A Solidarity banker in Kenya
By Eva Hoglund, CFO at EFL (Poland)
Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA in June 2018, Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme aimed at all Crédit Agricole group employees for the benefit of microfinance institutions or impact businesses supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Read the interview with Eva Höglund, Crédit Agricole’s Solidarity banker, who left for Kenya in 2019 to support Musoni, a microfinance institution funded by the Foundation.
Beginning of the adventure
When I discovered the Solidarity bankers mission in favour of Musoni, a microfinance institution in Kenya, it was immediately obvious to me: it was made for me. The objective of the mission was to accompany Musoni in the implementation of a strategic planning and monitoring system. Not only it was a beautiful solidarity and sharing mission, in a country that I did not know, but I also had the impression that the qualities and experience requested were a description of my own professional career. I immediately gathered as much information as possible about Musoni and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.
Soon after I applied, I was informed that my application had been accepted and I immediately started preparing my mission. The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation team was very supportive during this first phase: together we established the mission’s objectives and agenda. This was followed by reading sessions of Musoni’s presentation documents and strategic plan.
During the summer preceding the mission, I also had numerous exchanges and conference calls with Musoni to ensure that we shared the objectives and had a common vision of the working method to be followed. From my point of view, good preparation is essential and this phase was the key to the success of my mission.
Heading to Kenya
On 26 October 2019, departure for Kenya for a 15-day field mission. I was leaving for a mission in line with my skills and knowledge of the microfinance sector, but in a structure and cultural context different from my daily life. It was therefore not without a little apprehension that I landed in Nairobi. The welcome I received from David Camara, Investment Advisor at the Foundation, who I had previously met in Montrouge, was reassuring.
On Monday morning, we started with the meeting to launch the field mission with all Musoni’s employees who were going to contribute to establishing the strategic planning and monitoring mechanism. The presence of Stanley Munyao, CEO of Musoni, and David, representing the Foundation, was important to underline the importance of the project. Musoni gave itself all the means to succeed by sending Amina Jaberney, a consultant who was going to accompany me during my field mission in order to ensure afterwards the operational implementation once my mission was over.
During the first week, Amina and I conducted interviews with Musoni’s management, as well as agencies’ employees. We compiled the key points to remember and translated them into vectors consistent with Musoni’s mission and vision. The second week consisted of validating and ensuring the adherence of Musoni’s teams to the proposed strategic management system. In order to ensure that the mission was going according to expectations, we held Steering Committees with the CEO every 2 days. On my last day in the field, we were able to present a complete set of the system validated by Musoni’s management.
Back to Paris
Once my mission was over, Amina took over with Judy Ndungu, Musoni’s Human Resources Director. The final implementation meeting, gathering all the employees, was held on 13 July 2020. The performance evaluation of the first half of the year will be carried out based on our work. What a satisfaction!
I am very pleased to have taken this opportunity offered by Crédit Agricole and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. This assignment will remain an unforgettable experience. It allowed me to experience from the inside how a microfinance institution operates in a fast-changing market. I met some very nice people and I am proud of the result we were able to achieve, together, in such a short period.
Source: Newsletter #36, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Dowload it here
The Foundation publishes the Newsletter N.36
The Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation publishes its Newsletter N.36. The end of July marks the fifth month of the global health and economic crisis. All countries have been affected but, like the impact of extreme weather events, the health crisis is profoundly unequal in that it affects the most vulnerable populations most severely.
Since the end of February, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation’s teams have been working on several major initiatives. First, we have established a rapid and ongoing dialogue with the organisations we support so that we can understand the effects of the crisis, the measures taken and their needs accordingly. Secondly, we have adapted our monitoring and analysis tools and our requests for information, particularly with regard to business continuity plans and short-term cash flow plans. At the same time, we led an international coordination of lenders and players in inclusive finance to act together, in consultation, to prevent any liquidity shock that would have destabilized the sector. Finally, we regularly published articles on the Covid-19 Observatory and on social networks to share our analyses and inform stakeholders.
Five months after the beginning of the crisis, we feel that this first wave has been well managed by the microfinance institutions, which have all shown great professionalism. We would also like to highlight the remarkable support and attentiveness of our own financiers: Agence Française de Développement, Proparco, the European Investment Bank, Crédit Agricole and its entities Crédit Agricole CIB and Amundi. The sector’s remarkable resilience has undoubtedly been strengthened thanks to these concerted and convergent actions between donors and microfinance institutions operating in all parts of the world.
In this edition of the Newsletter, you will discover, among other things, details of the International Coalition coordinated by the Foundation in response to the Covid-19 crisis and two projects that we launched during this complex period: the new website and the Foundation’s first Impact Report. This new website and this Report are yours: administrators, the Grameen network, the Regional Banks and Crédit Agricole entities, donors, technical partners and supported organisations. It is also our way of paying tribute to you.
We continue to monitor closely the effects of the health crisis and our mobilization, on which you know you can count, is constant.
The cooperative capital company: a model for the “World after” Coronavirus
By Éric Campos , CEO, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation & Bagoré Bathily, Chairman and CEO, Laiterie du Berger
The global shock of 2020 shows the absolute necessity to rethink our economic system. Health and climate emergencies no longer leave us any choice. Without structural change, the risks of social, political or environmental tensions will become more and more important every day.
We would like to submit the idea of a socially different model of company for the collective discussion: the cooperative capital company, a company whose capital remuneration is shared by and between shareholders and employees thanks to an arrangement under which employees receive part of the dividends directly when there is a payout. The ownership of capital is a factor of exclusion of populations, particularly with regard to the younger generations — the labour force. If we wish to build a sustainable and harmonious future, it is crucial to resolve the issue of a fair redistribution of the value created by growth and therefore by the company.
Today, capital is owned by the shareholders and leveraged by the employees. Their fates are inextricably related, yet no direct link really exists between them. We think it is possible to bring them together by establishing a convergence of their interests, thanks to new rules where employees become usufructuaries of part of the company’s capital. The shareholders provide the funds, the employees deliver the added value. And finally, everyone deserves their share.
The idea is there. It may sound iconoclastic but it is realistic in fact, i.e. a company whose dividends are now shared between shareholders and employees in a fundamental way by giving employees a share in the use of the capital.
This is what we call the cooperative capital company. In order to become one, the company must include a special provision in its articles of association that allows for employees to receive a share of the profits if dividends are triggered. It thus grants them a place as usufructuary shareholder. For their part, the shareholders remain equity holders and owners of the shares, but with the difference that they opt to become bare owners for a specific part of the capital, the yield value of which they transfer to the collective wage earners. To that end, they must accept a reduction in the nominal value of their share – for example through the effect of a capital increase by issuing securities – and transferring the difference to those who “manufacture growth” — the employees. Idealistic? Astonishing? Bizarre? Far from it.
The shareholder-investor must admittedly bear a certain “cost.” He is asked to pay a sort of “ticket of admission” to productive capital. But there is nothing confiscatory about this. With no loss of ownership, he opts to invest in another form of value: human beings. His wager is that, supported by reinforced cohesion, the company will be able to grow better and be better valued in the long term. It is an entrepreneurial reasoning of dynamic reconciliation.
Such a system has many advantages. For employees, it obviously provides direct access to a new channel for redistributed value in a spirit of socially equitable cooperation. This is essential in a global context where the gap between the richest and the middle classes has been widening steadily in recent decades.
For shareholders, there is an innovative pre-emptive role so that labour value can be included in the creation of capital wealth, thus giving investment an entrepreneurial and societal dimension beyond its financial purpose. It has been shown that investments that are steered in environmental, social and governance terms (ESG criteria) have performance potential – and above all a future.
Finally, for companies, and in particular those whose projects are part of a corporate social responsibility mission, this is an instrument of resilience. They put themselves in the position of no longer considering employment as an adjustment variable but rather as a legitimate, structuring gene. By accepting to put shareholders and employees on equal footing, a new balance and a promising dialogue will be established. It is, in a way, the City that enters the Company.
The cooperative economy has long been a response to the excesses of the times it goes through. Its longevity can be explained by its capacity to adapt and hybridize. It has sprung many branches. Our proposal is a current translation, a step aside, a bud on the tree.
The cooperative capital company goes far beyond the mechanisms of profit-sharing and employee participation, which consist of paying a bonus linked to the enterprise’s performance or representing a share of its profits. Cooperative capitalism acts on the cornerstone of the company and its capital, by having the stakeholders share responsibilities. The wage earners join the ranks of shareholders whose governance is part of a process of openness and convergence of interests, without sacrificing their prerogatives. Transparency in terms of social and environmental impact is imperative for the cooperative capital company, whereby the instrument consists of the measurement and control of what is known as extra-financial performance as well as the publication thereof.
We can see in social businesses or mission-based enterprises in which we intervene as managers or directors the extent to which the concern for economic inclusion pushes the company to combine its interests with those of its ecosystem. This is true in many places around the world where we are involved, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where we work with livestock farmers and agri-food chains. Economic inclusion is unquestionably a way to pursue in order to restore to human societies the enlightened paths and hope they need. There is no utopia in such vision, but the free and civic conviction that the world cannot be built otherwise than with and for each other.
Éric Campos is the General Manager of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, a foundation specializing in microfinance and social entrepreneurship, and Head of CSR at Crédit Agricole S.A. Bagoré Bathily is the founding Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of La Laiterie du Berger, a social business that promotes the dairy industry in Senegal.
(Co-editor: Julien Foulc)
Covid-19 affects Microfinance Institutions of different sizes in different ways
ADA, Inpulse and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation have joined forces to closely monitor and analyse the effects of the COVID-19 crisis among their partners around the world. This monitoring will be carried out periodically throughout the year 2020 with the purpose of evaluating the evolution of the crisis. Through this constant and close analysis, we hope to contribute, in our own way, to the structuring of strategies and solutions tailored to the needs of our partners, as well as the dissemination and exchange of information among the different actors in the sector.
The results presented in this article come from the second wave of a joint (1)survey by ADA and Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, Inpulse having decided to join the initiative for odd-numbered waves. The responses were collected from 18 June to 1 July from 108 microfinance institutions (MFIs) based mainly in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC, 46%), Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA, 29%), Asia (14%) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA, 10%), with a single MFI from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This panel of respondents spans a relatively diverse range of MFI sizes, with 49% of Tier 2 MFIs,(2) 35% of Tier 3 MFIs and 16% of Tier 1 MFIs. Figure 1 shows their regional distribution.
Figure 1. Respondents by region and tier
MENA Tier 2
The latest wave of the survey reveals that the crisis faced by MFIs has laid bare the structural strengths and weaknesses specific to their sizes: the biggest MFIs (Tier 1) appear better equipped to overcome the financial difficulties resulting from the health crisis and epidemic containment measures, as well as to take crisis management measures and make use of the specific measures put in place by local authorities. Smaller MFIs (Tiers 2 and 3), on the other hand, are more likely to offer their clients non-financial services to help them cope with the situation and are eager to continue developing non-financial services in the future. More generally, if they are considering launching new products or services, it is mainly to meet the needs of their clients rather than following their strategy or reducing risks. While big MFIs appear to be more resilient in times of crisis, small ones are also rising to the challenge and staying true to their powerful social mission. This is a real strength for these institutions, which should not be neglected in favour of more autonomous structures during the current crisis.
The biggest MFIS are less exposed to financial difficulties…
Since June, epidemic containment measures have been relaxed in certain regions, particularly Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, the operational difficulties faced by microfinance institutions have ebbed in these regions since May,(3) but they are still very much present in Latin America and the Caribbean, where containment measures are still in place and a higher percentage of MFIs still find it difficult to move around, meet clients in agencies and, therefore, to disburse loans and collect loan repayments, as can be seen in Figure 2. For example: 76% of MFIs in the Latin America and the Caribbean region report that their staff is finding it difficult to move around, compared to 23% in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Figure 2. Operational difficulties faced by MFIs by region:
As explained in our previous article, these operational difficulties are having an impact on the portfolio and its quality in all MFIs. However, the resulting financial difficulties vary by MFI size. Overall, the biggest MFIs are less likely to face these types of problems, with lower percentages of Tier 1 MFIs reporting difficulties in repaying funders (12% versus 22.5% of Tier 2 and 3 MFIs), insufficient equity capital to cope with the crisis (6% versus 29% of Tier 2 and 3 MFIs) or lack of liquidity (2% versus an average of 29% of Tier 2 and 3 MFIs), as can be seen in Figure 3. Tier 1 MFIs appear better equipped to absorb the impact of the crisis on their financial situation.
Figure 3. Financial difficulties faced by MFIs by size
Although an increase in the portfolio at risk is the main difficulty faced by all MFIs, this increase varies by MFI size. Tier 1 MFIs have experienced smaller increases than other MFIs, as can be seen in Figure 4: only 12% of Tier 1 MFIs report that their portfolio at risk at 30 days has doubled or more than doubled compared to end 2019, versus 44% of Tier 2 MFIs and 57% of Tier 3 MFIs. In contrast, 35% of Tier 1 MFIs report a stabilisation or decrease in this indicator, versus 17% of Tier 2 MFIs and 8% of Tier 3 MFI.
Figure 4. Changes in the PAR30 of MFIs compared to end 2019 by MFI size
…and more likely to implement crisis management solutions…
The governments of most countries have taken measures to help microfinance institutions to weather the crisis. However, not all MFIs are benefiting from these measures. While the exact percentages vary from one region to the next, probably due to differences in the communication and implementation of these measures (e.g. MFIs in Asia are more likely to report making use of a certain number of measures), geographic location does not appear to be the sole determining factor for making use of certain government measures: bigger MFIs are also more likely to benefit from them, as can be seen in Figure 5.
Figure 5. Government measures from which MFIs have benefited by MFI size
This size effect is real because it cannot be explained by a specific distribution of MFIs by region. For example, when it comes to rescheduling or cancelling the payment of taxes and the non-provision of loans affected by COVID-19, a regional analysis shows that MFIs in Asia are more likely to benefit from these measures despite Tier 1 MFIs being in the minority in this region. Similarly, when it comes to liquidity lines, MFIs in Sub-Saharan Africa are among the most likely to benefit from them despite Tier 1 MFIs being few and far between in this region. As for the operational and crisis management measures implemented, the types of measures again vary by MFI size (Figure 6): For example, 100% of Tier 1 MFIs in the sample restructured client loans, versus an average of 69% of other MFIs. They are also more likely to engage with supervisory authorities to explore the possibility of suspending prudential regulations during the crisis. In contrast, Tier 3 MFIs are less likely to use their liquidity plans or implement new digital solutions.
Figure 6. Operational and crisis management measures taken by MFIs by size
…while small MFIS continue to focus on their clients’ needs
In contrast, despite facing significant challenges, the smallest MFIs continue to focus on their clients’ needs: for example, they are more likely than Tier 1 MFIs to have surveyed their clients to better understand the impact of the crisis (Figure 7). On the other hand, although they were less likely to disburse emergency loans to their clients, they were more likely to implement measures that went beyond their core business to better meet the needs of their clients during the health crisis. For example, more of these MFIs launched hygiene awareness campaigns on hygiene or provided clients with emergency kits. Bigger MFIs were less likely to offer these types of direct services to clients, instead forging partnerships with specialised
Figure 7. Crisis response measures for clients by MFI size
More Tier 1 MFIs reported interest in launching new products or services in the medium term; as shown above, these MFIs have fewer financial constraints and, therefore, more room for manoeuvre in this regard (Figure 8). More specifically, while few MFIs overall are planning to launch microinsurance products in the future, Tier 1 MFIs are the most likely to do so. They are also more likely to want to increase their focus on agriculture or launch new digital products and services. The smallest MFIs, on the other hand, also want to start offering non-financial services such as financial literacy and business development services.
Figure 8. New products, services or markets that MFIs wish to develop in the medium term, by size
The motivations for MFIs to focus on new markets or develop new products or services also vary by size (Figure 9): Among those that reported wanting to launch at least one new product or service and stated their motivations (76 out of 108 respondents), the desire to meet the new needs of clients and/or follow new market trends was more frequent among Tier 3 MFIs than among MFIs in other tiers. In contrast, there are fewer that base this choice on following their strategic plan or striving to reduce risks.
Figure 9. Main motivations for MFIs to focus on new markets, products or services by size
The focus of the smallest MFIs on their clients’ needs will probably become one of their strong points during this crisis.
(1) The results of the first wave of the survey of ADA, Inpulse and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation’s partners
can be found here: https://www.findevgateway.org/paper/2020/06/beyond-difficulties-posed-covid-19-crisis-newopportunities-are-emerging-microfinance
(2) Tiers are defined according to the value of their total assets: over USD 50 million for Tier 1, USD 5 to 50 million for
Tier 2 and under USD 5 million for Tier 3.
(3) See the results of the first wave of the survey, available via the above link.
The Foundation finances microfinance institutions in Mali and Romania
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation funded two new partners, including one in a new country. With these two new partners, the Foundation currently supports 83 organisations in 40 countries.
It thus granted a first loan for a total amount in FCFA equivalent to €1.5 million to Cofina Mali, a subsidiary of Cofina SA which provides inclusive financial services. The institution offers loan, savings and money transfer services to micro and small businesses but also to individuals. It also provides financial education and business development trainings. Cofina Mali has over 2,500 active borrowers, 28% of whom are women.
The Foundation also invested for the first time in Romania, in the form of a guarantee of a total amount in local currency equivalent to €1.5 million granted to the microfinance institution VITAS. VITAS provides loans to near 2,000 clients, mostly micro- and small enterprises and to individuals, for home improvements. The institutions has its roots in the CHF Romania, an NGO that was founded in 1995 as one of the first microfinance institutions in Romania. Today, Vitas is one of the main players in the Romanian microfinance market.
See all the organisations supported here.
Impact of COVID-19 on Refugee Saving Groups in Uganda
VisionFund Uganda has been working in Obongi district since May 2019 and has disbursed US$ 92,000 to 100 savings groups, supporting 2,264 individual group members. VisionFund started training saving groups in Yumbe district late 2019, but has not financed any group yet. Savings groups have been operating in both districts for some time and all the interviewed groups have been in existence for at least two cycles (or two years). VisionFund Uganda is the first MFI to offer loans into those groups. Between April and May, a study was conducted to understand the effect of COVID-19 on savings group (SG) on both host and refugee communities.
Savings Group Meeting Behavior
The majority (81%) of the groups are still meeting; only 19% of groups have stopped meeting. The main strategy has been to keep meeting (65%), but in small groups as per government requirements on social distancing. One explanation for the stronger resilience of the refugee groups may be that these groups had more support in their formation than host groups. Almost all refugee groups are still saving (some are saving less) while 24% of host groups have stopped saving. The conclusion is that refugee groups have not only adapted to the new meeting guidelines but have also found ways to continue meeting, showing higher levels of resilience.
When asked about the future of the group, of the overall 417 participants 65% expected to continue to save. However, it is worrying that 28% of all respondents expected to drop and for host communities this was up to 39% of respondents. It is important to better understand what this means long term.
Impact on Households
Households were stressed on two fronts. 88% of all respondents reported an increase in staple food prices, which puts pressure on household budgets. Almost all refugee respondents (96%) reported the increase, which probably reflects the reduction of their WFP rations. At the same time, 92% of all respondents reported some level of financial stress due to either lower business activity (34%), decreased income (23%), challenges to save (25%) and food insecurity (11%). It’s safe to conclude that all households were stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but even though refugees were stressed at a higher level, they proved to be more resilient.
Despite these stresses, households are not resorting to increased demand for the SG social fund or selling their assets (87% haven’t had to sell any assets). In terms of demand on the savings group social fund, 58% of the groups reported no change in number of requests (with little difference between host and refugee), but did note that those who did request use of the social fund, the amount was significant.
Savings group members engage in multiple economic activities. Similar to other studies on the impact of COVID-19, 93% of all respondents reported some level of reduced income. More than half of the groups reported either a big reduction in income (47%) or a complete stop to income (11%). Interestingly, 6% reported an increase in income reflecting that there are business opportunities even in a crisis.
A last question asked how groups were adjusting their businesses due to the COVID-19 crisis, this shows a range of different activities that households are doing to survive. This again shows how refugees are adjusting in various creative ways to the stresses they are facing.
In conclusion, the three following points can be highlighted:
- Refugee savings groups are resilient: The demonstrated resilience of these refugee savings groups (compared to host groups) continues to support the thinking that the formation and support for refugee savings groups is a key response to livelihoods for long term refugee communities.
- COVID-19 is having a dramatic impact on the livelihoods of the rural poor: This survey was undertaken in a remote part of Uganda which supports anecdotal evidence that rural communities are as much impacted as the more visible impacts of COVID-19 on people livelihoods.
- Surveys can be done safely in a lockdown situation: Finally, this report shows that even in a lock down situation, using a simple digital tool and practicing social distancing guidelines surveys can be done quickly.
Further information on VisionFund’s Refugee Microfinance programme in Uganda here.
The Grameen Agricole Foundation officially approved as a new CSAF global affiliate
The Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF) is an alliance of social lending institutions, also referred to as impact-first agricultural lenders, targeting agricultural businesses in the “missing middle” in low- and middle-income countries, and focused on creating a thriving, sustainable and transparent financial market to serve the financing needs of small and growing agricultural businesses in low- and middle-income countries worldwide. CSAF members include AgDevCo, Alterfin, Global Partnerships, Impact Finance, Incofin Investment Management, Oikocredit, Rabo Rural Fund, responsAbility Investments AG, Root Capital, Shared Interest Society, SME Impact Fund, and Triodos Investment Management
Its mission is to facilitate market entry and increase lending to agricultural businesses in the missing middle, focus the agriculture finance sector on reaching and supporting the livelihoods of the world’s 450 million small-scale farmers and promote responsible lending principles, including social, environmental and corporate governance standards, among all financial institutions serving this market.
In June, the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation has been unanimously approved by the CSAF global members as a new global affiliate. The Foundation and the Council will work together in the years ahead to strengthen CSAF and its efforts to build a growing and high-impact financial market serving agricultural enterprises globally.
The AFD Group grants a €10 million loan to the Foundation to promote microfinance
A €10 million loan has just been granted by the Agence française de développement Group (AFD), represented by its subsidiary Proparco, to the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. This loan will enable the Foundation to develop its support for microfinance institutions, which provide guidance and support, mainly in Africa, to populations excluded from the traditional banking system. The AFD Group has also pledged to support the Foundation with a €900,000 grant that will enable it to set up a microinsurance technical assistance programme.
Nearly 4 out of 10 adults in the world do not have a bank account. This means that 1.7 billion people are excluded from the traditional banking system. This problem is at the heart of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation’s action. For nearly 12 years, it has been financing and supporting microfinance institutions that serve populations excluded from the traditional banking system, mainly women (85%) and rural populations (82%), in some 40 countries.
The Agence française de développement Group, which has been supporting the Foundation since 2013, has granted a €10 million loan to the Foundation in order to bolster its action in favour of small and medium-sized microfinance institutions based mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
€900,000 grant to support microinsurance
The insurance penetration rate in Africa is well below the global level. Yet, insurance is a lever for economic and human development. It has a significant impact on improving the quality of life and protects human capital from certain risks, so as to preclude the need for emergency adjustment strategies.
Since 2011, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has been supporting microinsurance through research activities and technical assistance projects for the institutions it guides and supports.
A €900,000 grant from the Agence française de développement Group will enable the Foundation to develop its microinsurance technical assistance offering to the organizations it supports.
“We share the AFD’s ambition to help the fight against poverty and inequality throughout the world. We are very proud of the trust that the AFD Group has placed in us over many years. This new funding will enable us to strengthen our action in favour of microfinance institutions, particularly in Africa. We will also be able to bolster our capacity to support the development of insurance products and services, including agricultural insurance. This partnership will in turn enable the clients of such institutions –low-income households, women, small farmers and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises– to protect themselves better, to be more resilient”, affirms Eric Campos, Managing Director of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Head of CSR at Crédit Agricole SA.
“At a time when the coronavirus crisis could jeopardize the activity of many African entrepreneurs, access to financial services is an essential lever more than ever before for supporting the private sector and reducing inequalities. Against this background, I am proud of the mobilization by the Agence française de développement to support the most vulnerable African businesses, particularly in the informal sector. This is what the partnership with the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is all about, through which the AFD Group is pursuing its commitments in favour of financial inclusion. By enabling the Foundation to increase its portfolio of loans, capital, guarantees and technical assistance to microfinance institutions, the AFD is taking action to support Africa’s population, which is the most entrepreneurial in the world”, says Rémy Rioux, Chief Executive Officer of the Agence française de développement.
A Consortium to support microfinance in Africa during Covid-19 crisis
In the economic crisis linked to Covid-19, the occurrence of a liquidity and / or solvency crisis turns out to be one of the main risks microfinance institutions are facing. To deal with this, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, the Microfinance African Institutions Network (MAIN), International Solidarity for Development and Investment (SIDI) and the ACTES Foundation are creating a consortium to better support the organizations supported in Africa.
In April 2020, MAIN sent a questionnaire to all its members in order to gather their needs and find out what type of support the network could offer them. The results of this survey show that most of the institutions questioned encounter difficulties in managing their liquidity and wonder how to continue to serve their customers in a sustainable manner in such a context.
It is in this context that the Consortium was formed, which brings together the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, MAIN, SIDI and the ACTES Foundation. The objective of the Consortium is to provide the organizations supported with risk analysis and management tools in order to anticipate and better manage the impact of the crisis on their liquidity and solvency.
The Consortium will thus offer 50 microfinance institutions, including 31 partners from the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, mainly in West and East Africa, support on the theme of liquidity and solvency risks management. The target organizations are mainly small institutions (Tiers 3: loan portfolio <10 million dollars), very present in rural areas.
The support will take the form of a cycle of three online training courses for each institution, workshops and personalized coaching, which will be provided by Cabinet Senbumo. In addition to liquidity and solvency management, institutions will be trained on the subject of resumption of activities following the Covid-19 crisis. The programme will start on July 06, 2020 and will last for 6 weeks.
Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its 1st Impact Report
In order to give more insight to and share the results of its action, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is publishing its first Impact Report, a financial and extra-financial assessment based on 2019 activity data. The impact assessment was carried out with CERISE, an independent firm specializing in impact and social performance measurement. The purpose of this report is to provide a concise and objective overview of the Foundation’s contribution and its forms of action in favour of impact entrepreneurship and access to essential services.
Humanity is going through a period in history that it has never known. The crisis generated by COVID-19 has shaken our societies, economies, and activities. In a world where inequalities are growing and low-income populations are affected disproportionately, financial inclusion and entrepreneurship are factors for enhancing the resilience of such vulnerable populations. These are the levers of action of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, which has for nearly 12 years been contributing to the reduction of inequalities and poverty through financial inclusion and impact entrepreneurship.
Today the Foundation is publishing its 1st Impact Report, produced with methodological support from CERISE, a pioneering organization that specializes in the promotion of responsible finance. It aims to provide an objective and concise overview of the Foundation’s contribution and its forms of action. Defining its impact model, objectives, beneficiaries and action levers is the first step towards a more active management of the Foundation’s impact and social utility.
Direct impact of the Foundation
The Foundation aims to create sustainable value by reconciling social, economic and environmental impacts. Its value creation model is based on long-term support for socially efficient microfinance institutions and social impact enterprises that promote access to essential services. The Foundation moreover encourages the emancipation of women by promoting women’s entrepreneurship (85% of microcredit beneficiaries through the supported organizations are women), mainly in rural areas (where 78% of microcredit borrowers live). Sub-Saharan Africa (37% of its portfolio) and South and South-East Asia (29%) are its two geographical areas of reference.
The impact of supported organisations
The Foundation also provides technical assistance and support to the organizations financed to bolster their social and environmental performance. On the social side, the Foundation’s portfolio is assessed by using ALINUS, a tool for managing the social performance of microfinance. The microfinance institutions supported outperformed the sector benchmark (with a score of 65% vs. 53% for the sector) in all the areas assessed. The environmental performance monitoring is more recent, but is progressing. For example, 84% of the supported institutions have established a list of banned environmentally hazardous activities and 42% offer green products to fund environmental friendly practices.
Finally, the Foundation is reinforcing its impact through its cooperation with Crédit Agricole and other major players in development aid. In 2019, the Foundation worked with 51 private, public and community stakeholders in some 40 countries.
In 2020, the Foundation will continue its impact measurement work with the operational deployment of tools and a field study to verify whether its impact model is solid. It will continue to write the chapters of its history in a more collective, committed and sustainable way.
Microfinance lenders and platforms endorse principles in Covid-19 crisis
July 2020. Two groups of lenders and microfinance stakeholders published a set of principles to support the microfinance sector and fragile clienteles in Covid-19 crisis. Both groups have coordinated their efforts for complementarity and consistency.
Microfinance institutions (MFIs) have an important role in the fight against poverty. They offer financial and non-financial products and services to support income-generating activities for low-income populations. In Covid-19 crisis, supporting the microfinance sector is then essential to protect the most vulnerable populations. This calls for a collective approach within the sector.
That is why, we, Leading microfinance lenders, impact funds, platforms and networks covering markets in Africa, Asia, Central Asia, The Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America, have established two complementary agreements. They frame a series of principles to support MFIs in order to avoid credit crunch, which would be extremely harmful for microfinance’s fragile clienteles. We published both documents as guides for the investment teams, investors, investees, and other stakeholders.
- “Key principles to !protect microfinance institutions and their clients in Covid-19 crisis”: In this agreement, the pooling of available information, analyses and anticipations, as well as the concerted implementation of shared decisions are the fundamental principles. The signatories, including lenders, impact funds, platforms and networks, agree to coordinate policies, technical assistance and resources to help microfinance institutions face the crisis. The objective is to protect the microfinance institutions and their clients to ensure the continued access to funding in the best possible conditions and to look out for clients’ and staff well-being.
- “Coordination among microfinance MIVs in response to Covid-19 crisis”: This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) addresses the impact on the liquidity flows within financial institutions as a result of Covid 19 and related actions to prevent spreading. The MoU among MIVs further acknowledges the importance of timeliness and cooperation among lenders and other stakeholders and presents a framework for managing Covid related debt rescheduling.
Subscribers to the Pledge and MoU acknowledge and express support for both documents as they are considered complementary serving a similar purpose. Other public and private actors in the financial inclusion sector are invited to support, endorse and act in line with the principles presented. In particular, the signatories believe that it is essential that the public sector aligns with private sector practices to strengthen the impact-investing sector and its social impact on low-income households and small businesses.
The participation of all stakeholders is vital to enhance the impact of microfinance. We are committed to continue to support our partners’ action to promote financial inclusion all around the world.
Covid-19 crisis: New opportunities are emerging for microfinance institutions
ADA(1), Inpulse(2) and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation have joined forces to closely monitor and analyze the effects of the COVID-19 crisis among our partners around the world. This monitoring will be carried out periodically throughout the year 2020 with the purpose of evaluating the evolution and trend of both the effects of the crisis and the financial needs and adaptation measures implemented by our partners. We hope with this constant and close analysis to contribute, at our level, to the structuring of strategies and solutions according to the needs of our stakeholders, as well as the dissemination and exchange of information between the different actors in the sector for the joint construction of comprehensive and systematic solutions.
This article is based on the responses provided between May 18 and May 27, 2020 by 110 partners. Which are present in 47 countries distributed between Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America, 5 Regions(3) and 13 Sub-regions of the world(4). In our analysis, we addressed 46% of very small MFIs, with less than 5 million assets (Tier 3), 47% of medium size, with an amount of assets between 5 and 50 million (Tier 2) and 7% with a size greater than 50 million assets (Tier 1)(5).
The current period leaves no MFI or region of the world indifferent. The crisis related to COVID-19 has struck at the heart of most microfinance activities. All of the institutions surveyed have faced common problems because of the crisis: difficulties in disbursements, collection of reimbursements and meeting with clients, among others. These deeply operational activities, which are closely linked to client contact and meeting with customers, have financial consequences for MFIs. Portfolio and risk management are among the first short-term challenges raised by the crisis according to more than 80% of our partners.
