ZEP-RE and ACRE Africa: a partnership to reinforce agricultural insurance in Africa

ZEP-RE, an African leading reinsurance company will acquire a 56% controlling stake in ACRE Africa (Agriculture and Climate Risk Enterprise Ltd.), a social impact company supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation since 2014. CA Indosuez Wealth (Asset Management), the Management company of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Fund that holds an equity stake in ACRE Africa, validated the equity operation.

ACRE Africa provides crop insurance services to smallholders, and consulting services to development organisations and insurance regulators associations in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. This agreement paves the way to expand agricultural insurance in favour of smallholder farmers in Africa as it will reinforce ACRE Africa’s wide range of products and technology platforms for agriculture and microinsurance. “Our goal is to expand insurance coverage and improve financial inclusion throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. The safety nets we are building will make a large number of disadvantaged smallholders more confident in farming», declared George Kuria, CEO of ACRE Africa, at the signing ceremony.

ZEP-RE (PTA Reinsurance Company) is a regional organisation that promotes development and integration within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) through insurance and reinsurance business trade. It is based in Kenya, with regional and country offices in Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As shareholder of ACRE Africa, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is excited about the cooperation between ZEP-RE and ACRE Africa. “The COVID-19 pandemic emphasizes the importance of microinsurance in helping low-income rural people build resilience. ZEP-RE’s expertise and its alignment with ACRE Africa’s mission of advocating smallholder farmers will open a new chapter for ACRE Africa to enter new markets, to increase its social influence and to help strengthen the rural microinsurance industry”, affirmed Eric Campos, CEO of the Foundation.

Another important partnership was announced in parallel. With the financial support of Chainlink Community, ACRE Africa and Etherisc (designer of online insurance platforms) will develop a platform for 250,000 smallholder farmers to insure them against climate change risks in Kenya. The outlook for ACRE Africa and the smallholder agricultural insurance in Africa is encouraging.

More information on ACRE Africa.

COVID-19: a gradual recovery of MFIs in sync with their clients’ recovery

ADA, Inpulse and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation have joined forces to monitor and analyze the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on their partner microfinance institutions around the world. This monitoring is done on a regular basis and will be carried out throughout 2020 in order to obtain better insights of developments. We hope this regular and in-depth analysis will contribute to building strategies and solutions adapted to the needs of our partners, and also to the dissemination and sharing of information among the various players in the industry.

In Summary

The results presented in this article are drawn from the fourth survey [1] in a joint series by ADA and the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation, Inpulse having chosen to join the initiative one time out of two. Responses were collected between October 1st and October 20th from 73 microfinance institutions (MFIs) in 38 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA-37%), Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC-25%), Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA-18%), Asia (15%) and Middle East North Africa (MENA-4%) [2].

Given that previous surveys had revealed that the main financial difficulty for MFIs was the increase in their Portfolio at Risk (PAR), the new survey took a closer look at how MFI clients and their businesses were doing as this is what MFIs mainly depend on. Above all, the results of this survey confirm the gradual resumption of MFI activity, along with a reduction in most of the operational constraints initially encountered. The major remaining constraint has to do with loan recovery which explains the increase in PAR as the main financial difficulty for MFIs.
This difficulty in loan recovery may be due to external constraints, such as mobility or moratoria imposed by authorities, or to difficulties encountered by the clients themselves whose activities have not yet restarted or are slowed down by the impact of the crisis. Indeed, even if the peak of the health crisis has passed and it has affected to a lesser extent regions such as sub-Saharan Africa or South-East Asia, thus allowing a number of business sectors to restart, it is all too soon to expect a return to normal. Especially, the restrictive measures and the overall economic situation have negatively impacted — and still do — activities in a certain number of industries, thus restricting the sources of income of the populations. Consequently, this affects MFIs and their financial situation which is why it seems crucial to monitor closely how the crisis is experienced by their clients in order to be responsive in adapting to their needs by offering solutions allowing everyone — clients and MFIs alike — to survive this crisis.


