Phare Ponleu Selpak: Cambodia’s 24-Hour Circus Show Breaks Guinness World Record

In the context of the Covid crisis, the circus, in search of funding, came up with something really creative to attract attention: to organise a show likely to break the Guinness World Record.

Phare Ponleu Selpak, a non-profit Cambodian art school, set a Guinness World Record by organising a circus performance that lasted 24 hours, 10 minutes and 30 seconds in Battambang. The show took place between March 7 and 8, 2021, but the record was confirmed by Guinness World Records (GWR) in November.

Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPSA) is an organisation founded by Cambodian refugees to help children through the trauma of war and to restore the country’s culture and education after the Khmer Rouge genocide. The association now contributes to the education of 800 underprivileged children and trains hundreds of others in the visual, musical and performing arts to help lift hundreds of families out of poverty and keep Cambodian culture alive.

Over the past decade, PPSA has taken innovative steps to avoid dependency on aid by establishing a popular animal-free circus and tourist attraction that has funded their rescue programmes. In particular, it created Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE), in which the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is a shareholder, and which is the company responsible for producing and distributing circus shows while employing young artists from disadvantaged backgrounds, trained by the NGO.

Faced with the Covid-related restrictions that put an end to the shows, and therefore the source of income for artists, PPSA looked for alternative sources of income and thus came up with something really creative to attract attention. An idea that was based on the same creativity and resilience with which the organisation was born and which allowed it to break a world record and thus enter the Guinness.

For more information about the Phare circus, click here.

In Moldova, the Foundation strengthens its support to Smart Credit

© Philippe LISSAC / Godong

In September, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation granted new financing in Eastern Euro18pe and in particular in Moldova, where it is strengthening its support to the microfinance institution Smart Credit.

Indeed, the institution 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 around €4 million.

For further information on our partners, please click here.

Finance at the service of inclusion: focus on impact investing on the occasion of the release of the film “Same Same but different”

On the occasion of the release of the film “Same Same but different”, directed by Tommy Pascal and shot in Cambodia with Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE), a social enterprise supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and that employs young artists from underprivileged backgrounds, Crédit Agricole SA and the Foundation organised a round table at the Grand Rex on “Finance at the service of inclusion: challenges and opportunities”.

Moderated by Vincent Brousseau, Director of impact financing at the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, the round table composed of Cyrille Langendorff (Phitrust), Florian Peudevin (Amundi) and Mathieu Cornieti (Impact Partners) generated a very interesting and informative discussion. The speakers thus presented the impact investing sector in France, explained what patient investments are, the risks and challenges of the sector. Punctuated with concrete examples of their activity, the debates highlighted the importance of finance in achieving fairer and more equitable inclusion of vulnerable populations, both in France and abroad, but also the importance of time in projects that can only be considered on the long term.

“Take the time to support social innovations.” – Florian Peudevin

Time is a key concept in finance. Because it is linked to profitability, performance, and the clarity of their effects. Would going fast be a guarantee of success? No when it comes to impact investing. “To provide answers to the major challenges, we must innovate and take the time needed to support these innovations“, explains Florian Peudevin. Investing in a project with a social impact means accepting that it experiences hazards and difficulties. “We are on the long term. We adjust the level of risk on which we want to position ourselves”, agrees Mathieu Cornieti. “We do not run away in the event of a glitch”, concludes Cyrille Langendorff.

Presented by Régis Wargnier, French director, President of PPS France, in the presence of Véronique Faujour, Managing Director of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, the experience of PPSE is a concrete example of what impact investing can represent for the inclusion of vulnerable populations, in particular young people. This support is all the more necessary in times of crisis such as the one experienced during the Covid pandemic which has undermined the financial situation of the company and, consequently, that of the artists and their families. The support of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A. was crucial in enabling the company to take this step and continue to offer unique shows such as the one from which an extract was screened as an introduction to the round table.

Find the extract from the film “Same Same but different” here.

The entire film is available on the Qwest TV platform (subscription required).

Symbiotics publishes its Impact Report 2021

Financial services have an essential role to play in emerging economies and are a key contributor to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, one in three adults in developing countries remain unbanked, lacking access to basic financial services to help them manage their household finances.

