The Foundation publishes its 2020 Integrated Report

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its 2020 Integrated Report which traces the highlights and key figures of this year marked by the health and economic crisis linked to Covid-19. Thanks to close monitoring and collaboration with its partners and other players in the inclusive finance sector, the Foundation ended the year with solid results.

As of December 31, 2020, the Foundation followed an outstanding portfolio to €81.2 million in favour of 75 microfinance institutions and 12 social enterprises in 39 countries. Women entrepreneurship and the development of rural economies remain at the heart of the Foundation’s action: 73% of the 7.3 million beneficiaries of the institutions supported are women and 85% live in rural areas.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the Foundation has carried out surveys of the organisations supported to understand the impact of the crisis and better meet their needs[1]. The Foundation also initiated a global coordination with other actors around the key principles to protect microfinance institutions and their clients in the face of the crisis. To date, 30 donors, investors and platforms have signed the engagement of the Coalition.

Thanks to this permanent dialogue with its partners and peers, the Foundation has implemented several measures adapted to support the sector. It has thus granted rollovers to 29 partners, mainly microfinance institutions, for a total amount of €9.4 million. In 2020, the Foundation also supported the organisations through 93 technical assistance missions[2], on priority topics such as business continuity plans but also on issues such as digitisation which is essential for the resumption of their activities.

The Foundation was able to count on the support of its funders to strengthen its action in 2020. It obtained funding from Proparco, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Crédit Agricole CIB to establish a Covid-19 envelope and support the economic recovery of its partners.

In 2020, the Foundation also worked alongside the Crédit Agricole Group. Via a new cooperation scheme with Crédit Agricole Romania, new funding granted thought the FIR –A CA’s microfinance fund–, and a skills volunteering programme called Solidarity Bankers, the Foundation and Crédit Agricole have stepped up their actions for financial inclusion of the most vulnerable populations. A mission that will remain a priority during 2021 which represents a year of recovery.

Download the Report

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[1] The results of the surveys and other resources are published in the Foundation’s Covid-19 Observatory: //www.gca-foundation.org/en/covid-19-observatory/
[2] More information on the Foundation’s technical assistance offer: //www.gca-foundation.org/en/technical-assistance/

Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation’s role to respond to the crisis

©Godong

Soukeyna Ndiaye Bâ has been a Director of the Foundation’s Board since its creation. Engaged in the promotion of women entrepreneurs for more than 20 years, she is also Executive Director of INAFI (International Network of Alternative Financial Institutions) a global network of organisations that support microfinance programmes. Abdul Hai Khan is a Foundation’s Director and the Managing Director of Grameen Trust. He is also Board member of diferent microfinance and social business organisations in Australia, Bangladesh, China, France, India, Kosovo, Italy, USA and Yemen.

1/ Directors of the Foundation, you are also both international experts and microfinance practitioners. Can you share with us your analysis of the crisis and more particularly on the territories that you know well?

Soukeyna Ndiaye Bâ: In Africa, the current toll is close to 100,000 deaths and more than 3.7 million people infected, but these figures do not reflect the reality in the continent because there is no mass screening due to a lack of resources. Because of restrictions and border closures to contain the pandemic, the economic crisis has not spared the African continent. In this context, small-scale entrepreneurs, smallholder farmers and informal sector workers are directly afected. On the front line: women, both in rural and urban areas, who are very active in the informal sector. In Senegal, for example, about 94% of women entrepreneurs operate in the informal sector. In rural areas, in addition to the gravity of the economic situation, the already alarming health precariousness and dificulty in accessing healthcare may worsen.

Abdul Hai Khan: Current death toll in Asia is approximately 417,000, while the number of infected cases stands at more than 26 million. Schools in East Asia and the Pacific have been completely closed for more than 25 million children for almost an entire year. Covid-19 has slowed growth in East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) as it has significantly reduced economic activity, including tourism and trade. Growth in the AEP region, excluding China, is forecast to slow to 1.3% in 2020 from 4.7% in 2019. Millions of households have been afected by the loss of jobs and income (including remittances), while they still have to cover basic expenses or service debt. Consequently, the percentage of poor people has increased.

