The latest funding of the Foundation in Europe and Central Asia

© Didier Gentilhomme

During the second half of 2021, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation granted new fundings in Europe and Central Asia, including a first funding to Furuz, a new partner in Tajikistan. At the end of December 2021, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation had 81 partners in 37 countries and was managing a portfolio of €82 million, 46% of which are located in fragile countries.

In Moldova, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution Smart Credit for an amount in local currency equivalent to €580,000. Smart Credit is a microfinance institution created in 2010 to help clients improve their living conditions, especially among socially disadvantaged small entrepreneurs. The institution offers loans according to the individual methodology. To date, Smart Credit serves 3,253 clients, 54% of whom are women and 69% live in rural areas.

The Foundation also granted two new loans to Lazika in Georgia for a total amount in local currency equivalent to €1.4 million. Lazika is a microfinance institution created in 2000 by Oxfam Great Britain. Its mission is to facilitate the access of low- and middle-income entrepreneurs to financial services tailored to their needs. Currently, Lazika serves nearly 15,000 clients, 49% of whom are women and 69% live in rural areas.

In Kazakhstan, the Foundation also provided new funding to Asian Credit Fund (ACF), for an amount in local currency equivalent to €1 million. ACF was created in 1997 and its mission is to provide financial and development products and services to low-income households. ACF’s financial services are designed to promote the development of rural households, the growth of small businesses and home ownership. The institution has nearly 27,000 clients, 93% of whom live in rural areas, and 70% are women.

In Tajikistan, the Foundation granted initial funding to Furuz, a new partner, for an amount in local currency equivalent to €500,000. Furuz is a microfinance institution that started its activities in 1999 as part of the microenterprise development programme of the NGO Millenium Relief and Development Services. The institution offers financial services to small businesses. Furuz has over 5,000 clients, 30% of whom are women and 81% live in rural areas.

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The Foundation grants 7 new financings in Subsaharan Africa

© Didier Gentilhomme

During the second half of 2021, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation carried out 7 new financing in Subsaharan Africa. To date, the Foundation manages a portfolio of €83 million, 34% of which is in Subsaharan Africa.

In Kenya, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution Bimas for an amount in local currency equivalent to €800,000. Bimas is a microfinance institution whose mission is to offer innovative financial and non-financial services to people living in rural areas. Bimas has nearly 18,400 customers, 59% of whom are women and 86% rural customers. The Foundation also granted a new loan to ECLOF Kenya for an amount in local currency equivalent to 1.2 million euros. ECLOF Kenya is a microfinance institution whose mission is to enable clients to realize their projects through the provision of related financial and non-financial services. To date, the institution has more than 38,000 clients, 63% of whom are women.

In Benin, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution Renaca for an amount in local currency equivalent to €1.5 million. Renaca is a microfinance institution that aims at strengthening the economic base of vulnerable rural, peri-urban and urban populations. The institution has nearly 41,000 clients, 40% of whom live in rural areas and 57% are women.

In Burkina Faso, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution ACEP Burkina for an amount in local currency equivalent to €2 million. ACEP Burkina is a microfinance institution that offers financial services that are accessible to people excluded from the traditional banking sector. ACEP Burkina is aimed mainly at micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in urban and peri-urban areas. It finances nearly 18,000 clients, 21% of whom are women, and operates only in rural areas.

In Cameroon, the Foundation granted a loan to another institution of the ACEP network, ACEP Cameroon, for an amount in local currency equivalent to €2 million. ACEP Cameroon is a microfinance institution that supports the development of Very Small Enterprises in the country’s urban centers. To date, the institution has around 15,000 clients, 34% of whom are women and 28% live in rural areas.

In Uganda, VisionFund Uganda received a loan equivalent to €400,000. VisionFund Uganda is a microfinance institution and a subsidiary of World Vision. The institution operates nationwide in Uganda with 23 branches. VisionFund Uganda has expanded its outreach to the West Nile region to serve refugees and their host communities through a pilot project conducted by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Today the institution has nearly 45,000 clients, 95% of whom live in rural areas and 59% are women.

Finally, the Foundation granted a €600,000 loan to LAPO in Sierra Leone. Lauched in 2008, the institutions mainly grants microcredits to women in disadvantaged areas. Today, LAPO is one of the largest microfinance institutions in the country and covers around 80% of the national territory.  As of today, the institution has around 23,000 clients, 93% of whom are women and 84% live in rural areas.

