The SSNUP programme supports cacao cooperatives in Ivory Coast

©Foundation Grameen Crédit Agricole/Philippe Lissac

SSNUP is a programme coordinated by the NGO ADA, whose objective is to increase the productivity of smallholder farmers in Asia, Africa and Latin America through better risk management and the development of sustainable agricultural value chains. Funded by governments of Luxembourg, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, the SSNUP aims to improve the living conditions and food security of more than 10 million smallholder producers. The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is one the impact investors in charge of implementing the project.

The producers’ cooperative, a lever for development

In Ivory Coast, where half of the producers of cacao lives below the poverty line, producers’ cooperatives are an important development lever. Beyond the commercial advantage that it offers to producers, cooperatives offer to theirs members services ranging from small equipment input and supply to the improvement of community life through actions such as the establishment of schools and hospitals. However, cooperatives sometimes encounter repayment difficulties of their members and unpaid debts are covered by cooperatives with their own funds, which prevents them from carrying out their social development mission.

This is what Advans Ivory Coast wanted to support since its creation in 2012, by being the first financial institution to give access to input credit to cocoa cooperatives. Advans Ivory Coast’s input credit consists of granting cocoa cooperatives financing that allows them to grant credits to their members for the purchase of fertilizers and crop protection products.

Reinforce the capacities of the cocoa cooperatives in Ivory Coast and its members

Advans Ivory Coast has received a grant of SSNUP to support cocoa cooperatives in improving the level of reimbursement of theirs members. With the funding received, the institution has recruited technical assistance providers to develop input credit management and monitor tools for cooperatives and financial education modules on credit management for smallholder cocoa farmers.

Ultimately, building the capacity of small producers in financial education will help limit the risk management and thus fulfil their role as facilitators on the value chain and carry out their social actions in favour of the community. It will also make it easier for cooperatives to renew their loan from Advans Ivory Coast and for producers to have access to the inputs needed to ensure a good agricultural yield and thus increase their incomes and improve their living conditions. Finally, Advans Ivory Coast will strengthen its risk profile, which will help consolidate existing relationships with its current partners and attract new investors.

New Solidarity Bankers mission in Kosovo

©FONDATION GRAMEEN CREDIT AGRICOLE/GODONG

At the initiative of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A, skills volunteering missions Solidarity Bankers are offered to employees of the Crédit Agricole Group on behalf of organisations supported by the Foundation. A new Solidarity Bankers mission is to be filled in favor of agency for finance (AFK) in Kosovo. The institution was created in the years 2000 and have obtained the status of microfinance institution in 2011.

AFK aims to improve living conditions in Kosovo by providing access to sustainable financial services to small and micro enterprises. As of December 2021, the organisation has 24 branches across Kosovo and 225 employees. It serves 20,733 active borrowers (23% women and 50% in rural areas) and manages a portfolio of 40.2 million euros.

AFK has developed a risk policy focused on credit risk while the other risk areas are managed by each department without a formalized framework. Given its growing size, the institution would like to structure a proper risk management framework to improve identification and analysis of risks, especially operational risks. The Solidarity Banker will be responsible for supporting AFK in the diagnosis of the procedure and tools to manage risks and more precisely operational risks.

To discover the details of this mission click here.

How to apply

To apply send your CV as well as one or two paragraphs explaining your motivation and expertise to carolina.viguet@credit-agricole-sa.fr

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Created in 2008, under the joint impetus of the directors of Crédit Agricole S.A. and Professor Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Grameen Bank, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is a cross-business actor that contributes to the fight against poverty through financial inclusion and entrepreneurship with a social impact. As an investor, lender, technical assistance coordinator and fund advisor, the Foundation supports microfinance institutions and social enterprises in nearly 40 countries.

€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.

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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: //www.levillagebyca.com/

Oxus Kyrgyzstan, a beneficiary of the Solidarity Bankers programme

Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme launched by the Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A. in 2018. The programme has a twofold objective: on the one hand, support microfinance institutions and social impact enterprises financed by the Foundation with technical assistance, and on the other hand, enhance the skills of Group employees who want to invest themselves in projects with high social impact.

OXUS Kyrgyzstan is a microfinance institution, which aims at providing financial services to the working poor and under-banked in Kyrgyzstan. Andreas Brunner, Supervisor Internal Audit at Crédit Agricole Assurances, accompanied the institution in the definition of an annual marketing plan.

Feedback on the programme with Denis Khomyakov, CEO of OXUS Kyrgyzstan.  