Expanding access to finance among these underserved populations allows them to improve their financial resilience, capture business opportunities that would otherwise remain out of reach, and create new jobs, thereby contributing to several SDGs. For example, financial services such as loans, savings accounts and insurance products3131 contribute to poverty alleviation (SDG 1: No Poverty) by providing low-income households with mechanisms to better manage their finances. In addition, targeting financial inclusion for women contributes to gender equality (SDG 5: Gender Equality), since low-income women account for the largest share of unbanked adults and often lack the resources to control their finances. Other tailored financial services targeting farmers may also contribute to food security (such as SDG 2: Zero Hunger) by increasing agricultural productivity and supporting smallholder farmers.

Through these channels, the Symbiotics portfolio aims to contribute to sustainable development and economic growth by expanding access to finance among low- and middle-income households in emerging and frontier markets.

The Symbiotics Impact Report 2021 analyses and presents the social and environmental impact of Symbiotics investments as of December 2021.

Download the Report here. 

CAURIE in Senegal implements YAPU software

YAPU is a compâny founded to support financial institutions enabling more clients to pursue economic empowerment and social development while seeing and decreasing negative impact on the environment.

The platform enables financial institutions to seamlessly digitize their processes, enhance risk management and improve terms and conditions of value offerings to their customers. Financial institutions can expand and deepen their market outreach and become ready for additional investment based on their documented impact.

Recently, the YAPU team, led by Delphin Ngamije conducted an intensive, practice-focused training in the context of the implementation of the YAPU software during a visit to CAURIE Microfinance, a long-standing partner of YAPU and a partner of the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation in Senegal.

The training focused primarly on the theoretical part of how to use the software as well as interpret the integrated climate indicators and was followed by a two-day training in the field. CAURIE’s staff tested the digital applications for individual loans, but also for group loans, for agriculture and business with real clients.

The implementation of this software will facilitate the work of loan officers, and consequently, the processes of CAURIE and its interaction with clients.

For further information about CAURIE, click here


Source: YAPU website

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation member of the 4 per 1000 initiative

The 4 per 1000 initiative, launched by France at COP21 in 2015, brings together voluntary public and private actors to launch concrete actions “to improve soil health. It carries the vision of healthy, carbon-rich soils globally to fight climate change and end world hunger.” The ambition of 4 per 1000 is to engage the planet’s farmers towards regenerative, resilient and biodiversity-friendly agriculture.

The ambition of the International “4 per 1000” Initiative is to encourage land users to move towards diversified, productive, resource-efficient and highly resilient agriculture and forestry, based on appropriate management of natural resources, in particular land, soils and water, strengthening agricultural activities and the global economy and thereby ensuring sustainable development.

This Initiative invites all stakeholders (producers, scientific community, private sector, NGOs, regional and local authorities, countries, international organizations, development banks, foundations, etc.) to promote and implement practical science-based actions , based on successful experiences.

The Initiative wants to involve stakeholders to develop a global monitoring ground in order to better assess soil carbon stocks and establish appropriate public policies.

For Vincent Brousseau, Head of Impact Financing Solutions at the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, “the Foundation’s choice to become a member of the international initiative 4 per 1000 in September 2022 responds to our wish to work in close collaboration with partners that are committed to promoting the experiences of agricultural communities to strengthen the resilience of their territories. We fully subscribe to the holistic approach of 4 per 1000 to regenerative agriculture as a means to adapt to and deal with climate change, but also as a powerful lever for improving food security and the economic prosperity of farmers.”

For more information on the “4 per 1000” International Initiative, please click here.

Foundation Friends Club: feedback on the meeting with the CEOs of the OXUS group subsidiaries

OXUS is a social and responsible company created by ACTED in 2005, to manage and develop microcredit activities, as a logical continuation of ACTED’s development programmes. OXUS Network seeks to provide its clients in developing countries with adapted and competitive financial services while offering its investors attractive financial returns.

From its outset, OXUS has been a corner stone of ACTED’s development strategy, by providing beneficiaries access to credit and opportunities to reach economic and social independence. As such, the OXUS Group’s activities are part of a broader human development, economic performance and social development framework.

