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.

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Source of presentaion of the project: ILO

The Foundation grants new loans in Central and South Asia

During the first half of 2022, the Foundation granted two new loans in Central and South Asia, bringing to 11 the number of financings carried out at the end of July.

A new loan in dollars equivalent to €2 million has been granted to the microfinance institution Asian Credit Fund (ACF) in Kazakhstan. A long-time partner of the Foundation, ACF is an institution created in 1997 by the American NGO Mercy Corps and whose mission is to help improve the quality of life of households through financial and development products and services. ACF’s financial services are designed to promote rural household development, small business growth and home ownership. The institution adheres to a specialist community lending model that offers tailored financial solutions, business advice and technical assistance to its clients. At the end of June 2022, ACF had 33,856 active borrowers, 66% of whom are women and 92% of of whom are clients living in rural areas.

Similarly, the Foundation granted a loan in local currency equivalent to €1.3 million  to the Indonesian microfinance institution Coop TLM, an institution created in 2010 by the TLM Foundation. Coop TLM’s mission is to provide the poor, micro and small businesses in Indonesia with the means to improve their standard of living. The institution grants loans according to the group methodology. At the end of March 2022, Coop TLM had 145,997 active borrowers, 99.97% of whom were women and 93% of whom were living in rural areas, and managed a portfolio of €18.7 million. It operates in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), Central and West Sulawesi and Bali through a network of 41 branches and 612 employees.

Discover the partners supported by the Foundation by clicking here.

Publication of the 2022 Impact Finance Barometer

The second edition of the Impact Finance Barometer, to which the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation contributed once again,  was launched at the 3Zero World Forum on 5 September 2022, in the presence of Philippe Guichandut, Head of the Impact Finance Development unit at the Foundation.

This publication presents key figures and trends in impact investing and financial inclusion around the world. Since its emergence in the early 2000s, the sector has enjoyed a strong and sustained momentum. According to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) data for the year 2020, the size of the impact investment market is estimated to be around $715 billion1. At a time when we seem to be just emerging from the COVID-19 crisis, this dynamic seems far from being halted.

So what are the motivations driving this sector? How can we contribute to its proper definition and the measurement of its objectives? How can we ensure effective coordination of the various impact initiatives on a global scale?

This year, as part of its special report, the Impact Finance Barometer examines the resilience of the impact finance sector to exogenous shocks. By this term, one means all the political, economic, climatic and social risks which, if they materialise, contribute to the destabilisation of the sector, with knock-on consequences for all beneficiaries.

By inviting the structures of the ecosystem to share their expertise on the subject of impact, this publication aims to make a contribution. The Barometer thus offers a panoramic view of the different forms that impact finance can take, highlights its real operating capacities on a global scale through concrete examples, and highlights responses to the issues of inclusion and financing of social and environmental transitions.

To download the Barometer, please click here.

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Source: Convergences

The Foundation supports RENACA in technical assistance within the framework of the SSNUP programme

The objective of the SSNUP (Smallholder Safety Net Upscaling) programme is to increase the productivity and resilience of smallholder farmers, mainly in Asia, Africa and Latin America, through better risk management and the promotion of sustainable and face-smart agricultural practices in relation with climate. In addition to improving the food security and standard of living of ten million smallholder farming households, this programme will also contribute to the development of sustainable agricultural value chains.

Spread over ten years, the programme draws on the knowledge and expertise of multiple impact investment fund technical assistance schemes to reach as many smallholder farmers as possible.

It is within the framework of this programme, coordinated by ADA (Luxembourg) and financed by Swiss, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein cooperation, and for which the Foundation has been selected as one of the impact investors in charge of its implementation, that the Beninese microfinance institution RENACA will benefit from a technical assistance mission.

Created in 2005, the National Network of Self-Managed Village Savings and Credit Banks of Benin (RENACA-Benin), which has over 45,000 borrowers, 59% of whom are women, is a microfinance institution particularly committed to agricultural financing and inclusive green finance. The institution has already carried out a diagnosis of its actions in terms of agricultural and green financing, sensitized its staff and its governance on green finance and climate-smart agriculture and drawn up a list of activities excluded from financing as well as an environmental strategy.

Applying lessons learned from its previous experiences, RENACA now wishes to change scale and strengthen its autonomy in the field of non-financial services. As such, the general objective of the project which will be carried out within the framework of the SSNUP programme, will consist in strengthening the capacities of RENACA and creating teams of internal trainers to empower the institution in the creation and animation of training modules on various topics such as financial education for small producers, sustainable, profitable and environmentally friendly agricultural practices for small producers, or risk analysis and setting up an agricultural credit file.