The responses collected during the month of October show that most MFIs are gradually resuming their activities (Fig. 1). Only those of some MFIs in Myanmar remain very limited by the constraints represented by containment measures currently in place in the country, as are the activities of a minority of MFIs in sub-Saharan Africa (one MFI in Mali and one in Malawi). In Europe and Central Asia, the share of MFIs having achieved their normal activity level is most significant.


One of the constraints being encountered by MFIs that previous surveys have revealed was that part of their staff and client base were affected by Covid-19. Hence, we focused on the prevalence of the Covid-19 disease among staff and clients. Fig. 2 and 3).

The situation is mixed in this respect: The Sub-Saharan Africa region appears as the least affected with just a small proportion of MFIs reporting that their staff (15%) or their clients (22%) are affected. Moreover, this proportion remains very small (between 0.1 and 5%) with 70% of the region’s MFIs reporting that neither their clients nor their staff have been affected by the virus. On the other hand, the Latin America and the Caribbean region is the most affected, followed by Europe and Central Asia with a larger share of MFIs concerned by the virus (just 11% of MFIs in the LAC region reporting that neither their staff or clients were affected), and it shows a larger prevalence rate for some of those MFIs [3]. Nevertheless, even if the health situation is more problematic in those regions, it still remains for the time being a relatively minor constraint for MFIs.

Moreover, on a global scale a relatively important proportion of MFIs report that they do not encounter any constraints. (Fig.4), mainly in the Europe and Central Asia regions (62%), while those facing some constraints are fewer with every survey, thus showing a gradual recovery.

The major remaining constraint (32% of MFIs in the sample) is about the difficulty in collecting loan repayments. This implies an increase in the portfolio at risk which is the main financial difficulty encountered by MFIs everywhere. It is reported as such by 77% of MFIs while other difficulties show a diminishing pattern in every survey.

This difficulty or impossibility of collecting loan repayments can be explained by mobility constraints, mainly in countries or internal regions where containment measures are still in place, but also by the implementation of moratoriums – be they initiated by authorities or by the MFIs themselves if the clients needed them. Indeed, these moratoriums concerned the majority (84%) of MFIs surveyed in the sample (Fig. 5), and they are still in place for almost a half of MFI clients (48%) in total. Asia is the region where this situation is more frequent (83% of MFIs included in the sample).

Among clients having benefited from a moratorium, those repaying normally their loans once it ended are a minority (Fig. 6). The majority of MFIs (86% of the sample) report that some or all of the clients needed a new moratorium, or even ended up in the portfolio at risk with 39% of MFIs in the sample affected by the latter situation. In Europe and Central Asia, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, more than half of MFIs report a move to their portfolio at risk of part of their clients having benefited from moratoria.


Nevertheless, globally speaking, the majority of MFIs in every region report that at least 70% of clients repay their loans. (Fig. 7). In South and Central Asia and Europe, more than 80% of respondents show repayment levels above 70%. On the other hand, the situation is not as good in Latin America and Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa regions: 34% and 45% of MFIs respectively with less than 70% of clients repaying their loans, and 17% and 15% where this proportion is less than 50%.


These repayment levels, being both volatile and lower than the pre-crisis normal, can be explained partially by the fact that not all customers are still able to resume their activities: Once again, excepting the Europe and Central Asia regions, only a minority of MFIs report that 90% or more of their clients have resumed their activity. However, for a majority of MFIs in the sample (54% in total), between 50 and 90% of clients have resumed their activity. The overall trend therefore points towards gradual recovery.

However, even if customers do resume their activities, some sectors are more affected by the crisis than others. The business activity most often mentioned as being most affected is tourism in regions other than sub-Saharan Africa, where it is retail (reported by 48% of MFIs in the region). The services sector is second in most regions except in Asia where the production and crafts sector is more affected. On the other hand, agriculture is reported only once. Overall, the agriculture sector appears to have been less affected than others by the Covid-19 crisis, as our previous work already showed, where a number of MFIs stated that they wanted to focus more on agriculture as it was less affected by the crisis.