2/ How do microfinance and social business mitigate the efects of the economic crisis?

AHK: By improving access to essential services, microfinance institutions and social businesses strengthen the resilience of low-income populations, including small-scale entrepreneurs from the formal and informal sectors and smallholder farmers. They are therefore essential to protect the most vulnerable populations, severely afected by the efects of the economic and health crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic. To cope with this pandemic, many microfinance institutions have innovated and increased their support to their clients. For example, they have restructured loans to better support the most afected clients and accelerated their digital transformation, by introducing or improving cashless transactions through mobile banking channels and by creating virtual branches.

3/ What is the outlook for the years to come?

AHK: The magnitude of the damage that Covid-19 pandemic has brought in the world is huge. However, it ofers us a unique opportunity to improve, or even redefine, our economic structures by relaying on social and environmental consciousness. We should not call it a ‘recovery’ programme but a ‘reconstruction’ programme. In this comprehensive reconstruction plan, social entrepreneurship can play an essential role, as it can be a lever to transform unemployed people into entrepreneurs. Financial inclusion can help economic recovery go hand in hand with social development.

SB: The world is threatened with recession and food and social crisis. Building the «after Covid» world must therefore be multi-sectoral and focused on innovation. We must learn from the problems encountered during this crisis: better assess and anticipate risks, strengthen our socio-economic models and rethink our public policies to better protect the most vulnerable populations. Women entrepreneurs will have a key role to play in boosting the economy. Supporting female entrepreneurship will be a lever for women empowerment and the development of rural and urban economies. Digital will be a major tool to encourage entrepreneurship, modernise, develop and innovate.

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation signs the Climate Manifesto

Following the official launch of the French Coalition of Foundations for the Climate on November 18, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation signed, alongside 80 other organisations, the Manifesto of the new French Coalition of Foundations for the Climate (CFFC).

Launched by the Centre Français des Fondations and its partners, the Climate Coalition brings together foundations and endowment funds with a common goal:  act together in the fight against climate change. The Coalition will promote the good practices of signatories, produce work on engagement of the philanthropic sector and mobilise human and financial resources to support initiatives to address the climate crisis.

The Foundation and its action in favour of the resilience of rural economies

Through funding to microfinance institutions and investments in enterprises located in rural areas, with a strong social and environmental impact, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is positioning itself as an actor that promotes the resilience of rural economies in the face of climate change.

With a portfolio of € 87 million as of March 2021, the Foundation mainly supports organisations that contribute to rural development in Africa, Asia and Europe. Thus, out of the 7.3 million beneficiaries of funded microfinance institutions, 85% live in rural areas. In addition, the Foundation supports, through technical assistance, enterprises that promote more sustainable agricultural practices.

With the signing of the Manifesto but also the membership of the French Centre for Funds and Foundations (CFF), the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation reaffirms the inclusion of the climate issue in its practices and strategy, and calls for other actors of the inclusive finance sector to commit to this global issue.

 

 

Online Solidarity Bankers missions to be filled

Three online Solidarity Bankers missions are currently to be filled. Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A., open to all Crédit Agricole Group employees. The objective is twofold: on the one hand, to provide technical assistance to microfinance institutions and social impact enterprises financed by the Foundation, and on the other hand, to value the skills of Group employees who want to invest themselves in projects with strong social impact.

The missions can be conducted during the working time of the Solidarity Banker (sponsorship by the employer of the Solidarity Banker) AND / OR during the holidays (volunteering). For the 3 missions below, the Solidarity Bankers will devote a total of 15 working days to the mission. Each selected expert will work remotely and devote the equivalent of one day per week, for 15 weeks, to the mission.