This project will therefore make it possible to strengthen the non-financial offer of the MFI through dedicated training for small producers as well as the financial offer, through a better analysis of requests for agricultural credit which will thus respond in a targeted manner to financial needs of small producers. This project will also make it possible to improve the management of risks linked to agricultural credit thanks to the capacity building of its staff, but also to limit the risks linked to poor management of the farm by the producers.

For the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, which has been working with RENACA since 2013, this project is at the heart of one of its strategic priorities, namely the strengthening of rural economies. This technical assistance mission will also reinforce the impact of the funding granted by the Foundation since the beginning of their cooperation.

For more information on the SSNUP programme, click here.

The Foundation invests in the sustainable cocoa sector in the Philippines with a first loan granted to Kennemer Foods International

In July, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation granted a first loan to Kennemer Foods International, in the Philippines, for an amount in USD equivalent to € 1.1 million.

Kennemer Foods International is an agricultural company with a strong social and environmental impact, active in the collection and processing of cocoa, bananas, and other agricultural products. Kennemer is the largest Philippine supplier of cocoa beans on the international market. The company sources from approximately 20,000 small-scale producers, offering various services along the value chain: supply of high quality inputs, pre-financing solutions, guarantee of total harvest buy-back at prices linked to the global price, access to agricultural microinsurance solutions and training in sustainable cocoa growing practices. This support results in an improvement of farmers’ life quality and an increase in their resilience in the face of increasing climate risks, while maintaining good soil health over the long term.

Kennemer created a subsidiary financial institution, Agronomika, to facilitate access to financing for small producers, and more recently another entity, Kennemer Eco-Solutions, to launch a carbon credit activity through the protection and restoration of forests in Mindanao , in the south of the archipelago.

According to Vincent Brousseau, Director of the Impact Companies Financing Unit at the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, this partnership with Kennemer shows the 2025 ambitions of the Foundation’s new medium-term plan. The Foundation will seek to partner with local actors positioned at the crossroads of the social and financial inclusion of rural communities as well as climate issues and the fight against biodiversity loss.

For Simon Bakker, CEO of Kennemer Foods, this partnership with the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation represents a strategic initiative with a like-minded organisation. Grameen Credit Agricole’s mission of fighting poverty through financial inclusion and rural development is an excellent fit with Kennemer’s own mission.

With this new investment, the Foundation is relaunching its activity in the field of impact companies financing. It currently has 8 impact companies’ partners, particularly in the agricultural sector, which represents 64% of its funding.

Solidarity Notebooks: a Solidarity Banker in Senegal

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 notebooks of Stéphane Frénéat, Solidarity Banker of UNEXO who went to Senegal to support La Laiterie du Berger, a social impact company in which the Foundation is a shareholder.

Solidarity Bankers…an incredible worthy professional and personal experience!

Since 2010, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has been a partner of Laiterie du Berger (LDB), a social impact enterprise based in Senegal (Dakar and Richard Toll), created in 2006 by Bagoré Bathily. LDB fights against poverty by building a local dairy industry (from production to distribution) in harmony with the environment, and thus promoting healthy food for as many people as possible. It deploys a specific training programme around the concept of “farm school”, located in Richard Toll (Mauritania border), close to the production plant. This training allows many young Fulani village women to access the breeder profession and thus to have an income from the milk they produce and resell to the Laiterie. They therefore acquire, among other things, financial autonomy.

The proposed mission consisted in supporting Laiterie du Berger and its manager in the (i) structuring of financing (mix of equity, private and public debt, hybrid financing.) and (ii) in the reflection on the governance to be implemented to ensure the development of the company and its sustainability.

The profile sought and the content of the mission matched perfectly my professional skills, my experience, my passion for travel and the discovery of other cultures. It allowed me to combine my job with my values ​​and a certain quest for meaning… “Finance” at the service of solidarity and sharing.

It was therefore only natural that I proposed my candidacy to the Foundation. Upon validation, we immediately prepared the mission with the Foundation and Bagoré teams. All together we “reformulated” the objectives of the mission and its planning. Bagoré and the Foundation sent me all the necessary information so that I could learn about the strategic plan of the Laiterie and the economic and financial issues.

