The Foundation grants three new financings in South and South East Asia

During the first half of 2022, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation granted 3 new financings in Asia. To date, the Foundation manages a portfolio of € 89 million, 30% of which in South and South East Asia.

In Cambodia, the Foundation granted a new loan to Chamroeun for an amount equivalent to €3 million. Chamroeun is a Cambodian microfinance institution that puts social vocation at the heart of its economic model. It provides financial services to the poorest, excluded from the offer of more commercial microfinance institutions. In order to maximize the impact of credit and effectively help very poor families, in addition to the financial component, Chamroeun also offers a range of training and economic, social and personal support services. To date, the institution serves over 45,000 clients, 80% of whom are women.

In Indonesia, the Foundation granted a new loan to the KOMIDA for an amount in local currency equivalent to €3 million. KOMIDA is a microfinance institution created in 2004 as a foundation. Its mission is to provide financial assistance in the form of savings and loan services, non-financial services (health training), motivational education for members’ children, family financial management and provision of quality services to members. The institution, which transformed into a savings and credit cooperative in 2008, caters exclusively to women. To date, the institution has nearly 720,000 clients 97% of whom are located in rural areas.

Lastly, in India, the Foundation granted a guarantee of an amount equivalent to €4.4 million to the microfinance institution Fusion, for a loan in local currency granted by CACIB India. Fusion Microfinance is a microfinance institution created in 2009 by Devesh Sachdev. Its mission is to be an autonomous financial institution that leverages the existing distribution network to channel other products and services. Fusion has a social vision and business orientation aimed at providing disadvantaged women with economic opportunities to transform their quality of life. To date, the institution has more than 2 million clients, exclusively women.

At the end of May 2022, the Foundation had 75 partners in 36 countries. 15% of these partners are located in South and South East Asia.

More information on the organisations supported by the Foundation here.

SFA: A Solidarity Banker in Senegal

The Société Sénégalaise des Filières Alimentaires (SFA) [Senegalese Company of the Food Industries] is a social business that promotes the production of quality rice by smallholders in the Senegal River Valley through a long-term partnership. SFA provides them with access to financing and technical support, then processes the paddy into white rice and sells it on the Senegalese market.

THE ORGANISATION AND THE FOUNDATION

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has been a shareholder in the Senegalese Food Industry (SFA) since 2013. SFA benefitted from the Solidarity Bankers programme: a high-level expert, Head of the Group Purchasing Information System project management unit at Crédit Agricole S.A., spent two weeks in the field to support SFA in optimising its information system.

CONTEXT OF THE MISSION

Keen to develop its activities, SFA wanted to benefit from an external viewpoint and the support of an expert in information systems to develop a technological application for local teams in order to manage better and to optimise their operations and the follow-up of producers. Our Crédit Agricole expert was able to visit the SFA plants in Saint Louis and Dakar where she took stock of the information system through interviews with the various SFA stakeholders. She also worked with them on the digitalisation of the rice collection chain in order to optimise productivity and yields.

RESULTS

By visiting the field, she was able to understand the different stages of rice collection and processing and to propose recommendations. Thanks to the implementation of the management information system under development and a weighing application integrated into the Sage software, the Solidarity Banker has enabled SFA to improve its industrial activity and production conditions, as well as the technical and financial monitoring of producers. Since the improvement of its production system, SFA’s ambition has been to double its volume of activity by 2022, while supporting the local rice industry in Senegal.

This article was published in “Our technical assistance offer”, accessible here

Discover the mission on video here

Technical assistance: the digitalisation of GRAINE in Burkina Faso

© Didier GENTILHOMME

The GRoupe d’Accompagnement à l’INvestissement et à l’Epargne (GRAINE SARL) [Investment and Savings Support Group, private limited liability company] offers individual and group loan products in Burkina Faso to a mainly female clientele in rural areas. The African Facility programme has enabled the organisation to digitalise its operations and products.