“Digital Strategy” missions in favour of OXUS (Kyrgyzstan)

OXUS Kyrgyzstan (OKG) is a microfinance institution that provides financial services to working poor and underbanked people in Kyrgyzstan. The institution serves 8,000 active borrowers (48% of whom are women and 62% live in rural areas) and manages a portfolio of €6.4 million. The average outstanding loan is €798.

A Solidarity Banker mission is planned for July 2021 to support OKG in the evaluation of its digitalisation processes and the drafting of a new digital strategy. The expert sought is a Crédit Agricole employee with experience in IT project management, fluent in English (knowledge of Russian is a plus).

“Financial management” mission in favour of FATEN (Palestine)

FATEN is a microfinance institution based in Palestine. The institution serves 26,244 active borrowers (34% of whom are women and 68% live in rural areas) and manages a portfolio of €108 million.

The selected Crédit Agricole expert will support FATEN in updating financial procedures, policies and tools. The Solidarity Banker must be fluent in English and have knowledge of international standards relating to financial reporting and in particular, the latest changes to IFRS 16 and IFRS 9. The mission is to be filled as soon as possible.

“Digital Strategy” mission in favour of Smart Credit (Moldova)

Smart Credit is a microfinance institution that provides financial services to socially disadvantaged people and small entrepreneurs in Moldova. The institution has over 3,000 active borrowers (54% of whom are women and 69% are clients in rural areas) and manages a portfolio of €4.4 million.

The Solidarity Banker will help build the digital strategy of Smart Credit. The expert is an employee of the Crédit Agricole group who is fluent in English and with experience in IT project management. The mission is to be filled as soon as possible.

How to apply?

To see the detailed offers of the missions:

  1. Go to the CA Solidaires website “Finding your mission
  2. Enter in the search bar: “Grameen Foundation”. All the Solidarity Leave offers will appear!
  3. Click on the offer of your choice. You will find all the information you need for your application.

More information: carolina.viguet@credit-agricole-sa.fr

KOSSAM and the digital payment for farmers in Senegal

Supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, CA Franche Comté and Amundi, Kossam SDE is a subsidiary of Laiterie du Berger that aims to structure and strengthen the dairy industry in Senegal. In February 2020, Kossam SDE successfully launched the dematerialisation of the “payroll” for more than 850 farmers contributing to the improvement of their living and working conditions. Spotlight on the interview for Portail FinDev of Jonathan Michaud (former Solidarity Banker of CA Franche Comté) Director for the past 3 years of Kossam SDE) and Mamadou Fall, his Deputy Director, who shed light on this transformation.

1. What used to be a typical payroll day before the transition to digital payroll?

Jonathan Michaud & Mamadou Fall: Until February 2020, all farmers were paid in cash during one or two specific paydays. Farmers used to travel to the factory in Richard Toll to collect the money due to them. Firstly, the cash payment was inconvenient for the farmers. They had to arrive early in the morning and sometimes wait all day in high temperatures. In addition, farmers were forced to come to Richard Toll on a specific day to get paid, without being able to make it fit in with their other travel. It was also laborious for Kossam SDE, as the teams had to handle cash for two days with some pressure linked to the waiting time of the farmers, which can lead to errors.

In November 2019, the Kossam SDE team decided to digitalise and the first digital payroll took place in February 2020.

2. What are the concrete benefits of digitalisation for farmers?

JM & MF: We have identified 5 benefits for farmers:

  • Time saving. Today, a farmer no longer has to wait hours to receive the payment.
  • Security. Everyone knew which day the farmers received their pay, which could potentially create a context of insecurity with risks of theft.
  • Flexibility. Now all farmers receive their money on the same date, but collect it when they want.
  • Cost. The majority of farmers do not live in Richard Toll and travelling there has a cost. They can now optimise the cost of their journey by deciding the day they will collect their money.
  • Traceability. Each farmer is identified in our database with his/her telephone number and identity card. We can therefore be sure that it is the farmer who is receiving the money, as we know which telephone number the funds are being sent to.