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Discover the latest Newsletter of the Foundation

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its Newsletter N.40 that highlights the commitments made to its partners and the impact of its actions on the field in a context of health crisis. In this Newsletter, the Foundation presents the results of the 7th survey conducted with ADA and Inpulse to monitor and analyse the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on the partner microfinance institutions around the world.

You will discover the testimony of Olivier Mancini, Solidarity Banker of the Regional Bank of Crédit Agricole Languedoc, who went to Tajikistan to support the microfinance institution OXUS Tajikistan. Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA in June 2018, Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme open to all Crédit Agricole group employees for the benefit of microfinance institutions or impact enterprises supported by the Foundation.

Discover the results of the Foundation’s support for the microfinance institution RENACA in Benin, which received support to strengthen its actions in the area of inclusive green finance.

Download the Newsletter

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation represented at the African Microfinance Week 2021

The 5th edition of the African Microfinance Week (SAM), a biennial conference dedicated to the development of financial inclusion in Africa, will take place from October 18 to 22, 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda, on the theme of resilience.

Organized by ADA Microfinance in Luxembourg, the main objective of SAM 2021 is to federate the reflections and commitments of the different categories of actors in the African sector of inclusive finance. Conferences and training sessions are organized throughout the week in order to discuss strategies and actions to be carried out to strengthen the resilience capacities of financial service operators and beneficiary populations and accelerate their progress towards sustainable development objectives.

The SAM conference: “We are not born resilient, we become resilient: strengthening inclusive finance to overcome crises”

This conference will be held over two days and will be structured in plenary sessions.

In this context, Philippe Guichandut, Director of Inclusive Finance Development at the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, will speak during two sessions on “MFIs and the way through the Covid-19 crisis in Africa: survey results and lessons” as well as on “The financing of the inclusive finance sector in times of crisis: what role for investors and donors in strengthening the resilience of the sector? “. On this occasion, Philippe Guichandut will share the experience of the Foundation during the Covid-19 crisis and the results of surveys carried out, in partnership with Inpulse and ADA, with their partner microfinance institutions.

Violette Cubier, Technical Assistance program Manager at the Foundation, will speak during an experience sharing session on financial innovations to promote the resilience of refugee populations.

Trainings and workshops

SAM 2021 will also offer around twenty training courses on different themes: agricultural finance, digital finance, inclusive insurance, social performance, etc.

At the initiative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, a training session will be organized on the theme of financial inclusion for refugees and host communities.

Microinsurance training will also be held by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, the International Labor Organization and the Micro Insurance Network.

Eventually, Sébastien Simonot, Senior Investment Manager at the Foundation, will speak during the workshop “Green and inclusive finance: Understanding and tackling client vulnerabilities”. The training will provide participants with an overview of basic client needs assessment frameworks, data collection tools and strategies for integrating these inclusive green finance programs into their organization.

The opportunity to meet its partners

SAM 2021 will also be an opportunity for the Foundation to meet its African partners and in particular the partners involved in the African Facility programme, developed since 2013 in partnership with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and which will come to an end as of December 31 of this year. Meetings will be organised ahead of the SAM and will allow all parties involved to take stock of this programme, which has particularly focused on technical assistance and has made it possible to strengthen some twenty microfinance institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, priority intervention area of ​​the Foundation.

Learn more about the technical assistance programmes of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation here.

 

The Foundation publishes its report “The impact of the crisis on microfinance institutions”

The Covid-19 pandemic affected all economies impacting fragile economies and the most vulnerable populations in particular.

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation began to investigate the unprecedented effects of this global crisis on microfinance institutions (MFIs). An initial survey was launched in March 2020 to understand how our MFI partners were adapting to the repercussions of the pandemic that had already had an impact on their activities.

In the following months, the Foundation collaborated with two other major players in inclusive finance, ADA and Inpulse, to extend the scope of this study to more than 100 MFIs in 4 continents: Africa, South America, Asia and Europe. Overall, 6 surveys were conducted since the inaugural questionnaire in March.