THE ORGANISATION AND THE FOUNDATION

Under the African Facility, GRAINE has benefited from a €131,000 grant from the Agence Française de Développement for the implementation of 18 technical assistance missions in various fields (governance, financial management, process review, human resources management, etc.). The Foundation has also granted three loans to GRAINE for a total amount of €1,262,000 since 2015.

CONTEXT OF THE MISSION

As part of its digitalisation project, GRAINE wanted to offer innovative financial products, distribution channels and services to its clients such as SMS banking, improve data reliability and have a real-time view of activities. Thanks to the African Facility, GRAINE benefitted from the support of a technical assistance provider, in particular for the implementation of a new cloud-based information and management system, secure data migration, and user training.

RESULTS

As a result of this mission, GRAINE has improved information management and data reliability and security significantly, and has reduced the risk of error when entering transactions. The centralisation of databases has also enabled the institution to gain a real time view of activities and to improve its monitoring and reporting to the authorities.

OUTLOOK

GRAINE hopes to continue to digitalise by providing loan officers with tablets so that they can record client information, receive repayments/savings deposits, and eventually prepare loan applications and disburse loans in the field. The digitalisation of financial education training modules will also allow for more efficient training processes. Finally, GRAINE hopes to develop a network of external agents to provide local service to clients.

This article was published in “Our technical assistance offer”, accessible here

The Foundation publishes its 2021 Integrated Report

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its 2021 Integrated Report which retraces the highlights and key figures of the year. As of December 31, 2021, the Foundation managed €78.5 million in assets for 71 microfinance institutions and 10 social enterprises in 37 countries. Women’s entrepreneurship and the development of rural economies remain at the heart of the Foundation’s action: 90% of the 9.2 million beneficiaries of supported institutions are women and 81% live in rural areas.

To increase the resilience of our partners, we coordinated 130 technical assistance missions, the strongest activity in this area in the history of the Foundation. The African Facility developed with the French Development Agency, ended successfully, supporting since its launch 26 small microfinance institutions with a strong social vocation, in 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is within this context that the Foundation has decided to carry out a review of its technical assistance offer in 2021, eight years after the launch of its first missions, with the publication of “Our technical assistance system“.

Throughout the year, the Foundation pursued its quarterly surveys, allowing continuous monitoring of the impact of the health crisis on the microfinance sector. At the same time, the Foundation published, with ADA and Inpulse, a Covid-19 Report which brings together the lessons of this period and the future prospects for the sector. Thanks to this regular monitoring, our responses have been better adapted to each situation, combining new financing, technical assistance, rollovers and, very exceptionally, debt restructuring. The Foundation also continued to promote initiatives in favour of the protection of clients and staff of microfinance institutions.

The year was also marked by the renewed confidence of donors. The Foundation has benefited from a new grant from the European Investment Bank to promote financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have also launched a new programme to develop microinsurance in Africa and Asia with PROPARCO and the International Labor Organisation (ILO).

It also strengthened ties with the Crédit Agricole group, in particular via Banquiers Solidaires. With this skills volunteering scheme, open to all Group employees, the Foundation is strengthening its technical support for funded institutions and enterprises. This represents nearly 30 missions launched in favour of about twenty organisations since the inception of the programme in 2018.

The Foundation has also strengthened its climate commitments. It joined the Manifesto of the French Coalition of Foundations for the Climate and obtained funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support adaptation projects to climate change of partner institutions’ clients.

Download the Report

Technical assistance: Green microfinance with RENACA in Benin

RENACA provides individual and group loans to a predominantly female clientele in six regions of Benin. RENACA has received support under the African Facility to strengthen its actions in inclusive green finance.

THE ORGANISATION AND THE FOUNDATION

Under the African Facility, RENACA has received a €182,000 grant from the Agence Française de Développement [French Development Agency] for the implementation of 18 technical assistance missions in various fields (information system, business plan, etc.), including a mission to strengthen inclusive green finance. The Foundation has also granted three loans to RENACA since 2013, for a total amount of €1,738,000.