When looking at the constraints faced by customers, by sector, it appears that these constraints are specific to each of them (Fig. 10). Regarding the tourism industry, it is the decrease in the number of clients of entrepreneurs working in it that is the main source of difficulty, followed closely by the loss of employment, mentioned by 60% of MFIs who identified tourism as the most affected sector. On the other hand, in other sectors, the loss of jobs by clients does not appear to be among the main constraints identified. The decrease in the number of customers remains one of the major constraints, for the retail sector as well as for services or production and crafts. The same result is found in other surveys directly targeting MFI customers, such as those using the tool developed by SPTF where the reduction in demand is identified as the main reason for the decline in revenues [4]. Finally, the lack of business opportunities is the first constraint for the retail sector (reported by 72% of MFIs identifying this sector as being the most affected), while the difficulty in producing or offering products is typical of the production and crafts sector.

By focusing on the specific constraints faced by their clients depending on their industry, but probably too on other factors, MFIs would thus be able to better anticipate their financial situation in the short term, and respond appropriately to the needs of their different customer segments: This would allow them all to better navigate this crisis. This responsiveness seems to have already been adopted by some MFIs, given that, and beyond the priority given to the repayment of credits or their restructuring, some of them have introduced not only new channels of digital communication and distribution, but also new credit policies or new products (Fig. 11).


[1] The results of the first three surveys of ADA partners, Inpulse and the Grameen Agricole Foundation are available here: //www.ada-microfinance.org/fr/crise-du-covid-19 and //www.gca-foundation.org/en/covid-19-observatory/
[2] The number of MFIs responding by region is as follows: SSA: 27 MFIs; LAKE: 18 MFIs; EAC: 13 MFIs, Asia: 12 MFIs; MENA: 3 MFIs. In spite of the small number of MFIs participating in the MENA region, we considered useful to share the inputs of MFIs that took the time to respond to these surveys. However, we urge caution in interpreting the results in this region, which might have limited representativity.
[3] As the MENA region is represented by only 3 MFIs in the sample surveyed, the high numbers in this region should be considered with caution.
[4] The results of these surveys are available here: //app.60decibels.com/covid-19/financial-inclusion#explore

Kafo Jiginew, resilient in the face of the Covid-19 crisis in Mali

© RFI Savoirs

The Covid-19 crisis has impacted the activity of Kafo Jiginew, a microfinance institution funded by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation since 2018. Firstly due to the slowdown in international economic activity which impacted the growth of savings, but also in relation to the demand for loans which has also decreased. This panorama was presented by David Dao, Director of Kafo Jiginew, during an interview given on the occasion of the presentation of donations worth 25 million FCFA to the widows and orphans of the Malian soldiers who are part of the membership. of the institution.

The Covid-19 has also affected the Malian cotton sector, largely financed by the institution, which has seen its demand drop on the international market. Credit demands from cotton producers have decreased, which for the institution represents a significant drop in financial income. Another consequence is the increased risk of non-repayment of loans which could weigh on Kafo’s financial profitability in 2020. David Dao, however, expects a positive result for 2020 and asserts that the situation will not weigh on the existence of the institution that is strong.

Kafo Jiginew remains the leader in the microfinance field in Mali with at least 40% of the market share, 430,000 clients and a portfolio worth FCFA 68 billion. Since 2014, the institution has entered a phase of profitability which still continues. In 2015, Kafo Jiginew also initiated a global rating operation with MFR – Microfinanza Rating, an international audit firm that assesses and scores its financial and social performance. These good practices ensure transparency towards international funders such as the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, which will continue to support its partners to face the current crisis.

Source: Bamada.net



The Foundation publishes its Impact Newsletter

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its Impact Special Newsletter which presents the evolution of the figures for the Foundation’s direct and indirect impacts and an “Impact Focus” with the first results of the international coalition, initiated in May 2020 by the Foundation, to protect microfinance institutions and their clients in the context of the Covid-19 crisis. These results attest to real cooperation and coherence of action between the 30 signatory organisations of the pledge. Due to the prompt action taken, liquidity defaults have so far been avoided and technical assistance, coordinated and focused on essential actions, has made it possible to support institutions during all these period.

