform, it took branch staff two days and four sheets of paper to get approval on their leave requests. It now takes less than five minutes and no paper for that same approval. We were also able to implement a new cloud-based accounting platform to replace the legacy system that we had. This came at absolutely the right time as it allowed our Finance staff to work remotely from home during the COVID-19 crisis, something that was not possible before. I should point out as well that both platforms have centralised file archiving capabilities that allows teams to access digital files securely and remotely. So, apart from the significant gains in productivity, we have also become a more agile organisation since Management is now able to use the real time access to information on the platforms to make strategic decisions faster.

Elizabeth: The African Facility has really helped us in terms of developing our business. One of the essential things in microfinance is to be able to gauge how many people we reach, what type of disbursement we make and how to increase the financial inclusion of the greatest number. At the start of the programme, BIMAS had approximately 18,000 clients; today we serve 42,000 people, thanks to the new processes that we have implemented within the framework of the African Facility. We have moved up from 21 to 40 branches and this has created jobs in our new areas of intervention, particularly in rural areas. This growth demonstrates the positive impact of the programme and the partnership with the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.

Randall: We are really grateful for the support that we have received under the African Facility to implement these capacity building initiatives. These technical assistance missions have really helped to strengthen our operations by improving the governance structure and increasing the overall resilience of our organization. More importantly, it has helped us to minimize the disruption linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and has also enabled us to scale our outreach at a much faster rate than before. For context – we were able to grow our branch network from 15 to 22 over the last two years (despite the pandemic) and this is largely due to the productivity improvements which has allowed our staff to better focus on scaling outreach, improving customer satisfaction, as well as driving other key social performance management objectives. I hope that Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation will be able to continue this very important initiative because as you can see, there are clear benefits not only to the institution itself, but also to the base of pyramid clients that we serve.

More information about our technical assistance programmes here.

Newsletter #41 : The Foundation consolidates its action in favour of financial inclusion

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its Newsletter N.41 that highlights the activities of the Foundation and the usefulness of its action.

In 2021, the Foundation once again demonstrated the usefulness of its activity: it supported 81 microfinance institutions and impact enterprises that serve over 9 million beneficiaries, particularly women and rural populations, in 37 countries. These are some key figures that we present to you in the 2021 Integrated Report.

In this edition of the Newsletter, you will also discover the testimony of a Solidarity Banker from Crédit Agricole CIB who went to Kyrgyzstan and the joint interview of two managers of microfinance institutions benefiting from the African Facility, the first technical assistance programme launched by the Foundation, in partnership with the French Development Agency.

Read the Newsletter

Publication of the Annual report of Crédit Agricole’s FIR Fund

The FIR Fund (for Inclusive Finance in Rural areas, in French), which is exclusively reserved for Crédit Agricole Group entities, makes investing in the financing of rural microfinance institutions possible. The investment serves populations traditionally excluded from the banking sector in emerging countries.

To date, 21 Regional Banks*, Amundi and CA Assurances have subscribed to the capital of the FIR. The FIR Fund has supported new institutions in 2021. It provided €1 million in loans to ACF in Kazakhstan, €800,000 to Lazika in Georgia, €1 million to Montecredit in Montenegro and €500,000 to Furuz in Tajikistan.

By the end of December 2021, the FIR Fund supports 6 microfinance institutions in 6 countries: Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Montenegro and Tajikistan. Despite the health crisis, which increased credit risk and reduced profitability, these institutions have shown strong resilience. They continue to contribute to the development of income-generating activities, particularly village-based agricultural production (71% of beneficiaries live in rural areas).

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(only available in French)

*Alpes Provence, Alsace-Vosges, Brie Picardie, Centre-est, Centre-France, Centre Loire, Centre-Ouest, Champagne-Bourgogne, Charente-Périgord, Finistère, Franche-Comté, Ille-et-Vilaine, Languedoc, Loire-Haute Loire, Martinique-Guyane, Normandie-Seine, Provence Côte-d’Azur, Réunion, Savoie, Sud Rhône Alpes and Touraine Poitou

Travel diary of a Solidarity Banker in Kyrgyzstan

Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A. in 2018, Solidarity Bankers is a skills-based volunteering programme open to all Crédit Agricole Group employees in favour of microfinance institutions and social impact enterprises supported by the Foundation. Discover the interview of Mark Diakhaté, Account Manager in the Structured Finance Distribution team at Crédit Agricole CIB, who left for Kyrgyzstan in 2021 to support Salym.

