UGAFODE, partner of the Foundation in Uganda, extends services to refugees

UGAFODE Microfinance Limited (MDI) has opened a mini-branch in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda in the framework of a programme to foster financial inclusion of refugees launched by the UN Refugees Agency, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation. The initiative aims at building sustainable livelihoods, resilience and self-reliance among refugees in the settlement and host communities. This follows a successful pilot scheme of financial inclusion for refugees in Kampala. Under the project, refugees continue to access credit, savings and money transfer services.

During the pilot phase, UGAFODE adjusted its policies and procedures, including document requirements, such as identification (Refugee ID issued by the Office of the Prime Minister — refugee department). “Serving refugees fits in well with our mission of transforming lives of the low income, but economically active population. The refugees are economically active and have financial needs like any other person and deserve utmost attention,” declared Shafi Nambobi, the UGAFODE’s CEO.

Nakivale settlement hosts over 100,000 refugees from 13 countries, who mostly are engaged in agriculture and trade. With the Nakivale branch UGAFODE will extend financial services to smallholder refugee farmers and host community members to improve their household incomes. Nambobi announced that the institution plans to roll out financial services to refugees in other settlements in the future.

According to some refugees interviewed, UGAFODE Nakivale branch saves them from travelling long distances to access financial services in Mbarara or Isingiro. “With the establishment of this UGAFODE branch in our camp, financial services have been brought to our backyard, we can now be served easily,” one of the refugees said. Another refugee said that previously, due to poor roads, they needed to spare a day just to go to the bank and that the branch will help them save on transport costs and time wasted traveling.

Further information on the programme here.

The Foundation strengthens its support to the microfinance institution Graine

© Didier Gentilhomme

In February, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation signed a new financing contract in Burkina Faso, in favor of the microfinance institution Graine, for a total amount in local currency equivalent to € 380,000. This funding is provided within the framework of the African Facility programme, a scheme set up in 2013 by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, in partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD), to support a greater number of rural microfinance institutions in sub-Saharan Africa .

GRAINE (GRoupe d’Accompagnement à l’INvestissement et à l’Epargne) is a microfinance institution which has set itself the mission of “contributing to the improvement of the economic and social conditions of the poor populations of Burkina Faso, mostly rural women, by offering them appropriate financial services ”. To date, the institution has over 24,000 borrowers, 97% of whom are women and 80% of whom live in rural areas.

With this new funding, the amount of the Foundation’s outstandings in sub-Saharan Africa reaches € 35.5 million, that is 37% of the total outstandings of the Foundation. With 40 partners, sub-Saharan Africa brings together 47% of the institutions and companies supported by the Foundation at the end of February 2020.

How Coronavirus affects Microfinance sector

By Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation

Created in 2008, at the joint initiative of Crédit Agricole SA and Professor Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation is a cross-business actor committed to promoting a better-shared economy.

Investor, funder, technical assistance provider and fund advisor, the Foundation has more than 80 partners (microfinances institutions and social business) and operates in around 40 countries with nearly 100 million euros in outstanding. The Foundation focuses on microfinance institutions that serve women and rural people. These institutions support approximately 4 million clients.

The Microfinance sector is exposed and concerned

On March 19th, according to the latest figures from Santé Publique France, the Coronavirus has reached 213,254 people worldwide. 8 843 deaths are to be deplored. After following announcements of the closings of many institutions and companies, confinement measures continue to be taken around the world. Africa and South America were not officially affected for a long time by the virus, but they now face the crisis with hundreds of cases.

The global sanitary crisis also became an economic crisis. Economic activities are extremely limited in all countries and stock exchanges have lost almost a third of their value in less than a month. Quite logically, the worldwide microfinance sector is also not immune.

For this reason, the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation’s team launched a survey among its partners on March 11th in order to gather their first impressions and analysis, the impact on their clients’ activity, on their institution and their potential needs. We also took advantage of our regular interactions with our partners to obtain as much information as possible. All further information in this document come from these resources. 56 Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) responded to our survey, out of 75 reached partners (75% participation rate) with the last answers received on March 19.

All our partners are expressing in their responses a real concern about the expected effects of this global health crisis.

