Travel diary of a Solidarity Banker in Bosnia-Herzegovina

By Daniel Hoarau, IT Manager, Crédit Agricole de la Réunion

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 Daniel Hoarau, Solidarity Banker of Crédit Agricole Reunion, who left for Bosnia in 2020 to support Partner Microfinance Foundation (Partner MKF).

A dream of discoveries

Once upon a time, an employee of the CA Regional Bank of Reunion Island dreamed of committing to a solidarity project and discovering other cultures and companies. An employee and friend told him about the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and its Solidarity Bankers programme. This is the beginning of my story as a Solidarity Banker. I applied and was selected to support Partner MKF, a microfinance institution in Bosnia, in structuring its IT system.

Partner is a local microcredit organisation that offers banking products and services to people excluded from the traditional banking system. Today, Partner has more than 40,000 clients, 46% of whom are women and 86% live in rural areas. It is an organisation funded by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation since 2019.

The mission preparation was marked by regular exchanges with the teams of Partner and the Foundation. I was also able to study several documents and evaluate the existing IT infrastructure as well as the first evolution plans considered by the institution. I was ready for my mission in the field.

Departure for Bosnia

The departure is announced, after several adjournments due to the Covid-19, thanks to the determination of the Foundation and the logistic teams of Crédit Agricole SA. Covid-19 test planning obliges, the flight plan is set up: Saint-Denis, Paris, Vienna, Sarajevo, Tuzla: a 24 hour trip, departure on 31/10 at 25°C, arrival on November 1st in Tuzla at only 10°C.

First contact on arrival: Salih, the driver, or when two English beginners meet. Arrived safely, the light: Ivana, the interpreter in charge of guiding me, thanks to her all becomes simple and fluid. She will be the marker of the whole mission.

The next day, I discovered Partner: the teams and the welcome are wonderful; they all give me confidence and allow breaking the ice both literally and figuratively. The mission is short and we have to be efficient. Multiple interviews with different department managers (information system, human resources, compliance and credit) are followed by an audit of the technical installations, an analysis of user needs and the preliminary scoping of the project. Over the days, the light shines and the recommendations appear. The last step is a review meeting with Partner’s management: analyses are presented and the IT structure evolution plan is validated.

Bosnians have a very different work routine: it starts at 8 am, breakfast break at 10 am, no lunch break between 12 and 2 pm and work ends at 5 pm. This leaves the opportunity for many convivial moments organised by Partner. Dinners, moments of discovery of the Bosnian culture, customs, and even the ascension of a local mountain gave even more meaning to my mission!

Back to Reunion Island

After another 24-hour adventure for the return flight, I arrived to Reunion Island. I have finalised my 34-page report, which aims at lighting up Partner’s decisions for the framing of its system and infrastructure.

I come back enriched by this experience with teams committed to the company’s values: Responsibility, Fairness and Honesty. Values shared by Crédit Agricole Reunion, Crédit Agricole SA and the Foundation that have made this experience possible.

“When you want to build a ship, do not begin by gathering wood, cutting boards, and distributing work, but awaken within the heart of man the desire for the vast and endless sea”, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

I wish to thank all the people from Crédit Agricole Reunion, who contributed to make this mission possible; Jasmin Smigalovic, Selma Jahic and all the Partner teams, without forgetting Ivana Bilić the interpreter, for their welcome; Caroline Brand and Carolina Viguet from the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation for their support in the mission; and Aurélie Cacciotti from Crédit Agricole SA for the logistical support.
Article-investissement-Europe

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation consolidates its partnerships in Europe

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©FGCA/Godong

During the last quarter of 2020, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation continued its financing with its European partners, thereby consolidating its position in a region that represents 18% of its outstanding portfolio.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Mikra microfinance institution was granted a new loan of €1.2 million over a three-year period. Financed by the Foundation since 2019, Mikra’s mission is to provide financial services to the poorest but economically active populations. The institution promotes equality for Bosnian women by financing and supporting entrepreneurship projects. To date, Mikra serves over 15,000 active clients, 68% of whom are women and 58% of whom live in rural areas.