The discovery of the programme and preparation
I have always had a keen interest in the fight against poverty. Indeed, I had participated in associative projects based on microcredit in Vietnam in 2008 and in Senegal in 2016, and I had followed a microfinance course during my university exchange in Manila in 2011, but I haven’t had the opportunity to work in a real financial institution offering this type of product. So, applying to the Solidarity Bankers programme and in particular to the mission with Salym in Kyrgyzstan was an obvious choice for me.

Salym is a microfinance institution that provides financial services to low-income populations in Kyrgyzstan and my mission consisted in launching the environmental and social risk management (E&S) approach in the lending process.

To frame the mission, I was able to draw on my skills in internal control and risk management – having been an internal auditor and then a credit analyst – I also benefited from a training course on Salym and Kyrgyzstan provided by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. In mid-July, we started preparing the mission with Salym so that I could get to know their organisation and procedures. In addition, I looked for various resources on microcredit and took some private lessons in Russian – which was my third language during my studies – in order to be able to have simple conversations on the spot without an interpreter.

The mission in Kyrgyzstan
I visited Salym’s premises in Bishkek for two weeks in September 2021. I arrived in Bishkek on the first Sunday of September and on Monday morning, I presented the mission during a kick-off meeting with the Management Committee. During the first week I met with the main managers and also with some borrowers, in order to get acquainted with the conditions of Salym’s activity and to map the main E&S risks inherent to the lending activities.

During the second week, I discussed with the management a first version of the risk mapping, and then possible evolutions of the credit process in order to integrate E&S risk management. At the end of the second week, I conducted a training session on E&S risk management with the Salym Management Committee and presented the roadmap for the deployment of the E&S risk management system. The pace during the mission was fast. Thus, I was able to finalise the initially planned deliverables (E&S risk matrix, proposal for a new credit process, training, roadmap) during my stay on site.

The return home
Back in Paris, at the request of Salym’s General Manager, I proposed a new and more comprehensive version of the Kyrgyz microfinance institution’s E&S policy. Mid-October, we had a final meeting by videoconference to discuss my proposal, with a view to deploying the E&S risk management system in 2022.

I was delighted to be able to put my skills at the service of a company with an impact, in an unknown cultural environment (Central Asia remains a landlocked area with few tourists) and particularly exotic. I came back with the image of a dynamic country, rich in entrepreneurial opportunities.

I sincerely thank Carolina Viguet, Maxime Borgogno, Gabrielle Ferhat of the Foundation but also my hierarchy at RPC (Natacha Gallou, Hubert Frédéric, Michael Beucher) and the Human Resources of CACIB (Virginie Halipré, Nawel Frioui), who allowed me to participate in this mission as a Solidarity Banker.

SFA: A Solidarity Banker in Senegal

The Société Sénégalaise des Filières Alimentaires (SFA) [Senegalese Company of the Food Industries] is a social business that promotes the production of quality rice by smallholders in the Senegal River Valley through a long-term partnership. SFA provides them with access to financing and technical support, then processes the paddy into white rice and sells it on the Senegalese market.


The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has been a shareholder in the Senegalese Food Industry (SFA) since 2013. SFA benefitted from the Solidarity Bankers programme: a high-level expert, Head of the Group Purchasing Information System project management unit at Crédit Agricole S.A., spent two weeks in the field to support SFA in optimising its information system.


Keen to develop its activities, SFA wanted to benefit from an external viewpoint and the support of an expert in information systems to develop a technological application for local teams in order to manage better and to optimise their operations and the follow-up of producers. Our Crédit Agricole expert was able to visit the SFA plants in Saint Louis and Dakar where she took stock of the information system through interviews with the various SFA stakeholders. She also worked with them on the digitalisation of the rice collection chain in order to optimise productivity and yields.


By visiting the field, she was able to understand the different stages of rice collection and processing and to propose recommendations. Thanks to the implementation of the management information system under development and a weighing application integrated into the Sage software, the Solidarity Banker has enabled SFA to improve its industrial activity and production conditions, as well as the technical and financial monitoring of producers. Since the improvement of its production system, SFA’s ambition has been to double its volume of activity by 2022, while supporting the local rice industry in Senegal.

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

Discover the mission on video here