Local government decisions are already impacting small income-generating activities

48% (27) of surveyed MFIs felt their clients are impacted by the coronavirus at the time of the survey, and 68% (38) of them think they will be in a near future. Thanks to a quick feedback, we learn that governments have decided to close schools, to close down non-essential activities, to restrict movement or to prohibit gatherings in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Romania, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Jordan, Mali and other operating countries. These changes are taking place everywhere today and very day new countries are added in that list.

Such decisions have a direct impact on our partners’ customers. First, many customers rely on imports for their business. Border closures and travel bans affect trading activities.

It should also be noted that concerns about the travel ban in China is affecting not only Asian countries but also African countries.

“As the border to China has been closed, some agricultural product prices are decreasing so our farmer clients aren’t getting good prices for their harvest.” – Partner from Myanmar

“We have customers who travel for purchases (China, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin,..). Informal sector traders are afraid and this can affect their activities.” – Partner from Burkina Faso

The impossibility of gathering will also have an impact on all the operations that take place in markets and fairs. Merchants will not be able to carry out their activities. The travel ban will strongly affect global tourism. All activities relying on tourism will face many problems (stocks, lack of customers, refunds) as well as countries depending on remittances.

“If travel bans will continue due to increased coronavirus cases in Gulf region and Europe as
economy of Jordan is dependent on tourism income and money remittances from the Gulf” – Partner from Jordan

Finally, we had no feedback yet on the plans of local authorities regarding the adjustments to be made by the financial institutions in particular. The only compelling example we were provided is that of Palestine. Through 8 guidelines, the Palestine Monetary Authority urges financial companies to continue provide lending services to people to ensure the continuation of the commercial and economic cycle and also postpone the periodic monthly payments of all borrowers for the next 4 months’ period (6 months for tourism and hotel sector).

Also, no any additional fees, commissions, or interest on delayed instalments can be collected during the period.

MFIs activity could be reduced

59% (33 MFIs) of the surveyed MFIs mentioned that their activity was still not affected by the epidemic at the time. 23 MFIs (37%) were feeling concerned at the time of this survey, giving several explanations such as risk for field staffs, restricted movement, working from home.

One of the main concern is the prohibition of group meetings, which will affect all MFIs whose microfinance methodology is based on a group approach. Few partners are already adapting.

In some countries with no clear decisions yet, MFIs will have to postpone disbursements if their loan officers are unable to travel or will have to temporarily adapt their processes.

“During the emergency period until 29 May 2020 above, client centre meetings will not take place as usual. Instead, the ‘Pay and Go’ method has been put in place as follows: only group leaders, two to four persons per centre of some 15-20 clients usually, are requested to come to the usual centre meeting at the usual location. The group leaders are requested to collect the instalment of their respective group members”. – Partner from Indonesia

“We have set up a special procedure to meet members of the solidarity groups individually. We provide advice to clients on how best to deal with the situation” – Partner from Senegal

Our partners must also adapt to the situation for their own staff. The risks of virus transmission is an important factor to take into account for the activity of credit agents. Likewise, the confinement rules prevent the smooth running of the activity for all departments and operations. Some staff are already working from home in some MFIs.

“lmaty where HQ is located will be on quarantine from 19 March, employees will be working on distance” – Partner from Kazakhstan

“Field staff are at high risk of contracting, so they are hesitant to work on clients, a quarantine will hit and polarize the whole MFI market” – Partner from Uganda

Portfolio risk and liquidity needs are under scrutiny

Many concerns are raised about portfolio risk. According to our survey, at the time of answering, only 11 MFIs were noticing an increase in the portfolio at risk. African partners raised more concerns. However, when asked if they anticipate an increase in the portfolio at risk, 36 of the MFIs answer “yes” (64%). In this case, anticipation of a risk increase comes from all over our regions of activity.

“Potential increase in PAR30 and reduced credit demand. Estimate an increase of PAR30 not to go beyond 2% and portfolio growth to potentially slow down by around 20%” – Partner from Cambodia

However, some partners consider that they are no more at risk than usual. In most cases, these MFIs are those with a particularly rural customer base.