We also present the joint interview of the Directors of Crédit Agricole Normandie-Seine and Center-France, two Regional banks that have invested in the Inclusive Finance in Rural Areas Fund (FIR), the first microfinance fund of Crédit Agricole which reinforces the action and the Group’s impact in favour of financial inclusion.

You will discover the key figures of Solidarity Bankers, the Crédit Agricole Group’s voluntary skills programme implemented in favour of organisations funded by the Foundation, as well as a travel diary from a Solidarity Banker of Crédit Agricole SA who conducted a mission in Senegal for the benefit of SFA, a social enterprise supported by the Foundation.

Download the Newsletter # 37 Impact Special here.

Signatory organisations report on Covid-19 Pledge implementation and lessons learned

Over the past months, the financial inclusion sector has embarked on a journey to face the Covid-19 crisis. On the field, microfinance institutions have taken measures to face the health risks, lock downs and the economic recession. In the meantime, lenders, investors, support organisations and technical assistance providers had to adapt their intervention principles and coordinate their actions (1). By signing the Pledge on Key principles to protect microfinance institutions and their clients in the COVID-19 crisis (the “Pledge”), 30 organisations committed to complying with some key principles.

Six months after the signature of the Pledge, a working group of signatories (ADA, Cordaid Investment Management, Frankfurt School Impact Finance, Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation, Microfinance Solidaire, SIDI and the Social Performance Task Force) draws lessons from the implementation of the pledge principles. In a common publication, the signatories present the progress on 10 principles mostly related to rollovers and early stages of voluntary debt workouts, as this is what we can observe in the first months of the crisis.


We conclude to a very good coordination between international lenders who have agreed on terms of handshake agreements, avoiding lengthy restructuring discussions in the majority of cases. This prompt reaction has proved instrumental to avoid a liquidity crunch in the sector as most investees have maintained sufficient levels of liquidity. In rare cases when individual non-coordinated behaviors threatened the fair burden sharing amongst international debt providers, peer pressure has been effective.

We have also seen an unprecedented coordination on technical assistance that already resulted in some collaboration between technical assistance providers, such as the organisation of a common webinar on liquidity management, the provision of tools on business continuity and the implementation of field surveys on final clients. Coordination was however not up to our initial objective notably due to need to prioritise issues that were more pressing. Given the important challenges that microfinance institutions will face on the field, we believe that we should pursue our efforts on this front to avoid duplication and steer efficiency.

Our pledge to client and staff protection lives on. We have encouraged initiatives to promote continued client and staff protection in these times of crisis and need to pursue such efforts to make sure that they remain at the center of the table of discussions. Many microfinance institutions will have to turnaround a business intimately linked to the financial health of clients, staff behaviors on the field and staff treatment. For that purpose, we encourage coordinated collection of information on staff treatment and client outcome throughout the crisis and beyond. We also encourage deepening sector initiatives that contribute to efficient reporting under these exceptional circumstances (2).

New debt funding has drastically slowed down during the crisis but has not completely stopped. As some economies begin to restart, many of our investees have shown promising signs of regrowth since July 2020, with significant differences among countries and sectors of activities. Acknowledging the opening of this new chapter, we commit to accompany and consolidate the economic recovery in a timely and responsible manner.

Open Publication


[1] //www.covid-finclusion.org/investors
[2] The Social Investor Working Group of the SPTF has issued Lenders’ Guidelines for Defining and Monitoring Responsible Covenants in the Covid-19 context.

The Foundation grants a new loan to OXUS Tajikistan

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation granted a new loan to the microfinance institution OXUS Tajikistan. The loan, for an amount equivalent to € 465,000 euros, is the 4th granted to this Tajik institution which mainly targets microentrepreneurs and farmers in rural areas. Its social mission is clear and aims to improve the economic and social conditions of the low-income population who are not served by the banking sector.

With this new loan, the Foundation has an outstanding portfolio of € 24.5 million in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region for a total of 19 partners in 10 countries. This represents 26% of the total outstanding portfolio monitored by the Foundation at the end of September 2020.