You will discover through this report the results of these studies divided into three main parts:

Adapting rapidly to operational constraints

Surveys conducted throughout 2020 revealed three major difficulties: the impossibility of meeting clients in person, difficulties in collecting repayments and complications in disbursing loans.

In an effort to address these difficulties, MFIs acted in a proactive and appropriate manner, showing the great resilience capacity of those organisations. However, all FMIs haven’t been impacted in the same way. This document describes those constraints and the measures that have been implemented.

A significant and sustained financial impact

The operational constraints encountered have inevitably had significant financial repercussions. We observe two major consequences for almost all MFIs: an increase in the portfolio at risk (PAR) due to lower repayments, and a reduction in outstanding loans due to lower disbursements.

Those two consequences fluctuated throughout the year depending on local contexts and other financial difficulties may have arisen in some cases. The analysis of performance indicators, detailed in this document, enables us to see the lasting effect of the crisis.

Prospects for the future

In the face of the crisis, most MFIs have shown resilience. Among the levers envisaged to return to financial stability: increasing the volume of their portfolio and the number of clients, and opening up to new products and services, and even to new markets, in 2021.

You will discover throughout the report other measures MFIs explored to adapt to the crisis, which are reassuring for the future of the sector.

Despite the often positive indicators, we remain vigilant in the face of the current volatile environment. For this reason, we have maintained our approach of regular surveys in 2021, on a quarterly basis.

 

Download the report

The Foundation grants seven new loans in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Since January 2021, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has pursued its financing in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and has thus granted seven new loans to its partners.

In Kosovo, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution AFK for an amount of €1.5 million over a three-year period. The Kosovo Finance Agency (AFK) is a microfinance institution that aims to improve living conditions in Kosovo by providing access to sustainable financial services to micro and small businesses. AFK aims to promote the development of rural areas as well as women entrepreneurs and minorities. The institution serves 19,300 active borrowers (22% of them women and 51% of them living in rural areas) and manages a portfolio of 36 million euros.

In Moldova, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution Microinvest for an amount of €1.4 million over a three-year period. Microinvest provides microcredit and business start-up assistance to small entrepreneurs in many regions of the Republic of Moldova. 70% of its loan portfolio corresponds to loans to private entrepreneurs living in rural areas. The institution has nearly 37,000 clients, 66% of whom live in rural areas and 41% of whom are women.

In Montenegro, the Foundation granted a loan to the microfinance institution Monte Crédit for an amount of one million euros, over a three-year period. Founded in 2005, Monte Credit is a microfinance institution whose mission is to empower rural families to create income and jobs, freeing up economic potential so that communities thrive. The institution has more than 4,000 clients, 54% of whom are women and 51% of whom live in rural areas.

In Kyrgyzstan, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution OXUS for an amount in local currency equivalent to €800,000. OXUS Kyrgyzstan is a microfinance institution created in 2006 by OXUS Group and ACTED. It is a responsible company committed to providing financial services to the working poor and the under-banked in Kyrgyzstan. To date, the institution has nearly 8,000 clients, 48% of whom are women and 62% of whom are clients in rural areas.

In Kazakhstan, the Foundation granted a new loan to the Asian Credit Fund (ACF) microfinance institution for an amount in local currency equivalent to one million euros. ACF is a microfinance institution created in 1997 by the American NGO Mercy Corps. ACF’s financial services are designed to promote the development of rural households, the growth of small businesses and home ownership. ACF adheres to a specialised community lending model that offers tailor-made financial solutions, business advice and technical assistance to its clients. To date, the institution has 27,000 clients, 70% of whom are women and 93% of whom are rural areas clients.

Finally, in Tajikistan, the Foundation granted a new loan of an amount in local currency equivalent to €1.2 million to the microfinance institution HUMO. HUMO is a microfinance institution that aims to support vulnerable and underserved populations living in rural areas through financial and advisory services for small businesses. The institution has nearly 73,000 clients, 37% of whom are women and 75% of whom live in rural areas. Also in Tajikistan, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution OXUS Tajikistan for an amount in local currency equivalent to one million euros over a three-year period. OXUS Tajikistan mainly targets microentrepreneurs and farmers in rural areas. Its social mission is clear and aims to improve the economic and social conditions of the low-income population who are not served by the banking sector. To date, the institution has over 14,000 clients, 36% of whom are women and 79% of whom live in rural areas.