“In general, since our customers are rural residents (70%), we predict that they will not have a strong deterioration due to rising prices for their agricultural products. But we think that a clearer situation will appear in the second half of April.” – Partner from Kyrgyzstan

“As of 16 March 2020, our business continue as usual. We have not seen impact on loan payment yet across Cambodia include Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. However, we would expect some increase in Siem Reap from end of this month onward. Please note that our client are mainly living in rural areas. The exposure has on Tourist, hotel, services industry is minimal.” – Partner from Cambodia

Coronavirus is going to have an impact on liquidity needs. According to our survey, 29 MFIs (52%) forecast a change in their needs. Most Tiers 3 MFIs do not forecast changes as the time, as a majority of Tiers 2 MFIs (17 MFIs) do forecast such changes. MFIs expect problems on the funding side. In particular, hedging issues are expected, and discussions with all the different lenders are initiated.

“Mainly, the exchange rate has been very volatile, indirectly due to the epidemic, and this causes new disbursements in USD to exchange to less local currency which has affected the number of loans we can disburse” – Partner from Myanmar

Liquidity problems are also anticipated. Indeed, non-repayment could be a barrier to the possibility of disbursing new loans. Rising provisions for risk and potential losses is also a cause of the drought in liquidity.

“if the situation continues up to mid-year, we will need liquidity as most of the liquid assets will have been suppressed by high provisioning for impaired assets (Expected losses) due to increased non-repayment” – Partner from Uganda

“The non-repayment of loans leads to a decrease in liquidity. Yes, we have taken steps to limit a potential situation” – Partner from Mali

Microfinance sector needs specific measures

Some MFIs already asked the Foundation if there was a possibility of helping their institutions through the epidemic crisis.

“We would like further advice on how to avoid the disease and what treatments are available and effective for treatment in the event of infection” – Partner from Benin

“We would prefer that Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation compile information about corona virus coup up measures especially in regards to MFIs around the world on how to deal with the challenges” – Partner from Uganda

A partner recalled that during past natural disasters, there had been particularly suitable measures that had been implemented. Some, which may seem counter-intuitive, had given rise to an increase in funding to allow clients to recover from the shocks and overcome this difficult period. Draining funding would only intensify the difficulties and impacts of the crisis.

Solidarity Bankers: a new mission in Tadjikistan

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 seven to ten-days mission on collateral assessment is available in favour of Oxus Tajikistan, in Tajikistan, either end of June or between August and October 2020.

The OXUS story began in 1997 in Tajikistan, just as the country emerged from a civil war. Back then, ACTED started to disburse its first micro-loans in the Vakhsh Valley. Following the success of this initial initiative, ACTED gradually launched several microfinance programmes across the country. In February 2006 eventually, OXUS was registered with the Tajik National Bank as a Microlending Organization.

As of December 2019, OXUS Tajikistan is ranked amongst the largest microfinance provider in portfolio terms in the country. Currently, MCO “OXUS” Tajikistan is a part of microfinancial institutions of OXUS Group which also operates in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.

Mission objectives:

  • Assessment of the current methodology for assessing collateral
  • Develop a new methodology for assessing collateral
  • To train HQ level managers

How to apply?

  • Click on the link “Find a project”“Trouver sa mission”
  • Enter in the the search bar: “Fondation Grameen”. All the Solidarity Leave offers will appear!
  • Click on the offer of your choice, you will find all the information requested for your application.


Carolina HERRERA
Head of Communication & Partnerships

The Foundation and CA Egypt support a new partner

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, in partnership with Crédit Agricole Egypt, has just granted, for the first time, funding to the microfinance institution Tasaheel, in the form of a guarantee equivalent to € 3 million, allowing the institution to access a loan granted by CA Egypt.

Tasaheel for Microfinance Foundation (Tasaheel) is a tier 2 microfinance institution created in 2015 as part of GB Auto’s corporate responsibility programme. Its mission is the effective development of small enterprises through the design and granting of loans, to help improve the socio-economic status of low-income families. Tasaheel aims to help low-income people generate higher returns to improve their standard of living, which in turn supports overall community development and economic growth. To date, the institution has nearly 400,000 active borrowers, 83% of whom are women. Less than 1% of its customers live in rural areas.