CONTEXT OF THE MISSION

Faced with the deterioration of ecosystems, RENACA wanted to engage in inclusive green financing activities, particularly through the financing of agricultural activities that preserve forests and biodiversity and activities that contribute to reducing the vulnerability of clients to climate change. The institution thus benefitted from the support of an international firm (YAPU Solutions) to chart a green strategy and to assess and develop its green product offering.

RESULTS

Thanks to this mission, a diagnosis was made of RENACA’s actions in the area of inclusive green financing and the institution benefitted from advice on developing its product offering. The mission also helped raise awareness among the staff and governance on the topic of inclusive green finance and climate smart agriculture. An institutional green strategy and an action plan were also devised, allowing RENACA to clarify its objectives in terms of inclusive green finance.

OUTLOOK

Following the mission, several priority actions were defined, including the organisation of awareness raising sessions on inclusive green finance for RENACA agents, the definition of a list of activities excluded from financing because they are harmful to the environment, the charting of an environmental and social policy, and the development of an environmentally friendly agricultural product offer.

This article was published in “Our technical assistance offer”, accessible here

Chamroeun Microfinance: A Solidarity Banker in Cambodia

© Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation/GODONG

Chamroeun Microfinance Plc is a Cambodian institution that puts social mission at the very heart of its business model. It provides financial services to poor segments of the population which are excluded from the offer of other more commercial microfinance institutions.

THE ORGANISATION AND THE FOUNDATION

The Foundation has granted 8 loans to Chamroeun Microfinance Plc since 2010 for a total amount of €5,054,000. The institution also benefited from the Solidarity Bankers programme in 2018. An expert in International Human Resources from the Crédit Agricole group, went on a two-week field trip to support Chamroeun Microfinance Plc’s teams in identifying and implementing an Human Resources strategy.

CONTEXT OF THE MISSION

Faced with transformation challenges, Chamroeun Microfinance Plc needed to adapt its business model, strategy and HR policies. In 2017, despite a restructuring, the institution was still facing HR issues, such as team turnover and the need to hone the skills of operational staff, as well as supervision issues in some branches. The objective of the mission was therefore to support the institution’s HR function in adapting and improving its strategy, policies, procedures and management tools.

RESULTS

The Solidarity Banker assessed the existing HR tools and procedures, proposed a 2-year HR strategy and ways to promote leadership within the organisation. Thanks to this operational support, Chamroeun Microfinance Plc, which was in the process of completely transforming its business model and renewing its management team, has been able to implement an effective human resources policy. After the mission and thanks to the trusting relationship created with Chamroeun Microfinance Plc management, the Crédit Agricole expert was also able to provide punctual support, upon request, for the implementation of his recommendations.

This article was published in “Our technical assistance offer”, accessible here

Podcasts Solidarity Bankers: episode N.3

Interview with Veselina PETROVA, Accounting Standards Analyst, CACIB
and Ali LHAF, Credit Risk Analyst, CACIB
By: Mireille de Kerleau, Communications Manager, CACEIS

Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A. in 2018, Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme open to all Crédit Agricole Group employees in favour of microfinance institutions and impact businesses supported by the Foundation. Discover the 2nd episode of the series of podcasts dedicated to Solidarity Bankers, the skills volunteering scheme run by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Credit Agricole SA. The first episode covered Carolina Viguet, Communications and partnership Director of the Foundation and co-initiator of this programme, and the second Andreas Brunner, Inspection Supervisor at Amundi in Paris, Solidarity Banker who went on a mission to Kyrgyzstan. With this 3rd episode, we will share the experience of Veselina PETROVA, Accounting Standards Analyst, and Ali LHAF, Credit Risk Analyst, both at CACIB.

They carried out a field mission in pairs for Faten, a microfinance institution created in 1999 and which is supervised by the Palestinian monetary authority. Faten’s mission is to meet the financial services needs of low- and middle-income Palestinian entrepreneurs and individuals. It operates throughout Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza, through a network of 37 branches and 277 employees.

Before giving the floor to our speakers, allow me to briefly review the economic and social situation in Palestine.