3. What solution have you put in place with Wizall Money to pay farmers?

JM & MF: The vast majority of our farmers do not have a smartphone. They have a basic phone that can only receive and send calls and SMS. We therefore opted for a code sent directly to the farmers’ phones. With this code and their ID, farmers go to the Wizall Money kiosk of their choice to withdraw their money. The beneficiaries (farmers) pay the costs associated with this service.

The introduction of this solution has clearly removed a considerable number of constraints for farmers, including time and organisation. In addition, we feared that farmers would be reluctant to pay for their money. However, the question of cost was not mentioned. On the contrary, it costs them much less than paying for transport to Richard Toll on a specific day of the month. We have not had any complaints in this regard.

4. More than a year after the digitisation was implemented, where do you stand? What is the next step?

JM & MF: The digitisation of the payroll was implemented just before the Covid-19 hit Senegal in March 2020, where drastic measures were quickly taken: curfews, forbidden gatherings, etc. Without digitisation, farmers would not have been able to move and would not have been paid.

Today, we are moving on to the second and final stage of payroll transformation. Indeed, there are 2 disadvantages to the SMS codes that our farmers receive on their phones: you need to have your own phone, which is not the case for all our farmers, and you also need a network. The main problem was that some people never received the code, so we had to keep paying them in cash.

To deal with this situation, we have provided all our farmers with an individual NFC card. The payment will be sent to this card in an electronic purse. Farmers can then go to a Wizall Money kiosk, hand over their card, enter their PIN and withdraw all or part of their money. There are no more network constraints and no more obligation to withdraw all the money paid in. This major innovation allows us to enter into new uses and services that are a form of micro-savings and passive savings.

From now on, we will be working on various subjects that digitalisation will enable us to tackle more effectively and with greater peace of mind: access to health insurance, development of savings and financial education.

Full interview in French on FinDev

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(1) The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole Franche Comté, shareholders of Laiterie du Berger, supported the creation of Kossam SDE as part of a technical assistance mission Solidarity Bankers, a skills volunteering programme of the Crédit Agricole Group. An agricultural engineer from the Regional Bank, who led the mission in 2018, left for 3 years to coordinate the launch of Kossam SDE. He is Jonathan Michaud, today General Manager of Kossam SDE.

Solidarity Bankers missions to be filled in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and South Africa

Launched in June 2018 at the initiative of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA, Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme aimed at all Crédit Agricole Group employees in favour of microfinance institutions and social impact businesses supported by the Foundation. Three new missions are to be filled in 2021 in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and South Africa.

“Marketing Strategy” mission in Georgia

Lazika Capital, one of the leading microfinance institutions in Georgia. Established in 2000, Lazika provides financial services to low-income people, smallholder farmers and microentrepreneurs. The organisation operates through 18 branches, mainly in rural areas of Georgia (70% of active borrowers are rural).

The Solidarity Bankers mission aims to support Lazika in the development of a marketing plan for mid-2021-2022. If the health context allows it, the mission will be carried out in June or July 2021 in Georgia. If not, the mission will be postponed.

“Social and environmental performance” mission in Kyrgyzstan

Salym is a microfinance institution that provides affordable loans and deposits to support income-generating activities of low-income populations in Kyrgyzstan. The organisation currently has 23 branches across Kyrgyzstan and serves over 18,000 active borrowers, 52% of whom are women and 70% of whom live in rural areas.

A two-week Solidarity Bankers mission is planned to support Salym in managing its social and environmental performance. If the health context allows it, the mission will be carried out in September or October 2021 in Kyrgyzstan. If not, the mission can be carried out online.

“AML-CFT” mission in South Africa

SEF is a microfinance institution established in 1992 that provides financial and non-financial services to poor people in South Africa. The institution has 225,317 active borrowers (100% of women in living rural areas).

A Solidarity Bankers mission is to be filled to support SEF in the framing and training of its key employees on the risks associated with money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The field mission will take place in South Africa over a two-weeks period, if the sanitary conditions linked to Covid-19 allow it.