However, pronounced regional differences emerge from this research. The health crisis, which is constantly evolving, does not have the same impact on all regions of the world, and not with the same intensity. On the operations side, for instance, the difficulty or impossibility to collect savings is not an issue for all. This concerns 56% of the surveyed MFIs in Sub-Saharan Africa and 60% of those in South Asia, whereas the matter is hardly mentioned in other regions, if not even mentioned. This depends on the constitution of the local market, and on the capacity for institutions to offer this product to their customers, according to the legislation in force. On the restrictions caused by the crisis, we note that a high proportion of MFIs in LAC, Central Asia and the MENA region witness that it is difficult for employees to move around or to meet clients in branches, contrary to MFIs in South East Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa.
The increase in the portfolio at risk is also having diverse impacts depending on the region. For instance, only 17% of MFIs in Central Asia, Europe and LAC record a PAR 30 + R that has more than doubled, while this is the case for 41% of MFIs in Sub-Saharan Africa, 27% of those in South Asia and 33% of those in MENA. However, none of the MFIs in the regions analyzed are free from the negative impact on their portfolios. This is due to the fact that globally, 80% of the respondents indicated a deterioration in portfolio quality, this impact represents a challenge for the entire sector in the short and medium term.
To address these issues, the financial needs of MFIs also vary. While 58% of the surveyed MFIs express additional funding needs, this is not as true for the EAC region. Indeed, 57% of the MFIs in this region report having no additional needs, and 22% consider that their funding needs have decreased. On the other hand, about 30% of the institutions in the MENA, SSA and LAC regions have funding needs that are between 20% and 50% higher than their expected.
In a broad way, the information collected demonstrates the proactivity of MFIs facing the crisis. All around the world, MFIs have multiplied adjustment measures to adapt to the crisis. The institutions have chosen not to remain passive when facing the consequences of the global economic downturn, for which they have constituted crisis management and monitoring committees, elaborated continuity plans and established debates with all interested parties. Finally, beyond the conjunctural difficulties, the reflections led by most of our partners are also directed towards new opportunities for the future, with for example the targeting of new markets or the development of new products. This could contribute in the future to greater flexibility for our partners, although this remains to be confirmed.
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the microfinance sector: the view of different MFIs around the world
The rigor of the containment measures is still variable between the different countries. 44% indicated that in their countries there are almost total lockdown and total restriction of movement. 46% of our partners, mainly those located in the SSA and LAC region, reported limited lockdown and partial movement restrictions. In contrast, 10% of the partners, mainly those located in LAC, stated that there are no or very few containment measures (no lockdown and no travel restrictions). The context of each region is different and largely, or totally, determined by the actions established by government authorities. While in the EAC region there seems to be greater uniformity in containment measures, it is not the same in Latin America where restrictive containment measures have been established in some countries while in others this type of measure has not yet been contemplated.
Another important aspect to consider is that the process of spreading the pandemic has been gradual between the different regions of the world. The COVID-19 crisis did not affect all regions at the same time. At the end of 2019, the virus was widely spread in China, in March it had been controlled in Asia, however, at the same time, Europe was becoming the new epicenter of the pandemic and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus as “global pandemic”(6). Currently, America and Africa are being strongly affected. The evolution of the pandemic in the different regions of the world also determines in a significant way the type of responses provided by our partners, their level of affectation and surely the evolution of some of its most relevant indicators. Trends on which we will be paying attention in our next surveys and analyzes.
The COVID-19 crisis caused net slowdown to even impossibility of carrying out essential activities by our partners
82% of our partners reported having difficulty/impossibility to collect loan repayments as usual. This difficulty seems to impact partners from all regions but more significantly those located in MENA (100%), SSA (85%) and LAC (81%). The second most relevant difficulty, pointed out by 80% of our partners, is the impossibility of meeting clients in the field. Partners in the MENA region continue to be the most affected (100%), followed by those located in the EAC region (91%) and LAC (81%).
The third most relevant difficulty, manifested by 74% of our partners, relates to the disbursement of loans. This difficulty is a little more relevant among partners located in the MENA (89%), LAC (81%) and SSA (78%) regions.
On the other hand, for 94% of our partners, communication with clients does not seem to be a significant difficulty. This may be due, as detailed below, to the significant use of digital systems and technology for remote communication. Likewise, 94% of MFIs reported that their employees are not contaminated with COVID-19. This represents a very satisfactory result of the measures taken at the beginning of the crisis by our partners for the protection of their staff. (8)
MFIs have faced different financial difficulties due to COVID-19
For 91% of our partners, the increasing portfolio at risk is the most significant financial difficulty they have had to face due to the pandemic. This is a difficulty present in all regions and all sizes of MFIs, however, it concerns 100% in partners located in the MENA region, 93% in those present in SSA and Asia, 91% and 86% of those located in the EAC and LAC regions respectively.
The outstanding portfolio reduction is also a relevant difficulty for 80% of our partners. This is mainly important for 93% of those located in the SSA region and 86% of those present in LAC.
The increase in the costs of materials and equipment and the lack of liquidity were difficulties faced by 46% and 39% of partners respectively.
“We think we may not have adequate funds for disbursements end of June if the situation improves in the field” – Partner in South Asia
PAR 30 is already at this stage a major concern
80% of our partners indicated that their PAR 30 has increased due to the COVID-19 crisis. However, for 12% of the partners it has increased twice and for 25% of partners the PAR 30 has more than doubled. For 43% of the partners it has increased without being double. The partners mainly located in Asia, LAC and EAC are those who consider that their PAR 30 has increased without even reaching double, while most of the SSA partners reported an increase in PAR 30 of more than double, followed by partners in the MENA region.
Strategies used to mitigate the crisis: From credit restructuring to the use of technological means
Our partners implement different financial measures and operations to mitigate and adapt to the crisis. 75% of them, mainly those located in Asia (87%), have carried out the credit restructuring with their clients. 65% of partners have slowed down or stopped the disbursement of credits. This measure has been mainly implemented by partners located in the LAC region (78%) and less used by those located in the MENA region (44%).
“Analysis of rescheduling requests in order to be able to accompany them with emergency loans but this is really on a case-by-case basis”- Partner in West Africa
Another relevant strategy is the orientation of loans to clients in sectors less impacted by the crisis (for example, agriculture). This is a measure carried out by 51% of the partners, mainly those located in the SSA and EAC region. In addition, 50% give priority to repayment of credits.
Likewise, communication with customers is a priority strategy among our partners. 73% have increased communication with clients and 50% have hygiene awareness campaign for clients (by SMS, video, etc.).
Technology is used as an important tool to face the crisis. Partners use existing digital solutions (by 48% of partners) or new solutions (by 31% of partners) for communication with customers as well as the management of financial products and services.
“We plan to improve the use of digital approaches to service provision, help clients for product marketing and business diversifications (…)”- Partner in South Asia
Strategies for the management of human talent: From hygiene measures to the use of technological means
90% of the partners have made the provision of sanitary equipment to staff. Office hygiene and disinfection measures are carried out by 82% and 70% of partners, respectively.
The organization of work times and travels to the field is indicated as another measure of great importance. 71% of the partners, mainly those located in the MENA, LAC and Asia region, implemented telework as much as possible. 66% of partners restricted or prohibited movement in the field. 54% of the partners, mainly located in the MENA and LAC region, have reduced working hours and 52% of them have reduced customer service hours in the agencies.
The use of digital to maintain communication and work activities with employees is also relevant. 82% use online meeting solutions and 57% use an online document sharing solution (mainly MENA and LAC partners). In addition, 46% provided their employees with work laptops or tablets (mainly those located in the MENA region, 78%).
“We established 2 WhatsApp communication groups with the staff (one for Singhala speaking and one for Tamil speaking). Then we had regular communications with them during the lock down” – Partner in South Asia
Crisis management measures
It can be considered that our partners carried out two main types of measures to manage the crisis COVID-19 in a relevant way. The first group contemplates the development of the following internal actions for the analysis, monitoring and follow-up of the effects of the crisis: 78% of the partners established an ad hoc management committee to monitor the crisis. These measures were particularly priority among partners in the SSA and MENA region. 75% of the partners, mainly those located in the Asia and SSA region, prepared a Business Continuity Planning. 74% of the partners, primarily those located in the EAC and MENA region, updated the Liquidity Plan. Furthermore, 65% carried out worst-case scenario simulation, this action being carried out more in the MENA region than in the SSA region.
In the second group are management measures aimed at requesting support from third parties. 53% of partners, mainly those located in MENA and LAC, requested financial support from funders / partners. 52%, notably those located in the MENA region, negotiated with Lenders to arrange loan repayment. Additionally, 37% of partners, particularly those located in Asia and SSA, requested technical support from funders / partners. These three actions have been less developed by partners located in the EAC region, of which the request for technical assistance seems to be the least relevant.
Additional funding needs from lenders: What is expected in the coming months?
30% of our partners stated that they had no additional financing needs and 12% indicated that their needs have decreased. These responses come mainly from partners located in the EAC region.
In contrast, 58% of the partners indicated that they would need financing for amounts greater than expected. Of these, 28%, mainly those located in the Asia and MENA region, reported that they would need between> 0% and 20% more funds than expected. 24%, mainly those present at MENA, stated that they would need between 20% and 50%. And 6% of partners, particularly those located in Asia, reported that they would need> 50% more funds than expected.
Looking forward to the near future: new markets or products
At this stage, the majority of our partners, equivalent to 57%, expressed interest in focusing their activities more on the Agricultural sector. This purpose seems to be particularly more relevant among partners in the SSA, Asia and EAC regions. This may be due to the increase in the needs of customers in this sector or to its identification as one of the production sectors least affected by the COVID-19 crisis (aspects already envisioned in the articles elaborated by Inpulse and the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation) (9).
This assumption will be important to investigate in the following survey since the Agricultural sector let converge relevant economic, social and environmental factors, such as the allocation of an important part of the portfolio of our partners; the generation of significant amounts of jobs in some countries and the potential negative effects of climate change.
On the other hand, 37% of our partners plan to launch financial education programs and 27% plan to focus more on female clients.
“We plan to promote digital education for women clients (digital culture)” – Partner in South America
These are sectors that are traditionally addressed in the microfinance sector, however, 25% of our partners also indicated the interest in launching “green” financial products related to environmental protection. Could this interest demonstrate the increased awareness of our partners about the environmental problems linked to their actions? Does this represent the boost of green microfinance due to the COVID crisis? What type of green products would our partners be targeting? These are questions that could also be relevant to investigate in our next survey.
In contrast, the launch microinsurance related to hygiene, life, health or environmental risks does not seem relevant among our partners. Finally, 22% of our partners do not plan at the moment to focus on new markets or develop new products.
(3) The regions and subregions addressed are: Asia (South Asia and South East Asia), EAC (Eastern & Southern Europe and Western and Central Asia), LAC (Caribbean, Central America and South America), MENA (Middle East and North Africa), SSA (Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa).
(4) The total number of MFIs that responded to the survey for each region are Asia:15, EAC: 23, LAC: 36, MENA: 9, SSA: 27. For a total of number of 110 institutions.
(5) This classification corresponds to the one traditionally used in the microfinance sector, more information here
(6) “Propagation analysis and prediction of the COVID-19” here
(7) These measures according to Inpulse and the Foundation articles were mainly focused on hygiene awareness campaigns as well as teleworking
The Foundation launches its new website
A new decade is dawning in 2020, and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is broaching it with enthusiasm and modernity. Created nearly 12 years ago, the Foundation now supports 85 microfinance institutions and social impact enterprises in emerging countries, particularly in Africa and Asia. In order to communicate better on its action and to enhance the value of joint actions and projects with its partners, the Foundation is publishing a brand new, more modern, dynamic and ergonomic website.
This new website will keep you informed of the Foundation’s key figures, activities and news. A special section is dedicated to Banquiers solidaires [Solidarity Bankers], a skills volunteer programme open to all Crédit Agricole Group employees to support microfinance institutions and social enterprises financed by the Foundation.
The “Quick Access” menu is used to access the projects developed with the Crédit Agricole Group as well as the platform of organizations supported by the Foundation. The platform maps out all the partners and devotes a file to each organization supported to highlight their action and impact. It was carried out with the financial support of CA Life Insurance Europe (CALIE), which chose the Foundation as the beneficiary project for its 20th anniversary.
This is website for all of you: directors, the Grameen network, Regional Banks and Crédit Agricole entities, donors, technical partners, supported organizations, etc. It is also a token of our appreciation.
[Interview] The FIR promotes the values at the very heart of CA Normandie Seine
Interview with Nicolas Denis, CEO, CA Normandie-Seine
Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, the Fund for Inclusive Finance in Rural Areas (FIR) enables the entities of the Crédit Agricole Group to invest in microfinance and social entrepreneurship in emerging countries. The Caisse Régionale Normandie-Seine, which contributes €500,000 to the fund, sees it as a responsible approach in line with the actions it pursues in its region.
– What objectives does your Bank pursue by investing in the Fund for Inclusive Finance in Rural Areas?
Nicolas Denis, General Manager of Agricole Normandie-Seine: The values of social responsibility are at the very heart of our Regional Bank’s corporate project – they are in our DNA. It is natural for us to join the FIR supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation because it promotes these same values. The expected impact is to fight poverty by opening up access to financial services for rural communities in developing countries. This will further the actions already undertaken by the Regional Bank, for example by supporting and financing responsible businesses such as the ecological oil producer Olvea, the manufacturer of sustainable acacia gum Nexira, or the scheme for the prevention of malnutrition in rural areas Nutriceps.
– How do you see these new investments with a social impact?
As a Regional Bank our economic action makes a full contribution to the social life of the regions. We play a guidance and support role in many initiatives with beneficial effects at the local level. Microfinance and social and responsible entrepreneurship are realities whose development we support. Our Bank supports ADIE, a specialist in entrepreneurial microcredit, the Réseau Entreprendre [Enterprise Network] and the Plateformes d’Initiatives Locales [Local Initiative Platforms] for loans on trust. We also take part in Plateformes de financements Participatifs [Participatory Financing Platforms] such as Tubigo, Babyloan and Miimosa. In addition, we are also present alongside the AFDI in Normandy, an organization that forges links between French agricultural professionals and projects in Cambodia and Mali in particular.
– Do these models represent hope? A future?
What strikes me personally is the extent to which these models abound and are promising. When put in practice, crowdfunding and microcredit turn out to be much more than new ways of financing. They are also excellent vehicles for information and social integration through projects which bring the offer and the public closer together more rapidly. In addition to the FIR, this year we are supporting the Femmes & Challenges Fund, intended for women entrepreneurs endeavouring for gender equality. We see it every day: in direct contact with the real economy and society, these approaches are powerful tools for a positive social transformation.
Source: Integrated Report 2019, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Dowload it here
New signatories to protect microfinance from the Covid-19’s economic effects
In response to the health and economic crisis caused by the Covid-19, a group of lenders, platforms and key players of the inclusive financial sector committed to a common pledge: “Key principles to protect microfinance institutions and their clients in the Covid-19 crisis”. Initiated by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, this pledge was built in consensus between all original signatories. The objective is to protect both the microfinance institutions and their clients to ensure the continued access to funding in the best possible conditions and to look out for clients’ and staff well-being.
The pledge aims to guide stakeholders to better support microfinance institutions and vulnerable clients during this crisis. The main principles of the pledge are the pooling of available information, analyses and anticipations, as well as the concerted implementation of shared decisions. The signatories agree to coordinate policies, technical assistance and resources to help microfinance institutions in this unprecedented crisis.
Since its publication in May, six new organizations have signed the pledge. This initiative now counts 26 signatories active in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America: ADA, Alterfin, Azerbaijan Micro-finance Association, Bamboo Capital Partners, CERISE, CIDR Pamiga, Cordaid Investment Management, Crédit Agricole CIB India, CA Indosuez Wealth (Asset Management), Crédit Agricole S.A., European Microfinance Network, FS Impact Finance, GAWA Capital, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, InFiNe.lu, Inpulse, Kiva, Luxembourg Microfinance And Development Fund, MCE Social Capital, Microfinance African Institutions Network, Microfinance Centre, Rabo Foundation, SIDI, SIMA, Social Performance Task Force and Whole Planet Foundation.
The signatories welcome additional stakeholders to join this common initiative. The coordination of efforts to support microfinance institutions’ actions is essential to overcome this crisis.
Microfinance institutions’ responsible approach to the effects of Covid-19
By Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation
Last April, Africa’s Pulse, an analysis published by the World Bank Group, estimated that economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa would fall from +2.4% to a level between -2.1% and -5.1%, which would constitute the first recession in the region in 25 years. This recession is expected to hit countries dependent on mining and oil exports, while countries without natural resources are expected to post slower but positive growth.
In permanent contact with its network of 80 partner microfinance institutions (MFIs) and social enterprises in 40 countries, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is continuing its work of collecting information, analysing and sharing its observations. The privileged testimonials of our partners enable us to continue our monitoring of the crisis and its consequences. In this last questionnaire we focused on two particular aspects: the operational adaptations of MFIs and the role of loan officers during this crisis.
The economic crisis has become a reality for the vast majority of microfinance institutions supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Almost all of them have implemented massive maturity extension programmes to facilitate the economic recovery of their borrowers.
The loan officers of these institutions are the privileged point of contact between clients and microfinance institutions. They spend almost half of their working time studying requests for loan maturity extensions and implementing such extensions.
The institutions were quick to adopt programmes intended to reduce their costs while ensuring the social protection of their employees and safeguarding jobs. Only 12% of them have resorted to economic redundancies, which is relatively low compared to national averages. On the other hand, the institutions are postponing their recruitment programmes as well as a large part of their investments. They also seem to be seeking to direct their funding towards sectors that are now considered less risky. This is particularly the case in agriculture, in what is a recent phenomenon.
It remains to be confirmed and will be followed up closely in our next news items.By looking proactively for bulwarks against the crisis and by adopting responsible approaches, MFIs are on the right track: today’s innovative solutions can be tomorrow’s successes as well.
Institutions are henceforth focusing on risk management
Whereas the health crisis seems to be slowing down in the countries that have adopted the most effective measures, the plans for exiting from the lockdown point to a very gradual recovery in economic activity. Our latest results confirm what we have been observing for several weeks: a remarkable adaptability on the part of microfinance institutions in the face of an unprecedented crisis.
Nearly 90% of the institutions have set up a crisis committee, chaired by the Chief Executive Officer and bringing together the management committee, to steer the various decisions and deal with the effects of the crisis. This committee usually meets every week.
“[We created] a “Crisis Management Team” composed of the Executive Committee members and supported by the Chairperson of the Board whenever required. [We have] weekly meeting with the Board of Directors to update on the situation and validate the main decisions”– Partner in Myanmar
The effects of the crisis are now being felt by 81% of the partners surveyed, who report an increase in risks to their customer portfolio. The efforts of microfinance institutions are now focused mainly on responding to this challenge, to the detriment of other activities that are currently considered less essential (nearly one out of two were providing this type of service at the beginning of April, compared to one in three today). Intended to provide non-financial services (awareness and information campaigns, provision of equipment, etc.) this reduction in activity has fuelled strong growth in activities dedicated to credit restructuring.
“To support our clients during the coming months, proposition of suspension of principal and interests instalments to all customers that were not in PAR as of March 1st. To date, 75% of the customers called have accepted. The process will continue.” – Partner in Ivory Coast
Institutions are adapting on the financial and economic activity fronts
The table below shows the progression of the difficulties encountered and the mitigation measures implemented to address them.
On the financial front
Against this background, the volatility of currencies is weighing heavily on the treasuries of institutions: 64% of respondents outside the CFA Franc zone are thus faced with a strong devaluation of their local currency against the dollar. This devaluation has a direct impact on institutions that have taken on debt in that currency since the vast majority of them receive microcredit interest in local currency.
“The situation is becoming even worse with significant KGS devaluation over the last months, contributing to increase the hedging cost” – Partner in Kirgizstan
The information provided by our partners in this survey also confirms the quasi-mandatory measures taken by MFIs during the crisis: 67% of the MFIs surveyed have reduced or stopped microcredit disbursements. In the same proportion, institutions have started to restructure loans to small borrowers on a massive scale by granting maturity extensions of 3 months on average. These moratorium periods constitute a truly essential element of crisis management at all levels. Whether mandated by local regulators or proposed spontaneously by the MFIs, they enable borrowers to benefit from a reduction in charges before resuming their activities. Similarly, the many processes of maturity extensions for investors enable the MFIs to retain valuable liquidity in a period of uncertainty. The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation consequently granted numerous maturity extensions in April, in full and effective consultation with other lenders.
For all that, the crisis has not affected MFIs’ proactivity, but is encouraging them to adapt. To do so, some are looking for more resilient sectors in the current economic crisis. For example, we have noted that 40% of institutions are considering turning to the agricultural sector — a sector that has been rather neglected because it was considered riskier before the crisis. This point will be followed up in particular in the next questionnaires as this percentage seems to us to mark a notable change in attitude. This new direction is being considered by more than half of the MFIs whose agricultural loans do not exceed one third of their portfolio, but also by very rural and agricultural MFIs. It is still too early to say, but the current crisis could encourage institutions to discover traditionally neglected sectors.
“[We] move ahead with plans on Rural & Agriculture Finance” – Partner in Sierra Leone
On the economic activity front
As to economic activity, the difficulties in moving teams around are diminishing somewhat: 55% had difficulties in May, compared with nearly 80% in April. Conversely, group meetings are still banned, and such prohibitions are on the increase, which penalizes the relationship processes of the institutions, especially with clients who have no alternative to solidarity loans.
“Group meeting was weekly or bi-weekly for repayments and social network. Without group meeting you cannot enforce the repayment any more”. – Partner in Kenya
In social terms, only 12% of those surveyed have had to part with employees since the beginning of the crisis, which is quite low, however, compared to the national average growth in unemployment figures. Our partners seem to follow the first principle set up by SPTF (1) “Keep staff employed” according to which “today’s employees will be tomorrow’s assets”. For a large number of our partners, parting with employees in critical times seems to be more of a loss than a slight short-term economic gain. On the other hand, expectations are already weighing on the growth and development projects of our partners since almost one institution in two has put these ongoing recruitment projects on hold. This uncertainty weighs also on organisational projects, with 41% of the MFIs surveyed having decided to postpone this type of internal project.
The protection of staff is always a point of vigilance with 90% of the MFIs that continue to provide them with significant resources and remind them of barrier gestures. Since the beginning of the crisis, our partners have taken quick decisions to reduce the weight of their fixed costs and limit the risk of exposure to the health crisis: mandatory paid holidays (52%), teleworking (62%), team rotation, reduced working hours (57%) and reduced branch opening hours (52%). The level of progress in internal digitization in some institutions has favoured these organizational changes. This is particularly the case for our partners in Europe and Central Asia, who benefit from numerous electronic and online tools.
“Most of us from the head office have been working distantly, thanks to our proper remote IT system which enables all the departments continue smooth working.” – Partner in Georgia
The current crisis, which, as we have seen, limits the “business as usual” capacities of MFIs, has led us to explore how to adapt the job of loan officer, which is at the heart of the microfinance business. Certain tasks remain the same, particularly for MFIs in the least affected countries: loan disbursement (43%), repayment monitoring (38%) or client file analysis (43%).
The restructuring of loans in progress is taking an increasingly important place in the daily life of loan officers (43%), with the encouragement to use mobile payments (36%) and the drafting of amendments relating to maturity extensions (31%).
Just as in the retail banking sector, where the client officer has clearly demonstrated its importance in times of crisis, the loan officers of microfinance institutions are the privileged link for clients. 81% of respondents say that the key role of loan officers is to maintain contact with clients and/or credit group leaders.
“[We] maintain contact with all individual clients, group leaders and Village Bank Presidents through digital and phone channels.” – Partner in Zambia
“Strengthening client interaction by (smart) phone or other digital devices and collecting through group leader where possible.” – International MFI network
This essential and massive approach is to be favoured all the more as it is recognized by the Social Performance Task Force (SPTF) in its crisis management principles as being essential in times of client fragility. It is also worth noting that 33% of the MFIs have initiated surveys of their clients to gain a better understanding of their needs and propose adapted offers and services. For nearly half of the MFIs (43%), the advisors also play the role of “health advisor” by reminding them of good hygiene measures, which is the case in West Africa and Europe in particular.
”One of the best investments you can make right now is to maintain close contact with your customers. Many can’t make payments, but they are valuable assets just the same.” – SPTF
(1) STPF is a non-profit association that engages with stakeholders from the inclusive finance sector to develop and promote standards and good practices in social performance management.
Crédit Agricole and Dai-ichi Life partner to support microfinance and gender finance
May 14, 2020. Of the 1.7 billion adults worldwide who are unbanked, women are overrepresented: about 980 million do not have an account, 56% of the world’s unbanked (World Bank). That is the target population of the microfinance sector, which provides a set of financial products and services to people excluded from the banking system.
To support the development of microfinance and gender finance, the Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company Limited, Crédit Agricole CIB, Tokyo Branch, and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation have set up an innovative scheme. The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company has invested 2 billion Yen in a 10-year Microfinance and Gender Loan scheme by Crédit Agricole CIB, which will benefit the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation to support microfinance institutions focusing in women and social enterprises in rural economies of developing countries.
This is the first ever Microfinance and Gender Loan scheme arranged by the Crédit Agricole Group. “This one of a kind transaction is a perfect illustration of the ambitions of the Group’s Project 2022. It reaffirms our customer-focused model and our efforts to provide innovative solutions to our Asian clients, while strengthening our commitment to responsible investment”, says Michel Roy, Senior Regional Officer for Asia-Pacific of Crédit Agricole CIB.
With this partnership, Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company reinforces its commitment to high social impact investments. “We are honored to financially support the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and its action in favour of women financial inclusion and entrepreneurship in developing countries. As a responsible institutional investor, Dai-ichi Life will continue an active engagement in ESG investment and contribute to forming sustainable social framework around the world”, affirms Tetsuya Kikuta, Director, Managing Executive Officer of the company.
For the Foundation, it is a great opportunity to strengthen its action in developing countries. “Alongside Crédit Agricole CIB and Dai-ichi Life, we will step up our support for women empowerment through microfinance and female entrepreneurship. It is a real pride for the Foundation to be part of this innovative and unique partnership in the history of the Crédit Agricole Group”, says Eric Campos, CEO of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.
An international coalition to protect microfinance institutions and their clients in the Covid-19 crisis
By the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation
At the initiative of Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, a group of microfinance lenders and key players in inclusive finance worked on a set of principles to better support the microfinance sector in the health and economic crisis caused by the Covid-19. Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, ADA, Alterfin, Cerise, CIDR Pamiga, Cordaid Investment Management, Crédit Agricole CIB India, CA Indosuez Wealth (Asset Management), Crédit Agricole S.A., European Microfinance Network, FS Impact Finance, InFiNe.lu, Inpulse, Luxembourg Microfinance And Development Fund, MCE Social Capital, Microfinance Centre, Rabo Foundation, SIDI, SIMA and Social Performance Task Force are the first signatories of a common pledge that aims to support microfinance institutions and fragile clienteles during this crisis.
Worldwide, microfinance institutions provide financial and non-financial products and services to over 140 million low-income clients . Microfinance is key to finance income-generating activities, not only in the formal but also in the informal sector. In the Covid-19 crisis, both micro-enterprises in the informal economy and small businesses overall form an essential basis for social and economic recovery. Supporting microfinance institutions in this context is therefore of vital importance to protect the most vulnerable borrowers.
In response, this group took on the challenge and established a common pledge: “Key principles to protect microfinance institutions and their clients in the Covid-19 crisis”. It aims to guide lenders and other stakeholders to better support microfinance institutions and fragile clienteles during this crisis. It is inspired by best practices and tools of the microfinance sector, such as the work done by the Social Performance Task Force  and the IAMFI Microfinance Voluntary Debt Workout Principles .
In this pledge, the pooling of available information, analyses and anticipations, as well as the concerted implementation of shared decisions are the fundamental principles. The signatories agree to coordinate policies, technical assistance and resources to help microfinance institutions face the crisis. The objective is to protect both the microfinance institutions and their clients to ensure the continued access to funding in the best possible conditions and to look out for clients’ and staff well-being.
As individual obligations and mandates may influence the way the provisions of the pledge are implemented, it is not intended as a legally binding agreement. This is not a frozen document; it could be improved if necessary to better respond to the evolution of the crisis. The pledge’s signatories will maintain open communication with their peers, to share their decisions and to comply with these principles.
The signatories welcome additional stakeholders to join this common and engaged initiative. The involvement of private, public and solidarity players is key in the global assessment and support to the microfinance institutions’ actions. It is essential to reinforce the impact of financial inclusion to fight poverty in this unprecedented context.
 Microfinance Barometer 2019
 Charting the Course: Best Practices and Tools for Voluntary Debt Restructurings in Microfinance, IAMFI, Morgan Stanley, 2011. The document is available on Findev Gateway
[Interview] CA Centre-est reinforces its support to the Solidarity Cents operation
Interview with Aurélie Bellemin, Director, Fondation Solidarités by CA Centre-est
The Solidarity Cents operation is taking off within the Crédit Agricole Group. After a successful inaugural edition in 2018 on the Montrouge and Saint-Quentin campuses, the new edition was held from 18 to 22 November 2019. Organized by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, Crédit Agricole SA and Crédit Agricole Centre-Est, the operation has changed scale and has been extended to the three company canteens of the Crédit Agricole Centre-Est: Lyon-Champagne-au-Mont-d’Or, Bourg-en-Bresse and Mâcon.
With more than €8,600 collected at all the sites, the funds will finance the ICI d’Entrepreneurs du Monde [Incubation – Creation – Inclusion project of Entrepreneurs of the World] which guides and supports entrepreneurship projects carried out by refugees, single parents and homeless people.
— What is the Solidarity Cents operation?
Aurélie Bellemin, General Manager: It is a great collective adventure at Crédit Agricole to finance projects with a social impact. Employees at 5 sites of the Group can, if they wish, make a donation of 50 cents (or more!) when they pay for their meals at the canteens. The warm welcome extended to the initiative in 2018 in Montrouge and Saint-Quentin encouraged Crédit Agricole Centre-Est to join the operation and organize it on our three sites in 2019.
— How would you sum up this edition?
The generosity of our employees, our service provider and the Regional Bank enabled us to collect €1360, supplemented by additional financing from the regional bank. Solidarity Cents is an action that disseminates the Crédit Agricole’s mutual assistance spirit. Employees participate and feel concerned about the concrete effects of the operation.
— What exactly are the funds collected used for?
For the second year, we are donating the funds collected by the NGO Entrepreneurs du Monde to finance its project Incubation, Creation, Inclusion (ICI) – a programme aimed at helping vulnerable people get integrated through the creation of micro-enterprises. The beneficiaries are trained and supported by volunteers and experts to give concrete form to professional projects, with an emphasis on digitization on the one hand and sustainable catering on the other. Some forty training schemes have already been financed thanks to the donations made in 2018.
— Do you have examples of beneficiaries?
Yes, when the operation was launched in November, Crédit Agricole employees from Montrouge and Lyon met Rania, supported by Solidarity Cents, who came to present the entrepreneurial project she has created. Rania is a Syrian refugee who has managed to launch her catering business based on Syrian specialities, thanks to guidance and support from the Entrepreneurs du Monde. This type of meeting helps to change the way we look at refugees and to understand that there are inspiring human destinies that transcend preconceived notions.
Source: Integrated Report 2019, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Dowload it here
[Interview] Palmis Enèji: For clean and accessible energy in Haiti
Interview with Jean-Farreau Guerrier, Coordinator, Entrepreneurs du Monde Haiti
– Tell us about Palmis Enèji. How is this social enterprise adapted in Haiti?
Jean-Farreau Guerrier, coordinator: Palmis Enèji is a Haitian social enterprise that specializes in the distribution and maintenance of clean cooking and lighting equipment for the most disadvantaged households in Haiti. The situation is critical in our country, so action is needed. Already one of the poorest countries on the planet, Haiti is going through a crisis that is severely affecting its population. Street demonstrations are frequent, the security situation is deteriorating, and some areas are completely inaccessible. Hit by an inflation rate of nearly 20%, households are losing purchasing power, 62% of them remain without access to electricity and up to 85% are in rural areas. As a result, families use candles or kerosene for lighting and charcoal for cooking. With its stoves and solar lamps, Palmis Enèji offers solutions to replace these rudimentary methods.
–What are the socio-economic impacts of your actions?