In a context marked by conflicts and geopolitical tensions, access to essential services in Palestine is a major problem. With a banked population rate just over 25% and an economy heavily dependent on agriculture, microfinance plays an essential role in supporting income-generating activities and rural development. Faten is a key player in financial inclusion in the Palestinian territories by financing economic and agricultural activities and improving housing with its some 26,000 customers. Now a large institution with nearly $140 million in portfolio, Faten is embarking on a process of structuring and transformation into a multi-channel and multi-product bank requiring cutting-edge expertise. That is why Veselina and Ali, specialists in risk assessment, reporting standards and accounting standardization at CACIB, support this transformation as part of a Solidarity Bankers mission.

Hello Veselina, hello Ali. So to start this interview, I would like you to introduce yourself to our listeners.

Veselina: My name is Veselina and I have been working in the accounting analysis team at CACIB for five years now. I am originally from Bulgaria and I come from Varna, which is a city on the shores of the Black Sea, where I did part of my studies. I finished my studies in France and since then I have been working here. In addition, I am the mother of two young boys. I like to learn and share and this mission is an opportunity for me to immerse myself in a new environment which is microfinance, with issues that have nothing to do with those of a bank such as CACIB.

Ali: My name is Ali Lhaf. I arrived in France in 2005 for my studies and since 2010 I have been working at CACIB where I have been a credit risk analyst since 2017. At the same time, I am also a professor. I teach finance at the CNAM in Paris. For my part, it is extremely important to reach out to others, to really try to share what we have and this type of mission allows me to use my technical skills to help others.

Did you know each other before the mission, given that you work in the same company, or did you meet on this occasion?

Ali: We actually met on this mission and, for this mission in particular, we needed someone who was a little expert in IFRS, this is the case of Veselina, and someone who had more of the profile of credit analyst and  who speaks Arabic, which is my case. Our work is complementary.

You are located in the same buildings, are you both in Paris, in Montrouge?

Yes, we are based in Montrouge

You met physically along the way.

Veselina: Yes we met during the presentation of the mission. Ali, I believe that you were the first one to have contacted the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation for the mission because when I contacted them they told me that there was already someone, an Arabic speaker who had proposed for the mission, and therefore they expected a person who had knowledge of IFRS accounting standards.

Ali: Indeed, I have a former colleague who is now on the communication side, and it was her who actually told me about this mission. She told me that the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation was looking for someone who spoke Arabic and who knew a little about credit. And here, I told her, if I can do something, it is with great pleasure, and it started like that.

And you Veselina, how did it go for you?

Veselina: So I had attended a videoconference presentation of the ongoing missions of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and so I saw that there was this mission for which they were looking for someone who matched my profile. This mission was the only one where the skills I have were required and I found it interesting. So I contacted the Foundation and that was it. It happened like this.

So you went through a selection process on your own and then you were selected.

Veselina: As far as I am concerned, when I contacted the Foundation and expressed my interest, they asked me to send my CV, with a brief description of what I could bring and then they confirmed to me that my CV corresponded to some of the skills sought. It could be complementary to Ali’s profile, and I met them. And I met Ali afterwards.

And from that moment, did you immediately start working on this mission?

Ali: Actually, the mission was remote. It’s not easy to start right away. So we took stock with Faten and they explained what they are doing. Afterwards we received a good part of their documents. We spent a lot of time with Veselina to really understand what the institution does and try to detail their mission so that we can really have a fairly global idea of ​​their accounts, their business model. And it started like that. And we also translated because there are documents in Arabic, in English, so we had to understand their documents. And then little by little we had two, three meetings with Faten and there we started to get into the technical IFRS / NAF part and there it was Veselina who brought her skills in this area.

Have you exchanged with several people from Faten or do you have a particular correspondent? Who are your correspondents there?

Veselina: We have two main correspondents at the moment. At the presentation meetings there were three or four people if I’m not mistaken. So we have the finance manager of the microfinance institution, one of her collaborators who is competent in the preparation of the accounts to IFRS standards and for the credit risk models that they want us to review. So here we are, two main interlocutors and then we will see if for the other subjects that we have to review we will exchange with other people.