Two online missions are still available

A first “digital / IT” mission is available to support Smart Credit, a microfinance institution funded by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation in Moldova. The mission of the Solidarity Banker will be to help build the digital strategy of Smart Credit. A second “financial management” mission is to be filled in favour of FATEN, a microfinance institution located in Palestine. The Crédit Agricole expert will support FATEN in updating financial procedures, policies and tools. These missions will be carried out remotely at the rate of one day per week, for 15 weeks.

How to apply?

To access the detailed offers of the missions:

  1. Go to the CA Solidaires website “Find a project
  2. Enter in the search bar: “Grameen Foundation”. All the Solidarity Bankers’ offers will appear!
  3. Click on the offer of your choice. You will find all the information you need to apply.
Further information: carolina.viguet@credit-agricole-sa.fr

OSHUN steps up its action to promote access to water in Senegal and Burkina Faso

More than 2 billion people around the world lack access to safely-managed drinking water services (*). In Sub-Saharan Africa, 40% of the population does not have access to water, mainly in rural areas and 135 million people, mainly women and girls, travel more than 30 minutes per day to have access to drinking water.

It is in that context that OSHUN, created at the end of 2017 and a partner of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation since 2018, deploys an innovative water access solution in rural areas. Through an economic model based on local entrepreneurship, OSHUN provides accessible quality water services at water kiosks, running on solar energy. These kiosks are managed by local entrepreneurs working as franchisees and integrate a digital component that optimizes their good management. This service, which is expected to develop widely in West Africa, has started in rural and peri-urban areas of Senegal and Burkina Faso.

Today, in addition to the kiosks, OSHUN is also working on installing water treatment systems in schools and health centres funded by public, private and solidarity partners. In collaboration with the NGO Marseille Provence Afrique Coopération, OSHUN has installed, since 2018, 120 water treatment systems in schools and health centers in Senegal. To date, this project serves around 40,000 beneficiaries with access to free drinking water. In addition to the installation and maintenance of equipment, OSHUN, in conjunction with community relays, sets up public awareness activities to help change behaviours. In the same spirit, the German Cooperation Agency for development (GIZ) has just ordered a turnkey project to OSHUN for the installation of 30 devices in health posts located in areas without electricity in Senegal.

In Burkina Faso, OSHUN is strengthening its action alongside the Société du Canal de Provence (SCP) as prime contractors in the rehabilitation of water pumps and the installation of water kiosks in 27 villages in the municipality of Bobo Dioulasso (second largest city in the country). Thus, the populations will be able to have access in the same place to raw water for domestic use and treated water for consumption. This project, which is to be completed in April 2021, will reach nearly 70,000 beneficiaries.

More information on OSHUN here.

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(*) Nations Unies

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation acts for financial inclusion in India

©Crédit Agricole/Getty

With about 190 million adults without a bank account, India has –after China– the second-largest unbanked population in the world (World Bank). The microfinance sector has become a key instrument to fight financial exclusion in the country by providing financial and non-financial services to people excluded from the banking system. The sector has shown spectacular development: it reaches 60 million borrowers, for a total portfolio of 27 billion euros.

To support the development of microfinance in India, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has granted a loan of 3 million euros over 3 years to Pahal Financial Services Private Limited, an Ahmedabad (Gujarat) based microfinance institution. Since its creation in 2011, Pahal has served nearly 750,000 customers, mainly women borrowers, across 167 branches with total assets under management of 81 million euros. Today, Pahal is one of the fastest growing microfinance institutions in India thanks to innovative and diverse product offering for low-income people.

“With this new partnership, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation strengthens its action in favour of financial inclusion and women empowerment in India. This funding is our first direct exposure in India, using the External Commercial Borrowing channel recently opened by the Reserve Bank of India. The company has shown in many occasions its resilience and we trust that Pahal, its clients and the whole industry are recovering fast from this crisis”, said Caroline Brandt, Senior Investment Manager at the Foundation.

“Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation’s  debt line is a validation of Pahal’s business model and displays the resilience of the microfinance sector in India”, said Kartik Mehta, Co-Founder and Managing Director. “We at Pahal are determined to be a part of financial inclusion agenda for the vulnerable sections of the society. This money will be used to onlend to the women borrowers of Pahal”, added Purvi Bhavsar, Co-Founder and Managing Director.

The Foundation’s financial support comes at a time when the microfinance sector is emerging out of the Covid-19 crisis. After lockdown relaxation, the anticipated microcredit demands are expected to trigger swift recovery of the sector. Pahal, in partnership with the Foundation, will support its borrowers to help them restart their businesses.

SINAPI Aba and its work for women entrepreneurship in Ghana

Launched by the Canadian government in 2017, the FINEDEV (Financial Inclusion for Enterprise Development) programme promotes business development through financial inclusion in Ghana. The programme is implemented by Sinapi Aba Savings and Loans, a non-bank financial institution supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.

FINEDEV aims to improve access to finance, financial education and entrepreneurial training for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), women and vulnerable groups in Ghana. For Sinapi, the focus is on women entrepreneurship as 70% of its clients are women.

Networking and entrepreneurship training

The programme is based on two strands of action. The first is networking through events and training for women entrepreneurs. Through these meetings, participants have the opportunity to share their experience, learn about entrepreneurship and connect with other local women entrepreneurs. Since the beginning of the programme, Sinapi has organised 310 networking events and 447 trainings for more than 30 000 participants.

A second strand is the “Women Mentorship” programme. It brings together women entrepreneurs who have already received business training from Sinapi Aba, with less experienced women. Each “mentor” woman advises and supports other women entrepreneurs in building their businesses. The programme has already brought together 156 participants, including 52 mentor women and 104 coached entrepreneurs.

With FINEDEV, Sinapi is strengthening its action in favour of women’s financial inclusion in an innovative and sustainable way. Initially planned for a period of 4 years, FINEDEV has been extended for another year and is expected to end in 2022. After the official end of the project, Sinapi Aba plans to continue supporting its clients’ projects by maintaining its mentoring and networking activities for women.

[Covid-19] The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation in 2020

Eric Campos, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation

In 2020, the Foundation supported 80 microfinance institutions and social enterprises in 39 countries around the world. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the Foundation established a permanent dialogue with all the partner organisations and adapted its financial and technical support. The Foundation also coordinated with other key players of the inclusive finance sectors to develop commun solutions and better protect the microfinance institutions and their clients. Spotlight on an interview to Eric Campos, Managing Director of the Foundation, and some key figures of the activity in 2020.

The Covid-19 crisis has affected the microfinance sector around the world

Eric Campos: 2020 has been a very challenging year for the partners of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, microfinance institutions and social environmental impact enterprises. Very trying because the final beneficiaries, who are very dependent on sectors such as trade, agriculture and craft, had to deal with lockdown measures and therefore had the greatest difficulty in developing their income generating activities.

The Foundation has adapted itself to better support entrepreneurs in the field

EC: The Foundation’s teams focused on all actions that could allow these institutions, these enterprises to save time and adapt to the economic effects of this crisis. At the international level, we coordinated an agreement with international funders to avoid a liquidity crisis in the microfinance sector. At the Foundation level, we have granted a number of rollovers, we have supported institutions and enterprises by organising technical assistance missions to enable them to improve on risk management and on treasury management. We have been present throughout this year, alongside our long-standing partner institutions of the Foundation.

What prospects for 2021?

EC: In 2021, we are still in a crisis context. We are seeing some small signs of economic recovery in about a third of the countries in which the Foundation operates. In 2021, the Foundation will strengthen its technical assistance programme. We will continue to finance our partners, to support them, and we are cautious but confident in the economic recovery that we are already starting to see. Our commitment: help our partners get through this global crisis.