Thanks to partnerships with microfinance institutions, Palmis Enèji provides financing solutions that facilitate the acquisition of equipment. Many households and professionals are thus switching to cooking using LPG, which is far less harmful than charcoal cooking. The poorest families in rural areas have practically no access to LPG, so they use our improved charcoal stoves, which consume 20% to 30% less than traditional stoves. Our solar lamps also provide them with lighting, which is healthier and more comfortable than candles. These solutions enable the poorest families to save money while reducing their ecological footprint: we estimate that we have helped save over 153,000 tonnes of forest timber and reduced harmful CO2 emissions by more than 203,000 tonnes. Finally, Palmis Enèji supports economic activity with a network of franchised micro-businesses. As one of our resellers aptly summarized the social utility: “I am proud to see light shining in our families.”
– What upcoming developments do you foresee?
We are pursuing the strong objective of making devices, which are beneficial to health and to the environment, accessible to everyone in every village. To that end, we are prioritizing three projects: access to LPG through distribution centres in the centre of the country and in the Grande-Anse department; the development of the after-sales service and diversification of our product range; and the expansion of our partner network.
Source: Integrated Report 2019, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Download it here
[Interview] CA Val de France supports a Solidarity bankers mission in Cambodia
Interview with Laurence Lebrun-Renoult, General Manager, CA Val de France
Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA, Banquiers solidaires [Solidarity Bankers] is a skills volunteer programme that offers Group employees technical assistance assignments with organizations supported by the Foundation. In 2019, the Caisse Régionale Val de France supported a Solidarity Banker assignment in Cambodia. Dominique Rombczyk, a risk analyst with the Regional Bank went to Cambodia on a 10-day “financial management” assignment in September for Cirque Phare (PPSE), a social business in which the Foundation is a shareholder.
– What motivated your Bank to take part in the Solidarity Bankers programme?
When one of our employees took the initiative to apply for a Solidarity Banker assignment, our Bank naturally supported his request and granted him a week of skill-based sponsorship. Dominique Rombczyk was thus able to bring his skills to bear in the financial management of the Cirque Phare (PPSE). PPSE is a Cambodian social business which promotes the social integration and empowerment of young people through the arts and culture. It is a source of pride for us, because this approach is fully in line with our guidance and support values.
– What feedback do you get from this experience?
Solidarity Bankers is one of those programmes that make us more sensitive to the social consequences of our banking activities. It is making a difference for a sustainable vision of finance in both theory and practice. The initiative carried out by our employee enabled us to share and disseminate in our Bank the human qualities of openness and commitment which we promote. In addition to communication at Group level, his experience made headlines in internal communications, for instance. Fur us bankers, knowing how to mobilize our skills in the service of others, opening up and adapting to a different context and to different issues are soft skills that must be part and parcel of our line of business.
– What other actions does your Regional Bank take to promote social inclusion?
Social cohesion in regions is a strategic priority for a Regional Bank such as ours. The Crédit Agricole Foundation – Val De France is pursuing initiatives in favour of local or regional associations endeavouring for the inclusion of young people on the one hand and for intergenerational support on the other. We provide skills-based sponsorship for these associations on a voluntary basis, following the same model as the Solidarity Banker assignments. For example, we are launching a youth training project for which all the expertise of our staff is welcome for support assignments: assistance for financial management, leadership, advice, etc. We also work with young people to support isolated, often elderly persons, which fosters the inter-generational dialogue. This effort as a whole is part of a broader approach aimed at promoting the socio-economic autonomy of populations.
Source: Integrated Report 2019, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Dowload it here
[Interview] “With the FIR, CA Centre-France opens-up to microfinance”
Interview with Jean-Christophe Kiren, CEO, CA Centre-France
Reserved for the Regional Banks and the entities of the Crédit Agricole Group, the Fund for Inclusive Finance in Rural Areas (FIR), supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Fund, is used to invest in microfinance in emerging countries. Crédit Agricole Centre France subscribes thereto for an investment of €700,000 and reinforces its mission as a bank that promotes economic inclusion.
– What is your Bank’s approach to investing in the Fund for Inclusive Finance in Rural Areas?
The new fund open to the Regional Banks is fully in line with our mutual assistance and cooperative action. First of all, its general mission, i.e. to promote economic and social inclusion in rural areas, already requires our undivided attention at Crédit Agricole Centre France, given the specific rural features of our regions in Auvergne and Limousin. Secondly, I was particularly touched by the issue of the financial empowerment of women, which the FIR is intent on strengthening. Finally, this cooperation is an opportunity for the Regional Bank to open up to microfinance by drawing on the expertise of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and to develop new tools to serve the territories.
– Which actions on financial inclusion and entrepreneurship with an impact does the Regional Bank pursue in the region?
The entire Regional Bank – elected representatives and salaried employees – is committed to and takes part in actions with a social impact. It carries out many operations ranging from initiatives led by the Crédit Agricole Foundation – Centre France to equity investments in social enterprises. In this respect, the Regional Bank has a broad banking organization to support projects with a strong social impact. Furthermore, I would like to see the Regional Bank endowed with a €2 million fund by the end of 2019 to support projects that promote inclusion. There are plans to have some of the financed projects identified directly by employees so as to involve the teams.
– How do you see these new inclusive and responsible approaches?
We are bankers… but not just bankers. We are also men and women committed to the life in the regions, driven by the cooperative and mutual assistance values of Crédit Agricole. The investment of Crédit Agricole Centre France in the FIR supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is fully in line with this spirit. Mutual aid, sharing, and solidarity are commitments for the benefit of all.
Source: Integrated Report 2019, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Dowload it here
The Foundation publishes the Newsletter #35
The Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation publishes its Newsletter #35, marked by the crisis linked to the Coronavirus that continues to expand and intensify. The Foundation, in permanent contact with its network of 75 partner microfinance institutions (MFIs) in 40 countries, has undertaken since early March information gathering, analysis and sharing of its observations. This information is very important. It allows us, at our level, to take the most relevant decisions for the Foundation’s management, the support of our partners and the effectiveness of our action in line with their difficulties and expectations.
The economic crisis is expected to be hard, undoubtedly beyond our first forecasts in early March, but the institutions are preparing to face its effects. No stress model had anticipated it. The answer must therefore be systemic if we want to avoid a major failure in this sector.
To do so, donors organise their action by adapting funding plans but also by offering monitoring tools, technical assistance plans or training to strengthen the capacities of MFI teams to deal with this sudden and exceptional situation. All of these elements remind us how this crisis concerns all microfinance stakeholders. The involvement and rigor of local institutions, the coordination of international networks, the support of public and private donors and the confidence of investors will be the key values of our collective capacity to overcome the challenge presented by this health tsunami.
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its 2019 Integrated Report
For the third consecutive year, the Foundation experienced dynamic growth in its activity: the outstanding portfolio reached 96 million euros in favor of 75 microfinance institutions and 12 social enterprises in 39 countries. Women’s entrepreneurship and the development of rural economies are at the heart of the Foundation’s action: 85% of the clients of the institutions funded are women and 78% live in rural areas.
In 2019, the Foundation reaffirmed its position as a lever for the Crédit Agricole Group to promote inclusive finance. Already working closely with Crédit du Maroc and Crédit Agricole Egypt, the Foundation has partnered with Crédit Agricole CIB in India to support Indian microfinance institutions. The Fund for Inclusive Finance in Rural Areas (FIR) brought together no less than 21 Regional Banks, as well as Amundi and Crédit Agricole Assurances. Furthermore, Solidarity bankers, Crédit Agricole’s skills volunteering programme for Crédit Agricole programme on behalf of the Foundation’s partners, celebrated a first year of success: since the launch of the programme in 2018, 13 missions were launched, for a total of 123 days of Solidarity bankers’ missions.
Last year, the Foundation also developed numerous projects with institutional and technical partners. The programme with Agence Française de Développement (AFD) [French Development Agency] is in its second phase and supports 22 microfinance institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Foundation also received a loan from the European Investment Bank for an amount of 12 million euros equivalent in CFA francs and funding to develop a technical assistance programme to support microfinance in West Africa.
In 2020, the Foundation will continue to work with its partners to support impact entrepreneurship and financial inclusion. Faced with the Covid-19 crisis, the Foundation is organizing its action with other donors, by adapting funding and technical assistance plans to strengthen the capacities of the organisations supported. 2020 will be a milestone year and the Foundation will continue to contribute to the fight against poverty, with ambition and commitment.
Travel diary of a Solidarity Banker in Cambodia
By Dominique Rombczyk, CA Val de France
Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA in June 2018, Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme aimed at all Crédit Agricole group employees for the benefit of microfinance institutions or impact businesses supported by the Foundation. Discover the article written by Dominique Rombczyk, Solidarity banker of CA Val de France, who travelled in 2019 to Cambodia to support Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE), a social enterprise in which the Foundation is a shareholder.
When I discovered the Solidarity Bankers programme, I remember looking for as much information as possible on the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation as well as on Professor Yunus, on inclusive finance, on social entrepreneurship … All well-known notions, shared values but which seemed to be part of another world. The opportunity offered by Crédit Agricole and the Foundation to step into this world was too exciting to be overlooked.
I therefore decided to apply and was selected to carry out the Solidarity Bankers mission with Phare Circus (PPSE), a social enterprise that aims at promoting social inclusion and the empowerment of young Cambodians through art. The objectives of the mission were to identify the roles of the financial and managerial team, to train and propose a training plan on management concepts and financial strategy, and to propose monitoring and financial management tools.
The preparation phase was essential. After initial discussions with the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation team, there was quite a reading of PPSE presentation documents, financial data and general information to better understand the mission. In the weeks prior to the departure, several meetings took place with the Foundation and the enterprise to finalise the planning of the mission. Telephone exchanges allowed me to feel the enthusiastic state of mind of all interested parties.
A fascinating field mission
The departure for the 15-day field mission in Cambodia took place on September 7, 2019 with Hélène Kéraudren-Baubé, Administrative and Financial Director of the Foundation. The Managing Director of PPSE himself came to greet us at the airport, along with his family, creating a very familiar atmosphere that lasted during our whole stay there.
During the first four days of the mission, we had several meetings with the Managing Director and the heads of departments to analyse the functioning and organisation of PPSE in order to reflect together on ways for optimising the structure. The presence of Ms. Keraudren-Baubé during the first days of the mission was a true added value for proposing a relevant strategy planning for PPSE.
We also had the chance to attend the show offered by Phare Circus. A show mixing theatre, folk music and Cambodian stories. The incredible performance of young artists from difficult social and economic backgrounds was one of the highlights of my mission.
The second part of the mission was mainly based on the training of the Financial Unit teams. There were training sessions in the field of accounting, analysis and financial strategy, that helped consolidate, within the PPSE financial team, certain concepts. These trainings also allowed detecting training needs and thus helping to develop a training plan that the institution will be able to implement later.
Back in France
After the return from the mission, many projects were under way. The training plan, the strategic planning project, the drafting of a support for financial communication with the PPSE Board of Directors, the implementation of a financial monitoring tool … Several weeks after the return, I sent my final report to PPSE. Interactions in the meantime have been positive, and elements established during the mission are already being used and implemented.
I am back in France with the joy of having been able to share the daily life of so many passionate, enthusiastic and brilliant people within the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and PPSE. This mission allowed me to experience from the inside the functioning of a social enterprise and the beautiful dynamic that animates these structures. The idea of living this daily is extremely tempting.
A sense of pride also exists: that of being part of a Group that acts concretely, on the ground, with commitment, to promote social values.
Incidentally, but it is worth mentioning, the visit of the Angkor Wat temple, an emblematic place of Cambodia (which appears on its flag), can only leave an indelible mark on all visitors who go there.
I wish to thank the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation team for their support throughout the mission: Carolina Herrera, Céline Hyon-Naudin, Cécile Pochet, and in particular Hélène Keraudren-Baubé that I would recommend for any mission!; Dara Huot and the PPSE team for their warm welcoming; Laurence Renoult, Tony Robert, Corinne Aubert, Annelise Lequeux, Sylvie Met-Poilong and Anne-Cecile Inglebert from CA Val de France for their support and Aurélie Cacciotti from Crédit Agricole SA for contractual and logistical aspects, as well as all those who are not mentioned!
The dairy sector favours the emergence of territorial dynamics in Northern Senegal
Interview with Bagoré Bathily, Founder and CEO, Laiterie du Berger
A committed player to the professionalization of the dairy sector, from its dairy factory located in the Saint-Louis region in northern Senegal, Laiterie du Berger is based on a local supply organisation considered a model in Sahelian Africa. A social impact company in which the Foundation is a shareholder, it continues to flourish thanks to the implementation of its subsidiary Kossam SDE, a livestock development company. This is an interview with Bagoré Bathily, Founder, Chairmain and CEO of Laiterie du Berger.
– You created Kossam SDE, a subsidiary of Laiterie du Berger. What is it?
Bagoré Bathily, CEO of Laiterie du Berger: The Kossam project started in 2017 with a Solidarity Bankers mission, a a skills volunteering programme of Crédit Agricole, carried out by Jonathan Michaud, an agricultural engineer from Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté, who today heads Kossam.
The objective of Kossam is to strengthen and structure the dairy sector in Northern Senegal. It operates through fifteen mini-farms that test and make the model more reliable.
– What exactly are these mini-farms? What is their impact on the region?
They are pools of dairy specialisation. In practical terms, farmers place the best milk-producing cows of their herds in the stables at any time of the year. Kossam provides them with the best production conditions in terms of feeding, watering, reproduction monitoring, advice.
These actions give coherence to the sector, enhance the sector and slow down transhumance. The sector is getting organised and becoming more attractive. Young people get involved, train in new professions, gain responsibilities. It also has an impact on families. Thanks to the income from dairy farming, they settle down, improve their living conditions, and send children to school. Around Kossam, an entire territorial dynamism is being established.
– With Kossam, Laiterie du Berger expands its scope of expertise. What balance and prospects do you draw from the Senegalese dairy sector?
Today, our local milk production level has reached industrial levels. With higher income prospects, the industry is now structured and our social entrepreneurship model continues to demonstrate its effectiveness. We have found outlets for our products in the Dakar region. When it was launched ten years ago, Laiterie du Berger had a turnover of € 30,000. Now it reaches € 10 million. We plan to reach 2,000 families by 2022 and deploy 100 mini-farms nationwide. Each progress represents a new challenge!
– Laiterie du Berger benefits from the support of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté and Amundi. How important are your partners?
Laiterie du Berger and Kossam are companies based on the social impact entrepreneurship model, one for the production and distribution of dairy products, the other for the raising of livestock and milk production. Our model goes hand in hand with a culture of alliance and cooperation. All of our stakeholders commit themselves with mutual understanding: local communities, farmers, financial partners. We all work with the same objective: allow Fulani breeders in the sahelian zone, who represent more than half of the population, to make a living of their activity. This is essential to the stability of the region.
What are the next steps for Laiterie and Kossam?
Kossam received a USD.5 million grant from Mastercard Foundation. It will help speed up the dairy’s activity and generate over 5,000 jobs in the dairy sector in Senegal. The grant will be used to increase milk collection to 4,000 tonnes and to capitalise on the restructuring of the collection system.
Digital and microfinance sector in the face of the health crisis
By Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation
The deployment of an ad hoc observatory to monitor the effects of the health crisis in relation to 80 microfinance institutions (MFIs) and social business partners in some forty emerging countries enables us to collect information regularly so as to share it and draw the best lessons from it.
This week we have monitored more specifically how microfinance institutions used their digital channels to overcome their difficulty of direct contact with borrowers which traditionally takes place either in the MFI branch or in group meetings or even during the disbursement of funds (microfinance uses mostly cash when disbursing the borrowed sums) or the monitoring of the projects financed.
According to the survey we conducted in the beginning of April, 68% of partner microfinance institutions indicated that they have made greater use of digital channels to overcome contact difficulties, as a result of lockdown or group gathering prohibition measures. This strong growth in use observed in the traditional finance sector can be seen also in the microfinance sector which has had no alternative but to adapt.
The technological means and processes, including digital tools, are being developed rapidly by institutions of all sizes (the smallest with client portfolios of up to $10 million, and the largest well over $100 million). Since the beginning of the crisis, institutions have been producing business continuity plans, as the basis of new discussions and exchanges for their funding backers, in which they frequently include new digital applications.
For most institutions, the first step entails raising awareness among clients about the possibility of using remote payment methods. This step is implemented through SMSs (which are particularly suitable for 2G network coverage) but also through the social media – the telephone network permitting.
“[We] encourage clients through SMSs to utilize mobile money platforms for repayments as it is the safest mode at the moment.” – Partner in Uganda
”[We] start informing our clients by social media and SMS on possibility of repayment via terminals, mobile wallets, plastic cards and Internet banking” – Partner in Tajikistan
For many MFIs which did not yet have it in their range of services, the first process developed rapidly at the beginning of this health crisis was that of electronic money payments. This practice of remote payments is encouraged by many regulators, such as the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) for the countries under its authority or the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), which decided to reduce transfer and use fees for this form of currency. This implementation of remote payment is accompanied by mass mailings of information to clients to explain the new procedures.
“Sending bulky texts to customers to remind them how to use the mobile money code to make their loan repayments and also the hotline they can call for help or complaint.” – Partner in Uganda
These remote services enable customers to pay their instalments without having to travel (and therefore to use public transport) by using the pay station network of telephone operators which is generally dense and available even in rural areas.
The implementation of these means of payment also makes it possible to disburse loans to the electronic portfolios of clients, as the latter go to said pay stations not to pay their instalments but to obtain cash disbursements of their microcredits. The use of mobile money therefore makes it possible to continue the financing activity during a lockdown period.
“The Palestine Monetary Authority is urging all MFIs to start disbursing loans to income generating projects through digital channels with lower interest rate.” – Partner in Palestine
Yet, as astonishing as it may sound, this crisis is seen by some institutions as a real opportunity to accelerate the deployment of digital platforms and to launch new services in order to make headway in operational optimization and even excellence in customer relations. For the managers of these partner institutions, having to invest in digital tools for reasons that are “vital” for their institutions at this time seems to be a means of accelerating investment plans that they had been thinking about before the crisis broke out. It thus enables them to embark on modernizing their distribution mode and their processes, which has come as a pleasant surprise to us, even though we are well aware of the vitality and capacity for innovation of our partners.
“This was contemplated prior to the COVID issue […]. However, discussions are ongoing with regard to the possibility of [the mobile payment solution] being launched to all clients.” – Partner in Sri Lanka
“In times like this when anything can be a source of transmission for the deadly virus, it is prudent that less physical cash is handled. [We] used the opportunity to pilot [our platform] in order to look out for the shortfalls and the loopholes in the system.” – Partner in Ghana
The economies of certain countries that were already highly digitized, as is the case in East Africa, for instance, seem to be more resilient to the effects of the crisis. Microfinance institutions operating in these areas have shown remarkable adaptability. By way of example, the Kenyan economy, which is particularly open to payment, financing and investment operations using digital wallets, is running according to remote uses that minimize the risk of spreading the virus.
”Kenya is better prepared than others because of the high penetration of mobile money. The concept is accepted widely by the public” – Partner in Kenya
Many institutions tell us that they will be more structured and more effective in the aftermath of this crisis. These experiences, which are sometimes vital to the continuation of their activities, seem to be very useful to them for operational performance gains in the future.
”Our team will tailor mobile app to add a feature enabling to apply for loan restructuring remotely. […] We introduced a new criterion in our monitoring tool – “emergency (coronavirus)” meaning the loan officers will have to monitor their customers remotely, and get information and enter monitoring data into the software” – Partner in Kazakhstan
“The new strategy will focus on transforming [our] current mode of operations to embrace more digital solutions, decreasing the need for physical interactions between employees and customers, and replacing cash transactions with mobile payment functionalities.” – Partner in Georgia
These positive effects of digitization, which have been achieved by microfinance institutions thanks to forcibly imposed developments can also be found in social enterprises in our equity portfolio. The digitization of the operational processes is a very effective means for combatting the constraints of the lockdown for companies that have to deal directly with the public or with suppliers of raw materials. This is the case, for instance, of a Senegalese company which, thanks to digital payments, has managed to continue its milk collection and sale of dairy products and to generate growth that has exceeded the forecasts.
For another social enterprise specializing in drinking water treatment, the health crisis has also led to the development of home water delivery following an order placed online.
Our partners are aware that the use of digital technologies is not a global solution to all the issues raised by this systemic crisis. They expect their customers and their operations to run into economic recovery problems in fact, where the digital dimension can only be of an altogether relative help. Despite the more and more intensive use of digital channels, the commercial activity of microfinance institutions is slowing down. They are all focusing on providing guidance and support to their customers by taking care to cope with the increasing number of requests for maturity extensions, while maintaining risk control and a good operational quality.
In some areas, the supervisory authorities have issued directives or strong recommendations for MFIs to grant moratoria to their clients that could last for several months, which entails a very high level of activity for the institutions.
In the majority of the testimonials we have collected, however, the health crisis is seen as a sequence that requires the different Management Committees of our partners to give serious thought to the operational performance under constraint. Our partners are convinced that the experiences they have gone through and the solutions found to deal with the health crisis will prove very useful “the day after.”
Discover more articles on: COVID-19 Observatory.
A partnership between the Foundation and CA Romania to support microfinance
“After Egypt, India and Morocco, we are implementing a new cooperation agreement with a Group entity, Crédit Agricole Romania. This partnership fits perfectly within the framework of the Group’s project which integrates the societal dimension, in this case supporting low-income population, at the heart of development activities”, says Eric Campos, Managing Director of the Foundation and Head of CSR of Crédit Agricole SA.
With this partnership, the Foundation strengthens its positioning as one of the sector’s key players in the region, while forging its links with the various entities of the Group.
“Our focus on the Romanian market is to grow our presence in financing the agriculture sector and contribute to economic and social development benefiting from the expertise of our Group. This partnership is a great support in achieving these objectives”, says Luc Beiso, CEO of CA Romania.
The first beneficiary microfinance institution is Vitas Romania, which received a loan of €1.5 million, guaranteed 100% by the Foundation. Founded in 1996 by CHF International, a USA-based international development organisation, Vitas provides financial products and services to support the development of income-generating activities. The institution has 1,970 active borrowers, 45% of whom are women and 45% live in rural areas. It manages a portfolio of over €15.5 million. It operates in Western Romania, with its headquarters in Timisoara, through a network of 9 branches.
International microfinance institutions anticipate the first effects of a recession
By Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation
The crisis is beginning to take its economic toll
A few days after our last publication, the impact of the coronavirus continues to expand and intensify. The milestone of one million infected people worldwide has been passed and new outbreaks of the epidemic are being confirmed.
In constant contact with its network of nearly 80 partner microfinance institutions (MFIs) in 40 countries, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation continues its work of collecting information, analysing and sharing its observations. Over the past few days, we have focused our monitoring efforts on the consequences of the crisis and the work of the MFIs to deal with it. Such information is very important. It enables us to take the most relevant decisions at our level for the management of the Foundation, for the support of our partners and the effectiveness of our action as close as possible to their difficulties and anticipations. It also contributes to the sharing of information by and between the stakeholders of this sector who are getting collectively organized in these times of crisis.
The results we have obtained confirm the trends identified in the information provided in the first weeks: the crisis is very hard, undoubtedly beyond our initial forecasts in early March, but the resistance is being organized. The effect of the health crisis is systemic. No stress model had anticipated it. The response will therefore have to be systemic, too, if we want to avoid a major failure in this sector.
Small-scale outreach activities are sliding into recession
78% of our partners are seeing the first effects of the economic recession on their areas of activity.
In the first feedback we received, rural areas seemed to be escaping the first effects of the crisis, especially in food-producing regions. By now, irrespective of the size of the institutions (the smallest have a financing portfolio of less than $10 million, and the largest over $100 million)) and their geographic location, they are all, more or less, faced with similar problems: the inability to travel (74%), the drop in disbursements to borrowers (77%), and the ban on group meetings (63%) are the reasons most cited by our partners for the slowdown of their activity.
“As indicated in the first analysis, the expected direct impact (up to 6 months) is a possible deterioration in the quality of the portfolio in the tourism, transport and hotel sectors, as well as loans financed by remittances from abroad. A medium-term impact is also expected due to the general slowdown in the economy and the reduction of solvent customers.” – Partner in Georgia
More than a third of our partners are under almost total lockdown (36%) and the rest are adapting to restrictive pre-lockdown measures.
“[Our] activities have been significantly affected so far, with client businesses primarily affected by general public fears and more directly by the strict guidelines implemented by the government in an effort to control the spread of the virus. An increase in the cost of living is also expected […]. Imports are declining, production costs are going up. Kenya’s GDP is likely to fall and inflation will most probably rise, which will affect the country’s economy.” – Partner in Kenya
“We see that the government is taking increasing measures to limit travel and commercial activities. For example, a regional government has specified that all microfinance activities in the region should be suspended in April. We are getting similar requests from village authorities in other regions.” – Partner in Burma
Effects that now impact the accounts of institutions
These difficulties are starting to be reflected in the figures of MFIs. For instance, 74% of the institutions explain that their portfolio at risk (PAR 1) has increased compared with the end of 2019. This increase is currently contained to less than 10% in absolute value for 8 out of 10 institutions.
The institutions are clearly accelerating and intensifying the use of digital technologies in order to make up for the fact that sales teams cannot travel and organize out-of-pocket payments. For example, 68% of the respondents say they are making greater use of digital services to carry out their activities remotely.
Loan restructuring operations have already started in nearly one out of two MFIs (43%). The intervention announced by regulators and legislators in the financial sector is confirmed: almost half of the respondents (44%) are encouraged to take the initiative in proposing moratoriums and restructuring operations for the benefit of their borrowers (the countries which have imposed these measures include in particular Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, India, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Senegal, DRC, Egypt, Morocco and many countries in Eastern Europe). New initiatives are also being considered such as the introduction of emergency products (such as minimum subsistence) in the coming months.
Institutions are implementing crisis plans
This systemic crisis calls for an in-depth review of MFI business planning and financing needs. Upon closer scrutiny, the increase in maturity extensions granted to borrowers does not yet translate significantly into additional financial resource requirements for the MFIs surveyed. At the time of the survey, 48% of them did not yet see any change in their liquidity needs compared with the projections made for the year, and a third even envisaged a decrease in their needs due to a significant drop in their activity.
At this stage, only one out of five MFIs (19%) is expecting an increase in its financial needs, linked to the increase in the price of inputs (seeds, fertilizers, raw materials …) which will trigger an increase in the financial needs on the part of borrowers, mainly in rural areas of our intervention territories. This prospective analysis has been spearheaded by the major international microfinance networks.
“In addition to the Covid-19 crisis, Kazakhstan has been affected by the sharp drop in oil prices which has weakened the national currency by 380 tenges to 445 to the dollar” – Partner in Kazakhstan
The responses from our partners reveal other factors of concern, in particular their ability to finance their activity: a quarter of them foresee a loss of value of their local currency against the dollar (26%) and a substantial increase in currency hedges in their future funding (23%). One out of five MFIs is already experiencing funding difficulties with their usual donors.
In order to be able to monitor the rise in risks and funding developments as closely as possible, more than half of the MFIs (55%) declare that they have finalized (or that they are in the process of doing so) a Business Continuity Plan that includes precise liquidity monitoring. This responsiveness is remarkable and such plans are an essential element in helping MFIs cope with and manage the consequences of the crisis.
Our analysis shows an apparent correlation in the quality of the Business Continuity Plans following the Coronavirus crisis and the past experience of a serious crisis that has already affected the MFI. The lessons learned from past crises thus seem to play a very important role in the resilience of institutions in the face of a crisis, be it financial, political, health, etc. Many less experienced institutions however also show a remarkable willingness to innovate and an equally remarkable capacity to anticipate.
Donors reacted very quickly also. Drawing on the lessons of past crises they have shown remarkable capacity in the past few weeks to intervene and anticipate in a sector that, all things considered, is still young. International lenders, foundations, investment funds, and local banks in all regions of the world are thus working on joint action plans. A number of meetings are being held around the world to get ahead of the crisis and absorb its effects that would be absolutely devastating without such awareness and rapid and determined commitment. There is agreement across the board on the need for effective information sharing and coordination by and between the various stakeholders. Donors are organizing their action around responses adapted to the funding needs of MFIs impacted by the crisis, but also by providing monitoring tools, technical assistance plans or training to strengthen the capacities of MFI teams in the face of a situation that is as sudden as it is exceptional.
All of these elements remind us to which extent this crisis is a shared concern for all microfinance stakeholders. The involvement and rigour of local institutions, the coordination of international networks, the support of public and private donors and the confidence of investors will be the key values of our collective capacity to overcome the challenge of this health tsunami.
Read more articles on : Covid 19 Observatory.
ADA releases a guide to ensure business continuity of MFIs during the crisis
The health and economic crisis generated by the Covid-19 strongly affects microfinance institutions and their clients. To support the microfinance sector in this very particular context, the NGO ADA pursues its mission to promote inclusion for all by leveraging its knowledge and expertise in risk management with a guide of good practices for the continuity of microfinance institutions.
Available in French, English and Spanish, this guide offers recommendations to microfinance institutions to organize crisis management and ensure business continuity.
The document can be downloaded from the ADA website, in a page exclusively dedicated to the management of the Covid-19 crisis, a space which offers partner articles, guidelines, testimonials and videos in order to provide a place to exchanges and sharing of experiences between professionals in the sector.
This guide describes certain points of attention for the analysis and the measures to be taken to organize appropriate crisis management and ensure business continuity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
[INTERVIEW] “Life must go on, we should not lose hope”
Interview with Dara Huot, CEO, Phare Performing Social Enterprise
The CambodgeMag interviewed Dara Huot, Managing Director of Phare “Performing Social Enterprise”, partner of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. He expressed his concerns and hopes regarding the Phare Circus social enterprise.
Since March 17, performances of the Phare circus, one of the main attractions in Siem Reap, but also in Battambang, have been suspended …
Indeed, we had to apply a government decision taken against performance halls. Before that, we had implemented all the necessary measures to disinfect the premises between each performance and respect the distances between the spectators. The temperature was controlled for each person entering the tent, and distributors of alcoholic solution were located everywhere. However, the number of spectators was gradually decreasing. The government decree only precipitated a closure that would have been inevitable.
How did staff react to this closure?
Phare is a very large social enterprise, split between Siem Reap and Battambang. Here we have 40 artists and 70 employees. The Battambang school, which provides circus training, but also graphic animation, dance, painting and theater training, has 110 teachers for 1,200 students. When the closure was decided, we took the opportunity to resume our list of “things to do”, you know, all those little things that accumulate over time and that we generally reserve for the off-peak season.
We cleaned everything, redid the paintings, carried out all the maintenance work… And then, when we finished all this, everyone went home. The vast majority of the staff are from Battambang, so many have joined their families there. All the artists continue to train hard, for the resumption of the shows, but also for the next tours. Some have been canceled, but we hope to be able to carry out the one planned in France for this winter.
Are wages still being paid?
The full wages were paid throughout the month of March. As for April, the wages have been reduced by 50%, and this will be the case for the following months. It is unthinkable to leave our employees without any income, and we do not hesitate to draw on our cash for this. But how much longer can we continue like this? After 3 or 4 months, there won’t be enough money … Especially since we have to keep paying the rents.
Do your employees receive support from institutions?
No, it’s not like in France, where compensation is granted to people who find themselves unemployed. Nothing is planned for them here, and the situation is made worse by the fact that many employees have contracted debts with banks and microfinance organisations. The interest they have to pay back every month is very high, and I don’t see how they will manage. The only hope would be for more flexibility from these organisations in terms of reimbursement. Maybe cutting interest rates, spreading out the due dates or, why not, hanging them off until things get back to normal. A moratorium on rents could also allow many Cambodians to see the crisis pass. As it stands, paying off a loan, paying rent and supporting your family when you have a low salary or, worse, when you are unemployed will be a big problem for a whole part of the population.
How will this crisis change Siem Reap?
