Sinapi Aba wins Best Bank for Women Entrepreneurs Award

Sinapi Aba, has been adjudged the Gold Winner for the Best Bank for Women Entrepreneurs 2020 for the Global SME Finance Awards. Launched in 2018, the Global SME Finance Awards was set up to recognise the commitments and distinguished achievements of financial institutions and Fintech companies in delivering outstanding products and services to their SME clients.

In 2018, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation consolidated its presence in Sub-Saharan Africa by investing in particular in Ghana for the first time, where it financed three partners who account for 8.1% of the new loans granted that year. Sinapi Aba as one of them, has so far received from the Foundation a loan in local currency equivalent to €931,000.

Sinapi Aba is a microfinance institution created in 1994 in Ghana by Opportunity International to serve as an incubator that provides business development and income generating opportunities to economically disadvantaged people who can thereby improve their living conditions. Sinapi is a partner of the Foundation since 2018. Trough savings and loan products, Sinapi Aba promotes entrepreneurial development, particularly women entrepreneurship that represents 78% of its clients. The institution also contributes to the development of rural areas, as 76% of its clients launch income-generating activities in rural areas.

More information on Sinapi Aba here.

Three Solidarity bankers missions are available

Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A, Solidarity bankers is a skills volunteering programme open to Group employees for microfinance institutions or impact businesses. The objective of this programme is twofold: it is a way of acknowledging the skills acquired by Crédit Agricole group employees and provides additional support to microfinance institutions and partner companies of the Foundation. Thanks to this scheme, the Crédit Agricole group reiterates its commitment to support employees’ solidarity initiatives.

Missions to be filled!

1. “Financial Audit / Reporting” mission for Kossam in Senegal

A subsidiary of Laiterie du Berger, Kossam’s mission is to develop an inclusive and sustainable dairy industry in Northern Senegal. Created in 2019, after a Solidarity Bankers mission, Kossam collects milk from 450 local breeders, to whom it provides market services (food, fodder), advice and training. The Solidarity bankers mission [which could be carried out by 2 Solidarity bankers] aims to support Kossam and Laiterie du Berger in strengthening the financial team and reporting. Depending on the health context, the mission will be carried out at the end of 2020 or early 2021 in Senegal.

2. “Fundraising” mission in favor of PPSE in Cambodia

Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE) is a Cambodian social enterprise created in 2013 that produces circus shows and has recently launched an animation and graphic design studio. PPSE employs art graduates from PPSA, a non-profit organization that supports underprivileged children and youth. An online Solidarity bankers mission will aim to consolidate the new PPSE business plan (developed in response to the Covid-19 crisis) and to support a fundraising and merger process. The mission is planned for the last quarter of the year.

3. “Human resources” mission in favor of Oshun in Senegal

Created in 2018, Oshun is a social enterprise that provides quality water services for the most vulnerable populations in rural Senegal. As part of a structuring process after a strong development, a Solidarity bankers mission will help simplify Human resources management, recruitment and general management. The mission is planned for the last quarter of the year in Senegal, but the calendar will depend on the context generated by the Covid-19.

How to apply?

  • Click on the link “Find a project
  • Enter in the the search bar: “Fondation Grameen”. All the Solidarity bankers missions will appear!
  • Click on the offer of your choice, you will find all the information requested for your application.
Contact: Carolina VIGUET
Head of Communication & Partnerships
carolina.viguet@credit-agricole-sa.fr

Solidarity Notebooks: a Solidarity Banker in Morocco

© DG

Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA in June 2018, Solidarity Banker is a skills volunteering programme open to all Crédit Agricole group employees for microfinance institutions or impact businesses supported by the Foundation. Discover the Column of Sarah Belbachir, Solidarity Banker of Crédit Agricole SA.

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Solidarity Banker… but, why?

The first time I spoke to my acquaintances about the Solidarity Bankers programme, I was told «banker and solidarity … isn’t that a bit contradictory?» For many, these two words have a hard time resonating in unison. However, when I discovered the Solidarity Bankers programme, I met passionate people, sincere ambitions and concrete actions. Far from being fine words, the programme won me over by the values ??it inspires and its willingness to work directly on the ground.

So I immediately applied for a mission to strengthen the anti-money laundering and ant-terrorism financing system (AML-ATF) of Al Karama, an institution funded by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit du Maroc that offers microloans to people excluded from the traditional banking system, in particular women.