Created in 2008, under the joint leadership of Crédit Agricole SA and Professor Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Grameen Bank, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is a cross-business actor which contributes to the fight against poverty through financial inclusion and social impact entrepreneurship. Investor, lender, technical assistance coordinator and Fund advisor, the Foundation supports microfinance institutions and social enterprises in 40 countries.

For more information on the organizations supported by the Foundation, click here.

Crédit Agricole’s Solidarity bankers in images

Launched in June 2018 at the initiative of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A., Solidarity bankers is a skills volunteering programme open to all Crédit Agricole Group employees on behalf of microfinance institutions or social impact enterprises supported by the Foundation.

The aim of Solidarity Bankers is twofold: on one hand, it values the skills of Crédit Agricole Group employees who wish to get involved in solidarity projects and, on the other hand, it strengthens the support for microfinance institutions and companies financed by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.

Two years after its launch, discover the testimonials and highlights of the missions in Senegal and Cambodia in 3 video clips that present the results of the programme.

First destination: Senegal

The programme’s first mission is emblematic: the mission led by Jonathan Michaud, an agricultural engineer from Crédit Agricole Franche Comté, in Senegal for La Laiterie du Berger. With the support of the Regional Bank, the Solidarity banker left for 2 years to help La Laiterie to structure the dairy industry in Senegal. Today, he is Director of KOSSAM SDE, the Dairy’s subsidiary created as a result of his mission, which contributes to structuring the milk sector in Northern Senegal by providing material resources and training to breeders and developing an innovative model of pilot “mini-farms”. It supports 1,230 local breeders, who have seen their income increase by more than 50% between 2018 and 2019.

Another mission was carried out in Senegal in 2020. Michèle Kouam, IT Project Manager at Crédit Agricole SA, left at the beginning of the year to support the Société Sénégalaise des Filières Alimentaires (SFA). Her mission was to work on digitizing the rice collection of SFA, a company that produces white rice from paddy grown by small farmers in the Senegal River Valley. By enabling access to credit, providing technical support and guaranteeing a fair price, SFA currently supports 3,200 small farmers and promotes the development of an inclusive rice sector in Senegal.

Heading to Cambodia

A final mission completes this record in images: the mission of François Galland, Head of International HR at Crédit Agricole SA, to the microfinance institution Chamroeun. François worked for 2 weeks on Chamroeun’s Human resources strategy. The institution offers financial products and services to more than 33,000 low-income people in Cambodia, who are also supported with a range of training and social support services.

What’s next?

Since the launch of the programme, 20 missions have been launched, 12 of which have been carried out. For the first missions launched in 2020, the selection process has been finalized, but two mission are still to be filled in Morocco and Egypt.

With Solidarity Bankers, the Regional Banks and Crédit Agricole entities in France and abroad are stepping up their actions in favor of inclusive finance and strengthening the human and social projects of the Group/PMT 2022 Strategy.

See the video of the 3 missions

Solidarity Bankers and Plastic Odyssey: missions to be filled in Egypt and Morocco


Every minute, 19 metric tons of plastic enter our oceans and 80% of marine pollution comes from coastal towns and cities in the world’s poorest countries. In the face of this global challenge, Plastic Odyssey aims to make recycling plastic waste into a profitable business that creates new jobs.

The project is based on a round-the-world voyage aboard a boat that acts as an ambassador for open-source recycling technologies. The boat will be making stops in emerging countries where these solutions will be used to recycle available waste to help create and grow plastic recycling microbusinesses. The expedition is due to set sail at the end of January 2021.

Crédit Agricole S.A., CA Regional Banks and subsidiaries support the project since 2018 by financing the construction of a prototype boat and the expedition with €1.2 million over 5 years. Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation supports Plastic Odyssey in the development of its business model and the project of structuring a social impact recycling branch during the expedition.


Plastic Odyssey will start its journey through the Mediterranean Sea, and needs to update its knowledge of the plastic waste value chain and to identify partnerships opportunities with social entrepreneurs. In the framework of the Solidarity Bankers Programme, Crédit Agricole SA and Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, publish two missions to support Plastic Odyssey’s development. The missions are open only to Crédit Agricole employees based in Egypt and Morocco.