Since the city opened to mass tourism, that is to say twenty years ago, the number of visitors has only grown exponentially. The infrastructure did not necessarily follow. The environment has suffered a lot from the increase in traffic, waste is not always well managed, access to water and its quality are still problematic in certain districts. Electricity needs have increased, but there are still many cuts. Why not take advantage of this involuntary “break” to renew yourself, to question yourself and, thus, to embellish the city? We have to stay positive, try to see what we can get out of this ordeal. Life must go on, you must not lose hope, and continue to be positive despite the circumstances. More than ever, we must take care of ourselves and our loved ones, and stay strong. This is important for you, but also for those around you. Everyone hopes that this pandemic will last as short a time as possible. 2019 will have been a difficult year, and 2020 will be much worse. But we will get out of it, and come back, I hope, hardened by this ordeal. Although it will, of course, be very difficult to go up the hill.
The microfinance sector prepares to face health crisis’ effects
By Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation
The COVID-19 virus continues to spread around the world with over 450,000 confirmed cases as of March 26, 2020. Governments, even those who deny it, are taking more and more stringent steps to contain the epidemic. As the situation evolves more quickly every day, microfinance players are preparing themselves to face this crisis by taking the first salutary steps.
Following its enquiry launched two weeks ago, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has established an observatory to constantly update the information collected through daily exchanges with its partner microfinance Institutions (MFIs). The goal is to better understand how to support them, but also to share its analysis with other financial players in the inclusive finance and development aid sector.
Adapting to slow the spread of the virus
MFIs quickly realised the health issue of the crisis. They immediately sought to adjust their operating methods to the contamination risks by adopting recommended barrier actions and launched awareness campaigns among customers and employees.
“Hand washing is mandatory in all branches, with the provision of buckets and soap for everyone entering the office. Hand sanitizers are provided over the counter for all customers who transact with cashiers. […] The process of acquiring protective masks for cashiers is underway. It is strongly recommended that all staff members experiencing symptoms stay at home during the follow-up. We strongly recommended all staff to avoid going to the branches in the light of developments, unless it is absolutely necessary.” – Partner in Sierra Leone
MFIs also had to adapt to decisions taken by local authorities to curb the spread of the virus. Organisations in the most risky areas were therefore forced to partially or completely cease their operations and to close some of their local agencies.
“All operations will be closed as of 12:00 noon on March 26, 2020, in accordance with the announcement made by the President on Monday, March 23 and to allow personnel to return home for the period of confinement. […] Disbursements to customers have been postponed until the end of the period of containment.” – Partner in South Africa
The vast majority of our partners have rapidly implemented teleworking or staff rotation systems. Faced with the numerous prohibitions on groupings, institutions are now working with a representative of solidarity-based credit groups and remain in contact with their customers through instant messaging services.
Digital solutions are particularly adapted to this context. They allow the continuation of microcredit disbursement activities and remote recovery. In a dairy in Senegal, for example, the payment for milk collection to breeders has not experienced any disruption because it has been done for a few weeks via a mobile phone payment device.
“We encourage by SMS our customers to use mobile payment platforms for refunds because it is the safest method of payment at this point in time.” – Partner in Uganda
If MFIs have been able to adapt quickly their operating methods, it is also the time to prepare for the looming economic slowdown. Crisis meetings are increasing in head offices, or through video conferences from managers’ homes, in order to set up continuity plans.
A growing number of countries are introducing new credit regulations to cushion the economic shock and the likely insolvency risk of vulnerable customers. Regulators are urging financial institutions to grant deferred payments to their crisis-affected customers, as well as to restructure loans. Such decisions are already beginning to be implemented.
“The government is also implementing measures to help local businesses, such as reducing interest rates. For example, the borrowing rate for secured loans has been lowered by 1%” – Partner in Myanmar
“The Central Bank of Kyrgyzstan has taken the following support measures: 1) cancel the accumulation of penalties for all borrowers; 2) review the conditions for repayment of loans and provide for a delay in payment of at least 3 months upon the borrowers request; 3) when restructuring loans related to changes in borrowers’ cash flows due to coronavirus, institutions should not consider them as bad debts if the cause is health crisis “- Partner in Kyrgyzstan
“The Central Bank has announced that financial institutions must accept all requests for deferrals until April 30.” – Partner in Kosovo
The microfinance sector shows a high degree of responsibility and maturity to face this global crisis. The partner institutions of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation produce regular financial statements and forecast analysis of their financing needs in the coming months. Although we have not yet observed any particular increase, the evolution of portfolio at risk (PAR) levels is systematically subject to a very high degree of vigilance. Multiple exchanges between lenders, specialised non-governmental organisations and microfinance institutions are now organised daily.
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is in regular contact with its partners and colleagues in a reciprocal effort to pool ideas and resources. We share with our partners, with responsible investment players and with our peers our analysis and best practices implemented by microfinance institutions.
The pooling of available information, analysis and anticipations, and then the concerted implementation of shared decisions are principles that are vital today for our sector. At the cost of this transparency, this concertation and a necessary adaptation of our intervention principles, we should be able to overcome the effects of this exceptional health crisis, which could knock down many microfinance institutions, leaving fragile populations in desperate situations. Because we know the crisis will hit the most deprived populations in the first place. Hard. Let’s work together to live up to the issues of this humanitarian challenge.
Discover other articles at: Covid-19 Observatory.
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation continues to invest in Kosovo
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has just granted a new loan in local currency for a total amount equivalent to € 1.5 million to the Kosovar microfinance institution Kreditimi Rural i Kosoves (KRK) which it has supported since 2009.
KRK is a project initiated in 2000 by ADIE International as the Rural Finance Program of Kosovo (RFPK). The project turned into a microfinance institution shortly after, when the new regulations on financial institutions came into force in Kosovo. KRK’s mission is to provide access to financial services in rural areas of Kosovo in a sustainable manner, giving priority to the agricultural sector. To date, the institution has nearly 17,000 clients, including 16% women and 84% rural clients.
With this investment, the Foundation now has, in the Eastern Europe & Central Asia region, an outstanding portfolio of € 22 million, which represents 23% of its portfolio, and has 18 partner organisations supported, that is 21% of the microfinance institutions and impact businesses it finances.
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 operator which contributes to the fight against poverty through financial inclusion and social impact entrepreneurship. Investor, lender, technical assistance coordinator and Fund advisor, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation supports microfinance institutions and social enterprises in nearly 40 countries.
A TA programme to strengthen the impact of microfinance in West Africa
Actors committed to microfinance
With almost 12 years of experience in the microfinance sector and over €200 million in funding, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation finances and supports with technical assistance microfinance institutions worldwide. This support aims at promoting sustainable and innovative microfinance services which, in turn, will have positive social and economic impacts for low-income populations and the development of small and micro enterprises.
With 37% of its investments in Sub-Saharan Africa, the continent is at the heart of the Foundation’s action and its mission to contribute to the fight against poverty. Alongside the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Luxembourg Government, the Foundation will strengthen its support to microfinance institutions in West Africa, within the framework of a new technical assistance programme.
Both partners of the Foundation have strong experience in the development of microfinance: the EIB has already committed over € 1.3 billion for the sector since its first microfinance operations in 1992, a key objective of EIB support for private sector investments in Africa, and Luxembourg concentrates 61% of global assets under microfinance management.
Strengthening the impact of the Foundation in West Africa
After granting in 2018 to the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation a loan equivalent to €12 million euros in CFA francs, in order to support microfinance in West Africa, the EIB allocated, on behalf of the Government of Luxembourg, a grant of € 332,000 to provide technical support to five microfinance institutions supported by the Foundation.
This two-year programme will allow the Foundation to support Caurie (Senegal), Kafo Jiginew (Mali), Graine (Burkina Faso), ACEP Burkina Faso and ACEP Niger in order to facilitate their digital transformation, improve risk management or even strengthen the social performance management. Thanks to this partnership with the EIB and the Government of Luxembourg, the Foundation is increasing its presence in West Africa and strengthening its value proposition to its partners in the region. This will strengthen the impact of microfinance in rural and urban areas of West Africa, including in the Sahel States. Moreover, consolodating private sector access to finance will be key to bolster Africa’s resilience and recovery from the expected impact of the Corona virus.
UGAFODE, partner of the Foundation in Uganda, extends services to refugees
UGAFODE Microfinance Limited (MDI) has opened a mini-branch in Nakivale Refugee Settlement, Isingiro district. The microfinance deposit-taking institution, which is regulated by the Bank of Uganda, is pioneering financial inclusion for thousands of refugees.
The initiative is aimed at building sustainable livelihoods, resilience and self-reliance among refugees in the settlement and host communities. This follows a successful pilot scheme of financial inclusion for refugees in Kampala. Under the project, refugees continue to access credit, savings and money transfer services.
During the pilot phase, UGAFODE adjusted its policies and procedures, including document requirements, such as identification (Refugee ID issued by the Office of the Prime Minister — refugee department). “Serving refugees fits in well with our mission of transforming lives of the low income, but economically active population. The refugees are economically active and have financial needs like any other person and deserve utmost attention,” Shafi Nambobi, the UGAFODE chief executive officer, said recently. He commended the Office of the Prime Minister — refugee desk for being instrumental in the success of the initiative. He also hailed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency which through the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation supported the project to set up a mini-branch in Nakivale.
Nakivale settlement hosts over 100,000 refugees from 13 countries. Most of these are engaged in agriculture and trade. “With the Nakivale branch we shall extend financial services to smallholder refugee farmers and host community members, hence improve their household incomes,” Nambobi added. According to Nambobi, the institution plans to roll out financial services to refugees in other settlements in the future.
According to a cross-section of refugees, UGAFODE Nakivale branch saves them from travelling long distances to access financial services in Mbarara or Isingiro. “With the establishment of this UGAFODE branch in our camp, financial services have been brought to our backyard, we can now be served easily,” one of the refugees said. Another refugee said previously due to poor roads, one needed to spare a day just to go to the bank. They pointed out that the branch will help them save on transport costs and time wasted traveling.
Further information on the Financial inclusion refugees programme here.
The Foundation strengthens its support to the microfinance institution Graine
In February, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation signed a new financing contract in Burkina Faso, in favor of the microfinance institution Graine, for a total amount in local currency equivalent to € 380,000. This funding is provided within the framework of the African Facility programme, a scheme set up in 2013 by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, in partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD), to support a greater number of rural microfinance institutions in sub-Saharan Africa .
GRAINE (GRoupe d’Accompagnement à l’INvestissement et à l’Epargne) is a microfinance institution which has set itself the mission of “contributing to the improvement of the economic and social conditions of the poor populations of Burkina Faso, mostly rural women, by offering them appropriate financial services ”. To date, the institution has over 24,000 borrowers, 97% of whom are women and 80% of whom live in rural areas.
With this new funding, the amount of the Foundation’s outstandings in sub-Saharan Africa reaches € 35.5 million, that is 37% of the total outstandings of the Foundation. With 40 partners, sub-Saharan Africa brings together 47% of the institutions and companies supported by the Foundation at the end of February 2020.
How Coronavirus affects Microfinance sector
By Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation
Created in 2008, at the joint initiative of Crédit Agricole SA and Professor Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation is a cross-business actor committed to promoting a better-shared economy.
Investor, funder, technical assistance provider and fund advisor, the Foundation has more than 80 partners (microfinances institutions and social business) and operates in around 40 countries with nearly 100 million euros in outstanding. The Foundation focuses on microfinance institutions that serve women and rural people. These institutions support approximately 4 million clients.
The Microfinance sector is exposed and concerned
On March 19th, according to the latest figures from Santé Publique France, the Coronavirus has reached 213,254 people worldwide. 8 843 deaths are to be deplored. After following announcements of the closings of many institutions and companies, confinement measures continue to be taken around the world. Africa and South America were not officially affected for a long time by the virus, but they now face the crisis with hundreds of cases.
The global sanitary crisis also became an economic crisis. Economic activities are extremely limited in all countries and stock exchanges have lost almost a third of their value in less than a month. Quite logically, the worldwide microfinance sector is also not immune.
For this reason, the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation’s team launched a survey among its partners on March 11th in order to gather their first impressions and analysis, the impact on their clients’ activity, on their institution and their potential needs. We also took advantage of our regular interactions with our partners to obtain as much information as possible. All further information in this document come from these resources. 56 Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) responded to our survey, out of 75 reached partners (75% participation rate) with the last answers received on March 19.
All our partners are expressing in their responses a real concern about the expected effects of this global health crisis.
Local government decisions are already impacting small income-generating activities
48% (27) of surveyed MFIs felt their clients are impacted by the coronavirus at the time of the survey, and 68% (38) of them think they will be in a near future. Thanks to a quick feedback, we learn that governments have decided to close schools, to close down non-essential activities, to restrict movement or to prohibit gatherings in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Romania, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Jordan, Mali and other operating countries. These changes are taking place everywhere today and very day new countries are added in that list.
Such decisions have a direct impact on our partners’ customers. First, many customers rely on imports for their business. Border closures and travel bans affect trading activities.
It should also be noted that concerns about the travel ban in China is affecting not only Asian countries but also African countries.
“As the border to China has been closed, some agricultural product prices are decreasing so our farmer clients aren’t getting good prices for their harvest.” – Partner from Myanmar
“We have customers who travel for purchases (China, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin,..). Informal sector traders are afraid and this can affect their activities.” – Partner from Burkina Faso
The impossibility of gathering will also have an impact on all the operations that take place in markets and fairs. Merchants will not be able to carry out their activities. The travel ban will strongly affect global tourism. All activities relying on tourism will face many problems (stocks, lack of customers, refunds) as well as countries depending on remittances.
“If travel bans will continue due to increased coronavirus cases in Gulf region and Europe as
economy of Jordan is dependent on tourism income and money remittances from the Gulf” – Partner from Jordan
Finally, we had no feedback yet on the plans of local authorities regarding the adjustments to be made by the financial institutions in particular. The only compelling example we were provided is that of Palestine. Through 8 guidelines, the Palestine Monetary Authority urges financial companies to continue provide lending services to people to ensure the continuation of the commercial and economic cycle and also postpone the periodic monthly payments of all borrowers for the next 4 months’ period (6 months for tourism and hotel sector).
Also, no any additional fees, commissions, or interest on delayed instalments can be collected during the period.
MFIs activity could be reduced
59% (33 MFIs) of the surveyed MFIs mentioned that their activity was still not affected by the epidemic at the time. 23 MFIs (37%) were feeling concerned at the time of this survey, giving several explanations such as risk for field staffs, restricted movement, working from home.
One of the main concern is the prohibition of group meetings, which will affect all MFIs whose microfinance methodology is based on a group approach. Few partners are already adapting.
In some countries with no clear decisions yet, MFIs will have to postpone disbursements if their loan officers are unable to travel or will have to temporarily adapt their processes.
“During the emergency period until 29 May 2020 above, client centre meetings will not take place as usual. Instead, the ‘Pay and Go’ method has been put in place as follows: only group leaders, two to four persons per centre of some 15-20 clients usually, are requested to come to the usual centre meeting at the usual location. The group leaders are requested to collect the instalment of their respective group members”. – Partner from Indonesia
“We have set up a special procedure to meet members of the solidarity groups individually. We provide advice to clients on how best to deal with the situation” – Partner from Senegal
Our partners must also adapt to the situation for their own staff. The risks of virus transmission is an important factor to take into account for the activity of credit agents. Likewise, the confinement rules prevent the smooth running of the activity for all departments and operations. Some staff are already working from home in some MFIs.
“lmaty where HQ is located will be on quarantine from 19 March, employees will be working on distance” – Partner from Kazakhstan
“Field staff are at high risk of contracting, so they are hesitant to work on clients, a quarantine will hit and polarize the whole MFI market” – Partner from Uganda
Portfolio risk and liquidity needs are under scrutiny
Many concerns are raised about portfolio risk. According to our survey, at the time of answering, only 11 MFIs were noticing an increase in the portfolio at risk. African partners raised more concerns. However, when asked if they anticipate an increase in the portfolio at risk, 36 of the MFIs answer “yes” (64%). In this case, anticipation of a risk increase comes from all over our regions of activity.
“Potential increase in PAR30 and reduced credit demand. Estimate an increase of PAR30 not to go beyond 2% and portfolio growth to potentially slow down by around 20%” – Partner from Cambodia
However, some partners consider that they are no more at risk than usual. In most cases, these MFIs are those with a particularly rural customer base.
“In general, since our customers are rural residents (70%), we predict that they will not have a strong deterioration due to rising prices for their agricultural products. But we think that a clearer situation will appear in the second half of April.” – Partner from Kyrgyzstan
“As of 16 March 2020, our business continue as usual. We have not seen impact on loan payment yet across Cambodia include Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. However, we would expect some increase in Siem Reap from end of this month onward. Please note that our client are mainly living in rural areas. The exposure has on Tourist, hotel, services industry is minimal.” – Partner from Cambodia
Coronavirus is going to have an impact on liquidity needs. According to our survey, 29 MFIs (52%) forecast a change in their needs. Most Tiers 3 MFIs do not forecast changes as the time, as a majority of Tiers 2 MFIs (17 MFIs) do forecast such changes. MFIs expect problems on the funding side. In particular, hedging issues are expected, and discussions with all the different lenders are initiated.
“Mainly, the exchange rate has been very volatile, indirectly due to the epidemic, and this causes new disbursements in USD to exchange to less local currency which has affected the number of loans we can disburse” – Partner from Myanmar
Liquidity problems are also anticipated. Indeed, non-repayment could be a barrier to the possibility of disbursing new loans. Rising provisions for risk and potential losses is also a cause of the drought in liquidity.
“if the situation continues up to mid-year, we will need liquidity as most of the liquid assets will have been suppressed by high provisioning for impaired assets (Expected losses) due to increased non-repayment” – Partner from Uganda
“The non-repayment of loans leads to a decrease in liquidity. Yes, we have taken steps to limit a potential situation” – Partner from Mali
Microfinance sector needs specific measures
Some MFIs already asked the Foundation if there was a possibility of helping their institutions through the epidemic crisis.
“We would like further advice on how to avoid the disease and what treatments are available and effective for treatment in the event of infection” – Partner from Benin
“We would prefer that Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation compile information about corona virus coup up measures especially in regards to MFIs around the world on how to deal with the challenges” – Partner from Uganda
A partner recalled that during past natural disasters, there had been particularly suitable measures that had been implemented. Some, which may seem counter-intuitive, had given rise to an increase in funding to allow clients to recover from the shocks and overcome this difficult period. Draining funding would only intensify the difficulties and impacts of the crisis.
Solidarity Bankers: a new mission in Tadjikistan
Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A, Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme open to Group employees for the benefit of 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 impact companies supported by the Foundation. Thanks to this scheme, the Crédit Agricole group reiterates its commitment to support employees’ solidarity initiatives.
What are the Solidarity Bankers missions?
International volunteer assignments are available to employees on behalf of microfinance institutions or social impact companies supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.
The missions are carried out within the framework of philanthropy or volunteer work. Crédit Agricole S.A. covers airline ticket and insurance. The beneficiary institution pays any internal transport costs, catering and accommodation expenses. The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation will prepare and coordinate the mission.
Since the programme was launched in 2018, fourteen missions have been carried out, both in volunteering and in skills sponsorship.
A mission to fill!
A seven to ten-days mission on collateral assessment is available in favour of Oxus Tajikistan, in Tajikistan, either end of June or between August and October 2020.
The OXUS story began in 1997 in Tajikistan, just as the country emerged from a civil war. Back then, ACTED started to disburse its first micro-loans in the Vakhsh Valley. Following the success of this initial initiative, ACTED gradually launched several microfinance programmes across the country. In February 2006 eventually, OXUS was registered with the Tajik National Bank as a Microlending Organization.
As of December 2019, OXUS Tajikistan is ranked amongst the largest microfinance provider in portfolio terms in the country. Currently, MCO “OXUS” Tajikistan is a part of microfinancial institutions of OXUS Group which also operates in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.
- Assessment of the current methodology for assessing collateral
- Develop a new methodology for assessing collateral
- To train HQ level managers
How to apply?
- Click on the link “Find a project”“Trouver sa mission”
- Enter in the the search bar: “Fondation Grameen”. All the Solidarity Leave offers will appear!
- Click on the offer of your choice, you will find all the information requested for your application.
Head of Communication & Partnerships
Access to energy in Ivory Coast with Crédit Agricole CIB
After several months of work, a securitisation pilot project initiated by Crédit Agricole CIB and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has been launched in Ivory Coast. It will help to support the access to energy and financial inclusion for the rural populations in Ivory Coast.
A technology-enabled project with a strong impact
Access to energy is one of the major challenges in Africa: more than 620 million people lack access to electricity and continue to use battery-powered flashlights and oil lamps, in spite of the toxic effects on their health and on the environment. This fuel poverty particularly affects rural populations living in areas without access to electricity grid.
The financing of ZECI’s (Zola EDF Cote d’Ivoire) “Solar Home Systems” business aims to address this issue by providing solar home systems to off-grid populations in Ivory Coast. ZECI is a company co-founded by EDF and Zola Electric that sells on credit and ensures the maintenance of solar kits to meet the needs of rural off-grid populations. This offer is presented in the form of three-year sale on credit contracts, with payments being made via mobile money and with pay-as-you go flexibility: the customers can adjust the payment over time based on their available income. In order to support the company’s development, several financial players joined forces to provide this financing offer in the form of a securitisation structure backed by the receivables arising out of the pay-as-you-go contracts.
An innovative structure
To fund the development of ZECI, a securitisation vehicle (NEoT CI) was created, which purchases and the solar home systems and the sale-on-credit contracts signed with the off-grid customers. This vehicle is owned by the company NEoT Off-Grid Africa, a platform dedicated to investments in off-grid projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, managed by NEoT Capital and controlled by the infrastructure fund Meridiam, with Mitsubishi Corporation and EDF as co-shareholders.
Bankers committed to development
The financing of the vehicle (NEoT CI) was structured in the form of a securitisation by Crédit Agricole CIB, Société Générale CIB and Société Générale Côte d’Ivoire (SGCI), with an equity portion provided by NEoT Off-Grid Africa and a senior loan in local currency of 11.80 billion CFA francs (or about €18 million) granted by SGCI with guarantees provided by the African Development Bank (ADB) and Crédit Agricole CIB.
In addition to participating in the implementation and financing of the project, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation will also be in charge of monitoring the project’s social and environmental performance. The senior loan drawdown will be adjusted based on the growth and performance of the portfolio. This financing will allow ZECI to strengthen its economic model and to increase its impact in rural areas in the Ivory Coast.
The Foundation and CA Egypt support a new partner
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, in partnership with Crédit Agricole Egypt, has just granted, for the first time, funding to the microfinance institution Tasaheel, in the form of a guarantee equivalent to € 3 million, allowing the institution to access a loan granted by CA Egypt.
Tasaheel for Microfinance Foundation (Tasaheel) is a tier 2 microfinance institution created in 2015 as part of GB Auto’s corporate responsibility programme. Its mission is the effective development of small enterprises through the design and granting of loans, to help improve the socio-economic status of low-income families. Tasaheel aims to help low-income people generate higher returns to improve their standard of living, which in turn supports overall community development and economic growth. To date, the institution has nearly 400,000 active borrowers, 83% of whom are women. Less than 1% of its customers live in rural areas.
With this new funding, the Foundation is consolidating its presence in Egypt and strengthening its partnership with Crédit Agricole Egypt within the framework of the cooperation schemes set up with the Crédit Agricole Group’s International Retail Banking (BPI).
The Foundation invests for the first time in Moldova
For the first time, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has invested in Moldova, with the microfinance institution Smart Credit, with a loan in local currency equivalent to 496,000 euros over a period of three years. Smart Credit is an MFI created in 2010 by five local professionals and whose mission is to position itself as the best microfinance service provider in the region, in particular for socially disadvantaged small entrepreneurs.
The institution offers loans according to the individual methodology and today has nearly 3,000 active clients, 54% of whom are women and 71% are clients in rural areas.
With this investment, the Foundation is consolidating its presence in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region where it already has 17 partners in eight countries. This region thus represents 21% of the portfolio monitored by the Foundation.
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 nearly 40 countries.
The Foundation makes two new investments in Sub-Saharan Africa
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation continues to invest in sub-Saharan Africa, its priority intervention area, with two new investments, one of them to a new partner.
Thus, in Mali, the Foundation funded for the first time Baobab Mali (formerly Microcred), an entity of the Baobab Group, with a loan in local currency equivalent to € 2.5 million. Baobab Mali started its operational activities in 2013 in Bamako. It is a microfinance institution created on the initiative of a set of international partners wishing to contribute to the economic and social development of Mali. In order to be granted a loan, entrepreneurs must demonstrate one year of activity and six months of uninterrupted operations on their premises. To date, the institution has nearly 20,000 active borrowers, 46% of whom are women and about 35% of whom live in rural areas.
The Foundation also granted a new loan in local currency equivalent to € 790,000 to the microfinance institution Bimas in Kenya. A partner of the Foundation since 2014, Bimas is a microenterprise development programme (MED-P) launched in 1992 under the auspices of PLAN Embu. It was aimed at providing training and credit to small enterprises in Gachoka Division in Mbeere District. The institution has continued expanding its operations to the largely unbanked population in the areas of Embu. Its goal is to contribute to sustained economic growth and employment in the rural sector resulting in enhanced social welfare and increased income of the rural population in Kenya. To date the institution has nearly 19,000 active borrowers, 65% of whom are women and 90% of whom live in rurale areas.
First team seminar for the Foundation in 2020
As part of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation team seminar held from January 13 to 17, the teams had the opportunity to discuss the different axes of the 2019-2022 strategic plan and the levers for action to optimise the Foundation’s action with microfinance institutions and companies with social impact that it supports.
More efficiency for more impact
During the week, the Foundation’s staff put into practice the reflections carried out during the previous team seminar held in 2019 around the 3 of the Medium-Term Plan axes: consolidating the expertise and the offer of the Foundation in the microfinance field, strengthen the resilience of rural economies and promote social impact in the financial sector.
Several meetings were organised to present the 2020 prospects and the action plan to improve the effectiveness of the Foundation and its impact. More specifically, a thematic workshop highlighted three key challenges for the years to come: impact digital finance and the positioning of the Foundation in this field, environmental performance and measurement of the impact of the Foundation on funded organisations and final beneficiaries.
A workshop was also organised in the presence of representatives of Plastic Odyssey, a social enterprise supported by the Crédit Agricole group, whose crew will travel the seas for three years to fight plastic pollution of the oceans. The Foundation will also partner with Plastic Odyssey in order to support them on their project to develop small units for reprocessing plastic waste in Africa.
A treasure hunt at the Arts et Métiers Museum was the team building activity of the week, with the participation of Crédit Agricole SA CSR team. Rich and stimulating exchanges that will contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the Strategic Plan, alongside Crédit Agricole Group entities, technical and financial partners and supported organisations.
La Laiterie du Berger and Kossam receive $ 5M Support from the Mastercard Foundation
La Laiterie du Berger, the strength of African entrepreneurship
La Laiterie du Berger is an example of the strength of entrepreneurship in Africa. The social enterprise was created in 2006 by Bagoré Bathily and a pool of active shareholders, with the objective of developing local dairy production. “90% of the milk consumed in Senegal is imported in the form of powder, while 30% of the population traditionally lives from livestock and can produce milk. It is this observation that led to the creation of La Laiterie du Berger”, indicates Bagoré Bathily.
La Laiterie du Berger collects the milk of Peul breeders from the Richard Toll area of northern Senegal to then produce dairy products, with local and natural milk. The company works with 800 Peul farmers, employs 300 people and produces 6,000 tonnes of yogurt each year. After 12 years of existence, with the support of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté, a second chapter opened with the creation of a new subsidiary, Kossam SDE.
Kossam aims to structure the dairy sector in northern Senegal by promoting access to material resources for milk production, by providing training to livestock farmers and by developing an innovative model of pilot “mini-farms”. “Over 600 breeders’ families have been impacted by the development of the local milk industry and have seen their revenues increase by more than 50% between 2018 and 2019”, says Jonathan Michaud, Director of Kossam, an agricultural engineer from Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté, who, after a Solidarity Bankers mission in 2018, left for 2 years to lead the project.
An unprecedented change of scale for the company
A new stage will begin for La Laiterie du Berger and Kossam. Conquered by the social enterprise model of the Laiterie du Berger, The Mastercard Foundation has just allocated a grant of 5 million USD for the period 2019-2022 in Kossam. The objective of this grant is to allow Kossam and La Laiterie du Berger to create 5,000 direct or indirect jobs in the area. The amount allocated will be used in particular to increase the collection of milk to 4000 T and to valorize the restructuring of the collection system. This financial support particularly targets women, who are traditionally responsible for the production activity and milk collection in Senegal.
This new project is titled MéLiTeJi, the letters (M, L, T, J), symbolically representing in Wolof milk (Meew), employment (Ligueey), success (Tekki) and women (Djiguen). This funding reinforces the company’s objectives of developing livestock in a sustainable, responsible and social way and to build a sustainable Senegalese dairy sector, established on the basis of a modern economy and generating employment.
This grant is already a great success in itself, demonstrating the strength of this social enterprise model and the confidence in its potential to structure the sector and create jobs
Solidarity Bankers: a new mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina
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.
What are Solidarity Bankers?
International volunteer assignment are available to employees on behalf of microfinance institutions or social companies, partners of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.
The missions are carried out within the framework of philanthropy or volunteer work. Crédit Agricole S.A. covers airline ticket and insurance. The beneficiary institution pays any internal transport costs, catering and accommodation expenses. The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation will prepare and coordinate the mission.
Since the programme was launched in 2018, thirteen missions have been carried out, both in volunteering and in skills sponsorship.
A mission to fill!
A mission in the IT sector is available in favour of Partner Microcredit Foundation, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, from mid-March to mid-May 2020.
Partner Microcredit Foundation is a non-profit microcredit organisation located in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Founded by Mercy Corps in 1997 in the form of an NGO, it became a microcredit foundation in 2000. It offers financial services to economically active populations who have difficult or no access to funding sources for the development of their activity, and improvement of their living conditions. The institution provides loans as part of an individual technical and microcredit support methodology mainly to microentrepreneurs promotes the participation of women in the business world and provides easier access to financial services in rural areas.
- Assessment of the existing IT infrastructure, the organisational structure and the applications used.
- Development of guidelines for the future development of IT infrastructure and applications.
- Recommendations for a 3 to 5 year IT investment plan and specific recommendations for 2020.
How to apply?
Submit your application on the CA solidaires website
Communication & Partnerships Director
The Foundation’s Newsletter #34 is now available
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its Quarterly Letter # 34 in which it notably presents a new section in the form of a space dedicated to the Foundation’s partners: supported organisations, founders, technical and financial partners testify about their actions, their projects, their links with the Foundation and the impact of their work in the field. In this edition, also discover the Column of Sara Belbachir, Solidarity banker who completed a mission with the Moroccan microfinance institution Al Karama.
In addition, the Foundation’s Newsletter presents its latest news and in particular the partnership signed with the UNHCR and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) for the implementation of a four-year programme aimed at promoting access to financial and non-financial services for refugees and host communities in Uganda.
Founded 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 nearly 40 countries.
A new success for Credit Agricole’s Solidarity cents operation
Launched in 2018 by the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation, Crédit Agricole S.A. and Crédit Agricole Centre-Est, Solidarity Cents aims to finance entrepreneurship projects by mobilising Crédit Agricole employees who are invited to donate 50 cents when paying for their meals in collective restaurants. For the 2019 edition, thanks to the support of employees, € 8,657 will be donated to Entrepreneurs du Monde to finance the ICI programme (Incubation, Creation, Inclusion) which supports entrepreneurship projects for refugees, single parents and homeless people in Lyon.
The campiagn took place in parallel at the Crédit Agricole Campuses in Montrouge, Saint-Quentin and Lyon from 18 to 22 November. Crédit Agricole S.A., the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole Centre-Est will embrace the generosity of their employees by contributing to the collection.
Last year, Entrepreneurs du Monde also received € 7,000 through the operation, which helped strengthen the ICI programme. All together, 20 collective training sessions were organised and 18 people supported to structure their entrepreneurship projects. Entrepreneurs du Monde’s objective is to support 40 project applicants by 2020.