  • Presentation: Can you present your microfinance institution? Key figures, mission and approach, clients, structure…

The company was created in 2006 by OXUS Group and ACTED (main shareholder). The mission of our institution is to be a transparent and responsible enterprise committed to providing financial services to the working poor and the under-banked in Kyrgyzstan. The company is located in 5 out of 7 regions in Kyrgyzstan, has 15 branches and 135 employees. Nowadays we have around 9 500 clients, with outstanding loan portfolio of 800 million KGS (USD 9.4 million). 50% of OXUS clients are women and 63% of their clients are coming from rural areas.

  • You benefited from a Solidarity Banker mission in 2021 to structure an annual marketing plan and a loyalty programme. Why was this important for your institution?

A properly designed and well-functioning loyalty programme will increase the retention rate of clients, while attracting new ones. The marketing plan should allow the company to structure the resources allocated to marketing activities in a more efficient way. Those two deliverables of the Solidarity Banker mission will allow us to better value the offer of OXUS Kyrgyzstan.

  • How did you prepare the mission before the Solidarity Banker came?

We spent a lot of time on selecting the priorities that we wanted to cover with the Solidarity Banker. We prepared the full documentation about the company, its clients, its activities, the current run of the business and a list of the people involved in future projects. We organised several calls with Andreas to discuss what we wanted to do in terms of marketing and how to do it. The preparation phase was capital for the success of the mission.

  • What did you expect from the Solidarity Banker? Do the results match your expectations?

I actually expected a consultancy with some documents as deliverables. What we received: a detailed training from a marketing specialist! Andreas, the Solidarity Banker, conducted interviews and trained all the people involved in the marketing process, from loan officers and branch managers to the CFO and COO. The result is fantastic and we use now the documents created with Andreas. Those documents are 100% adapted to our reality. The mission was excellent and beyond all expectations.

  • What were the priorities defined following the recommendations made?

The priority is to fine-tune the marketing plan for 2022 and implement it. The loyalty programme is also a work in progress, but presupposes the implementation of the 2022 marketing plan. We are looking forward to implementing both projects.

 

 

 

Field mission of the Foundation’s Administrators in Bosnia

From the 23rd to the 27th November, the administrators of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation participated in a field mission in Bosnia during which they met the supported microfinance institutions and their clients. Operating in Bosnia since 2018, the Foundation has funded three partners working mainly in rural areas and that have a high percentage of women among their clients: Partner, Mi Bospo and Mikra.

During the mission, the Foundation’s administrators were able to discuss with partner institutions and learn more about the microfinance sector in Bosnia, a country still scarred by the 1992-1995 war. They also met the clients of these institutions that thanks to the microcredits obtained, develop income-generating activities and can improve their living conditions. These discussions highlighted the important place that microfinance has in the development of microentrepreneurship in Bosnia.

In addition to meeting with the Foundation’s partners, this field mission in Bosnia was also an opportunity for the administrators to discuss the Foundation’s positioning and the thematic axes of the 2022-2025 strategic plan. This reflection will continue over the coming months with the Foundation’s teams and other stakeholders.

Discover the video testimonials of Raphaël Appert, Chairman of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Vice-Chairman of Crédit Agricole SA, and Bernard Lepot, Chairman of the Foundation’s Investment Committee, on this field mission.

The Foundation is committed to small agricultural enterprises

© Godong

The Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF) is the leading global network of lending practitioners promoting an inclusive financial market for producer organizations and small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture sector. Since 2013, CSAF’s 16 members and affiliates have provided $5B in lending to agricultural SMEs providing market access for 3.4M smallholder farmers across 65 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

After becoming a CSAF affiliate in June 2020, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation pursues its commitment in 2021 by participating in the construction of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in order to provide clearer principles and protocols for loan restructuring and workouts.

The need for a MOU  

Increased co-operation by CSAF members has generated positive collaboration between lenders, resulting in additional funds and technical assistance for the borrowers. In some cases, however, there has been a lack of coordination with sub-optimal outcomes for lenders and borrowers alike. The Covid-19 crisis has increased the need for clearer principles for loan restructuring and workouts.

Collective work

CSAF members organized several Workshops in March 2021 in order to focus and develop explicit expectations for loan workouts. Following these Workshops, a Workouts Working Group (WWG) has been established to develop basic principles, outlined in the MoU, that members can follow during loan restructurings and workouts. The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has been a contributor to this reflection and the “Key principles to protect microfinance institutions and their clients in the Covid-19 crisis” Pledge has been a useful resource.