Very soon after applying, I had confirmation that my application had been accepted. My mission therefore began in Montrouge, at the premises of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation for the preparation phase. With the help of Edouard, Violette and Carolina (1), we defined the schedule and the objectives. They introduced me to the main concepts of microfinance, and provided me with specific contextual elements on Al Karama, on the Moroccan economy and the microfinance sector in Morocco.

Take-off to Rabat!

On July 13, I finally flew to Rabat. For ten days, I was going to devote myself to a topic that was part of my area of ??expertise, but in a different sector, in a different size structure and in a cultural context different from my daily life.

The first two days were devoted to raising awareness among top management on the risks linked to AML-ATF and how to prevent them. AML-ATF training was organised by Crédit du Maroc teams within the framework of a skill-sharing patronage. It was an opportunity to exchange views on Crédit du Maroc’s VSE / SME financing practices and understand the market in which Moroccan microfinance institutions will diversify.

The discussions that followed with Al Karama’s team allowed me to familiarise myself with the functioning of the institution, to identify the strengths in terms of AML-ATF and the elements needing strengthening.

The next step was to elaborate a more detailed action plan, so that Al Karama integrates its AML-ATF obligations gradually and according to priorities. In collaboration with Edouard Sers of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, who joined me on this part of the mission, we thus defined precise recommendations, with one manager per action and a three-year implementation schedule. The challenge was to draw up a realistic and achievable action plan for Al Karama, in light of its ressources and its workforce.

The action plan was very well received by the Al Karama Executive Committee to which we presented it on the last day of the mission. The next step is now in the hands of Al Karama, who will implement this roadmap.

Unforgettable meetings

My mission was punctuated by two visits that marked my experience. Al Karama organised visits to agencies and clients, one in urban areas and the other one in rural areas. The first took place in the city of Temara, on the outskirts of Rabat. After some discussions with the branch manager and loan officers, we visited a client who received a microcredit in his traditional Moroccan clothing store. This first visit allowed me to better understand the functioning of a microcredit agency and to see how the procedures are actually applied in the field.

The second visit took place in Larache, in the north of Morocco. We first visited a rural agency which offers agricultural services to the inhabitants of the region. We went to a watermelon and peanuts field to meet with a farmer who has received a microcredit to develop its activity with a larger field. I was able to confirm the impact of microcredit on the development of small farming and the strengthening of rural economies.

These meetings allowed me to understand microfinance as closely as possible and to see what concrete finance can achieve. But above all, these meetings have been an unforgettable human experience.

This was just a taste … I came back to Paris with the desire to get further involved.

Newsletter #36 to download here

Sida, UNHCR and Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation join hands for financial inclusion of refugees in Uganda

© HCR

KAMPALA: The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation (GCAF) today launched a four-year programme to promote access to financial and non-financial services for refugees and host communities in Uganda.

The programme is an innovative blended financial approach with public and private funds coming together to facilitate finance for refugees and host communities. Access to affordable credit services is essential for refugees to start, build and expand enterprises, to meet their daily needs and to be more resilient to emergencies. In addition, access to other types of financial services such as savings, payments and insurance is key to ensure the inclusion of refugees in the formal financial sector and promote their self-reliance and resilience.

An innovative approach

This is a first-of-its-kind programme designed to incentivize both microfinance investors and financial service providers (FSPs) to extend their financial services to refugee and host populations. The project is currently piloted in Palorinya refugee settlement, in northern Uganda and in Kampala and will be gradually expanded to other targeted refugee-hosting districts.

“It is an effective way of using development aid, where we mobilize capital from other investors and thus ensure that scarce humanitarian funds can be released to go to refugees with the greatest need,” says Director General, SIDA, Carin Jämtin.

GCAF will provide debt funding to three FSPs with a guarantee from SIDA, which will also fund the technical assistance of the programme through its humanitarian allocation. The Foundation will coordinate, together with UNHCR, the technical assistance component in order to support the three FSPs to develop an offer of products and services, including financial literacy and business development trainings, for both refugees and members of the host communities.

Supporting entrepreneurship

For UNHCR, the project is in line with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and respond to the call to work with development agencies and the private sector to find lasting solutions for refugees. Many refugees are entrepreneurs, having been business owners in their country of origin or having entrepreneurial skills to start or expand a business activity in their host country. UNHCR Representative in Uganda, Mahoua Parums hailed the initiative and said, that, “Financial inclusion is a key component of achieving long-term solutions for refugees, as it helps them rebuild sustainable livelihoods. Many refugees decide to start a business once they settle in the country of asylum and microfinance can help them make their business grow, avoid aid-dependency and contribute economically and socially to the host communities.”