Back to the images oin the launching event
To launch the 2019 edition of the campaign, Crédit Agricole welcomed on November 4, on the Montrouge Campus, Rania, entrepreneur and Syrian refugee financially supported thanks to the 2018 campaign. After leaving Syria and thanks to the ICI Project (Incubation, Creation, Inclusion) of Entrepreneurs du Monde funded through Solidarity Cents, Rania launched her catering service to share the traditional dishes of her country.
Watch the video of the operation which presents Rania’s journey and the testimonies of the staff who participated in the operation.
Solidarity Notebooks: a Solidarity Banker in Morocco
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.
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.
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.
With my thanks to the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation for its support throughout the mission, in particular Carolina Herrera, Edouard Sers, Eric Campos and Violette Cubier; to the teams of Al Karama and Credit du Maroc for the welcome and the richness of our exchanges; to François Baudienville and Marie-Françoise Chabriol of the Compliance Department of Crédit Agricole S.A. for their support; to Lucie Brochard and Yann Dos Anjos of the Human Resources Department for the great video report on the mission; as well as Christelle Alexandre and Aurélie Cacciotti for contractual and logistical aspects.
(1) Edouard Sers (Head of Risk and Social Performance), Violette Cubier (Investment Manager), Carolina Herrera (Head of Communication & Investors and Partners relations)
Four new investments in Asia for the Foundation
In partnership with CA CIB India, the Foundation has granted a guarantee equivalent to € 5 million to the Indian microfinance institution Annapurna, for a loan granted in local currency by CA CIB India. Annapurna Finance Pvt. Ltd (AFPL) was established in 2009, and is now one of the top ten NBFC-MFIs in the country. The institution provides financial services to low-income populations. Its main objectives are to provide financial assistance for economic empowerment and to give priority to women and to involve them directly in production activities through Self-help groups and access to finance. As of today, the institution serves 1.6 million active borrowers, 99% of which are women and 85% of which live in rural areas.
Similarly, in Myanmar, the Foundation has granted a new loan for a total amount equivalent to € 2.3 million in local currency over a four-year period to VisionFund Myanmar, a microfinance institution that lends small sums of money to people who do not have a measurable credit history, assets to secure the loans, or access to mainstream financial providers. As of today, VisionFund Myanmar serves over 190,000 clients, 86% of whom are women and 59% of whom live in rural areas.
Also in Myanmar, the Foundation has granted a new loan in local currency equivalent to € 1.8 million over a four-year period to Proximity Designs, on behalf of Proximity Finance, a microfinance programme whose mission is to addres extreme poverty by treating the poor as customers. To date, the programme has 117,000 active borrowers, 69% of whom are women.
Finally, in Cambodia, the Foundation has granted a loan equivalent to € 1.6 million to Chamroeun, a historical partner of the Foundation since 2010. Chamroeun is a microfinance institution that provides financial services to the poorest, those excluded from the range of more commercial microfinance institutions. The institution serves over 30,000 clients, 82% of whom are women.
More information on the Foundation’s partners here.
[Interview] – «Technical assistance helps to structure and sustain our agricultural microcredits»
Interview with Susan Chibanga, CEO, AMZ Zambia
Through technical assistance provided within the framework of the African Facility scheme, AMZ was able to develop an Agriculture Loan Evaluation System to enhance its credit assessment of its agriculture loans to smallholder farmers. This is a new innovation in Zambia and in the region at large.
What are AMZ Zambia’s activities and objectives?
Susan Chibanga, CEO of AMZ Zambia: AMZ was established by the Agora Group eight years ago, and ever since we have been engaged in contributing to the economic well-being of the financially excluded and underserved rural populations. We aim to provide appropriate financial services: village group loans, agricultural loans, MSME loans, microinsurance and mobile money services. Agricultural loans and rural financing in general are expensive due to the need for service delivery at the doorstep of the customer. Our partners have contributed through the provision of technical assistance on several projects including digitalization of our processes and the development of the Agriculture Loan Evaluation System. (*)
How does technical assistance improve the agricultural microcredits granted by AMZ?
With this technical assistance, we have created a tool to help us assess creditworthiness of our agriculture product customers: The Agricultural Loan Evaluation System. This is a resource developed with help from the Frankfurt School of Business. The tool makes it possible to determine the tenor and payment frequency of the loan to be granted by simulating the repayment models depending on the type of crop being grown by small and medium-sized farmers. We conducted a pilot project on corn, soybeans, tomatoes, watermelon and peanuts during an agricultural season. We now wish to deploy it more widely.
Going forward we plan to extend this product in all branches of our operation and also develop a mobile application for the tool. It will be relevant to combine it with our customers’ credit ratings and more secure authentication systems: signature by stylus or even by facial recognition. Experience shows that the tool reduces risk exposure for both our institution and our beneficiary clients. Technical assistance will help us improve the efficiency of our lending.
What are AMZ’s growth prospects?
We are already established in 6 of the 10 provinces of Zambia and we want to extend our activities to the whole country. We also hope to become a deposit-taking institution medium term, as part of our product diversification and expansion strategy. Our positioning in the territories will remain decisive, with a portfolio of 10 to 15% of the dedicated agriculture loan over the long term. A vast majority of our clients, even those accessing other products, are small farmers.
(*) In order to develop rural and agricultural financing, AMZ Zambia works with national organizations (FSDZ, RUFEP) and international lenders (Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, Oikocredit, FMO, Triple Jump, Global Partnership Lendahand), some of which, such as the Foundation, are also coordinators of technical assistance missions from which it benefits.
Sida, UNHCR and Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation join hands for financial inclusion of refugees in Uganda
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 innovatiove 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.
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.
The Foundation continues its development in Sub-Saharan Africa
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation continues to make significant investments in Sub-Saharan Africa, its priority intervention area, with three new investments.
In South Africa, the Foundation financed SEF. Founded in 1992 in Limpopo province, the poorest region of the country, SEF provides microcredit to women living in poor, rural communities. SEF has gained considerable international recognition for its poverty-targeting methodology, the Participatory Wealth Ranking, one of the first such tools officially recognised and promoted by the Microcredit Summit Campaign. The institution that serves 197,359 active borrowers (99% of women and 56% of clients below the National Poverty Line), has been granted a first loan equivalent to €3 million in local currency from the Foundation.
Similarly, the Foundation granted a first loan in local currency equivalent to € 250,000 to the microfinance institution MLF Zambia. The MicroLoan Foundation Zambia (MLF-Z) is a not-for-profit specialist microfinance provider that was established in 2008. Its activities are overseen by the Microloan Foundation which has its headquarters in the UK and is regulated by the Charity Commission. MLF-Z’s main activity is providing low-income women living in predominantly rural areas of Eastern, Southern and Central Provinces of Zambia with short-term loans for productive purposes. The institution, that lends exclusively to women, serves over 11,000 active borrowers. This investment has been conducted within the framework of the African Facility scheme, implemented in partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD).
Also within the framework of the African Facility, the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation has granted a new loan to the microfinance institution PMBF SA (ex-SOFIPE) in Burkina Faso, for a total amount in local currency equivalent to € 750,000 over a three-year period. PMBF-SA is a microfinance institution that grants loans and offers financing for imports and other financial products to small entrepreneurs. As of today, the institution serves around 17,000 clients, 67% of which are women.
Further information on the Foundation partners here.
The Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation invests in Palestine
In November, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation again signed a partnership in Palestine with the microfinance institution FATEN, for a loan of an equivalent amount in local currency of one million euros. The Foundation now has two partners in Palestine where it has been present since 2012.
FATEN, an NGO that provides financial products and services to small entrepreneurs in the country, as well as farmers who own isolated land near the Israeli separation wall. Its product offering includes group loans, individual loans, Islamic loans, and housing and start-up loans.
FATEN is the largest microfinance institution in the region and is active in remote areas. The current stability has allowed the institution to develop while continuing to serve a majority of women, with a strong presence in rural areas and refugee camps.
Created in 2008, under the joint impetus of the directors of Crédit Agricole S.A. and Professor Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Grameen Bank, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is a 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.
The White paper of agricultural insurance
The White Paper published by the International Confederation of Crédit Agricole (CICA) in November is intended to be a contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals for more resilient and better protected agriculture in the face of climatic hazards.
Since its creation in 1950, the International Confederation of Crédit Agricole (CICA) organizes each year a Congress, now called Rencontres. It is an opportunity to present studies and exchange views on subjects of common interest to the heads of banking and financial institutions members of the Confederation.
These Meetings take place on all continents in order to offer members access to other countries and agricultural, banking and cultural realities.
On the occasion of the 6th World Congress on Agricultural and Rural Finance held on November 12 and 13 in New Delhi, CICA published The White Book of Agricultural Insurance, the fruit of 23 contributions that shed light on the challenges of agricultural insurance. Through the testimonies of different actors in all regions of the world, the White Paper aims to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, for more resilient and better protected agriculture in the face of climatic hazards. Crédit Agricole’s FARM has collaborated closely in the production of advertising, which highlights how risk management is a key condition for improving the economic, social and environmental performance of agriculture, in both the North and the South.
Download the White paper here.
The Foundation pursues its investments in Europe and Central Asia
In recent months, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has continued to develop its portfolio with new investments in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
It has thus granted a new loan to the microfinance institution Monte Credit in Montenegro, for a total amount of € 1 million over a three-year period. Monte Credit offers its clients primarily agricultural and business loans, according to the individual loan methodology. To date, the institution, which manages a portfolio of € 7.4 million, has around 4,600 clients, 55% of whom are women. 56% of its clients live in rural areas.
The Foundation has also granted two new loans totaling € 2.5 million to the Georgian microfinance institution Lazika, whose mission is to facilitate access to financial services tailored to entrepreneurs. With a € 14 million portfolio, the institution now has around 11,000 clients, 47% of whom are women and 75% of whom live in rural areas.
Finally, the Foundation granted a new loan over a three-year period to OXUS Tajikistan for an amount of €1.2 million. OXUS Tajikistan is a microfinance institution that focuses on rural areas where over 80% of its clients live and work. To date, the institution has around 14,000 clients, 39% of whom are women, and manages a portfolio of € 11.3 million.
With these new investments, the Foundation now has 16 partners in 7 countries in the area, which represents an outstanding portfolio of € 16.6 million, that is 19.8% of the total outstandings portfolio managed by the Foundation as of end of October.
The Foundation has signed a new financing agreement with SFA
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has signed a new financing agreement with the Sénégalaise des Filières Alimentaires (SFA), a partner of the Foundation since 2013, in the form of an equity investment. With this new equity investment amounting to € 137,000, the Foundation consolidates its support to SFA, a social company that develops an inclusive value chain through the production and commercialisation of rice.
The SFA supports the production of quality rice by small farmers in the Senegal River Valley through long-term contract farming arrangements and by giving them access to financing and technical support. The paddy is transformed in white rice and is sold on the Senegalese market under the brand Terral. Thus, the SFA contributes to the goal of self-sufficiency in Senegal, which today depends on imports for over 75% of its rice.
Created in 2008, under the joint impetus of the directors of Crédit Agricole S.A. and Professor Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Grameen Bank, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is a 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.
The Foundation funds a new partner in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation continues to develop its activity in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the signing of a new partnership with the microfinance institution Partner Microcredit Organisation (Partner) to whom it has granted a first loan of € 2 million over a three-year period.
Partner is a multi-ethnic organisation founded by Mercy Corps in 2000. It is the first microfinance institution to work in both Bosnia and Herzegovina following the war. One of the largest MFIs in Bosnia, Partner provides a range of business, agriculture and housing loans through a network of around 30 offices. To date, the institution has over 40,000 active borrowers, 42% of whom are women and 87% of whom live in rural areas, and manages a portfolio of nearly € 70 million.
With this new partnership, the Foundation has three partners in Bosnia and Herzegovina and 16 partners in the Eastern Europe / Central Asia region, representing nearly 20% of the partners and 26% of the outstanding funds managed by the Foundation as of October 2019.
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.
Meeting with three female managers of Corporate Foundations – What impact?
In France, nearly half (47%) of corporate foundations were created between 2000 and 2009, according to the last National Survey of Funds and Foundations published by the Observatoire de la philanthropie de la Fondation de France. 43% of corporate foundations were created over the past 10 years, of which 18% between 2015 and 2017 (1). The corporate foundations have shown dynamism and have become levers of innovation and transformation for the companies.
As part of the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation’s Friends Club meetings, the Evergreen Campus of Crédit Agricole SA in Montrouge welcomed on November 28th, three female managers of Corporate Foundations who came to present their trajectories but also and above all the commitments and impact of the Foundations they lead.
Under the moderation of Eric Campos, Managing Director of the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation, Miren Bengoa, Managing Director of the Chanel Foundation, Aurélie Bellemin, Managing Director of Fondation Solidarités by Crédit Agricole Centre-est, and Viviane Olivo, Managing Director of Fondation Crédit Agricole Nord de France shared with the audience the objectives and values of their respective Foundations and their point of view on the impact the work performed by corporate foundations may have on the business world and society at large.
(1) Article “Philantrophie : le boom des fondations d’entreprise”, Le Monde, 04/06/2019
Plastic Odyssey and Crédit Agricole renew their partnership
19 tons of plastic enter the ocean every minute. Yet this waste can be an invaluable resource! Make recycling this waste a profitable and job-generating activity: this is the bet of the Plastic Odyssey team. Merchant navy officers, sales manager and engineer, these young entrepreneurs decided to build an ambitious project to raise awareness of recycling plastic waste and share know-how for emerging countries.
A shipping to share low-tech and open-source plastic recycling technologies
For 3 years, the Plastic Odyssey team will sail the seas of the world on a ship to fight against plastic pollution. The expedition will stop in emerging countries to encourage local waste reduction initiatives and the creation of small recycling plants. At each stopover, Plastic Odyssey will share low-tech and open-source recycling technologies to promote the development of micro-entrepreneurship and the circular economy. Training in sorting and recycling plastics will also be offered.
This project does not aim to collect the plastic present in the oceans but to act upstream, by working with the local populations on depolluting solutions, so that the terrestrial waste does not end up in the oceans.
The first ship that advances thanks to recycled plastic
The ship will be ready to go in the second half of 2020. Measuring 40 meters in length, it will operate using fuel made from plastic waste thanks to a pyrolysis plant installed at the rear of the boat: a great first in the field of navigation.
For 3 years, he will successively travel the coasts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the oceans, encourage the reduction of plastic and its recycling and transform plastic waste into resources.
The fight against plastic pollution: a major social issue
The fight against plastic pollution is a concern that Crédit Agricole shares with Plastic Odyssey. The Group was already a partner of Plastic Odyssey in 2018, during the prototyping phase of the project. Crédit Agricole, via 16 entities (1), is continuing this commitment by supporting Plastic Odyssey’s approach with € 1.2 million over 5 years. The support provided for this expedition is in line with the Societal Project of the Crédit Agricole Group.
(1) 7 Regional Banks (Alpes Provence, Aquitaine, Atlantique Vendée, Charente-Maritime Deux-Sèvres, Finistère, Normandie Seine, Provence Côte d’Azur), BforBank, CAMCA Mutuelle, Crédit Agricole Assurances, CACEIS, Crédit Agricole CIB, Crédit Agricole Immobilier, Crédit Agricole S.A., Crédit Agricole Pologne and Crédit Agricole Italie..
The Foundation invests for the first time in South Africa
In October, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation invested for the first time in South Africa with the microfinance institution Phakamani Foundation. The Phakamani Foundation is a microfinance institution that empowers poor women to succeed at microenterprise. The Phakamani’s microenterprise programme is modelled on the internationally renowned Grameen Bank. Its system of training, group borrowing, and on-going support brings both accountability and practical assistance to the development of the microenterprises.
The programme targets rural and peri-urban areas with very high unemployment. The neediest people within these communities are identified by using a household index, an asset test, and a basic interview. Women who may be interested in starting their own microenterprises are invited to learn about Phakamani’s programme. To date, the institution has over 31,000 female clients all located in rural areas and manages a portfolio of nearly € 3 million.
A second investment in South Africa is being finalised in favour of SEF, a microfinance institution that serves 197,359 active borrowers (99% of women).
Corporate foundations: what impact?
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation Friends Club is an area open exclusively to employees of the Crédit Agricole Group who are interested in the activities and mission of the Foundation. It is a Club of information sharing and debates organised throughout the year with the Foundation’s partners.
To mark the end of the year, a meeting is organised on November 28th at the Crédit Agricole Campus in Montrouge. Come chat with the General Delegates of three Corporate Foundations that will discuss the action and impact of Foundations, which bring innovation to the company and society.
The event is exclusively reserved for employees of the Crédit Agricole Group. To register, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
The Foundation organises the 5th African Facility Forum in the margins of the SAM 2019
From 20 to 25 October, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation brought together in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), 22 African microfinance institutions (MFIs), partners supported within the framework of the African Facility, a scheme set up in 2013 by the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation and the French Development Agency (AFD) to support a larger number of rural MFIs in sub-Saharan Africa.
On October 20th, the 42 representatives of the partner institutions met with the Foundation’s teams in order to assess the African Facility over the past year, welcome the new beneficiaries of the programme and share the best practices of the different institutions that attended, before meeting with representatives of AFD and Proparco present in Ouagadougou.
Participation in the African Microfinance Week
The African Facility partners also had the opportunity to participate in ADA’s African Microfinance Week (SAM 2019) from October 21st to 25th. Open to all microfinance practitioners, SAM is a common African platform for reflection and exchange among all stakeholders in the sector to accelerate in a sustainable manner both financial inclusion and economic growth of the continent.
This event aims to facilitate exchanges between microfinance professionals and foster synergies at regional and international level. With this in mind, the Foundation organized a training course on Adaptation of MFIs to climate change that brought together more than fifty professionals, mainly from Africa, concerned by the fact that the variations and the difficulty in predicting the climate put at risk the livelihoods of microfinance borrowers, and thereby threaten the future ability of MFIs to operate in rural areas.
Represented by Philippe Guichandut, Director of Inclusive Finance Development, the Foundation also spoke at a round table on the state of the art of the inclusive finance sector and its contributions to the SDGs in Africa. He stressed, among other things, the challenges linked to the financial inclusion of refugees, the challenges of digital finance as well as the importance of financing small farms which remain at the heart of the Foundation’s concerns.
Two other partners of the Foundation awarded with the Smart Certification
The Smart Campaign is a global initiative to incorporate strong client protection principles into the financial inclusion industry. The Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Certification programme publicly recognizes those institutions providing financial services to low-income households whose standards of care uphold the Smart Campaign’s seven Client Protection Principles. These principles cover such important areas such as pricing, transparency, fair and respectful treatment and prevention of over-indebtedness.
The certification programme contains a rigorous set of standards against which institutions are evaluated by independent, third-party raters that are licensed by the Smart Campaign. The raters are established, specialized rating agencies with extensive experience, having analyzed hundreds of institutions to date.
In 2019, in addition to the action of Chamroeun, partner of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation since 2010, this initiative also publicly recognised the action of two other microfinance institutions, partners of the Foundation, as Client Protection Certified for meeting strong standards of client care: Musoni (Kenya) and Salym Finance (Kyrgyzstan).
These institutions join almost 120 others in over 40 countries that have been certified since the programme was launched in January 2013.
For further information about Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation partners, please click here.
Exceptional meeting: Rania, Syrian entrepreneur and refugee
To launch the 2019 edition of Solidarity Cents, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, Crédit Agricole SA and CA Center-est welcome on November 4, on the CA Campus in Montrouge, Rania, A Syrian entrepreneur and refugee supported through the operation.
After leaving Syria and thanks to the ICI Project (Incubation, Creation, Inclusion) of Entrepreneurs du Monde funded via Solidarity Cents, Rania was able to create its catering service to discover the traditional cuisine of her country. Come to exchange with Rania and taste her culinary specialties.
Launched in 2018 by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, Crédit Agricole SA and CA Center-Est, Solidarity Cents aims to finance entrepreneurship projects by mobilizing Crédit Agricole employees who are invited to donate 50 cents when they pay their meals at the CA Campuses restaurants.
Thanks to the support of Crédit Agricole employees, € 7,000 were paid to Entrepreneurs du Monde in 2018 to finance the ICI Project, which supports entrepreneurship projects for refugees, isolated parents and homeless people in Lyon.
This year, the beneficiary of the operation will be Entrepreneurs du Monde again. The operation will run in parallel at the Crédit Agricole Campuses in Montrouge, Saint-Quentin and Lyon from November 18 to 22.
The event is exclusively reserved for employees of the Crédit Agricole Group. To register, please contact email@example.com
[Interview] Climate change and Microfinance
On the occasion of The African Microfinance Week (SAM, the FinDev portal asked a number of questions to Eric Campos, Managing Director of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and CSR Manager of Crédit Agricole SA on the adaptation of microfinance institutions to climate change.
How can inclusive finance help to achieve the SDGs in Africa?
Inclusive finance is a voluntary initiative of the financial sector to create positive social impact while creating financial value so as to make this undertaking sustainable. When socially effective, microfinance is an instrument of inclusive finance. But this can hold true also for the conventional financial sector which can seek to combine the financial return of the means and resources deployed with social impact. Inclusive microfinance makes it possible to foster access to financing for segments of the population which have been traditionally excluded from the banking sector. In this respect, it supports the consumption by segments of the population with low income, often from informal sources, who are at times relatively more vulnerable (rural communities, women, young job seekers) and enables them to build a little capital. When such financing supports the development of small businesses, the latter in turn create growth, boost employment and stimulate the local economy.
What is the role of MFIs in the face of climate change, in particular in Africa, a continent particularly vulnerable to these upheavals?
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has stressed that urgent action is needed to support small concerns in their efforts to adapt to climate change. Farmers, nomadic herders, fishermen and small forest owners all depend on activities which are closely and inextricably linked to the climate. The negative effects on the food supply are getting worse, and may even deteriorate into disaster in certain particularly vulnerable areas. It is therefore urgent to bolster the resilience of the small family farm faced with an upheaval in operating conditions. The African continent is more exposed in this respect, because only 0.25% of the 178 million insured farmers in the world are African.
In the face of climate change, access to financial services is essential because it contributes to supporting the stability of farming activities when MFIs manage to reach farmers in rural areas. Nevertheless, there is no denying that enormous challenges still lie ahead. Heavy investments are needed to improve agricultural productivity, develop rural infrastructures, and foster the establishment of companies processing agricultural products and engaging in agri-industrial activities. Microfinance continues to be an overly isolated tool which is not yet matched up to the continent’s challenges because there is no ecosystem to support the modernization of agriculture.
In particular, how can MFIs support rural populations and small producers?
Whereas these farmers should ideally have adequate financial security and good livelihoods, they actually lead a life of daily struggles. They are faced with limited access to agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilizers, water, agrichemical products, agricultural tools and machinery) and to markets. They are henceforth regularly exposed to unexpected meteorological events that affect their production and therefore their income, without any insurance coverage. Farmers are often helpless against the ravaging effects of climate change.
The MFIs are often the only recourse a farmer has to finance his working capital requirements. They provide a variety of financial products that seek to adapt to the activities of the rural world. When MFIs are socially committed, they also provide “on-site support” which bolsters their effectiveness (workshops, on-site visits and risk assessment, advice on the purchase of raw materials, etc.). The sector of microfinance therefore remains the only alternative to usurers in very many rural areas. These institutions can also provide agricultural insurance products, which however are still prohibitively expensive for village agriculture which continues to be mostly at the subsistence level.
What concrete actions does the Grameen Crédit Agricole foundation take on this subject in Africa?
Rural life is the cornerstone of growth in developing countries. Rural areas have high growth potential but because of lack of means and resources, they are being deserted by their inhabitants who migrate to areas of potential employment and go to live on the fringes of cities. This development issue of rural economies is also linked to the necessary bolstering of subsistence agriculture to address malnutrition against the background of exponential population growth, and the promotion of the entrenchment of populations around jobs in the agricultural sector.
The Foundation is a contributor to rural development. 40% of the loans granted are earmarked for Sub-Saharan Africa. We are effectively present in some fifteen countries, and the Foundation’s financing policy is geared primarily to rural areas and women. The principles of action are marked by the need for the management of the social and economic performance of our partners. We promote responsible finance through strict eligibility criteria and a systematic economic and social performance analysis. As the fight against poverty cannot be waged alone, however, we take action alongside other committed stakeholders. With openness, determination and ability to listen, we call for the convergence of actions and agendas.
What do you expect from SAM 2019?
The battle against climate change is a global challenge for which we call on all parties to face up to their responsibilities. But the resilience of populations and economies is a local challenge which requires public and private stakeholders who are capable to contribute, in their respective area of responsibility, to the modernization of their regions. The SAM is a place for exchange, learning, information and sharing. It is also a place where a coalition of the willing is being built. We hope that the 2019 edition will bring us the optimism of determination and the energy of inspiration.
Source : Portail FinDev
OSHUN, clean water for all!
OSHUN, a partner of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, is a social start-up that aims to guarantee access to clean water to everyone, especially in developping countries.
OSHUN was created from the alliance of three French companies, each one leader in their respective fields, with the idea of adopting a social approach while having the framework and rigor of entrepreneurship.
The Providence technology developed by OSHUN is unique. In addition to answer all the problems related to the potabilisation of the water, the Providence technology is autonomous in energy, easy to transport and to maintain, connected in real time, and payable numerically at a fair price.
In Senegal where the company operates, OSHUN is 1 000 000 liters of water produced and distributed during the first year of activity, 65 rural jobs created in one year, 65% of them occupied by women, and a decrease in waterborne diseases of 30% in adults and 80% in children.
Discover OSHUN in video by clicking here.
Created in 2008, under the joint impetus of the directors of Crédit Agricole S.A. and Professor Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Grameen Bank, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is a cross-business actorthat 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.
Chamroeun, partner of the Foundation earns Smart Certification
The Smart Campaign, a global initiative to incorporate strong client protection principles into the financial inclusion industry, has publicly recognised Chamroeun, partner of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation since 2010, as Client Protection Certified for meeting strong standards of client care. The institution joins more than 115 others in over 40 countries that have been certified since the programme was launched in January 2013.
“We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Chamroeun,” said Isabelle Barrès, Director of the Smart Campaign. “Their willingness to do the work it takes to prepare for and undergo the intensive process of evaluation is indicative of their deep commitment to their clients. They have shown that this bar is achievable in the area of client protection. Their example will catalyze a movement towards certification within the broader industry.”
The Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Certification programme publicly recognizes those institutions providing financial services to low-income households whose standards of care uphold the Smart Campaign’s seven Client Protection Principles. These principles cover such important areas such as pricing, transparency, fair and respectful treatment and prevention of over-indebtedness. The certification programme contains a rigorous set of standards against which institutions are evaluated by independent, third-party raters that are licensed by the Smart Campaign. The raters are established, specialized rating agencies with extensive experience, having analyzed hundreds of institutions to date.
Chamroeun has long demonstrated a commitment to client protection. Prior to undergoing certification, the institution was evaluated by the Smart Campaign on its practices and contributed to the development of Campaign tools to help advance the sector.
Further information on Chamroeun, cliquez here.
African Facility II: The Foundation and AFD together for microfinance in Africa
Launched in 2013 by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) [French Development Agency], the “Take-off Facility for agricultural and rural microfinance in Africa” (African Facility) aims to support microfinance institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. After a successful first phase (2013-2016), with 16 funded partners and € 6 million in disbursed loans, the second phase of the program will support 25 rural microfinance institutions.
With the coordination of the Foundation, AFD financing for Phase II is structured around 3 elements: a loan of € 6 million for the credit activity; a € 2.2 million grant for technical assistance; and an ARIZ portfolio guarantee to cover 50% of the credits granted.
The results of Phase II
Phase II of the program already has 22 microfinance institutions supported (including 10 new ones), which at the end of June 2019 represent more than 400,000 active borrowers, 70% of whom are women and 66% live in rural areas.
In terms of technical assistance, beyond the tasks related to the reinforcement of financial management and risks, new themes are integrated into the program, such as social performance management, microinsurance, digitalization and green microfinance. In addition, 79 technical assistance missions were launched. Furthermore, the 29 microfinance institutions’ Managers and Directors received a scholarship to participate in the Boulder training in Turin in 2017 and 2019.
Finally, all institutions confirmed their participation in the Facility Partners’ Forum organized in October 2019 in parallel with the African Microfinance Week in Ouagadougou. This will be an opportunity to make a point of step of the impact of the program and strengthen the links between the partners supported.
The Credit Agricole FIR Fund invests in Kazakhstan and Kosovo
In 2018, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation launched a social impact investment fund in partnership with CA Indosuez Wealth (Asset Management) and CACEIS Bank, Luxembourg Branch. This fund offers the Regional Banks and entities of the Crédit Agricole SA Group the opportunity to invest in the financing of microfinance institutions operating in rural areas in emerging countries.
The Foundation thus reinforces its support to institutions operating in emerging countries for the benefit of people traditionally excluded from the banking sector, and more specifically for the benefit of women, who constitute the client base of these institutions. The benefit is twofold: a positive profitability objective and an impact in terms of financing of income-generating activities.
Two new microfinance institutions have recently been financed through this Fund. A loan in local currency equivalent to €1.5 million has been granted to Asian Credit Fund (ACF) in Kazakhstan. ACF offers financial services designed to promote rural household development, small business growth and homeownership. To date, the institution has 27,000 active borrowers, 79.5% of whom are women and 95.9% of whom live in rural areas. The institution manages a loan portfolio amounting to € 13.2 million.
The Fund also financed the Kosovar institution KRK with a loan of € 1.5 million. KRK’s mission is to provide access to financial services in rural areas of Kosovo. A long-standing partner of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, the institution currently has 16,000 active borrowers, of which 15.2% are women and 60.5% live in rural areas, and manages a loan portfolio amounting to € 38.4 million.
With these two new investments, the Fund is now supporting four projects for a total amount of € 5 million. As of September 30, 2019, after the confirmation of the participation of Centre Loire, 21 Regional Banks are investing in the Fund. The FIR’s outstanding amount is € 9.7 million thanks to the investments of Crédit Agricole Assurance, Amundi and 21 Regional Banks (Alpes Provence, Alsace-Vosges, Brie Picardie, Centre-est, Centre-France, Centre Loire, Centre-Ouest, Champagne-Bourgogne, Charente-Périgord, Finistère, Franche-Comté, Ille-et-Vilaine, Languedoc, Loire-Haute Loire, Martinique-Guyane, Normandie-Seine, Provence Côte-d’Azur, Réunion, Savoie, Sud Rhône Alpes and Touraine Poitou).
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation invests again in Central Asia
During the first six months of the year, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation made new investments in Central Asia. It granted a new loan in USD equivalent to € 895,000 to the Tajik microfinance institution Humo. Humo is a progressive and leading microcredit deposit organisation whose main activity is to provide quality, affordable financial services to the rural population. To date, this institution has nearly 57,000 active borrowers, 42% of whom are women and 80.5% of whom live in rural areas.
The Foundation also granted a new loan to OXUS Kyrgyzstan for a total amount in local currency equivalent to € 708,000. OXUS Kyrgyzstan is a microfinance institution that offers individual and group loans to its clients who work mainly in the agricultural and livestock sectors. The institution currently has 7,600 active borrowers, 55% of whom are women and 57.2% of whom live in rural areas.
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is currently supporting 20 microfinance institutions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia with total commitments in the region amounting to € 20.1 million, that is 21% of the Foundation’s commitments as of end of August 2019.
Further information: Organisations soutenues
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.
The Foundation grants 7 new fundings in sub-Saharan Africa
During the first half of the year, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has granted seven new fundings in sub-Saharan Africa to historic partners. With these new investments, the Foundation raises the amount of its commitments in Sub-Saharan Africa to nearly € 41 million, that is 41% of the total amount of the Foundation’s commitments as of end of August 2019.
In Benin, the RENACA microfinance institution received a loan in local currency equivalent to € 762,000 over a three-year period. RENACA is a mutual microfinance institution whose mission is to significantly strengthen the economic base of rural populations. To date, the institution has 27,000 active borrowers, 80% of whom live in rural areas and 59.5% of whom are women.
In Kenya, the Foundation granted a new loan in local currency equivalent to € 2 million to the microfinance institution Musoni. Musoni Kenya is a microfinance institution that leverages Information Communication Technology (ICT) heavily to manage its operations efficiently and to scale rapidly. To date, the institution has 44,000 active borrowers, 66.3% of whom are women and 63.3% of whom live in rural areas.