Do these people mainly speak Arabic or do they also speak English?

Ali: They speak English too.

That way it also allows Veselina to follow I imagine.

Veselina: Yes in English it is easier for me indeed

I was wondering if you had any idea of ​​the culture of the country or not at all? Or are you learning as you go by relating to these people?

Ali: Personally, I know the culture a little. I come from Lebanon. Lebanon is not very far from the Palestinian territories, indeed. It’s not 100% identical, but there is a lot in common. It is the Orient, … I know a little bit. This simplifies communication. Frankly, for the moment, things have gone well with them. They were very available… I don’t know Veselina what your feeling is but…

Veselina: Yes, yes, they are reactive. In my case, I don’t really know the cultural or other environment there. They are very responsive, they communicate in a natural and professional way like us, so I don’t see any obstacle in that regard.

I see that the mission will take place one day a week for 15 weeks. Is that more or less the idea?

Veselina: Yes, that is a general framework, it is indicative. And then we also modulate according to our own workload every day at CACIB.

Ali: Indeed. I note that this is quite a technical mission, honestly, which requires a bit of personal work on our side as well. These are not necessarily 100% subjects of our daily life because we work in an investment bank. We are really talking about microfinance here, so it is not the same kind of job. On our side it takes a little time.

Veselina: Yes, that is it. We have our knowledge, the general framework, well not just general. We also have specific knowledge that can be useful for the mission. But on the other hand, due to the activity of the entity, in fact there are very specific points which require other additional expertise. And for example, we are trying now to find someone from Crédit Agricole more on the retail banking sector. Finally, we need additional expertise. So there are pluses and minuses. The minus is that we cannot directly work on the subject 100% from the start. But afterwards, the advantage is that it will allow us to learn other things and then also to exchange with other teams at Crédit Agricole and we hope that people will be able to bring us what we lack.

Ali: The first part is really the technical part on accounting standards and the second part is more the organisation between their holding company in Ramallah and the subsidiaries around. So it is the communication between the holding company and the small subsidiaries. So I think those are the two big topics on which we have to work with Faten.

And when you have meetings with them, you are systematically the two of you or sometimes you alternate, once one and then the other?

Veselina: Up to now, we tried to be both. Afterwards, there is no obligation in itself but at the beginning it is important that we attend together, in case there is a need to switch to Arabic, Ali can do it, not me.

When the mission is complete, I imagine you’ll do a bit of follow-up on what’s going on and how it is implemented?

Veselina: Yes, yes. That’s what the Foundation told us. That generally the mission ends with a meeting which concludes precisely on the achievement of the objectives. And on the achievement of goals, we can always keep in touch.

And maybe one last question that comes to me. I wanted to talk in a more general way about the skill donation mission. Do you already feel that it is a gift of your skills and that you will be useful, that it makes you happy? What does this bring you to do that?

Veselina: Already we hope that we will be useful. But again, we’re not even halfway through the mission yet. So we strongly hope that we can achieve a result that will be useful to Faten. As far as I’m concerned, I was initially interested in being able to participate in a mission like that, volunteering. I think it will be really rewarding in the end, once we have seen that the result of what we have been able to produce corresponds to the expectations, I hope, of our interlocutors.

Ali, maybe you have a feeling about that too?

Ali: While waiting for the result, I hope we will bring good things to Faten. But on a personal level, giving and sharing is something that touches me a lot, so I really try, on quite a few levels, to do it, either as a teacher if I give lessons, or else I do interpreting for refugees here in Paris, … I think that if you have something, you must above all share it with others.

Veselina: Yes and then we too will surely learn a lot.

Ali: Actually personally and also technically, yes really.

Well thank you very much for this exchange. Thank you for listening to this podcast and  I invite you to join us for the fourth episode, which this time will focus on a field mission in Senegal, a mission carried out by two Solidarity Bankers from Crédit Agricole SA and EFL in Poland. See you soon !