Through this programme, refugees will receive entrepreneurial training, equipping them with essential skills such as business plan development, financial literacy (including working with the banks), pricing and marketing.

“At the Foundation, we are convinced that microfinance institutions, while adapting their products and services, have an active role to play in promoting the financial inclusion of refugees. Opportunities for digital finance, an in-depth knowledge of each group’s characteristics, regular follow-up and appropriate non-financial services should stimulate such an involvement.” Says GCAF’s Managing Director, Eric Campos.

In total, some 100,000 refugees and hosting Ugandans would be able to access financial services (credit and savings) 70 percent being women. The project will support the creation and development of small businesses such as farming, handicrafts, catering, and trading.

Interview with Philippe Guichandut, Head of Inclusive Finance Development

By Flora Helard & Mathilde Thonon, In venture

Specialist in rural microfinance and socially responsible investment, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation was created in 2008 under the joint leadership of Crédit Agricole’s directors and Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize 2006 and founder of the Grameen Bank (see his interview here). The Foundation promotes the development of local microfinance initiatives and social enterprises in the 32 developing countries in which it operates. In 2017, 49 million euros were allocated to partner microfinance institutions and social enterprises.

We interviewed Philippe Guichandut, Head of Inclusive Finance Development, who told us about the commitments and achievements of the Foundation.

1. The partnership between Crédit Agricole and Grameen is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Based on the experience of the Foundation, can we confirm Professor Yunus’ assertion that the poor are creditworthy?

Indeed, we find that the beneficiaries of microfinance institutions generally repay their loans well, and at better repayment rates than traditional banks for this type of customers. However, the definition of “poor” must be qualified. To help the poorest people, microfinance is not enough. It is necessary to provide complementary non-financial services and personalized assistance, so that clients do not find themselves in situations of over-indebtedness. MFIs that target the poorest populations thus offer information sessions as well as individual support, then credit comes second when the person is more ready and better equipped to develop his economic activity. So I would say yes, under certain conditions, the poor are creditworthy. However, I do not believe that anyone is a potential entrepreneur, many of the microfinance borrowers are in survival logics, especially among the poorest. We must select carefully individuals who will use the credit wisely, in order not to worsen their situation.

2. Why do you think banks have a leading role to play in solving social and environmental problems?

Banks certainly have a role to play, along with NGOs, the government and private companies. It is important that they integrate a social dimension in their activities and evolve towards a more inclusive and responsible functioning, in order not to leave aside a part of the population. The social problem, however, can not be entirely the responsibility of the banks, we need a real paradigm shift in public opinion. Microfinance has emerged to overcome a market failure that did not meet the needs of the entire population, especially in rural areas and among populations excluded from traditional banking systems. Unfortunately, I think that microfinance still has good days ahead.

3. Like Grameen, you are particularly targeting women for your microfinance activities. Do you find differences in the use of credit based on gender?

Of course, we know that women will more easily reinvest the benefits of their activities within the family, like schooling of children, food, habitat, health … This does not mean that men do not do it, but it is generally observed that family consciousness is more prevalent among women, which makes it possible to reach a greater number of people with microfinance and participate in improving the living conditions of the people targeted.

4. Can we measure concretely the impact of microfinance on the well-being of communities? What indicators do you use and do you think that the impact measure should be universal?

Measuring impact is very complex, and for this reason microfinance has often been criticized. We are facing a problem of methodology, there are different schools of thought concerning the measurement of impact. Depending on the methodology adopted, one can find very different results. We have therefore chosen to measure the social performance of our projects with the SPI4-ALINUS rating tool, developed by CERISE for the due diligence and monitoring of social investors. I think it would be too complex and risky to universalize impact measurement because we must take into account local specificities (religion, culture, isolation, level of development …), and these vary enormously from one region to another.

5. Do you think that microfinance activities are exportable in France, or is it reserved for developing countries?

Absolutely, microfinance is developing in France and Europe. It is not restricted to developing countries. These are different markets, different costs but a lot of people who want to develop an economic activity and can not get a loan from a traditional bank are now turning to this solution. The European Microfinance Network (EMN) brings together the institutions involved in Europe and seeks to improve the European and Member States’ legislative frameworks.

6. With this partnership between Crédit Agricole and Grameen, you seem to reaffirm your desire to include rural areas. What is your agenda for further social inclusion of rural and remote areas?

There is a great deal to be done to strengthen the inclusion of rural people, especially farmers. There are very few microfinance institutions that specialize in this sector because it is very risky and highly dependent on climate hazards. Microfinance is generally urban or peri-urban, and when it is rural, it is rarely agricultural. It is a real challenge for us to understand and fund agricultural value chains. Crédit Agricole’s experience in this field in France is very useful for us. 77% of our beneficiaries come from rural areas, and between 20 and 30% work in agriculture.