In Uganda, ENCOT received a new loan in local currency equivalent to € 296,000 over a three-year period. This loan was made within the framework of the African Facility, a programme developed by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation in partnership with the French Development Agency to support small microfinance institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. ENCOT is an indigenous rural community development microcredit and rural-enterprise development NGO whose goal is to provide financial and enterprise development services. To date, the institution has 6,200 active borrowers, 56% of whom are women and 88.4% live in rural areas.
Similarly, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Foundation granted a loan equivalent to € 540,000 within the framework of the African Facility, to the microfinance institution Paidek, an institution whose role is to finance the development of small commercial or livestock-raising activities. To date, Paidek has 15,500 active borrowers, 51% of whom are women and 31.2% of whom live in rural clients.
In Zambia, the Foundation also provided a new loan in local currency equivalkent to € 300,000 over a three-year period to Agora Microfinance Zambia (AMZ), within the framework of the African Facility. AMZ is a microfinance institution which targets specifically people with low incomes through suitable financial products. To date, it has 37,100 active borrowers, 58% of whom are women and 85% of whom live in rural areas.
Finally, in Senegal, the Foundation has made two new investments. A first investment was made with the microfinance institution CAURIE in the form of a loan, for an amouint in local currency equivalent to € 1.14 million over a four-year period. Caurie Microfinance’s mission is to contribute to the economic and social improvement of poor microentrepreneurs. The institution now has 72,200 active borrowers, 99% of whom are women. 55% of Caurie’s customers live in rural areas. The second investment made by the Foundation in this country was made in the form of an equity investment to Laiterie du Berger for an amount equivalent to € 99,700. La Laiterie du Berger, of whom the Foundation has been a shareholder since 2010, is a social company that collects milk from Fulani herders, in the North of the country, and transforms it into yogurts and other dairy products that are sold under the brand Dolima.
The Foundation supports three new partners
During the first half of 2019, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation funded three new partners in Africa and Central Asia. With these three new partners, at the end of August 2019 the Foundation supported 81 organisations in 38 countries.
It has thus granted a first loan in FCFA equivalent to € 1.5 million to Vital Finance in Benin, a microfinance institution founded in 1998. Launched as a microfinance project funded by USAID, Vital Finance has gained impressive experience in the field of microfinance. Its constant evolution in terms of both its activities and its profitability places it among one of the largest microfinance institutions in the country. The institution is mainly active in peri-urban areas with very active populations, economically viable but without access to traditional banks. To date, Vital Finance has 29,000 active borrowers, 66% of whom are women.
Also in the first semester, in Zambia, the Foundation provided a loan in local currency equivalent to € 1.5 million to the microfinance institution Entrepreneur Financial Center Zambia (EFC). It is the largest regulated microfinance institution in the country. EFC offers loans to individual businesses and loans for housing. It also offers deposit and savings products to its clients. The institution, established by CARE Zambia in 1996 as a microfinance project, aims to provide working capital solutions for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), with a focus on innovation customised products. To date, it has nearly 4,000 active borrowers, 44% of whom are women and 6% of whom are located in rural areas.
Finally, the Foundation also granted a first loan in local currency equivalent to € 890,000 to the microfinance institution Salym Finance in Kyrgyzstan. This institution, created in 2007 by four Kyrgyz entrepreneurs, aims to create the financial conditions to support and develop client activities and improve the standard of living of the population. Salym offers loans following the individual methodology. Currently, the institution has nearly 12,500 active borrowers, 53% of whom are women and 74% of whom are living in rural areas, and manages a portfolio of €16.5 million.
For further : information.
Solidarity Notebooks: A Solidarity Banker in Senegal
By Haoly Basse, Crédit Agricole CIB
Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A. in 2018, Solidarity Bankers is a skills volunteering programme open to all Crédit Agricole Group employees for microfinance institutions or impact companies supported by the Foundation. Discover the platform of Haoly Basse, a CACIB Solidarity Banker who went to Senegal in July to provide guidance and support to KOSSAM, a social business supported by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.
When I discovered the Solidarity Bankers programme, I felt an affinity with the values of commitment, solidarity and sharing embodied by the assignments offered. I became aware that the values conveyed by Crédit Agricole were not just “pretty words” but were backed by inspiring, visible and concrete actions.
I therefore decided to apply for a “digital” assignment in favour of KOSSAM Société de développement de l’élevage (KSDE) in Senegal — an assignment even closer to my heart as I stem from the North of Senegal. KOSSAM is a social business, a subsidiary of the Laiterie du Berger, which works with nearly 450 local dairy farmers and aims to develop a sustainable dairy industry in the North of the country. The aim of the assignment was to provide guidance and support for the company in deploying the digital application “Com care” which will help improve the collecting conditions and the company’s knowledge of its farmers – suppliers.
After a series of talks with the Foundation’s team, I was confirmed as a Solidarity Banker. I also had the support of my employer, Crédit Agricole CIB, which covered 50% of the assignment time by way of skills-based sponsorship. The adventure had started.
Morning visits, meetings and learning
The discussions leading up to the assignment with the team of the Foundation and KOSSAM enabled me to prepare for the intense task that lay ahead. I arrived in Dakar on Saturday, 29 June, and was met at the airport by Jonathan Michaud, one of the first Solidarity Bankers stemming from Crédit Agricole Franche Comté, who was posted on a two-year assignment as General Manager of KOSSAM.
The next day I attended the annual Convention of supplying farmers held in Saly by the Laiterie du Berger. It was a sterling opportunity for me to take part in a key moment during which I was able to observe the strong cohesion of the dairy farmers and teams of the Laiterie du Berger and KOSSAM in facing the challenges of the dairy industry.
The following Monday was my first day at work in Richard Toll. As it happened to be payday, I was able to meet most of the farmers who worked with KOSSAM. On the days which followed, I paid several field visits which started at 5:00 AM to help the teams of KOSSAM with the deployment of the digital application “Com Care” to collect milk from the dairy farmers and to feed the company’s database. The needs of the users vary: save time when performing their work, have reliable data that can be shared in real time, automate repetitive tasks, implement procedures and have a reliable information system. The discussions with the farmers were rich and instructive, particularly concerning the establishment of mini farms – one of the development pillars of KOSSAM.
In addition to visiting several farms, I also visited the plant of the Laiterie du Berger. I found the shop foreman’s description of the industrial processes for the design of dairy products captivating. I was impressed by his professionalism and technical acumen. I also took part in the inauguration of the water fountains in one of the stores selling food in the bush – a fine moment of sharing and celebration.
10 days after – the next steps
I drew on all the data collected to analyse the existing situation and to make recommendations on how to accelerate the company’s digitization. The subsequent steps will consist of putting in place a reliable information system for KOSSAM so as to have access to shared data in real time to manage the work on a day-to-day basis and to develop the company’s business.
This assignment was very eye-opening for me, because I would have never imagined that being close to the farming world would have pleased me so much. I enjoyed being close to the dairy farmers and the local teams, sharing their everyday lives, listening to them and seeing the impact their actions and collective work had in the field. There is an African saying: “we are broke but not brazen.” I find it most telling of the mutual assistance and solidarity that I witnessed throughout my assignment. These values are deeply rooted in Senegal and it is invigorating to share them.
I returned to Paris transformed with a desire to go back to Senegal, because the country has enormous potential for development. I have come away with a rich professional experience and a fine human adventure which has reinforced my ties with the Crédit Agricole Group.
Acknowledgements: I wish to thank Eric Campos, Céline Hyon-Naudin and Carolina Herrera of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Jonathan Michaud and the teams of KOSSAM for having shared this great adventure with me. I would also like to thank Martine Boutinet, Gwenael Le Rosec, Vanessa Ferreira and Marion Longchambon of the Human Resources Department as well as Pierre-Yves Bollard, Aude Richard, Stéphanie Prigent and Sylvain Lefebvre of the GIT Department of Crédit Agricole CIB for their support.
Microfinance and retail banking: converging views
By Céline Hyon-Naudin, Investment Manager, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation
Microfinance is the set of financial products and services accessible to people who are excluded from the conventional banking system. Today, the microfinance sector boasts 139 million beneficiaries for an estimated total of outstanding loans of $114 billion (1). Beyond the objective of fostering financial inclusion, microfinancing is constantly adapting and innovating to be a lever for economic development through entrepreneurship.
This financing of entrepreneurship is a common key point between microfinance and retail banking. As in the case of microfinance, retail banking provides solutions to promote income-generating activities. In the Booklet celebrating the Foundation’s 10th anniversary published last year, we compared the figures of the Foundation and a small-sized “average” (2) regional bank and identified several analogies. This article puts the spotlight on the common challenges identified.
A few points of comparison
Retail banks and microfinance institutions (MFIs) share certain objectives and operating procedures. For example, the commercial organization is similar to that of a conventional banking network with an account manager who manages a portfolio. They both exercise their activities in the heart of their territories close to their customers. Microfinance has evolved so as to diversify its offer of financial products, moving close to that of a retail bank: lending, savings, money transfers, insurance, mobile payments, investments, etc., reflecting the variety of needs of clients and businesses.
Furthermore, MFIs and retail banks are plying their trade by endeavouring to control their costs and risk, while aiming to generate a positive and resilient result capable of securing the sustainability of their mission.
For all that, the revenue and expenditure structure differs widely between the two models. The operating costs (for example, travel expenses of loan officers who have at least 250 to 300 clients) are high at an MFI: they account for 50% to 60% of the charges.
The revenue mix also has structural differences. The amounts and average term of loans are more modest in microfinance: microcredits are in general for a term of less than a year and the average loan (of our partners) is €765 compared with €16,000 for an average regional bank. An MFI has revenues linked almost exclusively to financing, contrary to a retail bank, which has a more extensive range of products and is less reliant on financing. The revenues of an MFI are essentially generated from the net financing margin: Interest on loans accounts for 88% to 99% of the revenues of MFIs, far more than the 51% of the average regional retail bank.
Interest rates in the microfinance sector are higher than those of a retail bank, particularly because of the operating costs. Nevertheless, ethics and the impact requirement are forcing the sector to optimize its operating costs. The table below provides a comparison of the expenditures, revenues and margins per customer of a partner MFI and a bank. Although there are sizeable variations between regions, the margin per customer is positive for the MFIs. Microfinance remains a viable economic sector, even if MFIs are facing significant challenges, which retail banks too are up against.
Common challenges for banking and microfinance
With 1.7 billion adults worldwide who still don’t have access to a bank account (3), microfinance and banking have to continue to innovate in order to reach them. Two lines of approach are available to them: digital finance and the resilience to climate change.
Digital finance is transforming the world of finance, making it more agile: New technologies provide digital financial services which are improving the operating efficiency of financial institutions and increasing the range of their service. Improving operational processes should make it possible to develop new distribution channels and to reach new markets. The dissemination of financial services by these new technologies constitutes a pillar of the current financial acceleration. The potential is significant: of the 1.7 billion adults who still do not have access to a bank account, one billion have a mobile telephone and 480 million have access to the internet (4).
The financing of the ecological transition is another common challenge. MFIs are strengthening the development of rural economies through their direct contact with small producers. Small farmers are already weakened by the small size of their farmland (80% have less than 2 hectares) and their low level of integration in agricultural sectors (only 7% are formally integrated in commercial value chains). Climatic change poses an additional risk as MFIs and retail banking alike have to innovate to grant loans better adapted to agricultural cycles and risks and to promote new cultivating practices that encourage resilience and adaptation to climate change. Microfinance and retail banking are accordingly positioning themselves around financial solutions such as those that are fostering access to green energy to promote the ecological transition.
These common challenges are bringing together the two branches of the financial system which play a powerfully inclusive role in economic development and social and environmental progress. There are many synergies to capitalize on between microfinance and the banking sector.
(1) Microfinance Barometer 2018: http://www.convergences.org/barometre-de-la-microfinance/
(2) The average regional bank is based on calculations from figures provided by French regional institutions which have made it possible to establish an average profile.
(3) Global Findex 2017
The Foundation’s Newsletter N.33 is now available
The Foundation publishes its quarterly Newsletter N.33. In this issue of The Newsletter, we present the cooperation set up with the Crédit Agricole Group entities: Crédit du Maroc and CACIB in India. Together, we implemented a scheme to support and finance local microfinance institutions. We have been working for several months on the project and it is with a great sense of pride that we present it to you.
You will also discover the article by Céline Hyon-Naudin, Investment Manager of the Foundation, who analyzes the similarities and common challenges to retail banking and microfinance.
In this edition, we are launching a new section: Solidarity Notebooks. It will present the testimonials of Solidarity Bankers who went on field missions to support the organizations funded by the Foundation. The first Notebook is written by Haoly Basse, Solidarity Banker of CACIB who went to Senegal in July to support Kossam, a social enterprise that aims at developing an inclusive daily sector in the North of the country. A great story to add: Kossam is headed by Jonathan Michaud from Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté, one of the first Solidarity Bankers.
Enjoy the read!
Click herehere to download the Newsletter N.33
The Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation invests in three new countries
In the first half of 2019, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation made new investments, including three in new countries. For the first time, it funded the LAPO microfinance institution in Sierra Leone for an amount equivalent to € 385,000. LAPO’s mission is to provide financial services that meet the needs of economically active people in a cost-effective and innovative way. It is an MFI that is committed to developing the microfinance industry in Sierra Leone based on microfinance best practices and enhancing the microfinance sector in relation to further developing a credit culture. To date, the institution has nearly 22,000 active borrowers, 97.3% of whom are women. 74% of its clientele is located in rural areas.
The Foundation has also made an initial financing equivalent to € 500,000 to the Nigerian microfinance institution ACEP Niger. ACEP Niger is an MFI specialised in financing very small businesses in urban areas. It manages loans and savings products for urban and peri-urban small and micro-enterprises rejected by the traditional banking system. In accordance with its corporate social responsibility focus, ACEP Niger has adopted the SMART Campaign Client Protection Principles. It thus protects its borrowers against over-indebtedness. To date, the institution has nearly 4,000 clients, about 25% of whom are women. The entire ACEP Niger clientele is located in urban areas.
Lastly, the Foundation also granted a first loan worth € 493,000 to VisionFund Rwanda, a microfinance institution, subsidiary of VisionFund International whose mission is to provide financial and non-financial services to underprivileged rural communities. VisionFund Rwanda serves vulnerable women with children and youth in rural areas and provide them with economic empowerment opportunities. Its products and strategy are focused on strengthening and providing financial services to Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) and groups. To date, the MFI has close to 12,000 active borrowers, 62% of whom are women and 85% of whom are located in rural areas.
During the first quarter, the Foundation makes three new investments in Asia
During the first half of 2019, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation made three new investments in Asia, including a guarantee in India in partnership with CA-CIB India.
In Cambodia, Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE) was granted a loan equivalent to € 332,000. This partner, of which the Foundation holds 15.5% of equity since 2013, is a social company that creates, produces and organises performing arts shows and that hires young artists from underprivileged backgrounds.
In Myanmar, the Foundation also granted a new loan equivalent to € 1.8 million to Vision Fund Myanmar, a microfinance institution that lends small sums of money to people who do not have a measurable credit history, assets to secure the loans, or access to mainstream financial providers. To date, the institution has 183,000 active borrowers of whom over 85% are women and nearly 52% live in rural areas.
Finally, in India, the Foundation, in partnership with CA-CIB India, has established a loan guarantee scheme for a total amount in local currency equivalent to € 5.5 million on behalf of Fusion Microfinance Private Ltd, a microfinance institution founded in northern India in 1994. Fusion pays particular attention to issues of over-indebtedness and irresponsible lending, training its branch managers and relationship officers on the risks of multiple lending, so that its staff can be certain that prospective borrowers are aware of the risks and responsibilities that borrowing entails.
The Foundation and CACIB work together to support microfinance in India
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (Crédit Agricole CIB) have joined forces to guide and finance Indian microfinance institutions that support projects for segments of the population wo are excluded from the conventional banking system. Through this partnership, the Crédit Agricole Group is mobilizing its expertise in inclusive finance in India and committing funding to the tune of €12 million.
Loans for a global amount equivalent to €12 million in local currency may be granted by Crédit Agricole CIB to Indian microfinance institutions under the guarantee and supervision of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. The latter institution will deal with the origination and examination of funding applications and their monitoring. Loans granted to institutions will help facilitate access to financial services to the greatest possible number of people so as to encourage the development of income-generating activities. Rural populations and women entrepreneurs will be the main beneficiaries.
Through this partnership, Crédit Agricole CIB emerges as a committed stakeholder for inclusive finance in India. “The complementary nature of the know-how has played out optimally here, with the Foundation contributing its deep understanding of the stakes of microfinance, and the Indian branches of Crédit Agricole CIB their demonstrated knowledge of the local, complex and evolving banking regulations,” said Emmanuel Bouvier d’Yvoire, Senior Country Officer of Crédit Agricole CIB for India. Present in India since 1981, Crédit Agricole CIB is established in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Pune.
“Alongside Crédit Agricole CIB, we support institutions that promote the development of rural economies in India. This cooperation shows the Group’s commitment to act every day in the interest of society,” says Eric Campos, Executive Officer of the Foundation and Head of CSR of Crédit Agricole S.A. For the Foundation, it is a sterling opportunity to work in India where microfinance is highly developed but exclusion remains a challenge.
The first financing operation is a loan of INR 5 million, guaranteed fully (100%) by the Foundation, to Fusion Microfinance in India. This company provides financial products and services to more than 1 254 007 women, mainly (86%) in rural areas, who compose its entire clientele. The institution has a portfolio of €237 million. It is present in 17 Indian States, with a network of 440 branches and 3 695 employees.
New Solidarity Bankers mission in Kyrgyzstan
At the initiative of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A., Solidairity Bankers is a skills-sponsorship programme open to Crédit Agricole Group employees on behalf of the organizations supported by the Foundation. Since the beggining of the programme, thirteen missions were launched.
A new Solidarity Bankers mission is to be filled in favour of OXUS Kyrgyzstan. OXUS is a microfinance institution established in 2006 that provides financial services to under-banked people in Kyrgyzstan.
The institution serves more than 7600 active borrowers (55% women and 57% in rural areas) and manages a portfolio of €7.2 million. The Solidarity Banker will be responsible for supporting OXUS in the production of a Marketing plan and a Client Loyalty programme. The mission is scheduled for the fourth trimester of 2019.
HOW TO APPLY
To discover the detailed offers of the missions:
- Go to the CA Solidaires website “Find a project”
- Enter the search bar: “Grameen”. All the Solidarity Leave offers will appear!
- Click on the offer of your choice, you will find all the information you need to apply.
More information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Created in 2008, under the joint impetus of the directors of Crédit Agricole S.A. and Professor Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Grameen Bank, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is a cross-business actor that contributes to the fight against poverty through financial inclusion and entrepreneurship with a social impact. As an investor, lender, technical assistance coordinator and fund advisor, the Foundation supports microfinance institutions and social enterprises in nearly 40 countries.
The Foundation, partner of the 2019 Microfinance Barometer
Since 2010, Convergences publishes each year a Microfinance Barometer which retraces the main trends of the sector at the international level while giving visibility to microfinance initiatives with strong social impact and by promoting good practices. This year, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is a partner of the Microfinance Barometer, the 10th edition of which will be launched during the Convergences World Forum which will take place on September 5 & 6 at the Palais Brongniart in Paris.
With the theme “What profitability for Microfinance”, the 9th Microfinance Barometer presents the key figures of the sector and explores the subject of the profitability of the sector in its multiple facets. Should microfinance be profitable? If so, can it be, while remaining socially responsible? Can it stay true to its aspirations of helping nearly 2 billion people with no access to banking services out of poverty? How to combine social performance and financial profitability to best serve the beneficiaries?
From microfinance institutions to investors, the Barometer confronts different points of view and highlights the very strong interdependence between social performance and economic performance. Through case studies, expert analyzes and interviews between investors, this edition offers an inventory of the profitability of microfinance, and provides lessons on the double return – social and financial – of microfinance.
To download it : here
Launching of “Producing my solar electricity”
Tuesday July 16, Elisabeth AYRAULT, CEO of CNR, Raphaël APPERT, Managing Director of Crédit Agricole Centre-Est and Marc JEDLICZKA, Director of HESPUL, officially launched the White paper called “Producing my solar electricity”, in the presence of Jacqueline ROISIL, Assistant Regional Director of ADEME.
This guide is intended for farmers, SMEs and companies wishing to engage in the installation of photovoltaic panels. Published by Uni-media, the White paper consists of about twenty pages to better understand this technology of “green” electricity generation.
Its main objective is to give photovoltaic project owners the keys to trigger and carry out their project. The definition of photovoltaics, its economic models, the partners of the project, or the conditions of connection are among the six items that make up the book. It is also available in digital format.
This practical guide is the result of a joint reflection between CNR and Crédit Agricole Centre-est on their role and usefulness on their territory. They jointly realized that the energy transition could not take place without economic players, large and small, and that it is their responsibility as an industrialist and a banker-insurer to contribute to it. “Supporting the transformation of the economic model of companies, SMEs and farmers, by integrating responses to climate challenges is a duty. This book is proof of the concrete commitment of two actors recognized locally as the Crédit Agricole Centre-est and CNR “, recalled Raphaël Appert.
Crédit Agricole Fund for Inclusive Finance in Rural Areas
In partnership with CA Indosuez Wealth (Asset Management) and CACEIS Bank, Luxembourg Branch, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation launched in September 2018 the FIR (Finance Inclusive en Milieu Rural – Inclusive Finance in Rural Areas) a sub-fund of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Fund, the first microfinance fund of Credit Agricole Group.
2018, launch of the FIR and first fundraising
For over 10 years, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has been promoting financial inclusion and entrepreneurship by supporting microfinance institutions and social impact companies. In order to strengthen its action and leverage its impact, the Foundation, in partnership with CA Indosuez Wealth (Asset Management) and CACEIS Bank, Luxembourg Branch, launched the Rural Inclusive Finance (FIR) Sub-Fund which will allow Group entities to finance microfinance institutions in rural Africa, Asia and Europe.
The first two FIR fundraisong events closed in 2018 saw the participation of fifteen Regional Banks (Alsace-Vosges, Centre-est, Centre-France, Champagne-Bourgogne, Charente-Périgord, Franche-Comté, Ille-et-Vilaine, Languedoc, Loire-Haute Loire, Martinique-Guyane, Normandie-Seine, Provence Côte-d’Azur, Réunion, Savoie et Sud Rhône Alpes), as well as those of Amundi and Crédit Agricole Assurance for an amount of nearly 8 million euros.
2019, third fundraising and new perspectives
With the last fundraising event closed on June 28, 2019, five new Regional Banks (Alpes Provence, Brie Picardie, Finistère, Centre-Ouest and Touraine Poitou) subscribed to the FIR for 1.6 million euros.
With these resources, the FIR will develop its investments in the form of loans to microfinance institutions operating in sub-Saharan Africa and South and South-East Asia. As part of its mandate as an advisor to the Fund, the Foundation identifies microfinance institutions, conducts due diligence on the field and, once this is done and validated by the CA Indosuez Wealth Investment (Asset Management) Committee, is also responsible for the monitoring process.
The loans are intended to refinance loans made to people traditionally excluded from the banking sector, living in rural areas, which constitute the main clientele of targeted microfinance institutions.
The Foundation’s Friends Club N.4: the Solidarity Bankers programme in the spotlight
Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole and Crédit Agricole S.A. Foundation in June 2018, Solidarity Banker is a skills volunteering programme open to all Crédit Agricole Group employees in support of microfinance institutions or impact companies supported by the Foundation. To celebrate its first year, the programme was honoured at the Foundation’s Friends Club Meeting N°4, held on 9 July at Crédit Agricole’s Campus in Montrouge.
Solidarity bankers: balance sheet of the first year
The meeting was rich in exchanges, beginning with the speeches of Jean-Marie Sander, President of the Foundation, and Eric Campos, Executive Director of the Foundation and CSR Director of Crédit Agricole S.A. Recalling the history of the Foundation and the various challenges it faces, both stressed the importance of providing technical support to the Foundation’s partners through mechanisms such as the Solidarity Banker.
Carolina Herrera, Director of Communication and Partnerships of the Foundation, then presented the framework of the Solidarity Banker programme. With field missions lasting one to two weeks, Crédit Agricole Group employees support the Foundation’s partners to meet the technical support needs expressed by the beneficiary organisations. Since the beginning of the program, 12 missions have been launched: a great success that demonstrates the strong commitment of employees and the Group.
The next Solidarity bankers
To testify to this, Violette Cubier and Céline Hyon-Naudin, Investment Officers at the Foundation, presented the next missions alongside two Solidarity Bankers. Sarah Belbachir of Crédit Agricole SA and Caman Kamougue of Crédit Agricole CIB are the two solidarity bankers who, supported by the Group’s entities, will travel to Morocco and Haiti this summer to support Al Karama, a microfinance institution, and Palmis Enèji, a social impact company, respectively. They presented the objectives of the missions and highlighted their desire to contribute to a project with a strong social impact as well as personal and professional enrichment as the main motivations to become Solidarity Bankers.
The meeting ended with a presentation of the Foundation’s Strategic Plan 2019-2022 by Hélène Keraudren-Baube, Administrative and Financial Director, who recalled our three strategic pillars: strengthening microfinance expertise, developing the resilience of rural economies and promoting impact finance within the Group.
Team seminar between the Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA’s CSR
As part of a team seminar held from 3 to 5 July, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department decided for the first time to bring together their teams, led by Eric Campos, Managing Director of the Foundation and CSR Director of Crédit Agricole S.A. A wealth of discussion and reflection, during these three days to take stock of the various business lines and strengthen the dynamics common to both entities.
Strengthen cooperation between the Foundation and CSR
During three days spent in the Ardèche in the village of Voguë, the teams were able to discuss the levers to be activated to strengthen the scale of the projects carried out together and the new avenues of work to be explored.
As a first step, the two entities each presented their Strategic Plan 2019-2022. For the Foundation, it is based on three pillars: strengthening microfinance expertise, developing the resilience of rural economies and promoting impact finance within the Group. For the CSR Department, the teams focused on the Group’s climate strategy, which calls for a gradual divestment from coal, first in the EU and OECD countries by 2020, then in China in 2030 and finally in the rest of the world by 2050. The common thread of the two medium-term plans is to support a more inclusive, responsible and sustainable finance.
Through working groups, the Foundation and CSR teams have been able to define various elements on which they will move forward together in order to create synergies that will benefit both the Foundation and the Crédit Agricole Group as a whole through Crédit Agricole S.A.’s CSR Department. Sharing expertise, capitalizing on successful joint projects, innovation – many are the possible actions to strengthen the Foundation’s and the Group’s action in favour of financial inclusion and socially responsible entrepreneurship.
At the end of the Seminar, further meetings are planned to continue this dynamic of pooling and mutual enrichment between the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and the CSR Department and, more generally, the entire Crédit Agricole Group.
The 4th Meeting of the Foundation’s Friends Club
Launched by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A., Solidarity Banker is a skills volunteering programme open to all Crédit Agricole Group employees in support of organisations financed by the Foundation. Since the start of the programme in June 2018, 12 missions have been launched. This is a great success and demonstrates the commitment of employees and the Group to support projects with a social impact.
To celebrate this first year of success, a meeting is being organised on 9 July at Crédit Agricole’s Campus in Montrouge. Come and talk to the Foundation’s team and the Solidarity Bankers who will support the Foundation’s partners in Morocco and Haiti.
For more information, please contact email@example.com
Follow the Group’s employees committed to the Solidarity Bankers missions
This summer, follow on Instagram the Group’s employees who have committed themselves to the “Solidarity Banker” missions.
Solidarity Banker is a skills volunteering programme open to all Crédit Agricole Group employees for organisations funded by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Created in 2008, the Foundation supports over 75 microfinance institutions and social enterprises in some 30 countries.
Since the launch of the programme in June 2018, 12 missions have been proposed. This is a great success and it demonstrates the commitment of employees and the Group to support projects with a social impact.
This summer, we will follow three solidarity bankers throughout their missions: a first “digital” mission to support a Senegalese social enterprise, a “business plan” mission to support a Haitian social enterprise and a “Prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT)” mission to support a microfinance institution in Morocco.
A Solidarity Banker from Crédit Agricole CIB in Senegal
From Sunday 30 June, follow Haoly Basse, who, with the support of Crédit Agricole CIB, is heading to Senegal to support KOSSAM, a social enterprise that works with nearly 450 local farmers and aims to develop a sustainable dairy sector in the North of the country. Haoly will support Kossam in the deployment of a digital application that will improve collection conditions and KOSSAM’s knowledge of breeder-suppliers.
A great story to add: KOSSAM is now managed by Jonathan Michaud, an agricultural engineer from Crédit Agricole Franche Comté who, after a mission as a Solidarity Banker for La Laiterie du Berger, was seconded for 2 years to support the development of the project.
A Solidarity Banker from Crédit Agricole SA in Morocco
On July 13th, Sarah Belbachir, a Solidarity Banker from Crédit Agricole SA went to Morocco to support the Al Karam Foundation, a partner microfinance institutionof the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. The mission, which is done in cooperation with Crédit du Maroc, which organized a training session in skills sponsorship, and Crédit Agricole SA, aims at improving the Alkarama Foundation’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing systems (AML-FT). The institution currently supports more than 26,200 clients in Morocco.
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For further information, visit http://gca-foundation.org/solidarity-banker
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Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit du Maroc are committed to Moroccan microfinance
An innovative partnership to support microfinance
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit du Maroc are committed to the microfinance sector in Morocco. They set up an intervention scheme that allows Crédit du Maroc to finance the microfinance institution in local currency with the guarantee of the Foundation, which also takes care of the monitoring process.
Created in 2008 by Crédit Agricole’s managers and the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Professor Yunus, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation finances and supports more than 75 microfinance institutions and social enterprises in Africa, Asia and Europe with more than €80 million in outstanding loans. Crédit du Maroc has been supporting the country’s economic development by financing individual and corporate customers since 1929.
With this partnership, Crédit du Maroc is strengthening its action as a bank committed to inclusive finance. “The partnership with the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation will allow us to get as close as possible to the ecosystem of the very small company and income-generating activities, which represents half of the companies registered in Morocco’s central commercial register. It also marks Crédit du Maroc’s civic commitment as a socially responsible company by participating in financial inclusion,” says Baldoméro Valverde, Chairman of Crédit du Maroc’s Executive Board.
For the Foundation, this is a great opportunity to multiply its impact by intervening for the first time in Morocco. “Ten years after the Foundation’s creation, we are building a new history with the Crédit Agricole Group. Alongside Crédit du Maroc, we will support Moroccan institutions to promote social entrepreneurship, financial inclusion and agricultural development. It is a common, tireless commitment to move forward together towards a more shared economy,” says Eric Campos, Managing Director of the Foundation and Head of CSR at Crédit Agricole S.A.
Al Karama, the first funded institution
The Foundation approved a guarantee of €1.1 million on a MAD10.4 million loan granted by Crédit du Maroc to the Al Karama Foundation for Microfinance.
This institution, which provides loans for the development of professional activities, serves more than 27,000 active borrowers, mainly women (57% of clients) and manages a portfolio of more than €10 million. It has operations throughout the country through a network of 84 branches and 314 employees.
In cooperation with Crédit du Maroc, Al Karama will also receive technical assistance to improve its systems to combat money laundering and terrorist financing (AML-FT) as part of the “Solidarity Banker” skills volunteer programme. This scheme, open to all Crédit Agricole Group employees, was launched in 2018 by the Grameen Crédit Agricole and Crédit Agricole S.A. Foundation to support the organisations financed by the Foundation through technical assistance missions (http://gca-foundation.org/banquier-solidaire).
Solidarity bankers missions to be filled in Kenya and Cambodia
Two Solidarity Bankers missions are to be filled in Kenya and Cambodia: a Management Control mission to support Musoni, a microfinance institution based in Kenya and a financial management mission to support Phare Circus (PPSE), a Cambodian social enterprise.
Solidarity Bankers is a skills-based volunteering scheme launched in 2018 by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA, set up for the employees of the Crédit Agricole Group on behalf of microfinance institutions or social impact companies, partners of the Foundation.