 

Download the MoU here.

 

Notebook of a Solidarity Banker in Kyrgyzstan

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 enterprises supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Andreas Brunner, Solidarity Banker of Crédit Agricole Assurances, carried out a field mission in favour of Oxus Kyrgyzstan in October 2021.

Testimony of Andreas Brunner, Supervisor Internal Audit, Crédit Agricole Assurances

A social commitment in favor of financial inclusion

From my beginnings at Crédit Agricole (14 years ago!), I have been sensitive to the solidarity actions offered by the group. I first discovered the Solidarity Bankers program when a colleague shared the call for applications for a mission in marketing. He once carried out a Solidarity Bankers mission in Africa and his feedback motivated me. I therefore applied in October 2019 for this marketing mission in favor of OXUS, a microfinance institution in Kyrgyzstan. After several interviews, I got selected for the mission. It fully met my expectations: to put my skills at the service of a solidarity project and discover a new culture and activity. My mission was initially scheduled for March 2020 and we believed in it … until the lockdown. Then another attempt in April 2021 which again resulted in a postponement. Finally, I left in October 2021.

Preparation of the mission

My mission in favor of OXUS Kyrgyzstan had two main components: the definition of an annual marketing plan and the creation of a loyalty program to increase the retention rate of their customers. Several interviews with the teams of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and OXUS allowed me to better assess and understand the challenges and objectives of the mission. In order to prepare my visit in the field, I analyzed documents about the institution’s strategy and the microfinance market in Kyrgyzstan before departure. I also had a long discussion with an employee of the main shareholder of OXUS, the NGO ACTED. Once my schedule was defined, nothing left but to go!

In the footsteps of the Silk Road

I have to admit: I didn’t know much about this beautiful Central Asian country, not even its capital. In addition to the documentation I read before my departure, the long flight was a good opportunity to review the geography and learn more about the history of the country.

Arrival in Istanbul, the airport reminds me of the crowds before the Covid-19 crisis and I feel like I am on the Silk Road. After a second 5 hour flight, I finally arrive in Bishkek (IATA code: FRU, for connoisseurs) where I am welcomed by the Managing Director himself! First stone of our friendship.

Two weeks of intense work followed: interviews, agency visits, analyzes … Time flies by but I can count on the availability of my interlocutors. The exchanges are done mainly in English, but I am happy to be able to exchange a few words in Russian, which helps me not only during interviews but also at the restaurant. I spent the second week of the mission finalizing my deliverables (strategic and tactical analyzes, annual plan, loyalty program and practical tools for teams) and testing my proposals. It was also an opportunity to discuss with the OXUS teams on the work they will have to carry out in the coming months. Thanks to the support of the CEO and the Board of Directors, I am leaving confident that they will be able, on the one hand, to carry out a large number of actions planned in the 2022 marketing plan, and on the other hand, to implement their new loyalty program.

An unprecedented human experience

Above all, I remember a warm welcome and meeting great people. The Kyrgyz people taught me a lot to their culture and showed great hospitality. I was able to discover the capital with its history, its architecture, its Russian heritage. An excursion organized over the weekend allowed me to get to know this country better with its yurts, its cuisine, its agriculture, its petroglyphs, its huge salt lake at an altitude of 1600m, and above all, its high mountains towering at more than 7000m and surrounding the city.

 

I would like to thank the CEO of OXUS Kyrgyzstan, Denis Khomyakov, for his generosity and his trust, the entire team of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation for the support (Carolina Viguet, Cécile Delhomme, Julie Serret, Philippe Guichandut), Aurélie Cacciotti of Crédit Agricole SA for the logistics as well as all the people of Crédit Agricole Assurances who have contributed to make this mission possible.

 

[INTERVIEW] Humo, a beneficiary of the Solidarity Bankers programme

© EBRD

Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme launched by the Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A. in 2018. The programme has a twofold objective: on the one hand, support microfinance institutions and social impact enterprises financed by the Foundation with technical assistance, and on the other hand, enhance the skills of Group employees who want to invest themselves in projects with high social impact.

HUMO is a microfinance institution in Tajikistan, which aims to support vulnerable and underserved populations living in rural areas through financial and advisory services for small businesses. Julien Leroy, Innovation Leader at CA-CIB accompanied the institution in the transformation of its business.

Feedback on the programme with the interview of Firdavs Mayunusov, Finance Officer at HUMO.

1) Why was the optimization of your business model important for your institution?