7. The Foundation also invests in social enterprises. What are your selection criteria for the ones you finance? Do you invest in early stage social business or at a more advanced stage?

We do not invest in startups but rather in social enterprises already developed, not necessarily economically sustainable but that has a real potential for development. For us, the most important thing is that the company’s main mission is truly social. We have a social charter signed by entrepreneurs and sharholders to ensure that the social impact is the driving force behind the development of their business. In a second step, we study their business plan, capital requirements, market relevance and social indicators. We also value entrepreneurs’ personalities because they are the ones who will make the business work or not, and trust is the foundation of any partnership.

8. In your advocacy activities, do you feel that there is still much work to be done to reconcile the world of finance and the world of social assistance and environmental protection to the general public?

I had a long career in the associative world before joining the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. There is a real cultural difference, but the traditional opposition between these sectors stems mainly from a mutual misunderstanding and a lot of stereotypes. The private and the social sectors have never been so close, more and more initiatives in common are developing and the private sector has acquired a real awareness of social and environmental issues. It is also a matter of generation, young people today have a different sensitivity and we are only at the beginning of this rapprochement.

9. As Crédit Agricole clients, what can we do at our individual level to participate in the inclusive finance movement?

There are many opportunities to participate in this movement individually, but most people are not aware of it. A lot of awareness work is needed to give access to this information. You can subscribe to Finansol labeled products, invest in social enterprises, buy goods or services provided by companies of the ESS. If you work in a large company, you can choose to use employee savings. Also go to your bank to inquire about your possibilities.

What to read this week: Peace, security and development in the Sahel

From the demographic challenge to the environment, passing by the stakes of the fight against poverty, Jean-Marc Chataigner exposes his vision of the development of the Sahel and calls upon “the pursuit of an increased international solidarity” by “an approach joint, partnership, co-built with governments, communities, local associations, populations. Spotlight on his interview.


What challenges and prospects for an integrated approach for the return to lasting peace in the Sahel?

The major challenges of the region require the pursuit of increased international solidarity because the Sahelian countries do not yet have the capacity to face them alone. We need a joint, partnership approach, co-constructed with governments, communities, local associations, populations. There needs to be an integrated approach to the different components of action of the international community, national, regional and international efforts. Through the mission entrusted to me by the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, France promotes the idea of ​​a more articulated approach to the various political and diplomatic actions, in particular for the implementation of the peace agreement in Mali, security efforts, through the establishment of the joint force of the G5 Sahel and the relay which will ultimately have to be taken in renewed approaches to development.

The Sahel Alliance, launched in 2017 by Chancellor Merkel and President Macron, aims in this direction to obtain concrete results in a limited number of sectors, on subjects essential for the future of the Sahel which have nevertheless been neglected. recent years by donors like agriculture and education. The Sahel Alliance favors an approach in terms of the effectiveness of official development assistance (ODA) and the transparency and accountability of the actions implemented, in close collaboration with the partner governments and the civil societies concerned. It intends to strengthen the targeting of donor actions on the most fragile and vulnerable areas, peripheral and distant from capitals, and promote better coordination of development programs with humanitarian and security issues.


How to rebuild a trusting and lasting partnership between France and the African continent?

Relations between France and Africa have always had a particular dimension linked to a shared history made up of difficult times, but also of an exemplary community of weapons to face the enemies of freedom. But the world of 2018 is no longer that of 1945 or even that of 1958. International relations have evolved profoundly with the end of the Cold War, the attacks of 2001, the emergence of new powers, the appearance of planetary threats which we have to face and which can cause strong nationalist withdrawals. In this new international concert, France, and through it more broadly Europe, and Africa have common interests to assert.

In his speech in Ouagadougou last November, the President of the Republic clearly laid the foundations for this new relationship to be built, notably through the call for better listening to African youth, a real change in method in the management of aid to development, “no longer build cathedrals to our glory” he even said, the priority to education, in particular that of young girls, the common fight against religious extremism and obscurantism , the launch of a reflection on the restitution of African heritage, the conditions of movement of African students and the reception of African talents, investment in the African infrastructures of tomorrow. All these subjects, I do not cite them all because the list is impressive, are crucial for the establishment of a relationship of respect, partnership and balance, alone capable of establishing lasting mutual trust in the long term between our two continents.

What are the challenges of growth, peace and security for Europe and Africa?