Missions to be filled
A “Control Management” mission is planned for the third quarter of 2019 to support Musoni in Kenya. Musoni is a microfinance institution that provides financial services through mobile payments to people excluded from the mainstream banking system. To strengthen performance management, Musoni wishes to implement a balanced scorecard methodology. The Solidarity Banker will be responsible for structuring a balanced scorecard with key performance indicators and making recommendations on its implementation.
A “Financial management” mission will be held in September 2019 to support the Cirque Phare (PPSE) in Cambodia. The Cirque Phare (PPSE) provides employment opportunities for Cambodian artists and sustains the arts sector in the country. PPSE has now entered a growth phase and requires strengthening certain aspects of its management, including strategic, financial and human resources management. The Solidarity Banker will be responsible for proposing monitoring tools and making recommendations on the organisational structure.
How to apply?
Several missions are to be published on CA Solidaires. To discover them:
1. Go to the CA Solidaires website “Find a project”
2. Enter “Grameen” in the search bar. All the Solidarity Leave offers will appear!
3. Click on the offer of your choice, you will find all the information you need to apply.
To find out more about the missions to be filled, click here.
Kossam SDE: reinspiring youth, investing in development
By Chloé Chevrand & Evelyne Offroy, Fondation Grameen Crédit Agricole
After a mission as a Solidarity Banker for La Laiterie du Berger, Jonathan Michaud is now Director of Kossam SDE, a project led by La Laiterie, which aims to structure the dairy sector in northern Senegal. Spotlight on our discussions with this agricultural engineer from Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté, who has been seconded for two years to support the development of this project with a strong social impact.
Structuring the dairy sector in Senegal
To be the driving force behind the territorial development of Richard Toll’s dairy basin in northern Senegal: this is the shared ambition of Laiterie du Berger and its subsidiary Kossam SDE. Since its creation in 2005, La Laiterie du Berger has established itself as a pioneering social enterprise in the country.
Today, it has become the second largest player in the Senegalese yoghurt market and the main national company processing local milk. It works with the Coopérative des éleveurs de Dagana, which groups 800 Peul farmers, employs 300 people and produces 6000 tonnes of yoghurt each year. In early 2019, in order to consolidate the activity and the dairy sector, La Laiterie du Berger and the Coopérative des éleveurs de Dagana cofounded the social enterprise Kossam – Société de Développement de l’Elevage (Kossam SDE).
Kossam SDE aims to structure and strengthen the dairy sector by providing local services (livestock feed, fodder,…) and training and advice to local farmers. The company is developing a model of “mini-farms” currently in the pilot phase (15 units in operation) and aims to set up 100 mini-farms by 2022 (more information on the project here).
Young people as actors of development
At the heart of this development plan, youth occupies an important place. In a context where youth employment is a challenge in Senegal, Kossam is setting up an ambitious system to support young people in a process of professionalization in dairy production.
Thus, the training offered to breeders are also open to their families. Indeed, the breeders of La Laiterie are mainly families, or rather family organizations, consisting of a “canister manager”, man or woman, behind whom works a whole family structure. “There is a real will of the breeders trained by Kossam to involve and empower their children in the work of the farm. Kossam SDE has planned to intensify the training and support for the and local youth, on the aspects of technical and economic management of the farm and family,” says the Director of Kossam SDE, Jonathan Michaud, Credit Agricultural Engineer Agricole Franche Comté, detached for 2 years to develop the project.
Moreover, young people are not only involved as breeders, but in others links in the dairy chain. Indeed, from many young people are elected as managers of the dairy divisions (which are of the local chapters of the cooperative). Whereas these positions were once reserved for senior managers, today the involvement of young people in agricultural and local of the sector’s model in structuring.
Finally, youth employment is promoted at the level of milk collection. Kossam SDE has thus made it possible to create the profession of “collector”, now exercised by local young people. Jonathan Michaud says that the development of milk collection and the generation of increasing incomes through dairy activity contribute greatly to the stabilization of young populations in Richard Toll’s dairy basin. In addition, the project has changed the image of the dairy industry towards young people: dairy production has become a rewarding, remunerative and attractive activity for local populations, especially for new generations. With the increase in productivity of farms, the creation of new professions around breeding will become essential (by for example, the creation of livestock advisors, technicians of breeding). As pointed out by Jonathan Michaud, it is the logical continuation of the movement already initiated by La Laiterie du Berger for more than 10 years around professionalization dairy, which requires support, supervision, structures and thus creates employment by and around the milk production.
With Kossam, the movement is growing stronger, based on training, entrepreneurship and the involvement of young people, innovators and key development actors in Senegal.
The Foundation’s Newsletter #32 is now available
The Foundation publishes its Quaterly Newsletter #32 in which it presents its 2019 – 2022 Strategic Plan. For nearly a year, the foundation has been working on the preparation of this medium-term reflection and to this end, it has listened and exchanged with its Board members, partners, microfinance institutions and social enterprises, funders and colleagues. The result allows the Foundation to look into its future with confidendence, as it has outlined the main stages of its development to come.
The Foundation is also pleased to see that it is building the trust of its funders. After Crédit Agricole CIB, Agence Française de Développement and Amundi, the European Investment Bank has joined the circle of its funders with a loan in CFA Francs for an amount equivalent to €12 million enabling the Foundation to increase its operations in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Finally, in this issue, you will discover the Foundation’s good results in 2018, the highlights and key figures explained in its Integrated Report published in the last days of April.
Click here to download the Newsletter #32
Created in 2008, under the joint leadership of the directors of Crédit Agricole SA and Professor Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Grameen Bank, the Grameen Crédit Agricole SA Foundation is a multi-skilled operator 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 nearly 40 countries.
A first successful year for the Solidarity bankers programme
By Carolina Herrera, Fondation Grameen Crédit Agricole
At the initiative of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole S.A., Solidarity bankers missions are offered to Crédit Agricole Group employees on behalf of microfinance institutions or companies with a social impact supported by the Foundation.
Senegal, Morocco, Haiti… : a great success for the first year
Less than a year after its launch in 2018, the success of the program confirms the commitment and willingness of employees to support projects with a social impact. This is the first time that a partnership of this type has been launched by Crédit Agricole and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. The objective is twofold: on the one hand, to enhance the skills of Crédit Agricole Group employees and, on the other hand, to provide additional support to the Foundation’s microfinance institutions and partner companies with one- to two-week missions in the field.
In 2018, six missions were launched, three of which were carried out in 2018 and three planned for 2019. For example, a mission took place in Cambodia with the support of Crédit Agricole’s International Retail Banking (BPI) to support the human resources management of Chamroeun, a partner microfinance institution serving more than 27,500 clients. Another mission was carried out in Senegal, in partnership with Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté, in favour of Laiterie du Berger, a social enterprise in which the Foundation is a shareholder. In addition, with the support of the Regional Bank, the Solidarity Banker who carried out the mission left for 2 years to support Kossam, the Dairy’s project to structure the dairy sector in Senegal.
A mission launched in 2018 will be carried out in July 2019 in cooperation with Crédit du Maroc and Crédit Agricole SA to improve the Al Karama Foundation’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing systems (AML-FT). The institution currently supports more than 26,200 clients in Morocco. Another mission launched in 2018 will be carried out in Haiti to support Palmis Enèji, a social enterprise that offers clean and accessible cooking and lighting solutions to Haitian households. Crédit Agricole Corporate Investment Bank supports the Solidarity Banker, who will carry out the entire mission in terms of skills sponsorship.
Cambodia, Kenya, Tajikistan… in 2019 the programme scales up
To date, six missions have been launched in 2019. A mission in favour of Kossam, the Laiterie du Berger project, which aims to develop a sustainable dairy sector in Senegal. The Solidarity Banker will be responsible for supporting Kossam in the deployment of a digital “commcare collection” application. Another mission is planned to support the financial management and organizational structure of Cirque Phare (PPSE) in Cambodia. PPSE aims to promote the social inclusion and empowerment of young people through Cambodian culture and arts. A mission will take place in favour of ACRE Africa, which provides crop insurance services to smallholders. The Solidarity Banker will be responsible for analysing the organisation’s new business strategy.
For these first missions launched in 2019, the selection process for Solidarity Bankers has been finalised. To date, three new missions are to be filled: a mission to support the “business model” of Humo, a microfinance institution in Tajikistan; a “management control” mission to support Musoni, a microfinance institution in Kenya; and a “digital” mission to support SFA, a social enterprise in Senegal.
Other missions are currently being planned with the support of the Crédit Agricole Group’s entities and Regional Banks. With this scheme, the Group reaffirms its commitment to support employees’ solidarity initiatives and work alongside the Foundation to promote more inclusive and sustainable finance.
Responsible finance in the service of the common interest
What is your assessment of the first two mandates of the Foundation?
In 10 years, the Foundation has granted 200 million euros in funding in 38 countries, 40% of which are among the least developed with a loss rate of less than 0.6%. 200 million euros in funding can finance between 600 and 700,000 microloans. More than 80% of microcredit beneficiaries are women and we work mostly in rural areas.
How do you think the responsible finance sector will evolve in the coming years?
Last October, Amundi, the first European Asset Manager, decided to integrate ESG factor analysis into all of its funds under management within three years. By integrating these criteria, Amundi clearly illustrates that extra-financial criteria are gradually entering into the range of criteria for assessing investment funds. This approach clearly shows the dynamics of the evolution of Finance.
A word on the next five years of the Foundation. What are the major strategic directions?
Climate change, population growth, digital transformation … many are the challenges that shake the world of microfinance. It is urgent to mobilize resources, to innovate with new means of action, to strengthen cooperation. This conviction is at the heart of the actions of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and its development plan.
The Foundation will continue to adapt to these new challenges by diversifying its expertise and enriching its intervention methods. These three strategic challenges will guide its action for the next few years.
Find the full interview of Eric Campos on Admical‘s website (in French).
The Foundation publishes its 2018 Integrated Annual Report
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its 2018 Integrated Report, which describes the highlights, key figures and projects developed with its partners. 2018 was an important year for the Foundation. It marked the Foundation’s 10th anniversary with several commemorative events celebrated alongside its partners and founders, Crédit Agricole and Professor Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Trust. Ten years later, the Foundation is positioning itself as a recognized player in the inclusive finance sector and is strengthening its action to contribute to the fight against poverty.
2018 was also a year of growth. As at 31 December 2018, the Foundation managed €73 million in assets and supported more than 70 partners in 34 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe. At the heart of its objectives, the Foundation promotes female entrepreneurship and rural economies through the institutions it supports: 75% of microcredit beneficiaries are women and 80% live in rural areas.
2018 was also a strong year for partnerships. Several projects have been launched with the Crédit Agricole Group: the development of cooperation schemes with Group entities abroad, the launch of the FIR, the Group’s first microfinance fund, and the implementation of “Banquier solidaire”, a skills volunteering programme open to all Group employees on behalf of the Foundation’s partners.
2018 was also the year of preparation of the Foundation’s Strategic Plan 2019-2022, which confirms the Foundation’s commitment to strengthening the microfinance sector, developing rural economies and promoting impact finance.
To download the 2018 Integrated Report, click here.
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation publishes its Strategic Plan 2019-2022
The publication of the Strategic plan 2019-2022 anchors the Foundation’s positioning around three priority areas: reinforce our expertise and offer in favour of the microfinance sector, strengthen resilience in rural economies and promote social impact in the financial sector.
Created in 2008 by the joint initiative of the directors of Crédit Agricole S.A. and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Trust, Professor Muhammad Yunus, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is committed to promoting microfinance and socially responsible entrepreneurship. With more than €200 million in financing granted in loans and investments, a presence in more than 40 countries and a network of more than 100 partners supported since its inception, the Foundation represents for the Crédit Agricole Group a unique specialist centre in the field of inclusive finance in emerging countries.
Over the last ten years, the Foundation has established a solid experience in financing microfinance institutions and promoting rural economic development. It has developed several projects with the Crédit Agricole Group’s entities and Regional Banks: with cooperation schemes with the Group’s entities abroad, a skills volunteering programme and a social impact investment fund, the Foundation has been able to strengthen its action and increase its impact.
In order to address the challenges ahead and make a positive contribution, the Strategic Plan 2019-2022 has been developed over the course of 2018 by the Foundation’s team with guidance from the Board and consultation of partners and external stakeholders. The three pillars proposed in the Strategic plan (accompany MFIs, strengthen the resilience of rural economies and promote a social performance perspective in the financial sector) build on the Foundation’s strengths and focus on strategic axes that reinforce the Foundation’s positioning, permit to scale its impact and help balance the economic model.
To download the strategic plan 2019-2022, please click here.
Solidarity Bankers missions in Senegal Cambodia and Kenya
Solidarity Bankers is a new type of overseas volunteering mission offered to the Group’s employees on behalf of microfinance institutions or social impact companies, partners of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Three missions are to be filled: a “digital” mission in Senegal, a “human ressources / management” mission in Cambodia and a “strategy” mission in Kenya.
Missions to be filled
A “digital” mission for Kossam in Senegal is planned for June-July 2019. Kossam is a social enterprise, whose mission is to develop and anchor an inclusive and sustainable dairy sector around Richard Toll in northern Senegal. To do so, ossam collects milk from 450 local breeders, provides them with market services as well as advice and training. The Solidarity Banker will be responsible for supporting Kossam in the deployment of a “commcare collection” digital application.
A “Human ressources / management” mission is planned for the second quarter of 2019 to support the Phare Circus (PPSE) in Cambodia. PPSE provides employment opportunities for Cambodian artists and sustains the arts sector in the country. PPSE has now entered a growth phase and requires strengthening some aspects of its management, including strategic, financial and human resources management. The Solidarity Banker will be responsible for proposing monitoring tools and making recommendations on the organisational structure.
A “strategy” mission for ACRE Africa in Kenya will take place during the second / third quarter of 2019. Based in Kenya but also present in Tanzania and Rwanda, ACRE Africa provides crop insurance services to smallholders farmers. ACRE decided in 2018 to diversify its activities to offer consulting services and to change its business model from a B-to-C to a B-to-B model. The Solidarity Banker will be responsible for analysing the organisation’s new strategy and evaluating its business model.
How to apply?
Go to the CA Solidaires website “Find a project”
Type in the keyword serach : “Fondation Grameen”. All the missions available will be displayed !
Click on the offer you are interested in to have all the information in order to apply.
For additional information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inclusive finance at Harvard Business School
By Hélène Keraudren Baube, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation
Led by Harvard Business School and ACCION, the Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance Program is a 5-day intensive course designed to reflect on the progress and challenges of the sector. This year, Hélène Keraudren-Baube, Chief Financial Officer at the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, had the opportunity to participate thanks to a scholarship granted by InFiNe Luxembourg. Here is a spotlight on this week in immersion.
We were about sixty participants, from all continents and especially from various backgrounds: microfinance practitioners, investors and donors, financial service providers, regulators… The programme is structured around a series of case studies and guided discussions, with a strong emphasis on digital finance – a theme that has become essential for microfinance institutions today.
Day 1: Financial inclusion in question
Our first working session aimed to introduce the theme of financial inclusion with case studies on public-private partnerships led by Mastercard in South Africa and Nigeria. Mastercard introduced its cards into government programs to, in the South African case, help dematerialize the payment of government benefits, and in the Nigerian case, provide identity documents to people who did not have them. However, in South Africa, most customers still prefer cash and find no real benefit in having a card. In Nigeria, very few people sought to obtain identity cards, as the process of obtaining them was quite cumbersome and tedious. This leads us to the conclusion that pushing technology does not lead to financial inclusion: for inclusion to be effective, solutions must be tailored to end-users.
Day 2: Changes in the microfinance sector
Our second day of work focused on the changes we are seeing in the traditional microfinance sector. In some markets, such as Peru, we are witnessing a shift towards mergers and acquisitions between microfinance institutions. On others, like Bolivia, we see microfinance institutions that have to adapt to regulatory changes. More recently, we see the arrival of digitization as a new phenomenon to which MFIs must adapt: how does technology affect internal processes, product distribution, payments, credit scoring? An interesting discussion that also raised other questions: Are the client’s needs always a priority? Is interaction with the customer preserved?
Day 3: What are the prospects for fintechs?
We continued our training with another series of cases on the arrival of Fintechs in the landscape. We studied an Indian system, where mobile payment providers are growing as long as they have replaced cash in many daily transactions. The corollary is that, in doing so, these operators collect large amounts of data on their customers, leading us to question ourselves: if the creation of a digital fingerprint may seem a good thing, how can we ensure responsible use and processing of customer data? In China, we examined a peer-to-peer platform created to enable individuals to finance micro-entrepreneurs. The platform has managed to grow very quickly and reach millions of people, going much further than its initial model. How can such platforms, which have multiplied in China in recent years, be regulated?
Fintechs therefore appear to be disrupters of inclusive finance, because they create new opportunities: they change the ecosystem and are able to evolve quickly. But if we want Fintechs to be part of financial inclusion, we must put customers at the centre of our concerns: how to protect them, provide them with appropriate products and services and ensure real inclusion, beyond the gender gap or the urban/rural divide?
Hélène Keraudren Baube’s detailed report is available on the InFiNe Luxembourg website.
[Webinar] What are the returns for microfinance?
On April 9, Philippe Guichandut, Head of Inclusive Finance Development at the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, participated in the webinar organised by Convergences and FinDev Gateway. The objective of this webinar was to reflect on the profitability of microfinance. The topics discussed were as follows: Why invest in microfinance? Between financial profitability and social performance, what balance? How to develop an economic model to reconcile double profitability? Feedback on Advans International’s experience
Although profitability is an indispensable requirement, this notion is nevertheless complex to grasp in a sector like microfinance whose purpose is to have a social impact. Thus, should microfinance necessarily be profitable? If so, can it be done in a socially responsible way? Can it remain true to its aspirations and contribute, through financial inclusion, to lifting 1.7 billion people out of poverty without access to banking services around the world? Between reasonable interest rates and sufficient profitability, what balance for microfinance institutions? What resources to finance the development of the microfinance sector?
This is what the various invited speakers tried to answer. Alongside Philippe Guichandut, Gabriela Erice Garcia, Senior Microfinance Officer at the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) and Frédéric Mille, Investment Director at Advans International, participated to the debated.
The Foundation and the EIB join forces to promote microfinance in Africa
On April 1, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and the European Investment Bank (EIB) organised, in Paris, a round table debate on the subjectf of the development of rural economies and the strengthening of microfinance in Africa by the EIB. The representatives of both institutions stated a common objective: the promotion of a more sustainable and inclusive economy.
Following the EIB’s grant to the Foundation of a EUR 12 million loan equivalent in CFA francs to support microfinance in West Africa, this round table was also an opportunity to discuss the challenges related to the development of rural areas in Africa. Several guests gathered to discuss rural microfinance, agriculture, gender and climate change.
For the Foundation, the acknowledgement of its expertise in microfinance
As Jérôme Brunel, Director of the Foundation and Secretary General of Crédit Agricole S.A., pointed out in his opening speech, the Foundation has lent more than four times its capital over the past ten years, i.e. €200 million in financing, in over 30 countries and has supported over 100 partners since 2008. At the end of 2018, the Foundation had an outstanding portfolio of €76 million and supported 75 partners in 35 countries. After excellent results in 2018, this new funding will allow the Foundation to extend its action in Africa in the field of microfinance and support to social entrepreneurship. “With this funding to the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, the European Investment Bank confirms its commitment to financial inclusion in West Africa alongside a committed player that has just celebrated its 10th anniversary,” stated Ambroise Fayolle, EIB Vice-President.
Mamadou Lamine Gueye, Managing Director of Caurie Microfinance, a Senegalese microfinance institution partner of the Foundation and beneficiary of the EIB funding, and Soukeyna Ndiaye Bâ, Managing Director of the INAFI International Foundation and a Board member of the Foundation, for their part, spoke of the importance of intermediaries such as the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, whose positioning enables small microfinance institutions to be funded, which otherwise would not be as they are not eligible for funding from large donors. Both agreed to recognize the role of the Foundation and other donors in the development of the African microfinance sector, hence providing opportunities for African youth.
Two institutions have already benefited from the loan granted by the EIB to the Foundation: Caurie Microfinance, whose mission is the social and economic empowerment of poor microentrepreneurs in Senegal, mainly women; and PAMF BF, which offers microloans to finance agricultural and economic activities such as market gardening or cereal production in Burkina Faso. These two institutions alone represent over 110,000 active borrowers, 79.87% of them women.
Africa remains a priority target for the Foundation
Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for around 30% of the Foundation’s funding. It focuses its action in favour of rural populations, with the objective of strengthening the resilience of the agricultural sector. “The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is now present in a dozen African countries,” stated Jean-Marie Sander, President of the Foundation. For Eric Campos, Managing Director of the Foundation, “work on agriculture means to work on the future of Africa. We must free the development of products suited to the rural world: today, agriculture represents 60% of the workforce of the continent. Farmers represent only 3% of the banks’s clients!”
In line with the action undertaken by the Foundation, microfinance is a fundamental pillar for value creation in Africa. This is also what two of our speakers, Flora Helard and Mathilde Thonon, students at Sciences Po Paris and co-founders of In-Venture, found out during their one-year voyage accross West Africa and South-East Asia where they travelled to meet those who find financial solutions to the social and environmental problems of their community. In particular, they met with two MFIs partner of the Foundation in Benin: RENACA and ACFB. Their enthusiasm reflects the performance of a dynamic sector that attracts tomorrow’s young entrepreneurs.
The Foundation makes five new investments in Africa
During the first quarter of 2019, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation stepped up its presence with its African partners with the granting of five new financings, notably in the form of senior loans. At the end of March 2019, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation had 40 partners located in sub-Saharan Africa, which represents 42% of the Foundation’s commitments at the end of the first quarter.
As part of the African Facility programme, it has provided a loan in local currency equivalent to € 800,000 to Eclof Kenya, a microfinance institution that provides financial and non-financial services to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the country. while actively promoting savings. To date, the institution that finances 58% of women, has over 30,000 clients, 60% of them located in rural areas.
Also in East Africa, the Foundation has granted a new loan in local currency equivalent to €1 million to UGAFODE, a Ugandan microfinance institution whose main mission is to offer its clients affordable primary financial services. The institution currently has 17,300 clients, of whom almost 20% are women and about 80% are in rural areas.
In West Africa, the Foundation has granted a new loan to Togolese microfinance institution Coopec Sifa for a total amount in local currency equivalent to € 305,000. Coopec Sifa, which is funded under the African Facility programme, is a microfinance institution that offers small loans to its nearly 38,000 clients, mostly women (86%) in the north of the country.
In addition, ACEP Burkina has also been granted a new loan equivalent to €2.3 million in CFA francs. This microfinance institution, a partner of the Foundation since 2016, specialises in financing microenterprises and very small businesses in urban centers and near suburbs. It currently has 12,300 clients, 20% of whom are women.
Finally, in Senegal, the Foundation has strengthened its partnership with Laiterie du Berger, of which it has been a shareholder since 2010, with the granting of a loan in the form of ashareholders’ current account, for an amount in CFA francs equivalent to €229 000. Laiterie du Berger is a social company that collects milk from Fulani herders, in the North of the country, and transforms it into yogurts and other dairy products that are sold under the brand Dolima.
The EIB grants a €12 million loan to the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation received a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) of €12M equivalent in CFA Francs to support the development of microfinance in Western Africa. This financing operation in local currency is a true recognition for the Foundation that will be able to increase its presence in Africa.
The EIB, an operator committed to microfinance
The EIB has a long experience in the development of microfinance. With more than €1.2 billion implicated since the first microfinance operations in 1992, the EIB supports microfinance institutions as well as other actors in this field who promote inclusive and responsible finance. As part of the Cotonou Agreement signed in 2000 between the European Union and the ACP countries (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific), the EIB launched an investment facility to promote the private sector and fight poverty. Within the framework of this program, a loan a loan of €12M equivalent in CFA Francs was granted to the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.
The Foundation, an industry expert
Investor, financier, technical assistance coordinator and fund advisor, the Foundation has supported microfinance and social business institutions around the world for 10 years. Ten years later, more than 200 million euros in funding, a presence in thirty countries and more than 100 partners supported from the start. In 2018, € 73 million in outstandings were monitored by the Foundation and 75 partners were supported in 35 countries. After its good results in 2018, this new funding will allow the Foundation to expand its action in Africa around microfinance and support for social entrepreneurship.
With more than 30% of funding in sub-Saharan Africa, the Foundation is positioning itself as an actor committed to the fight against poverty in the continent. It directs its action towards rural populations to support financial inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the agricultural sector. This alliance between the EIB and the Foundation meets a common objective: to finance and promote a more sustainable and inclusive economy, in line with the Global Development Agenda by 2030. By providing this funding in CFA francs, the EIB allows the Foundation to continue supporting its partners in West Africa with loans in local currency.
Already promising projects
Two institutions will already benefit from this joint support: CAURIE MICROFINANCE, in Senegal, which comes to contribute in a sustainable way to the social and economic empowerment of poor micro-entrepreneurs, mainly women, PAM BF, in Burkina Faso which grants microcredits to finance agricultural and economic activities, such as market gardening or cereal production. These two institutions together have close to 100,000 active borrowers.
“With this funding, the European Investment Bank confirms its commitment to financial inclusion in West Africa alongside a committed player who has just celebrated its 10 years of existence,” said Ambroise Fayolle , Vice-President of the EIB. “The ability to finance this operation in local currency is a key element in order to be able to reach the most vulnerable populations without putting the exchange risk on microfinance institutions. We particularly support the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation on its approach in favor of “employment of women. These are the values carried by Europe that we support today.”
“The EIB loan allows us to leverage the action of the Foundation which concentrates more than a third of its funding in sub-Saharan Africa and is present in a dozen African countries. Africa will continue to be a priority target for the Foundation which will concentrate more than 30% of its funding in the continent by 2022. Thank you to the EIB for being part of the human and entrepreneurial adventure that Crédit Agricole and Professor Yunus started 10 years ago. ” , said Jean-Marie Sander, President of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation.
Philippe Guichandut spoke at the Bank of France
From March 11 to 15, the Bank of France organised the seminar “Consumer protection, financial inclusion and education”. The objective of this seminar was to highlight the missions carried out by a central bank in terms of consumer protection of financial services, financial inclusion and financial education. These missions aim to improve consumer information, provide assistance in the event of difficulties, or prevent or remedy them. These activities, which are generally carried out in accordance with country-specific laws and regulations, have been compared with the approach adopted in this area by other central banks.
The topics discussed were as follows:
– Monitoring the business practices of banks and insurance companies,
– General presentation of the Bank of France’s role in the field of relations between individuals and the financial sphere and the legal provisions for protection,
– The organisation of relations between the banking sector and consumer organisations,
– General interest files managed by the Bank of France and concerning individuals,
– Public information and banking mediation in France,
– The treatment of household over-indebtedness,
– Financial inclusion and financial education.
Round tables were organised to allow participants to exchange information and experiences, in particular through short presentations of their national issues. Philippe Guichandut, Director of Inclusive Finance Development at the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, was invited to speak and present the Foundation’s work, before discussing their best practices with the other guests.
AMK Microfinance receives Truelift Leader Milestone
Truelift has recognized the pro-poor performance of AMK Microfinance Institution Plc., partner of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation in Cambodia, at the Leader Milestone. This brings to 33 the number of financial service providers recognised along the Truelift Pro-Poor Pathway and to seven the number recognised at the Leader Milestone, the most advanced of the four Milestones. What unites all the recognised institutions is their commitment to serving the needs of people living in poverty. Their degree of adherence to the three Pro-Poor Principles shows how far they have progressed along the pathway toward fully pro-poor management of their institutions.
AMK started as a program of Concern Worldwide in the 1990s and became a full microfinance institution in 2004. The institution provides group (village bank) and individual loans, deposit services, money transfers, health micro-insurance, payment and payroll services, foreign exchange, and international remittance services, employing over 2,700 staff serving in 150 offices and working with more than 3,700 independent agents nationwide. The total number of clients exceeds 840,000 with a loan portfolio of over US$ 247 million and deposits of more than US$ 146 million. AMK is therefore one of the leading microfinance institutions in Cambodia.
For more than 15 years, AMK has continuously developed and grown by focusing on the development of its financial products and services and investing in new technologies in order to meet customer demand. At the same time, AMK has remained true to its social objectives, especially poverty alleviation, as demonstrated by the results of the Truelift assessment conducted in November 2018 by M-CRIL. Through delivery of appropriate and viable microfinance services over the past 15 years, AMK has helped clients and their families, especially those living in remote areas, achieve significant positive changes.
To develop rural economies, the EIB is strengthening microfinance in Africa
On 1st of April, from 9 AM to 11 AM, the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are organising a conference in Paris on the theme of developing rural economies and strengthening microfinance in Africa by the EIB.
Jérôme Brunel, Secretary General of Crédit Agricole SA, Director of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President of the EIB, will make opening remarks. Around the table, Eric Campos, Managing Director of the Foundation and CSR Director of Crédit Agricole SA, Soukeyna Ndiaye Bâ, General Director of the INAFI International Foundation and Director of the Foundation, and Mamadou Lamine Gueye, Managing Director of Caurie, a Senegalese microfinance institution supported by the Foundation. Jean-Marie Sander, President of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, will deliver a closing address.
The main topics discussed will be: The development of rural areas in Africa, an absolute necessity? Rural microfinance in Africa: what are the challenges? What are the opportunities? Banks and rural microfinance: the impact of alliancesMicrofinance, gender and climate change: destinies are linked.
To attend, please contact: email@example.com
The Crédit Agricole group launches a fund in favour of rural microfinance
In partnership with CA Indosuez Wealth (Asset Management) and CACEIS Bank, Luxembourg Branch, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation launched a social impact investment fund to enable the entities and regional banks of Crédit Agricole to invest in the financing of microfinance institutions in rural areas.
The Foundation strengthens its support for the institutions that intervene in emerging countries for the benefit of populations that have been traditionally excluded from the banking sector, and more specifically for the benefit of women, who constitute the most important customers of these institutions. The advantage is twofold: a positive profitability objective and an impact in terms of financing income-generating activities.
Two loans to microfinance institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa were granted using the funds raised. A quarterly monitoring report will be sent to investors. This fund will shortly be conferred the Luxflag label (promotion of the financing of sustainable and responsible investments).
The first operation of this type launched by the Crédit Agricole Group is a great success!
The regional banks and entities of Crédit Agricole SA have for the first time the opportunity of integrating a mechanism dedicated exclusively to investments in microfinance on an international scale, structured within the Crédit Agricole Group.
The first fund-raising drive, closed on 28 September 2018, confirmed the participation of 13 regional banks (Alsace-Vosges, Centre-est, Centre-France, Champagne-Bourgogne, Franche-Comté, Ille-et-Vilaine, Languedoc, Loire-Haute Loire, Martinique-Guyane, Normandie-Seine, Réunion, Savoie and Sud Rhône Alpes) plus Amundi for an amount close to €6 million.
The second fund-raising drive, closed on 31 December, confirmed the participation of two additional Regional Banks (Charente-Périgord et Provence Côte d’Azur) and Crédit Agricole Assurances for a total amount close to €8 million.
Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation – 10 years of support for microfinance and social business
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation was created in 2008 by Crédit Agricole and the Grameen Foundation of Professor Yunus, Nobel Prize laureate. The Foundation, which intervenes in 33 countries, nearly half of which are among the poorest in the world, is an operator committed to the fight against poverty and the promotion of social inclusion. It has granted more than €215 million in loans over a 10-year period. Alongside the Crédit Agricole Group, the Foundation is developing new instruments to increase its financing capacity and strengthen its impact.
The Foundation is proud to work alongside the entities of Crédit Agricole SA and the Group’s regional banks to bolster its action in favour of financial inclusion and the financing of rural economies.
For more information:
In 2018, the Foundation invested €3.7 million in East Africa
It has thus financed two partners in Kenya: BIMAS, with a loan of €500,000, and Vert Ltd with a loan of €440,000. BIMAS is a Micro-Enterprise Development Programme (MED-P) put in place in 1992 under the auspices of the Embu Plan. Its aim is to contribute to sustained growth for the economy and employment in the rural sector, which will lead to an improvement in social welfare and higher income for the rural population in Kenya. Bimas has more than 18,500 clients at this time, 66.5% of whom are women. For its part, VERT Ltd is a company specialized in the export of fresh fruit and vegetables. Created in 2000, the company has adapted its economic model over the years to cater better for the specific features of the European market and to adapt to the legislation in force. It has also implemented a more sustainable model by working directly with small local farmers organized in small groups. The Foundation has had a shareholding interest in Vert Ltd since 2016.