The Solidarity Bankers’ objectives will be to identify the key actors of the plastic recycling value chain in Egypt and Morocco, to analyze the business model of targeted social enterprises and their success factors and to identify development opportunities for Plastic Odyssey.

The duration of each mission is one day per week for sixteen weeks, which can be during the Solidarity bankers’ working time (skill-based sponsorship by the Solidarity bankers’ employers) and/or holidays (volunteering). The missions can be done in pairs or by a team of expert of Crédit Agricole based in Egypt and Morocco. The mission in Egypt will take place from the last quarter 2020 and the mission in Morocco in the first quarter 2021.



(1) Alpes Provence, Aquitaine, Atlantique Vendée, Charente-Maritime Deux-Sèvres, Finistère, Nord de France, Normandie-Seine and Provence Côte d’Azur
(2) CA Assurances, CACEIS, Crédit Agricole CIB, CA Immobilier, BforBank, CAMCA Mutuelle, Crédit Agricole Poland and Crédit Agricole Italy

RENACA, finalist for European Microfinance Award 2020

In the Covid-19 pandemic, encouraging savings activity is critical in providing resilience to vulnerable people. Savings allows, among other things, consumption smoothing in the face of income volatility, minimises the impact of financial and other shocks, encourages long term planning and offers opportunities for productive investment.

The European Microfinance Award 2020 (EMA 2020) will reward with a €100,000 prize the organization that better encourages effective and inclusive savings. Among 70 applications from 37 countries, three finalists were announced: Buusaa Gonofaa Microfinance, Muktinath Bikas Bank and RENACA, partner of Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation. These organisations offer savings products and services based on a genuine understanding of clients’ needs and behaviour, reach under-served populations, and ensure that the savings are accessible, affordable and useful.

RENACA is a union of cooperatives in Benin supported by the Foundation since 2013, which targets low income and vulnerable populations  in rural areas. RENACA offers a wide range of saving products (‘tontine’ doorstep models, term deposits and demand deposits) and promotes community savings and credit groups. Its savings offer is supported by a mobile application and the use of tablets, for secure and trustworthy client transactions. RENACA also provides financial education and other non-financial services.

After the announcement of the finalists, the Luxembourg Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Franz Fayot, said: “The extraordinary response to this year’s Award is strong evidence of the impressive reputation it has gained for rigour and quality as well as for the exposure benefits that those who do well in the process can reap. The diverse applications highlight not only how important responsible inclusive financial services are during crises, but also how especially savings can strengthen resilience of vulnerable communities”.

The winner will be chosen by a High Jury and announced on November 19th at an online ceremony during EMW 2020.

More information on e-MFP

New programme to strengthen smallholder households

SSNUP (Smallholder Safety Net Upscaling Programme)

In collaboration with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Luxembourg Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Action, ADA is launching a new program to support small farmers in Africa, Latin America and Asia. SSNUP (Smallholder Safety Net Upscaling Programme) will run for ten years with a budget of 55 million euros.

The program will draw on the technical assistance expertise of impact investment funds to design, test and develop financial and non-financial solutions for the mitigation and transfer of agricultural risks of different actors in value chains.

A partnership to strengthen the technical assistance offer

Based on its experience in the management of technical assistance programs, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation was selected as one of the impact investors in charge of setting up the SSNUP.

The Foundation will thus coordinate technical assistance missions for the organizations it supports – microfinance institutions and social enterprises – on various themes such as the development of new financial and non-financial products/services for small producers, agricultural microinsurance and the digitalization of operations. The SSNUP expands the Foundation’s offer of technical assistance and represents a tremendous opportunity to strengthen its impact on the organizations it supports in Africa and Asia and on the small producers supported by its organizations in the field.

In addition to the Foundation, four impact investors have joined SSNUP: Incofin, Oikocredit, responsAbility and Symbiotics. Other actors will be invited to join the program as it develops.


For more information: ADA.