Africa is the site of essential economic and security issues for Europe in a rapidly changing geographical area with strong demographic development.
The takeoff of many African countries is now underway and represents commercial and investment opportunities for Europe in emerging markets. Conversely, the persistence of fragile and failed states poses a threat to both our collective security and the sustainability of African development. The strengthening of regional peace capacities and the deployment on the G5 Sahel model of African military forces capable of coping with the various threats to peace and security on the continent is therefore a fundamental priority.

The complete columnhere.

Social Business, towards social utility-based entrepreneurship

© CreditAgricole SA/CAPA Pictures/Nicolas Axelrod.

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation calls for a more responsible capitalism as a harbinger of a new “social contract” for a fairer access to wealth creation.

A pragmatic observation

Drawing on its experience as a pioneering investor in social business companies, and with a quantitative assessment in support, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation observes that social business most often brings benefits to society rapidly, but takes more time to break even financially.

Social Business

The purpose of a social business is to provide a solution to a societal problem while trying to make a profit. This business model is therefore conventional in its financial aspect, but very different because its primary goal is social utility. Profitability is only a means to reaching that end in a sustainable manner. Its way of creating value does not lie in its capacity to meet a market need, if possible with a competitive advantage, but in the pursuit of its social mission: the collective utility project for which it was created.

One White Paper, seven proposals

In its White Paper, the Grameen Crédit Agricole makes seven concrete proposals on how to make social business more effective. From identifying factors of success to structuring the social performance of its projects, the Foundation boasts a singular economic approach.

1. Create the status of a social utility contract-based company

For the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, there can be no social business without a contractual instrument which lays down the social goals of the projects.

2. Develop the social utility to include it in the income statement of the social business

The development would consist of identifying and assessing the social and environmental impacts of the company so as to be able to transcribe them in the form of units of account.

3. Grant favourable fiscal treatment to the development of associations into social utility contract — based companies

Social businesses need to resort to hybrid forms of financing (donation/debt packages), because the particularly low margins of their economic models are generally unable to cover the investment costs.

4. Create public-private partnerships in rural areas to access essential goods

A social business established in a rural area can perfectly serve as a relay for public policy and become eligible for an adapted public-private partnership format.

5. Disseminate low-tech and open-source patents

Low-tech and open-source patents (royalty-free) are one of the keys to the development of modest and proximity economies in emerging countries.

6. Resource to off-balance sheet financial packages in the agricultural value chains

Developing a relationship of trust and confidence through contractualization reinforces and structures the agricultural value chain.

7. Rely on proximity relays

The Foundation recommends relying locally on an investing member on the board of directors. His presence will facilitate operations and governance.

“Social and Business: two words that are seemingly diametrically opposed. In the old economic paradigm, where individualism reigned supreme and its insecurity consequences generalized, they sounded like a contradiction, a paradox – a utopian whim. And yet, their convergence, however singular it may be, is a path rethinking and refining a more responsible capitalism and a more voluntarily inclusive economy for the future.” Eric Campos, general manager of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.

To download the Social Business White Paper: Livre-blanc-Social-business-BD

Entrepreneurs who change the world

From the very the first pages of their book, Matthieu Dardaillon and Jonas Guyot say: “The future belongs to those who do not resign themselves”. Still full time students in a prestigious business school, the two friends left for three years, to meet social entrepreneurs, enlightened leaders and committed citizens who use their businesses to make a difference in society.

From Europe to Asia and Africa, they speak about their discussions with these “visionaries”: Antonio Meloto, founder of Gawad Kalinga, who fights poverty in the Philippines; Bagoré Bathily, from la Laiterie du Berger in Senegal; or Arnaud Poissonnier, founder of the Babyloan microcredit network … *

From this world tour, they mainly brought back the conviction that it is always possible to act, at one’s own level and on its own way.

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* La Laiterie du Berger and Babyloan are partners of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation
Source : La Croix

The Foundation continues to develop its partnership with LOLC in Cambodia

© Philippe Lissac

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation granted a new loan equivalent to € 1.9 million to the Cambodian microfinance institution LOLC Cambodia, over a three-year period. This loan is the fifth granted by the Foundation to this institution (formerly TPC), a partner since 2010.

With this new loan, LOLC Cambodia, whose mission is to provide entrepreneurs and families at the base of the socio-economic pyramid with economic opportunities to improve their quality of life and their community through the provision of effective and sustainable financial services, represents 55% of the microfinance commitments of the Foundation in Cambodia where it currently has three partner MFIs.

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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 SA Foundation is a multi-business operator 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.