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The AFD and the Foundation, a historical and promissing partnership

Rémy Rioux, CEO, Groupe Agence française de développement
[French Development Agency]

A historical partner, the Agence française de développement (AFD) [French Development Agency] has been supporting the Foundation’s activities for over 10 years. Its CEO, Rémy Rioux, shares with us his vision on the impact of the economic and health crisis generated by the Covid-19 pandemic on the African continent and his assessment of the partnership with the Foundation.

— What were the main impacts of the pandemic on the African continent in your opinion and how did the AFD respond to this crisis? What were your key areas of response?

R R: Africa experienced an unprecedented shock in 2020, which, I would like to stress, was totally external to the continent. The continent appeared quite resilient in terms of health, but less so on the economic front. An unprecedented recession, averaging 2.6%, affected more than forty countries simultaneously. Beyond the cyclical impact, the crisis above all raises concerns about a deep weakening of economies and societies.

The Agence française de développement Group (AFD) mobilized very quickly to support its partners. In terms of health, with a €1.2 billion “Common Health initiative”, half of which in Africa, for some fifty projects and nearly €130 million in donations; and on the economic level, with the “Choose Africa” programme to support the entrepreneurial sector and then its strengthening with a Resilience component, bringing the programme to €3.2 billion committed by 2022. Finally, in the wake of the «Finance in Common» Summit, we support African public development banks (a hundred or so of which throughout the continent), to turn them into sustainable growth relays.

— How do you assess the historic partnership with the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation?

R R: The AFD Group has been providing the Foundation with portfolio and individual guarantees for more than 10 years and has financed the African Facility, which enables us to support small microfinance institutions for the benefit of disadvantaged populations, particularly in rural areas. The partnership with the Foundation has since 2020 been handled by Proparco, our subsidiary dedicated to the private sector. Beyond the financial partnership, we appreciate the quality of the relationship between our two institutions, which is marked by trust and transparency. The importance of supporting the microfinance sector has been reinforced by the Covid-19 crisis and working with the Foundation constitutes a solid lever for strengthening the sector.

— Can a large institution like yours and an agile player like the Foundation still invent new ways of acting and if so in what priority areas?

R R: The complementary nature of our two institutions and their response methods makes the partnership strong and relevant to several priority areas, namely: support for the development of microinsurance, particularly agricultural microinsurance; assistance to microfinance institutions in improving social performance management; development of the digital offer in the microfinance sector; and green microfinance. The context of the crisis has reinforced the relevance of these areas of response.

The Covid-19 crisis and gender inequalities

© Philippe LISSAC /Godong – Fondation Grameen Crédit Agricole
Miren Bengoa, Director, member of Financial, Risks and Impact Committee,
Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation & International Action Director, SOS Group

Director of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation since 2020, Miren Bengoa has been, since January 2021, the new International Action Director of the SOS Group. Since 2011, she was at the head of Fondation CHANEL, which supports projects improving the economic and social situation of women. She shares her view on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on gender equality and the responses to address it.

— What is the impact of Covid-19 on the status of women?

MB: One of the immediate consequences of the Covid-19 crisis is the rise in inequalities between women and men. We have seen during this pandemic an increase in violence against women and girls and a decline in girls’ learning as dropout rates and child marriage increase. Tens of millions more women have fallen into extreme poverty as they lose their jobs at a faster rate than men. Moreover, they suffer from difficulties in accessing new technologies and lack of digital skills.

— In a few words, what is the panorama of gender inequality in the world today?

MB: Current projections indicate that gender equality will not be achieved for another 130 years. In 2020, women represented on average (on a global scale) 4.4% of business leaders, 16.9% of Board members, 25% of parliamentarians and 13% of peace negotiators. Only 22 countries are currently headed by a female head of State or government (UN Women, 2020). We need better representation of women that reflects the diversity and abilities of women and girls.

— How can female entrepreneurship be an answer to the crisis?

MB: Women entrepreneurs have been at the forefront and strongly affected by the decline in economic activity. They are nonetheless also the bearers of innovative solutions and should be supported as much as possible by funders and public authorities. Being strongly involved in responding to community needs, they have been able to adapt their activities to the constraints of the pandemic. This has not been easy: they have sometimes been the first to give up a income generating activity so as to give priority to their families.