OXUS is now active in Central Asia and more specifically in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. Partner of the Foundation since 2013, OXUS presented its activity within the framework of a Foundation Friends Club meeting held on October 11th. The CEOs of the three subsidiaries thus presented their institution, their activity and the context of their action to the participants, with the particularly striking testimony of Salim Khan, Director of OXUS Afghanistan, who testified to the return of the Taliban to Kabul on August 15, 2021. HE also explained how the institution resisted in order to allow female employees and customers to live as normal a life as possible, given the context. OXUS Afghanistan is the only subsidiary of OXUS that is not currently supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.

This meeting was also an opportunity to discover the cross-testimony of Andréas Brunner, Solidarity Banker who went on a mission on behalf of the Foundation to Kyrgyzstan in October 2021, and Denis Khomyakov, CEO of OXUS Kyrgyzstan, and the positive impact of this technical assistance mission on the internal organisation of the institution.

You can now access the recording of this meeting, which was held in English, as well as the presentation of OXUS.

To find out more about the Solidarity Bankers programme, click here.

More information on the Foundation partners here.


Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole CIB arrange and finance sustainability-linked loan to leading Indian MFI Annapurna Finance

Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole CIB announce that they have arranged a 350 million INR (EUR 4.5 million) sustainability-linked term loan to Annapurna Finance, a leading Indian non-banking finance institution dedicated to the provision of microfinance loans to enhance financial inclusion of low income households. Annapurna Finance is the first microfinance institution in India to sign a Sustainability-Linked Loan.

Through this facility, Annapurna Finance will enhance its environmental and societal contribution beyond the social impact of microfinance, tackling major ESG issues and providing clients with bespoke eco-products to finance climate change mitigation as well as climate adaptation solutions and skill-based trainings to empower women.

Aligned with the Sustainability Linked Loan Principles, the transaction’s terms include a sustainability margin adjustment mechanism dependent on whether annual targets are met for the following KPIs: the solar energy capacity installed by Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise customers; the construction and upgrade of resilient housing in cyclone-prone areas; and the enrollment of women clients in entrepreneurship skill building programme.

Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole CIB have been working since 2019 to promote financial inclusion through financing non-banking institutions in India. In this transaction, Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation acted as arranger and guarantee provider to Crédit Agricole CIB in India, which in turn provided financing to Annapurna Finance. In addition, the Crédit Agricole CIB Sustainable Banking team advised Annapurna Finance as Sustainability Coordinator, through the “Solidarity Bankers”, a skills volunteering program launched by Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A. in favour of microfinance institutions and social impact enterprises supported by the Foundation.

Eric Campos, Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation Managing director, said: “We are happy to channel bank financing to the microfinance sector, while fostering innovation, encouraging our partner Annapurna in its effort to combine financial inclusion and enhanced social and environmental impact.

Nathalie Sarel, Head of Sustainable Banking for SMEs at Crédit Agricole CIB added: “This first-of-its-kind sustainability-linked loan for a microfinance institution is a strong message that we can support and incentivise the efforts of institutions of this type in tackling climate change, as well as addressing social challenges. We are very proud to have accompanied Annapurna, alongside with Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation in such a landmark and impactful transaction.

Mr. Gobinda Chandra Pattanaik, MD and CEO of Annapurna Finance expressed: “The future of responsible lending is leveraging the sustainability practices, that call for more environmentally and socially relevant product and strategy decisions. Hopefully, this collaboration venture of Credit Agricole and Annapurna will help both the organizations to bring in positive outcomes in the direction of sustainability.

Mr. Dibyajyoti Pattanaik, Director of Annapurna Finance said: “We are happy that Credit Agricole is supporting our journey towards incorporating better environmental and social management system. Annapurna for last two decades has kept the sustainable development agenda as its core strategy, as our vision of creating a self -sustainable and economically empowered rural, tribal & sub-urban society was designed on the same theme. Our We-LEAD programme to develop women from rural pockets into entrepreneurs itself drives with the same ambition of holistic development of the society. Securing such a unique partnership with Credit Agricole in the journey will help us achieve the most in future.

Download the Press Release.

For further information about our partners, click here.


Paidek beneficiary of a technical assistance mission within the framework of the SSNUP programme

PAIDEK, partner of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation since 2014, is a microfinance institution (MFI) created in 1993 by SOS Faim and whose mission is to contribute to the strengthening of the economic fabric and the revitalisation of the popular economy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in particular in the Kivu region (North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema). To do so, the institution, which had nearly 21,000 active borrowers at the end of June 2022, 51% of whom were women, facilitates the access of disadvantaged populations excluded from the traditional banking system to financial and non-financial services by setting up a professional and sustainable financial instrument throiugh individual and group lending schemes.