Prior to the trip, the preparation phase is essential. It makes it possible to validate everyone’s expectations, to clarify the objectives, the approach and the expected deliverables. Thus, on the proposal of Bagoré in collaboration with the teams of the Foundation, we set my work schedule for the whole mission: the appropriate interlocutors with whom to meet, the sites to visit, the work and restitution sessions, 10 days is very (too) short…

Flight to Dakar and Richard Toll

The big day arrived! I fly away, happy and excited at the idea of ​​spending 12 days in the field, in Senegal! I was leaving for an online mission with my skills and knowledge in corporate finance but, without specific knowledge of the microfinance sector and impact businesses, in a structure and cultural context different from my daily life.

Welcomed by Bagoré as soon as I arrived, the adventure began! Established not far from the Dakar headquarters of La Laiterie, I prepared this dense week of meetings and work sessions with the LDB teams based in the capital.

After a weekend devoted to meeting the family shareholders of the Laiterie in order to immerse myself in the shareholder context of the company, Ortence, executive assistant, Jean who will lead me throughout the missions and Bagoré welcome me to the headquarters of LDB to start our week of meetings with the various managers. The objective is to immerse myself in the company and to fully understand the challenges and the development strategy:

  • Ouakam will make me discover in situ, the two distribution channels of “Dolima” products (commercial brand of LDB products) namely the supermarkets and some of the 22,000 stalls of the “informal” sector!
  • Bakary will make me discover in Tiès one of the company’s logistics “hubs”, the real organisational and financial challenge for La Laiterie (respecting the cold chain in a tropical country, collection management, etc.);
  • Momar will present to me the plans for the new factory to be built, the technical, organisational and financial issues of such a project in Senegal;
  • Emma will share with me the many financial challenges that the company must take up to finance its day-to-day operations and find adequate financing for the various projects in progress in a country where the banking and financial sector does not operate identically to what we are used to here in Europe;
  • Arona will show me around the factory based in Richard Toll. We will meet young Fulani village women, students of the livestock farmer training programme initiated by the la Laiterie and future “entrepreneurs” who supply fresh milk to the la Laiterie. Moments of sharing and unforgettable emotions when breaking the fast (I was there during Ramadan) with these incredible young girls, full of courage and energy! laughter, smiles…a clash of cultures!

Back in Dakar and armed with a precise vision of the company and its challenges, particularly financial ones, I devoted the last two days to discussions with Bagoré and Emma on the two topics of my mission (structuring of financing and governance ) and writing the first drafts of deliverables (capitalisation tables, governance model, financing plan, etc.) which will be adjusted when I return to France and then shared with the Foundation team and Bagoré…

I returned to Nantes, happy to have had this experience. This mission brought me a lot, especially on a human level; I was able to discover another culture, have enriching exchanges and meet inspiring people. It is, of course, a significant investment in terms of time and workload, but the mission is definitely worth it. I will forever treasure in my heart the laughter and smiles of the students of Richard Toll’s farm school, their sense of hospitality, and the immense hope they embody for the future generations of this beautiful country.

More information on the Solidarity Bankers’ programme here. 

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My thanks to Eric Campos, Vincent Brousseau, Céline Hyon-Naudin, Aurélie Béchara and Maria-Teresa Calvo from Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation for their support throughout the mission and the trust they placed in me . A huge thank you to Bagoré, Jean, Ortence, Emma and the entire Laiterie team for their warm welcome, to Arona for introducing me to St Louis, Djoudj, Richard Toll and the farm school, to Florence Pelletier, Aurélie Cacciotti and Christian Bodenes of Crédit Agricole SA and to Jean-Luc Creach, Managing Director of UNEXO, without whom I would not have been able to live this experience.

The Foundation continues to develop its activity in sub-Saharan Africa

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation continues to consolidate its position in sub-Saharan Africa with the granting of three new loans, including two in the Democratic Republic of Congo to two new partners.

In Benin, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution COMUBA, for an amount in local currency equivalent to €915,000. COMUBA, a partner of the Foundation since 2015, is an institution created in 2000 by a group of market gardeners who were unable to finance their activities through the traditional financial sector. The institution offers financial and non-financial services through group loans in particular and contributes to improving the well-being of low-income women. To date, the institution has over 45,000 active borrowers, 91% of whom are women.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Foundation granted a first loan to the Société de Microfinance GUILGAL (SM Guilgal), for an amount in dollars equivalent to €950,000. SM Guilgal’s mission is to provide financial and non-financial services to low-income legal and natural persons, especially small traders, young people with bankable projects and farmers (grouped or non-cooperative) in order to contribute significantly and sustainably to improving their living conditions, while preserving the environment. The institution serves nearly 8,000 borrowers, 54% of whom are women.