— Promoting women empowerment is one of the missions of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. What should be the priorities to boost this aspiration?

MB: Since its creation, promoting women empowerment has been at the heart of the Foundation’s action: among the 7 million clients of microfinance institutions supported, 73% are women beneficiaries of microcredits to create or develop income-generating activities. Maintaining funding, flexibility in rollovers and frequent analysis of the needs of these institutions are and will be key to enable them to regain a capacity for action in favour of female entrepreneurship.

The Foundation provides four new financings in sub-Saharan Africa

© Didier Gentilhomme (AMZ Zambia)

In recent months, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has pursued its financing in sub-Saharan Africa with four new loans granted, two of which to new partners.

In Togo, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution Assilassimé for an amount in local currency equivalent to € 2.2 million. Assilassimé’s mission is to provide sustainable access to social microfinance services adapted for people experiencing exclusion or extreme poverty, with limited access to the traditional microfinance system. The institution seeks first and foremost to enable them to carry out income-generating activities and improve their living conditions. To date, Assilassimé has over 19,000 clients, 91% of whom are women.

In Zambia, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution AMZ for an amount in local currency equivalent to € 1 million. AMZ aims to serve customers who have previously been excluded from the formal financial market, mainly because of their poverty or their place of residence. The products offered are designed to meet their financial needs. The institution has over 80,000 active borrowers, 92% of whom live in rural areas and 56% of whom are women.

In Rwanda, the Foundation granted a first loan to the microfinance institution ASA Microfinance Rwanda for an amount in local currency equivalent to € 500,000. ASA Microfinance Rwanda Plc (ASA Rwanda) is an institution created in 2016 by ASA International. Its mission is to contribute to poverty reduction through economic empowerment by ensuring access to financial services to the disadvantaged community of Rwanda. The institution grants loans according to group and individual methodologies. They mainly finance women who represent more than 95% of its clientele, and mainly operates in rural areas.

Finally, in Kenya, the Foundation also granted a first loan for an amount in local currency equivalent to € 766,000 to the microfinance institution YEHU. YEHU is a microfinance institution whose mission is to fight poverty by empowering poor rural entrepreneurs in Kenya to help them lift themselves out of poverty through better accessibility to sustainable financial services. This includes enabling them to save while giving them access to microloans, which can be used to start or grow their small business. Yehu also offers business training, microinsurance products and other services to improve the lives of its members. To date the institution has 28 000 clients, 96% of whom are women. 76% of its clients live in rural areas.

To date, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has 89 partners in 39 countries and manages a portfolio of €86 million, 46% of which is located in so-called fragile countries.

For more information, click here.

The Foundation continues to support its partners in Asia

© Didier Gentilhomme / Fondation GCA

During the first quarter of 2021, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation completed three new financings in Asia, in particular in Indonesia.

In Indonesia, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution KOMIDA for an amount in local currency equivalent to €2.2 million. KOMIDA is a microfinance institution created in 2004 as a foundation to offer financial assistance in the form of savings and loan services as well as non-financial services such as health or family financial management training. The institution, which works exclusively with women, currently serves nearly 720,000 clients.

Also in Indonesia, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution MBK for an amount in local currency equivalent to € 5 million. “Mitra Bisnis Keluarga” (MBK) is a microfinance institution regulated by the Indonesian Financial Services Authority (FSA) and licensed as a non-bank finance company. Using the Grameen Bank methodology, MBK provides working capital to low-income women in Java to give them access to formal and profitable financial services (financial inclusion), reduce their vulnerability and improve their lives. To date, the institution serves more than one million clients, exclusively women, 75% of whom below the poverty line.

In Myanmar, the Foundation granted a new loan to Proximity Finance for an amount in local currency equivalent to € 1.4 million. Proximity is a microfinance institution created in Myanmar in 2010 that designs and delivers affordable and income-generating products for rural families. The institution strives to improve the livelihoods of rural Myanmar people by providing innovative financial services tailored to their needs, and uses the dynamism of businesses to create social value. To date Proximity has nearly 200,000 active borrowers, 69% of whom are women and 98% of whom live in rural areas.

To date, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has 89 partners in 39 countries and manages a portfolio of €86 million, 46% of which is located in so-called fragile countries.

For more information, click here.