In Moldova, Smart Credit was granted a new loan for an amount, in local currency, equivalent to €500,000. Smart Credit is a microfinance institution whose objective is to help clients improve their living conditions, especially socially disadvantaged small entrepreneurs. The institution currently has over 3,000 active borrowers, 54% of whom are women and 71% of whom live in rural areas, and manages a portfolio of €3.5 million.

Finally, the Foundation granted a new loan, the second since 2018, to ADVANS Holding for an amount of €800,000. ADVANS, whose headquarters are located in Luxembourg, is an international group whose mission is to build a network of microfinance institutions in developing and emerging countries. The Group provides financial and non-financial services to low-income people in nine countries, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through its network, ADVANS serves nearly 800,000 customers and manages a portfolio of approximately €780 million.

For more information, please click here.

The Foundation pursues its financing in Kyrgyzstan

©FGCA/Didier Gentilhomme

In the last quarter of 2020, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation granted a new loan to the Salym microfinance institution in Kyrgyzstan. Created in 2007, Salym aims to support income-generating activities to improve the standard of living of disadvantages populations. The Foundation granted the institution a new loan of an amount in local currency equivalent to €1.3 million.

The institution, which currently has around 14,000 active clients, 57% of whom are women and 76% of whom live in rural areas, mainly supports people with limited incomes from rural areas or the urban fringes. Different products are offered to customers: home loans, consumer loans, agricultural loans and business loans.

With this loan, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has now 18 partners in the Europe / Central Asia area, which represents 28% of its outstanding loans. At the end of December 2020, the Foundation was working in 39 countries, with 85 partners, microfinance institutions and social impact businesses, and managed assets of €81.2 million.

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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 39 countries.

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

The Foundation grants new financing in Sub-Saharan Africa

©FGCA/Didier Gentilhomme

During the last half of 2020, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation granted three new fundings in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular in Benin and Malawi, which add to the two loans granted in Zambia to MLF Zambia and EFC Zambia.

In Benin, the Foundation granted a new loan to the ACFB microfinance institution for an amount in local currency equivalent to €305,000. ACFB, partner of the Foundation since 2017, offers a wide range of financial and non-financial services adapted to the needs of marginalised populations excluded from traditional financial systems. ACFB is a benchmark institution for the promotion of women’s empowerment and the development of microenterprises. To date, the institution has over 32,000 active clients, 88% of whom are women and 95% of whom live in rural areas.

Also in Benin, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution COMUBA for an amount in local currency equivalent to €500,000. COMUBA was created in 2000 and offers financial and non-financial services notably through group loans. Partner of the Foundation since 2015, the institution has around 32,000 active clients, 90% of whom are women.

Likewise, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution MLF Malawi, for an amount in local currency equivalent to €284,000. Created in 2002, MLF has nearly 30,000 active clients, exclusively women 70% of whom live in rural areas. The institution offers a wide range of products to support agriculture and small business development.

These new financings were granted within the framework of the African Facility programme launched in 2013 in partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD) and bring the total number of partners in Sub-Saharan Africa to 40, which represents 39% of the Foundation’s portfolio as of December 2020.

For more information, please click here.

Sinapi Aba wins Best Bank for Women Entrepreneurs Award

Sinapi Aba, has been adjudged the Gold Winner for the Best Bank for Women Entrepreneurs 2020 for the Global SME Finance Awards. Launched in 2018, the Global SME Finance Awards was set up to recognise the commitments and distinguished achievements of financial institutions and Fintech companies in delivering outstanding products and services to their SME clients.

In 2018, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation consolidated its presence in Sub-Saharan Africa by investing in particular in Ghana for the first time, where it financed three partners who account for 8.1% of the new loans granted that year. Sinapi Aba as one of them, has so far received from the Foundation a loan in local currency equivalent to €931,000.

Sinapi Aba is a microfinance institution created in 1994 in Ghana by Opportunity International to serve as an incubator that provides business development and income generating opportunities to economically disadvantaged people who can thereby improve their living conditions. Sinapi is a partner of the Foundation since 2018. Trough savings and loan products, Sinapi Aba promotes entrepreneurial development, particularly women entrepreneurship that represents 78% of its clients. The institution also contributes to the development of rural areas, as 76% of its clients launch income-generating activities in rural areas.

More information on Sinapi Aba here.