Also in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Foundation granted a first loan to the microfinance institution SMICO for an amount in dollars equivalent to €970,000. SMICO is an institution created in 2010 with the mission of becoming a benchmark microfinance institution that offers rapid solutions adapted to the needs of local populations to enable them develop income-generating activities. The institution grants loans using individual and group methodologies to more than 7,000 borrowers, 52% of whom are women, and operates in urban areas in eastern DRC through a network of 7 branches and 94 employees.

With these two new partners, the Foundation is now working with four microfinance institutions in DRC. At the end of July, the Foundation had 77 partners, 52% of them in sub-Saharan Africa, which represents 32% of its portfolio under management.

For more information on our partners, click here.

ECLOF Kenya releases a film on its innovative agricultural value-chain financing model

Small farms produce most of the food in Africa. But they need to become more productive to keep up with a growing population.

ECLOF Kenya, partner of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation since 2015, is a microfinance institution providing financial and related non-financial services to micro, small and medium entrepreneurs in Kenya as they run their income generating activities.

Within its activities aimed at improving its clients’ life quality, ECLOF runs an innovative agricultural value-chain financing model to enhance the capabilities of smallholder farmers and their cooperatives and plants. Through financial and technical training, loans and linkages with local dairy plants as secure buyers, farmers earn a stable income and invest in higher-yielding cows and better upkeep. On average, participating farmers triple their annual revenue from milk production.

At the same time, this innovative structure reduces ECLOF’s cost and risk of serving farmers: the repayment rate is well over 90%. By December 2021, ECLOF Kenya had disbursed dairy loans worth more than 3 million USD to over 2200 farmers.

The new film on Kenya dairy lets farmers themselves speak up to tell the story.

Click here to watch the film.

Meet the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation at the Convergences 3Zero World Forum

Since its creation in 2008, the Global Forum has already brought together more than 50,000 participants from all sectors and from all over the world. It calls on all actors of change to come together: companies and SSE actors, non-profit organisations, public bodies, financial actors, the scientific and innovation sector, citizen and youth networks and the media…

Its programming is the result of collaborative work and reflects multiple areas of expertise: environmental action, impact finance, the fight against inequalities, youth mobilisation, international solidarity. The Forum is both a meeting place and a space where committed young people come to challenge decision-makers from all sides!

Today the Forum strongly reaffirms its ambition: only the reconciliation of social, economic and environmental issues will make it possible to deal with the crises we are going through. Through around forty conferences and events, multiple players will share their expertise and best practices!

Among these players, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation will participate on September 5th during a session on “What resilience of impact finance in the face of exogenous shocks? – Launch of the 2022 Impact Finance Barometer” with Philippe Guichandut, Head of Inclusive Finance Development.

To find out about the Convergences Forum 2022 programme and to register, click here.

The Foundation is pursuing its activity in Eastern Europe

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation granted three new loans to its partners in Eastern Europe. The Foundation’s portfolio amounts to 14.2 million euros in this region where it is present in six countries with nine partners.

In Montenegro, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution Monte Credit for an amount of €600,000. Founded in 2005, Monte Credit is a microfinance institution whose mission is to empower rural families to create income-generating activities and jobs that unlock economic potential for communities to thrive. The institution currently has more than 4,000 clients, 54% of whom are women and 51% of whom are rural clients.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution Mikra for an amount of €1.9 million. Mikra is a microfinance institution that began operations in 1993. Its mission is to provide access to financial services in a responsible manner to the poorest but economically active population of the country, mainly women. The institution offers access to affordable and quality financial and support services in order to reduce poverty and encourage entrepreneurship. The institution serves nearly 15,000 clients, 68% of whom are women and 58% of of whom clients in rural areas.

Finally, in Moldova, the microfinance institution Microinvest was granted a new loan for an amount of €1.2 million. Microinvest, a partner of the Foundation since 2020, provides microloans and business start-up assistance to small entrepreneurs in many regions of the country. 70% of the institution’s portfolio corresponds to loans granted to private entrepreneurs living in the rural areas of this country landlocked between Ukraine and Romania. To date, Microinvest has around 37,000 clients, 41% of whom are women.

More information about our partners here