The financial sector has long been one of the most conservative and non-digitalized industries in the world. Experience shows that the introduction of innovations and new technologies dramatically increases competitiveness and improves customer experience. However, for the development of innovations and cutting-edge solutions, it is important to reengineer the business model and organizational structure.

17 years ago, Humo was launched to improve access to finance and social development in Tajikistan. Today, the requirements for financial products are changing rapidly. It is important to constantly evolve and transform into a tech company, not just a financial institution. This is the key to reaching the mission and unlocking the potential of the region. Therefore, we have begun the digital transformation and are making the company structure more flexible and product-oriented.

2) What did you expect from the Solidarity Banker? Do the results match your expectations?

Humo expected advice and guidance on business transformation. Thanks to Solidarity Bankers, we were able not only to understand our weaknesses, but also to find new opportunities for growth and reinforce business model. Now, two years later, we have implemented most of the recommendations and started digital transformation. We were able to take a fresh look at the business model and develop a transformation strategy. The results exceeded expectations.

3) What were the priorities defined following the recommendations made?

We thought about the role of innovation and organizational change for business development. The company must be more flexible and faster to compete in the market. First of all, we opened a new Product Department to manage cutting-edge financial solutions. Then we began to rethink the customer experience and opened a Sales Department. Finally started digital transformation and implemented agile methodologies. This made it possible to become one of the most technological players on the market.

4) 2 years and a bunch of Covid-19 waves later, what is the major mark the Solidarity Banker left at Humo? 

Over the years, Humo has changed the organizational structure, strengthened the business model, and identified opportunities. Optimized core business processes and minimized bureaucracy. The company has become more agile, strategy-focused and has launched several digital products. We attracted new user segments and became one of the leading FinTech in Tajikistan. Thanks to the Solidarity Banker, Humo was able to choose the right path of development and realize the potential for growth. Today Humo is undisputedly one of the recognized market leaders despite the challenges of Covid-19, legislation, and socio-economic development.

 

 

SOLIDARITY BANKERS: THREE MISSIONS TO BE FILLED WITH THE FOUNDATION’S PARTNERS

© Didier Gentilhomme

Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme launched by the Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A. in 2018. The programme has a twofold objective: on the one hand, support microfinance institutions and social impact enterprises financed by the Foundation with technical assistance, and on the other hand, enhance the skills of Group employees who want to invest themselves in projects with high social impact.

Missions can take place during the Solidarity Banker’s working time and/or during holidays (volunteering).

Currently, three missions are to be filled in the field (field missions last 2 weeks and are organized in accordance with the rules for international travel enacted by the Crédit Agricole group):

  • “Digital Strategy” mission in favor of Smart Credit (Moldova)

Smart Credit is a microfinance institution created in 2010 by 5 local professionals having one same vision: providing financial services to socially disadvantaged people and small entrepreneurs in Moldova. The institution has more than 3,000 active borrowers and manages a portfolio of 4.4 million euros.

The Solidarity Banker will be in charge of helping to build the digital strategy of Smart Crédit. The expert is an employee of the Crédit Agricole Group who is fluent in English and has experience in IT project management.

For more information, download the term sheet.

  • « Marketing » mission for Lazika Capital (Georgia)

 Lazika Capital is a microfinance institution created in 2000 by Oxfam Great Britain in Georgia. Its mission is to facilitate access to financial services for low and middle income entrepreneurs. Lazika Capital is among the leaders in the Georgian microfinance sector and has nearly 14,000 clients.

The mission will take place in pairs. The selected Solidarity Banker will be responsible for evaluating the organization’s actions and marketing strategy as well as developing a marketing plan for the end of 2021/2022. A first Solidarity Banker was selected for the mission; we are now looking for her partner. Junior profiles accepted.

For more information, download the term sheet.

  • “AML-CFT” mission in favor of SEF (South Africa)

SEF is a microfinance institution that was established in 1992. Its mission is to “work aggressively towards the elimination of
poverty by reaching the poor and very poor with a range of financial and non-financial services to enable them to realize their potential”. As of December 2020, the institution serves 225 317 active borrowers (100% women and 100% in rural areas) and manages a portfolio of € 45 153 765.

The selected Solidarity Banker will be responsible for analyzing the environment, the regulatory framework and the AML-CFT risks that SEF faces, updating the procedure and leading training on the risks and AML-CFT prevention devices. At least 5 years of experience in compliance is required.

For more information, download the term sheet.

To apply: send your CV and cover letter (or a few lines explaining why you are interested in the mission) to :