With this new funding, the Foundation is consolidating its presence in Egypt and strengthening its partnership with Crédit Agricole Egypt within the framework of the cooperation schemes set up with the Crédit Agricole Group’s International Retail Banking (BPI).

The Foundation makes two new investments in Sub-Saharan Africa

©Philippe Lissac

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation continues to invest in sub-Saharan Africa, its priority intervention area, with two new investments, one of them to a new partner.

Thus, in Mali, the Foundation funded for the first time Baobab Mali (formerly Microcred), an entity of the Baobab Group, with a loan in local currency equivalent to € 2.5 million. Baobab Mali started its operational activities in 2013 in Bamako. It is a microfinance institution created on the initiative of a set of international partners wishing to contribute to the economic and social development of Mali. In order to be granted a loan, entrepreneurs must demonstrate one year of activity and six months of uninterrupted operations on their premises. To date, the institution has nearly 20,000 active borrowers, 46% of whom are women and about 35% of whom live in rural areas.

The Foundation also granted a new loan in local currency equivalent to € 790,000 to the microfinance institution Bimas in Kenya. A partner of the Foundation since 2014, Bimas is a microenterprise development programme (MED-P) launched in 1992 under the auspices of PLAN Embu. It was aimed at providing training and credit to small enterprises in Gachoka Division in Mbeere District. The institution has continued expanding its operations to the largely unbanked population in the areas of Embu. Its goal is to contribute to sustained economic growth and employment in the rural sector resulting in enhanced social welfare and increased income of the rural population in Kenya. To date the institution has nearly 19,000 active borrowers, 65% of whom are women and 90% of whom live in rurale areas.

First team seminar for the Foundation in 2020


As part of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation team seminar held from January 13 to 17, the teams had the opportunity to discuss the different axes of the 2019-2022 strategic plan and the levers for action to optimise the Foundation’s action with microfinance institutions and companies with social impact that it supports.

More efficiency for more impact

During the week, the Foundation’s staff put into practice the reflections carried out during the previous team seminar held in 2019 around the 3 of the Medium-Term Plan axes: consolidating the expertise and the offer of the Foundation in the microfinance field, strengthen the resilience of rural economies and promote social impact in the financial sector.

Several meetings were organised to present the 2020 prospects and the action plan to improve the effectiveness of the Foundation and its impact. More specifically, a thematic workshop highlighted three key challenges for the years to come: impact digital finance and the positioning of the Foundation in this field, environmental performance and measurement of the impact of the Foundation on funded organisations and final beneficiaries.

A workshop was also organised in the presence of representatives of Plastic Odyssey, a social enterprise supported by the Crédit Agricole group, whose crew will travel the seas for three years to fight plastic pollution of the oceans. The Foundation will also partner with Plastic Odyssey in order to support them on their project to develop small units for reprocessing plastic waste in Africa.

A treasure hunt at the Arts et Métiers Museum was the team building activity of the week, with the participation of Crédit Agricole SA CSR team. Rich and stimulating exchanges that will contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the Strategic Plan, alongside Crédit Agricole Group entities, technical and financial partners and supported organisations.

La Laiterie du Berger and Kossam receive $ 5M Support from the Mastercard Foundation

©Philippe Lissac

La Laiterie du Berger, the strength of African entrepreneurship

La Laiterie du Berger is an example of the strength of entrepreneurship in Africa. The social enterprise was created in 2006 by Bagoré Bathily and a pool of active shareholders, with the objective of developing local dairy production. “90% of the milk consumed in Senegal is imported in the form of powder, while 30% of the population traditionally lives from livestock and can produce milk. It is this observation that led to the creation of La Laiterie du Berger”, indicates Bagoré Bathily.

La Laiterie du Berger collects the milk of Peul breeders from the Richard Toll area of northern Senegal to then produce dairy products, with local and natural milk. The company works with 800 Peul farmers, employs 300 people and produces 6,000 tonnes of yogurt each year. After 12 years of existence, with the support of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté, a second chapter opened with the creation of a new subsidiary, Kossam SDE.