Listen to the podcast here

Technical assistance: building the strategic plan of MLF Zambia

© Peter CATON

THE ORGANISATION AND THE FOUNDATION

Under the African Facility, MLF Zambia has received a €49,000 grant from the Agence Française de Développement [French Development Agency] for the implementation of 10 technical assistance missions in various fields (risk management, digitalization, staff training, etc.), including the development of a new business plan. The Foundation also granted a loan to MLF Zambia in 2020 for a total amount of €250,000.

CONTEXT OF THE MISSION

Given the robust development of its activities, MLF Zambia wanted to benefit from an external viewpoint and the support of an expert so as to position itself more clearly on the market and strengthen its competitiveness. The institution thus benefited from the support of a local technical assistance provider to develop a new five-year strategic plan (2021-2025), an action plan and financial forecasts.

RESULTS

Thanks to this mission, MLF Zambia was able to gain a better understanding of the local microfinance sector, as well as to define with precision its objectives and medium-term growth forecasts. The institution is now equipped to face competition, prioritise its actions and make forecasts. The development of the business plan also enabled MLF Zambia to communicate more clearly about its organisational goals to its staff and to potential new investors.

OUTLOOK

MLF Zambia is targeting significant business growth aspiring to serve 80,000 active clients within five years. The institution also aims to increase its operational efficiency through refined lending methodologies and smart technology, and to boost staff motivation, develop products dedicated to financing agricultural activities, and build client loyalty – all with the ultimate goal of improving women’s lives.

This article was published in “Our technical assistance offer”, accessible here

Technical assistance: the risk management improvement of ACFIME (Burkina Faso)

© Fondation Grameen Crédit Agricole/Didier GENTILHOMME

ACFIME is a Burkinabe microfinance institution that targets very vulnerable populations excluded from the large microfinance institutions operating throughout the country. The loans granted by ACFIME therefore have a very high potential for social impact.

THE ORGANISATION AND THE FOUNDATION

Under the African Facility, ACFIME has received a €131,000 grant from the Agence Française de Développement for the implementation of 16 technical assistance missions in various fields (business plan, human resources management, risk management, training, etc.), including the mapping of risks and training of the Internal Audit Department The Foundation has also granted three loans to ACFIME for a total amount of €732,000 since 2014.

CONTEXT OF THE MISSION

The structuring of procedures and risk management are determining factors in consolidating and ensuring the sustainability of an institution. In the first phase of the African Facility programme, ACFIME benefitted from an upgrade of most of its procedures. As a follow-up to this mission, ACFIME was given another technical assistance mission to strengthen risk management further. The organisation was assisted by a local technical assistance provider in mapping operational, financial and strategic risks and in training the Internal Audit Department.

RESULTS

Thanks to the participatory approach of the technical assistance provider and the training of the Internal Audit Department, ACFIME has gained autonomy in identifying the internal and external risks it faces in order to measure them and implement mitigation measures where necessary. A risk management committee is now in charge of updating the mapping and mitigation plans of the related risks.

OUTLOOK

Following these first positive results, ACFIME now wishes to map all the risks for each agency and point of service so as to be able to identify and prevent them, at each level of the institution. ACFIME also wants to develop a business continuity plan.

This article was published in “Our technical assistance offer”, accessible here

New Solidarity Bankers mission in Benin

© In Venture

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 favour of the  Association des Caisses de Financement à la Base (ACFB) in Benin. The microfinance institution was created in 1995 as a project of the local NGO GRAPAD.

ACFB aims at offering quality financial and non-financial services to the active, economically weak, and mainly female populations with a view to their promotion. ACFB offers its clients loan and savings services through group and individual methodologies.

Today, ACFB has a Human Resources Department, within the General Administration Service, composed of two agents: an HR Monitoring Officer, promoted in 2019 to prepare the retirement of the former Monitoring Officer, and an Assistant. The institution also has a human resources management manual, HR management tools and software to manage salaries. However, ACFB lacks a formalized staff evaluation system and a career management plan to harness the skills and potential of its staff, while identifying and meeting their expectations.

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

___________________________________________________________

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.