Crédit Agricole’s Solidarity bankers in images

Launched in June 2018 at the initiative of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A., Solidarity bankers is a skills volunteering programme open to all Crédit Agricole Group employees on behalf of microfinance institutions or social impact enterprises supported by the Foundation.

The aim of Solidarity Bankers is twofold: on one hand, it values the skills of Crédit Agricole Group employees who wish to get involved in solidarity projects and, on the other hand, it strengthens the support for microfinance institutions and companies financed by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.

Two years after its launch, discover the testimonials and highlights of the missions in Senegal and Cambodia in 3 video clips that present the results of the programme.

First destination: Senegal

The programme’s first mission is emblematic: the mission led by Jonathan Michaud, an agricultural engineer from Crédit Agricole Franche Comté, in Senegal for La Laiterie du Berger. With the support of the Regional Bank, the Solidarity banker left for 2 years to help La Laiterie to structure the dairy industry in Senegal. Today, he is Director of KOSSAM SDE, the Dairy’s subsidiary created as a result of his mission, which contributes to structuring the milk sector in Northern Senegal by providing material resources and training to breeders and developing an innovative model of pilot “mini-farms”. It supports 1,230 local breeders, who have seen their income increase by more than 50% between 2018 and 2019.

Another mission was carried out in Senegal in 2020. Michèle Kouam, IT Project Manager at Crédit Agricole SA, left at the beginning of the year to support the Société Sénégalaise des Filières Alimentaires (SFA). Her mission was to work on digitizing the rice collection of SFA, a company that produces white rice from paddy grown by small farmers in the Senegal River Valley. By enabling access to credit, providing technical support and guaranteeing a fair price, SFA currently supports 3,200 small farmers and promotes the development of an inclusive rice sector in Senegal.

Heading to Cambodia

A final mission completes this record in images: the mission of François Galland, Head of International HR at Crédit Agricole SA, to the microfinance institution Chamroeun. François worked for 2 weeks on Chamroeun’s Human resources strategy. The institution offers financial products and services to more than 33,000 low-income people in Cambodia, who are also supported with a range of training and social support services.

What’s next?

Since the launch of the programme, 20 missions have been launched, 12 of which have been carried out. For the first missions launched in 2020, the selection process has been finalized, but two mission are still to be filled in Morocco and Egypt.

With Solidarity Bankers, the Regional Banks and Crédit Agricole entities in France and abroad are stepping up their actions in favor of inclusive finance and strengthening the human and social projects of the Group/PMT 2022 Strategy.

See the video of the 3 missions

Event: Lidia, entrepreneur supported by Solidarity Cents

SOLIDARITY CENTS

Launched in 2018 by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, Crédit Agricole SA and CA Centre-est, Solidarity Cents aims to finance entrepreneurial projects by mobilizing Crédit Agricole employees, who are invited to make a donation of 50 cents when they pay for their meals in the restaurants of Crédit Agricole Campuses.

Entrepreneurs du Monde, NGO financed also by Fondation Crédit Agricole Solidarité et Développement, has been the beneficiary of the operation since the first edition. The NGO has already received €15,651 to strengthen the ICI (Incubation, Creation, Inclusion) programme, which supports entrepreneurship projects for refugees, single parents and homeless people in Lyon. In 2 years, more than 100 people have been guided to structure their entrepreneurial projects.

2020 will be the 3rd and final year of support for Entrepreneurs du Monde, which will receive an additional €11,000 in subsidies.

MEETING LIDIA

To close the 3rd edition of Solidarity Cents, the Foundation and Crédit Agricole welcome Lidia, an Italian entrepreneur supported through the operation, to CA Campus in Montrouge on October 29th, 2020.

Arrived in France 12 years ago, Lidia is an Italian entrepreneur, mother of 3 children and beneficiary of the RSA. Thanks to the support of Entrepreneurs du Monde through ICI programme, she was able to create her own catering service. The next step: bringing an old grocery store to life in Lyon, in a street steeped in history with Italy.

Come to share with Lidia and taste her culinary specialties!

Event reserved exclusively for employees of the Crédit Agricole Group.
To register, contact carolina.viguet@credit-agricole-sa.fr

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
carolina.viguet@credit-agricole-sa.fr

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.

Contact

Carolina HERRERA
Head of Communication & Partnerships
carolina.herrera@credit-agricole-sa.fr

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