Kossam aims to structure the dairy sector in northern Senegal by promoting access to material resources for milk production, by providing training to livestock farmers and by developing an innovative model of pilot “mini-farms”. “Over 600 breeders’ families have been impacted by the development of the local milk industry and have seen their revenues increase by more than 50% between 2018 and 2019”, says Jonathan Michaud, Director of Kossam, an agricultural engineer from Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté, who, after a Solidarity Bankers mission in 2018, left for 2 years to lead the project.

An unprecedented change of scale for the company

A new stage will begin for La Laiterie du Berger and Kossam. Conquered by the social enterprise model of the Laiterie du Berger, The Mastercard Foundation has just allocated a grant of 5 million USD for the period 2019-2022 in Kossam. The objective of this grant is to allow Kossam and La Laiterie du Berger to create 5,000 direct or indirect jobs in the area. The amount allocated will be used in particular to increase the collection of milk to 4000 T and to valorize the restructuring of the collection system. This financial support particularly targets women, who are traditionally responsible for the production activity and milk collection in Senegal.

This new project is titled MéLiTeJi, the letters (M, L, T, J), symbolically representing in Wolof milk (Meew), employment (Ligueey), success (Tekki) and women (Djiguen). This funding reinforces the company’s objectives of developing livestock in a sustainable, responsible and social way and to build a sustainable Senegalese dairy sector, established on the basis of a modern economy and generating employment.

This grant is already a great success in itself, demonstrating the strength of this social enterprise model and the confidence in its potential to structure the sector and create jobs

More information on La Laiterie du Berger here

Solidarity Bankers: a new mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina

©Philippe Lissac

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.

What are Solidarity Bankers?

International volunteer assignment are available to employees on behalf of microfinance institutions or social companies, partners of 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, thirteen missions have been carried out, both in volunteering and in skills sponsorship.

A mission to fill!

A mission in the IT sector is available in favour of Partner Microcredit Foundation, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, from mid-March to mid-May 2020.

Partner Microcredit Foundation is a non-profit microcredit organisation located in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Founded by Mercy Corps in 1997 in the form of an NGO, it became a microcredit foundation in 2000. It offers financial services to economically active populations who have difficult or no access to funding sources for the development of their activity, and improvement of their living conditions. The institution provides loans as part of an individual technical and microcredit support methodology mainly to microentrepreneurs promotes the participation of women in the business world and provides easier access to financial services in rural areas.

Mission objectives:

  • Assessment of the existing IT infrastructure, the organisational structure and the applications used.
  • Development of guidelines for the future development of IT infrastructure and applications.
  • Recommendations for a 3 to 5 year IT investment plan and specific recommendations for 2020.

How to apply?

Submit your application on the CA solidaires website


Carolina HERRERA
Communication & Partnerships Director

A new success for Credit Agricole’s Solidarity cents operation


Launched in 2018 by the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation, Crédit Agricole S.A. and Crédit Agricole Centre-Est, Solidarity Cents aims to finance entrepreneurship projects by mobilising Crédit Agricole employees who are invited to donate 50 cents when paying for their meals in collective restaurants. For the 2019 edition, thanks to the support of employees, € 8,657 will be donated to Entrepreneurs du Monde to finance the ICI programme (Incubation, Creation, Inclusion) which supports entrepreneurship projects for refugees, single parents and homeless people in Lyon.

The campiagn took place in parallel at the Crédit Agricole Campuses in Montrouge, Saint-Quentin and Lyon from 18 to 22 November. Crédit Agricole S.A., the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole Centre-Est will embrace the generosity of their employees by contributing to the collection.

Last year, Entrepreneurs du Monde also received € 7,000 through the operation, which helped strengthen the ICI programme. All together, 20 collective training sessions were organised and 18 people supported to structure their entrepreneurship projects. Entrepreneurs du Monde’s objective is to support 40 project applicants by 2020.

Back to the images oin the launching event

To launch the 2019 edition of the campaign, Crédit Agricole welcomed on November 4, on the Montrouge Campus, Rania, entrepreneur and Syrian refugee financially supported thanks to the 2018 campaign. After leaving Syria and thanks to the ICI Project (Incubation, Creation, Inclusion) of Entrepreneurs du Monde funded through Solidarity Cents, Rania launched her catering service to share the traditional dishes of her country.

Watch the video of the operation which presents Rania’s journey and the testimonies of the staff who participated in the operation.