As of today, PAIDEK operates mainly in urban areas (2/3 of its customers). Despite its desire to target more small agricultural producers in rural areas, and despite the decline in the number of active borrowers in urban areas for several years now, the MFI is encountering difficulties in achieving this strategic objective due to the distance between the targeted areas and its agencies, making it difficult to reach its target and creating security issues related to the transfer of cash. To do this, the institution wishes to adapt its service offer, in particular to offer remote access to its rural clientele, made up mainly of women, young people and small producers.

In order to achieve its objectives, PAIDEK will benefit from the SSNUP (Smallholder Safety Net Upscaling) programme coordinated by ADA and for which the Foundation has been selected as one of the impact investors in charge of its implementation. This programme aims at increasing the productivity and resilience of smallholder farmers, particularly in Asia and Africa, through better risk management and the promotion of sustainable and climate-smart agricultural practices.

This project focuses on the development of digital distribution channels for financial products, adapted to the needs and constraints of small producers in rural areas. The technical assistance provided under the programme will thus enable PAIDEK to define the digital solutions to be implemented in order to improve the distribution of financial products and strengthen its reach in rural areas, in particular among small producers operating in the coffee, rice, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, cassava, corn or even beans industry. This project will also allow the institution to increase its reach in rural areas, reduce its operational costs and limit the risks associated with handling cash.

For the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, this project is at the heart of one of its strategic priorities, namely the strengthening of rural economies. This technical assistance mission thus contributes to strengthening the impact of the funding already granted by the Foundation to PAIDEK.

For more information on the SSNUP programme, click here.

Enhancing the resilience of small enterprises and smallholders: the Foundation organizes training for its partners as part of its TA offer

Small enterprises and smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable to risks, including climate change and the COVID pandemic, as well as exposure to theft, fire and other threats. Financial institutions serving this market segment have historically focused on financing the operations and growth of these businesses. Now is the time, however, to rebalance the focus so that they give equal attention to the protective role of financial services.

The transition from productive to protective financial services is particularly relevant for financial service providers (FSPs) that mobilise savings as they can offer a bundle of services, including savings, emergency loans, and insurance. The distribution of inclusive insurance products by FSPs makes is possible because they are well embedded within communities and have established trustful relationships with their clients. Plus, introducing insurance into their product portfolio mix also reduces the FSP’s exposure to risks: insured clients are less vulnerable and therefore more likely to repay their loans even in the case of an adverse event.

The challenges, however, are numerous. Offering insurance to their clients requires new skills, such as understanding the clients’ risks, negotiating and managing partnerships with insurers, and putting in place new commercial strategies. Besides, FSPs are often underinsured, not having sufficient protection for their own assets and staff.

In 2017, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conducted a survey with Foundation’s partners regarding their involvement in inclusive insurance. Out of the 36 FSPs that answered to this survey, 69% were already offering some kind of insurance. However, at that time, most of them provided only basic and compulsory products, like credit-life insurance, which offer limited benefits for the clients. Still, 75% of the respondents were interested to introduce inclusive insurance or expand their current offering. For this to happen, however, FSPs pointed out some of their needs, such as access to funding, technical assistance and training.

It is within this context that the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation organised a first training session with its partners in September 2022 in Benin. With 9 participants from 5 countries, this first two-day training focused on the value of insurance, strengthening the product portfolio, strengthening the organisational structure of MFIs, improving operational processes and ways to improve the impact in the organisation of the institutions. The main objective of the training was to enable partner institutions to acquire the tools to design a global strategy to bring changes to the existing microinsurance offer and to be able to identify ways to increase its efficiency while improving its value and contribution to the MFI’s business strategy.

Overall, the beneficiary institutions appreciated the training and its content and considered it relevant and suited to their needs. This training will also be followed by support actions, including monitoring the West African market in terms of the agricultural insurance offer, sharing good practices with occasional field visits or the revision of protocols or agreements concerning borrower death products.

More information on our technical assistance offer by clicking here.


Source of presentaion of the project: ILO