The Foundation has also financed the MicroLoan Foundation in Malawi for the first time with a loan of €256,000. This foundation is a UK-based charity that provides business training, loans and continuous support to women living in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Its main objectives are to reduce poverty and to empower women. The institution has nearly 30,000 clients in Malawi today, all of whom are women.
In Uganda the Foundation granted a new loan of €700,000 to the Uganda Microcredit Foundation (UMF), a microfinance institution that provides loans and other microfinance services to economically active persons in Uganda. The institution has specialized in financial and non-financial commercial and personal products for companies and private individuals to facilitate their development. It boasts more than 4,000 clients, 54% of whom are women and 70% live in rural areas..
The Foundation has moreover financed two partners in Zambia: AMZ, with a loan of €600,000 over a period of four years, and FINCA Zambia, with a loan of €1.2 million over a period of three years. Agora Microfinance Zambia (AMZ) is a micro-finance institution geared particularly to people on low income, with appropriate financial products. The purpose of AMZ is to serve clients who have been previously excluded from the formal financial market, mainly because of their poverty or place of residence. It has more than 25,000 clients, 61% of whom are women and 39% live in rural areas. For its part, FINCA Zambia is a multiservice microfinance institution which today serves more than 9,000 clients with financial services, in particular loans, payments and money transfers. 57% of its clients are women.
The Foundation provides financing via bonds for the first time in Oshun
Nearly one billion people have no access to improved drinking water sources these days. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most seriously affected regions: between 25% and 50% of its population do not yet have access to water from an improved source, and between 75% and 100% do not have access to piped water.
Created in 2014, Oshun deploys an innovative water supply service in rural areas. Based on an original economic model that involves local entrepreneurship, Oshun provides quality water services in water kiosks at a price that people are willing to pay because it provides optimal health guarantees. This activity, which is bound to expand in several African countries, started in the rural areas of Senegal.
For the first time, the projects committee of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation approved a €200,000 loan via bonds to cover the investments and working capital of Oshun, a new partner having its registered office in France. This project is co-financed with the Regional Bank of Alpes Provence, of which one of the clients, the Société du Canal de Provence, is involved in the project. The Caisse Régionale [regional bank] has benefited from the Foundation’s expertise in the water sector and its knowledge of the local economic fabric.
For more information on the Foundation’s partners, click here.
The Foundation is making new investments in Asia
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has made new investments in its Asian partners with five loans granted in Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.
It has thus granted a €2.1 million loan to KOMIDA, a historical partner of the Foundation which is active in Indonesia exclusively among women. KOMIDA is a microfinance NGO which started to provide microloans in 2005 to the population hit hard by the tsunami in Banda Aceh province. The institution was transformed into a savings and loan cooperative in 2008 and now has more than 545,000 clients.
The Foundation has moreover granted a €1.1 million loan to Proximity in Myanmar. Proximity Finance is a microfinance programme developed by Proximity Designs intended to eradicate extreme poverty in the country by treating the poor as clients and by proposing innovative and affordable technologies and services to the families it finances and which earn their living by cultivating small plots of land. The institution has nearly 100,000 clients, 66% of whom are women.
In Sri Lanka, the Foundation granted a new €347,000 loan to Berendina, a microfinance institution dedicated to reducing poverty and improving the living conditions of the poorest groups in the country. Berendina today has 99,000 clients, 87% of whom are women. All its clients are in rural areas.
Finally, in Cambodia, the Foundation has granted two loans to Ankor Mikroheranhvatho (Kampuchea) Co. Ltd (AMK) and to Chamroeun of €2.5 million and €973,000 respectively. AMK provides loans mainly through village banking, giving priority to poor women in rural areas, and to farming activities. Since 2010, the institution has also been authorized to collect savings. It has nearly 325,000 clients at this time, 93% of whom are in rural areas, and 81% women. For its part, Chamroeun, which has 26,300 clients, is a microfinance institution that puts social purpose at the heart of its economic model. It provides financial services to the poorest segments of the population along with a range of training and support services.
At the end of December 2018, the Asia region, where the Foundation has 14 partners, accounted for 25% of all the commitments and 17.6% of new loans provided in the course of the period.
Harmony between social performance and economic performance is possible
By Hélène Sananikone, Fondation Grameen Crédit Agricole
“Social” and “business” are two terms that have often been considered incompatible and for many continue to be so. Nevertheless, there are economic models which set structural objectives to reconcile social impact and economic development in one plan. In the beginning of the 2000s, professor Yunus laid the foundations of a model with these characteristics: social business. Like any conventional business, it aims to turn a financial profit, but must at the same time meet its social utility objective which is integrated into the core of its governance and operations.
Projecting a profitability profile when you are concerned about social impact is no easy matter, because this objective entails additional costs for the company. The break-even point necessarily takes longer to reach, as the capital requirement is often mechanically greater, but the equation is far from impossible.
More specifically, when executives are driven by a determined resolve to create positive externalities by creating value for their company, they find the means to generate social impact and to sustain their action. Increasingly in demand, this model that combines impact and profitability is establishing itself more and more as a model for the future. At the foundation, we see more and more companies that are seeking to serve low-income (Base of Pyramid, BoP) customers by relying on the volume effect but also by pooling the costs on an extensive range of products. In this case, the social objectives turns out to be a wealth creation lever. A case in point is the Laiterie du Berger, a Senegalese social business company in which the Grameen Crédit Agricole holds a shareholding stake.
The Laiterie du Berger: an entrepreneurial adventure
The Laiterie du Berger is the story of a Senegalese family and friends who believed that it was possible to structure a milk production sector in Senegal. At the outset, the project entailed proposing an economic model to Fulani stockbreeders to enable them to increase their income and thus to improve their standard of living, thanks to a model for the production, collection, and marketing of Senegalese milk.
When the project was developed, many thought it was impossible: using Senegalese fresh milk to make dairy products is like building an oasis in the desert: very expensive and not very competitive vis-à-vis competitors who use only milk powder imported directly from major producing nations.
Faced with these difficulties, the project initiators looked for industrial and financial partners for the long run to build a milk value chain together. The Laiterie du Berger thus developed a hybrid model by using milk produced locally together with milk powder to bring down the cost of industrial production. The company moreover developed an umbrella mark, “Dolima,” that covers a range of products at an affordable price intended for populations with varied income level, all of which were nonetheless interested in consuming dairy products. The company recently reinforced its growth with the slogan “Good for me, good for my country” which enabled “Dolima” to become a national reference.
After 12 years of activity, the Laiterie du Berger provides a wide range of well segmented dairy products and has now reached the economic balance point. The factory is fully operational and new investments are planned to keep up with the demand for Dolima products.
Thanks to the tenacity of its founder and joint shareholders, the company has always been mindful of its social mission while having to wait for many years for its economic model to be put in place. It is by mastering the agricultural value chain “from farm to table,” or “from farmer to consumer,” that this project not only managed to see the day but also to break even – a process that took 10 years.
A future to be shared by and between Franche-Comté and Senegal
A second chapter will now open thanks to the entry of a new shareholder: Crédit Agricole Franche Comté. Following a “Solidarity Banker” mission in June 2018, the regional bank accepted to second an agricultural engineer for two years to KOSAM 2, a project that aspires to set up a milk sector. The territorial problems of the North of Senegal are actually similar to what Franche-Comté went through to create the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée du Comté (AOC) [designation of origin] and the development of dairy farm milk. The aim is to sustain the income of stockbreeders by building their production capacity and making sure that the Laiterie du Berger has the necessary supplies to develop its specific range.
The story of the Laiterie du Berger shows us that although complex, the marriage between profitability and social impact is possible. At the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, we are convinced and will continue, alongside our partners, to promote this vision of the future of the company and sustainable finance.
The Foundation makes two new investments in the DRC
In 2018, the Foundation continued its investments in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular with two new investments in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
More specifically it provided financing with a loan equivalent to €716,000 to Baobab RDC, a new microfinance institution created in 2012 by Oxus and acquired by the Baobab Group (formerly Microcred) in 2017. The mission of Baobab RDC is to serve people who are excluded from the conventional financial system and to improve their living conditions by providing a varied range of simple and accessible products. The institution, which provides loans for groups as well as individuals, today has 7,847 clients, 50.7% of whom are women.
The Foundation has also financed VisionFund DRC for the first time, by granting a loan equivalent to €900,000. VisionFund DRC provides a wide selection of loans, savings and microinsurance programmes and other services. These financial products improve considerably the life of many people in rural areas of the country where access to credit is difficult. The institution has more than 16,800 clients at this time, 67% of whom are women, and 63.3% live in rural areas.
For more information on our partners, clickhere.
Laiterie du Berger: a promising experiment
By Jonathan Michaud, CA Franche Comté
The rationale of the Laiterie du Berger
Processing milk collected from Fula stockbreeders in the Richard Toll region in the North of Senegal has been part of the business plan of the Laiterie du Berger (LDB) from its very beginning in 2008. The Fula people are nomadic stockbreeders who have always produced milk, mainly for consumption on the farm, considered as a by-product of a suckler herd. The LDB aspires to turn this milk into a full-fledged production to be sold and generate stable income for the household.
This powerful idea of an integrated and sustainable development through the marketing of an agricultural output by a social business company brought together many initiatives around the LDB which are being pursued by stakeholders in research, development or by the LDB itself. Although they at times suffer from a lack of coherence, all these actions have nonetheless made it possible to draw many lessons and thus contribute to the premises of a real territorial dynamism around milk product. The Laiterie du Berger and its shareholders wanted to capitalize and enhance this rich experience at this time to embark on a new stage of development for the milk sector in Senegal.
An ambitious partnership to develop the milk sector in Senegal
Alongside the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, the regional bank of Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté wanted to invest so as to guide and support the LDB in this exciting project. A support mission was consequently carried out against this background under a skills-based volunteering programme: “Solidarity Banker by CA.” The aim is to chart a development plan for the dairy sector aimed at reconciling the needs of the Laiterie du Berger, its social impact, and the expectations of the stockbreeders and the territory.
The action plan proposed after two weeks of work was endorsed by the Board of Directors of the Laiterie du Berger last June. It is the outcome of a collaborative effort with the teams of the LDB and the Foundation, and consultations with the other shareholders, capitalizing on past experience and taking advantage of the analysis of the principal stakeholders.
The mini-farm: point of entry of the strategic plan
The action plan comprises two phases. First, the plan is to deploy 15 mini farms to try and test the model while building the necessary material and immaterial conditions (forage harvesting method, stockbreeding advice, training for farmers, structuring for stakeholders). Then, in a second phase, the plan is to deploy 100 mini farms gradually throughout the territory to reach a larger number of stockbreeders.
A mini farm is a dairy specialization hub in the dominant suckler herd. It is the place where all the material and immaterial production factors converge to optimize and maximize dairy production: feeding, watering, reproduction monitoring, advice. From a very practical perspective for the stockbreeders, the mini farm consists of stabling the best four dairy cows of the herd every moment of the year, where the point of departure consists of the purchase of four Moor zebus (animals with better milk potential than the local zebus) and a hybrid bull (a cross between a European dairy breed and a zebu). Securing the zootechnical conditions (water, feed supplement, production and reproduction monitoring) coupled with advice and guidance to appropriate the required stockbreeding practices will enable the stockbreeder to product 20 litres of milk per day.
The price of the milk paid by the LDB will secure profitability to pay for the initial investment while ensuring income for the household (see diagram below). This technical trajectory is coupled with a financial trajectory, whereby the value of the capital is vastly improved after a 4-year cycle, the time it takes for the hybrid females (from the crossing of the Moor zebus and the hybrid bull) to go into lactation.
The mini farm thus makes it possible to meet the three key factors of success for the development of a dairy sector around LDB: temporality, giving stockbreeders and the territory the time to appropriate and capitalize on the changes; the trajectory, making material and immaterial means and resources available (animals, feed, etc., and training and support, respectively) so that each breeder can embark on a path of technical progress; and the gradual removal of restrictive factors in the territory (lack of access to water, difficulties in feeding the livestock, etc.) to enable a larger number of stockbreeders to improve and increase the milk production of their herd.
Towards an innovative territorial development method
The implementation of this development plan will be effective and relevant if and only if the project is pursued jointly by the LDB (which buys and uses the milk) and the stockbreeders (who produce the milk). This sectoral or inter-professional type of approach has to materialize on the territory. We therefore propose to create an entity owned by the LDB, the stockbreeders and possibly other stakeholders in the territory. This company will have its own governance and will be tasked with meeting the needs of the stockbreeders (production of forage, trading feeding stuffs, technical advice, training) and the needs of the LDB (selling milk) with an obligation of result. It will be the armed wing of the stockbreeders and the LDB in the service of balanced territorial development based on the production and use of milk, that could expand its scope of action tomorrow to guide and support the transition to a sustainable rural community in Senegal.
The Foundation continues to invest in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
In 2018, The Foundation continued to invest in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, granting a total of seven loans to six partners for a total of €7.6 million, wich represents 19% of the new investments made over the year.
The Foundation invested for the first time in Bosnia-Herzegovina, granting a loan of €2 million to Mi-Bospo, a micro-finance institution that provides access to credit and non-financial services to private individuals, in particular to women entrepreneurs. The institution moreover provides responsible financing by applying the consumer protection principles which play a significant role in the development of female entrepreneurship. Mi-Bospo has more than 22,500 clients at this time, 64% of whom are women. The Foundation also provided a first loan of €1 million to Mikra, a microfinance institution founded by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) which provides access to affordable, quality financial and support services to the poorest working populations (mainly women who account for 70.2% of its 13,400 clients).
In Kazakhstan, the Foundation granted a second loan in local currency equivalent to €608,000 to Bereke, a microfinance institution which it has financed since 2017. The mission of Bereke, which has 5,200 clients, 76% of whom are women, is to help improve the standard of living of citizens through economic support provided by means of loans to small and microenterprises as well as by means of agricultural, consumer or housing loans.
The Foundation has also granted a new loan (the third since 2016) to the microfinance institution Oxus Kirghizstan, for an amount of €687,000 over a period of three years. The institution provides individual and group loans to nearly 7,000 clients, most of whom work in agriculture and livestock breeding.
The Foundation has also financed a new partner Agency for Microfinance in Kosovo (AFK) with a loan of €1.4 million over three years. AFK is an institution that aims to improve the living conditions in the country by offering small and microenterprises access to sustainable financial services. It has 17,500 clients, 78% of whom live in rural areas.
Finally, in Tajikistan, the Foundation granted two loans for a total amount of €1.9 million to Humo, an MFI partner since 2017. The Foundation has thus granted a total of three loans to this institution, the main activity of which is to provide affordable, quality financial services to people living in rural areas, as well as to promote the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in the country’s poor regions. Humo has nearly 50,000 clients at this time, 81% of whom live in rural areas, and 44.4% of whom are women.
In 2018, the Foundation consolidated its presence in West Africa with 8 new loans
In the course of the previous year, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation strengthened its presence in West Africa with 8 new loans, 3 of which to new partners.
In Mali, the Foundation financed Kafo Jiginew, a cooperative network of savings and loans banks that provides retail financial services (savings, loans, microinsurance, transfer of funds and other services) to the largest number of persons in Mali to improve their living conditions. The institution has 48,000 working clients at this time, 92% of whom live in rural areas. The Foundation granted a loan in local currency equivalent to €3 million over five years to this institution.
In Benin, the Foundation granted a loan in local currency equivalent to €1.4 million to a new partner, PEBCo Bethesda which is geared to improving the living conditions of people by providing quality financial and non-financial services. The institution provides loans to groups and individuals. It has ca. 95,000 active borrowers, 64% of whom are women and 33% live in rural areas.
In Togo, the Foundation also financed a new partner, Assilassimé, with a loan in CFA francs equivalent to €500,000. Assilassimé is a programme created in 2012 by Entrepreneurs du Monde for marginalized people. The institution provides them financial (microcredit) and non-financial (training, individualized support, social media optimization) services. It has nearly 30,000 clients at this time, some 97% of whom are women.
In Burkina Faso, the Foundation moreover made three investments in existing partners in 2018, bringing the total amount of its commitments in that country to more than €4 million, or 13.8% of its commitments in Sub-Saharan Africa at the end of December 2018. More specifically, ACFIME received a loan in CFA francs equivalent to €305,000 over a period of three years. This is a microfinancial institution that helps to bridge the gap not covered by large MFIs which operate across the country, with loans granted by ACFIME having a very strong potential social impact. It has 18,600 clients at this time, 90% of whom are women. For its part, PAMF-BF received a loan in local currency equivalent to €1 million over a period of three years. The core activity of the institution, which has some 28,400 clients, is to grant loans in Burkina Faso so as to help meet better the financial needs of low-income segments of the population with reinforced protection or their members or users. Finally, ACEP Burkina received a loan in local currency equivalent to €1.5 million over a period of three years. Acep is a microfinance institution specialized in the financing of microenterprises and very small existing companies in urban centres and their inner suburbs. The credits granted are intended essentially to finance the working capital and investment needs. The institution has 11,000 active borrowers at this time.
Finally, in Senegal, the Foundation granted a loan in local currency equivalent to €762,000 to Caurie Microfinance, a socially responsible and financially viable MFI geared to making a lasting contribution to the economic and social promotion of poor microentrepreneurs, mainly women. Caurie has 71,000 clients at this time, 98% of whom are women. The Foundation has also granted a €100,000 loan to Sénégalaise des Filières Alimentaires in the form of a shareholders’ current account. SFA is a social business which is developing an inclusive value chain from the production and marketing of rice, in which the Foundation has had a shareholding stake since 2013.
The Foundation invests in Ghana for the first time
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 put in place in that year.
ID Ghana thus received a loan in local currency equivalent to €300,000. It is a Social Microfinance Institution which, thanks to its microcredit, savings and training services, and its highly innovative social vision, helps thousands of families to work their way out of poverty in a sustainable manner. It has in particular developed a group methodology whereby members are not jointly liable for their loans, and provides a subsidy to beneficiary families to register with the national health insurance system. The institution has more than 10,000 borrowers at this time, 92% of whom are women.
For its part, Advans Ghana was given a loan in local currency equivalent to €2 million. It is a financial institution which gives Ghanaian SMEs, microentrepreneurs and private individuals an opportunity to develop their business and to improve their standard of living thanks to accessible financial services. The institution has nearly 14,000 clients at this time, 62% of whom are women.
Sinapi Aba Savings and Loans is a non-banking financial institution that provides various savings and loans products. Its mission is to be an incubator that provides business development and income generation opportunities to economically disadvantaged people who can thereby improve their living conditions. The institution has thus far received a loan in local currency equivalent to €930,000. It has more than 145,000 active borrowers, some 80% of whom are women and 90% live in rural areas.
For more information on our partners, click here.
The Foundation invests in ID Ghana after the SAM
Philippe Guichandut, the Head of Inclusive Finance Development at the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation, has been at all three SAMs. The majority of the foundation’s 76 partners are in sub-Saharan Africa, and Philippe Guichandut has found that “SAM is the best place to meet our existing and potential partners.” He adds, “Around the SAM, we always take the opportunity to gather our partners, [which] is the best way to have exchanges of experience among our partners and give them the opportunity to attend some training sessions either organized by ourselves or the SAM.”
Leading and attending workshops at SAM has been key for Mr Guichandut’s team “to share our own experience and promote themes that are relevant for us, especially in the fields of agri-microinsurance and and agri-financing.” For example at SAM in Ethiopia in 2017, the foundation organized a field visit for 11 MFIs to learn about the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative, an agri-microinsurance project of the World Food Program and Oxfam America. Attendees visited Africa Insurance, Nyala Insurance, the microbank DECIS, and two local NGOs, ORDA and REST.
Philippe Guichandut added that SAM’s “Investor’s Fair is also an excellent venue to meet potential new partners and have a better understanding of the different types of MFIs that would be interested in working with us.” For example, his team met representatives of ID Ghana for the first time at the fair. That relationship has flourished, and the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation is now funding ID Ghana through the African Facility, a collaboration between the foundation and Agence Francaise de Developpment.
ADA, an NGO based in Luxembourg, co-organizes SAM every two years with the support of Luxembourg’s Ministry for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs. The SAM steering committee members are: ADA, Luxembourg’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the Microfinance African Institutions Network, the African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association and the Fédération des APSFD de l’Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine. We invite you to read more about SAM at http://www.microfinance-africa.org/.
This SAM 2019 is part of a sponsored series demonstrating the value of SAM (the French acronym for African Microfinance Week), a major conference dedicated to financial inclusion in Africa. The first three SAMs were held in Arusha, Tanzania, in 2013; Dakar, Senegal, in 2015; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2017. The next SAM will take place in late October 2019 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso!
The goal of SAM is to provide a unified platform for addressing issues facing microfinance in Africa by bringing together investors, MFIs, researchers, banks, networks, innovators, governments and other stakeholders.
The 2017 SAM hosted 700 participants from 58 (mostly African) countries, including representatives of 200 MFIs; 25 exhibitors at the Innovation Fair; and 26 investors, who made 170 MFI contacts at the Investor’s Fair. The proceedings also included conference sessions presented by 60 speakers plus a menu of 20 training programs.
The Foundation: 10 years of action for financial inclusion and entrepreneurship
The year 2018 marked the 10th anniversary of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Created by the Crédit Agricole and Professor Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize, the Foundation aims at contributing to the fight against poverty through the promotion of social entrepreneurship and financial inclusion. Since its inception, it has granted more than €200 million in financings and has supported more than 100 partners (microfinance institutions who grant microcredits to populations excluded from the traditional banking system and social enterprises serving low-income populations) in 38 countries.
As of December 2018, the Foundation recorded €81 million in commitments, including €75.7 million in funding to microfinance institutions and €4.5 million invested in social business companies. Sub-Saharan Africa concentrates 37% of the commitments. At the heart of its objectives, the Foundation promotes female entrepreneurship and rural development: 75% of the microcredit beneficiaries are women and 79% live in rural areas.
Strong partnerships with the Crédit Agricole Group
Several projects were launched in 2018 in partnership with Crédit Agricole entities and Regional Banks. In partnership with CA Indosuez Wealth (Asset Management) and CACEIS Bank, Luxembourg Branch, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has created the Inclusive Finance in Rural areas Fund (FIR), a social impact investment vehicle allowing the entities and Regional Banks of Crédit Agricole to invest in the microfinance sector. The FIR, for which the Foundation acts as exclusive advisor, grants loans to microfinance institutions in rural areas. The two first fund-raising drives in September and December 2018, confirmed the participation of 15 regional banks, Amundi and Crédit Agricole Insurances for an amount close to €8 million.
In partnership with Crédit Agricole S.A. and the Group entities, the Foundation launched the ‘’Solidarity Banker’’ programme, a new type of volunteering missions proposed to the employees of the Crédit Agricole Group on behalf of microfinance institutions and social business companies that are partners of the Foundation. In 2018, three missions took place in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Cambodia. Three other missions are to be filled in Kazakhstan, Haiti and Morocco during the first semester of 2019.
2018 was also the preparation year for the 2019-2023 Strategic plan. Reinforcing the offer to microfinance institutions, enhancing the development of rural economies and developing partnerships with the Crédit Agricole Group will be at the heart of the Foundation’s actions in the coming years.
The Foundation works for inclusive finance in Africa
By Mathilde Thonon and Flora Helard, In-Venture
In Benin, more than half of the population lives in rural areas, far from the cities where most traditional banking services are concentrated.
For many Beninese, it is both difficult to save and to take out a loan. Due to a lack of income and sufficient guarantees, rural people, but also women and young workers, are often deprived of the means of financing that could help them to start an activity and contribute to Benin’s economy. To compensate for the exclusion of these populations, microfinance institutions such as RENACA or ACFB have been set up throughout the country.
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, an actor committed to inclusive finance in rural areas, supports RENACA and ACFB in their mission to promote financial inclusion and entrepreneurship in Benin. Through its financial and technical support, the Foundation helps “to restore hope to communities and to bring people out of a situation of vulnerability,” explains Dieudonné Nganvo, director of RENACA. By offering savings, credit or insurance products adapted to disadvantaged populations, microfinance institutions offer an alternative to traditional banks and promote more inclusive and sustainable finance.
RENACA and ACFB, partners involved in the field
Created in 2008, the Réseau national des caisses villageoises et de crédit autogéré (RENACA) is one of Benin’s most active microfinance institutions. Since 2012, the Foundation has been supporting this mutualist network, which has nearly 145,000 member clients, 60% of whom are women. Present in 6 of the country’s 12 regions, RENACA offers its clients individual and group loans and non-financial services such as personal and professional financial management training. RENACA’s social performance is an indicator of success, as is its financial performance. The institution attaches great importance to its customer relations and regularly monitors its contractors to ensure that they gradually and permanently emerge from economic uncertainty.
The Association des caisses de financement à la base (ACFB) was created by a research and action NGO for the promotion of development agriculture, which initially subsidized women to help them start an economic activity. In order to perpetuate its impact, the NGO preferred the microfinance solution to that of subsidies and gave way to the ACFB in 2004, which is now present in 44 of the country’s 117 municipalities. Since 2016, the Foundation has been supporting ACFB in its missions to promote women’s entrepreneurship and the economic inclusion of the territories.
Based on the model of the Grameen Bank of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus, ACFB specializes in group credit. The latter allows people without individual guarantees to borrow since in exchange the group must undertake to repay if one of the members is unable to do so. The mechanism therefore derives its effectiveness from the bonds of trust and solidarity that exist between members and that encourage repayment: ACFB now has a reimbursement rate of around 100%.
Promoting inclusive finance in Africa: a top priority
Relationships of trust and proximity with customers, encouraged by the establishment of numerous counters throughout the territory, are also at the root of the success of ACFB and RENACA, which together have helped several hundred thousand Beninese people to secure a better future. With the support of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, the two microfinance institutions have enabled the development of many sustainable economic activities in sectors such as agriculture, access to water, renewable energies, crafts and education in rural areas.
The Foundation works to develop inclusive finance beyond Benin’s borders. Today, it concentrates 35% of its commitments in sub-Saharan Africa and is present in a dozen African countries. Africa will continue to be a priority for the Foundation, which will concentrate 45% of its commitments in the continent by 2022.
“Solidarity Banker” missions to be filled in Kazakhstan and Haiti
“Solidarity Banker” is a new type of volunteering mission abroad proposed to the staff on behalf of microfinance institutions and social business companies that are partners of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundations. Two missions are to be filled: one on “Agricultural loans” in Kazakhstan and a “Business model” mission in Haiti.
Missions to be filled
The first mission to be carried out in 2019 will be for KMF in Kazakhstan. KMF is the primary microfinance institution in Kazakhstan with more than 220 000 active borrowers and a portfolio of over €250 million. The institution wishes to develop its offer of products and services by diversifying its agricultural loan portfolio.
The Solidarity Banker’s mission will be to propose a diversification model for the current loan portfolio of KMF by introducing a new product. S/he will also provide tools for reducing specific risks to agricultural loans. The mission is planned for the first quarter of 2019.
The second mission will provide advice and guidance to Palmis Enèji, a social business in which the Foundation has a shareholding interest in Haiti. Created in 2013 as a programme of the French NGO Entrepreneurs du Monde, it provides effective, specific and economic cooking and lighting solutions for Haitian households. It has developed a distribution network consisting of 150 active resellers in 5 regions of the country who sell lamps and solar kits, improved coal stoves and gas stoves.
The Solidarity Banker’s mission will be to advise and guide the company in defining a 5-year business plan based on its current position, its market and opportunities. S/he will also make recommendations on raising funds to support the growth presented in the business plan. The date of the mission will be set according to the availability of the person selected.
How to apply?
There are several missions pending for CA Solidaires. To discover them:
- Go to the CA Solidaires website “Find your mission “
- Enter “Grameen Foundation” in the search bar: All the Solidarity Leaves will appear!
- Click on the offer of your choice and you will find all the information you need to apply.
- For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spotlight on the Foundation’s Week
€200 million granted, a presence in 38 countries, 100 partners supported and more than 350 participants during the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation Week. Thank you for celebrating with us 10 years of action for inclusive finance and social entrepreneurship.
We have shared unforgettable moments marking the beginning of a new era for the Foundation. The Foundation will face new challenges and will continue to adapt and to innovate by diversifying its expertise, boosting its modes of intervention and developing partnerships.
The 10 years of the Foundation sign a beautiful collective project, but the fight against poverty continues. This new page of the Foundation’s history, more ambitious, more committed and more cooperative has just started and we are happy to write it with you.
Experience the highlights of The The Foundation’s Week :
The Foundation’s 10th Anniversary Book
Ten years ago, the Foundation was founded by Crédit Agricole and Professor Yunus, the precursor of microfinance and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Ten years ago, alongside actors who work every day on the ground, we committed to contribute to build a better-shared economy. The Foundaiton’s anniversary reminds us with enthusiasm of the drivers behind our commitment: not to fear any challenge, not to neglect any territory and never to abandon anyone along the way.
This is why we wish to share with you with this 10th Anniversary Book. It draws lessons from the Foundation’s solid experience financing the microfinance sector. It provides ideas, recommendations and insight on how the banking sector can take action in favour of development and more inclusive, responsible and sustainable finance.
The Foundation celebrates its 10th anniversary
A festive evening to mark the 10th anniversary of the Foundation
Women and the Africas at the heart of the Foundation’s actions
2019-2022: An ambitious action plan for enhanced impact
Investing in Africa: Myth or Reality
To close “The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation Week”, Crédit Agricole SA and the Foundation organized a conference on the Crédit Agricole Campus in Montrouge on the challenges and opportunities of investing in Africa. Three exceptional guests exchanged views on this plural continent.
Alongside Crédit Agricole Group, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has been committed for 10 years to promoting inclusive finance and social impact entrepreneurship. To mark its 10 years of collective action, Crédit Agricole SA and the Foundation organised the “Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation Week”.
The meeting “Investing in Africa: Myth or Reality” closed the week on November 22nd. Can we look at our future by ignoring the African continent? Our three exceptional guests brought their outlookon this diverse continent, its challenges, its stakes and its potential for investment, sharing with the many assistants their expert eye and their personal experience of this continent.
The Foundation and Social entrepreneurship
Alongside Crédit Agricole Group, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has been committed for 10 years to promoting inclusive finance and social impact entrepreneurship. To mark its 10 years of collective action, Crédit Agricole SA and the Foundation organised the “Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation Week”.
The Foundation Week was launched with the meeting “The Foundation and Social Impact Entrepreneurship” organised on November 19th. The event brought together three social entrepreneurs supported by the Foundation to discuss the main issues of the sector. It was also on this occasion that the NGO Entrepreneurs du Monde received the check corresponding to the amount collected during the Centimes Solidaires campaign.
The Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation Week
The Foundation, 10 years of action alongside Crédit Agricole Group
Created 10 years ago under the joint leadership of Crédit Agricole’s directors and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is a multi-business operator that aims at promoting inclusive finance. As an investor, lender, technical assistance coordinator and fund advisor, the Foundation supports over 70 microfinance institutions and social business companies in 35 countries with over € 77 million in commitments.
Since the very beginning, Crédit Agricole Group has supported the Foundation’s action in the microfinance and social business sectors. Ten years later, the links are strengthening and partnerships with the Regional Banks and Group entities are consolidating. To mark its 10 years of collective action, Crédit Agricole SA and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation are organising in November “The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation Week” with a series of events open to Crédit Agricole Group employees.
An anniversary celebrated with the Group’s employees
The Foundation Week will begin with the meeting “The Foundation’s actions in favour of a socially useful entrepreneurship”, organised on 19 November in the Green Auditorium of the Crédit Agricole campus in Montrouge. This meeting will bring together social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs supported by the Foundation to discuss the main issues of the sector. It will also be an opportunity to present to the NGO Entrepreneurs du Monde a cheque for the amount raised during the “Centimes Solidaires” campaign. The amounts collected will be used to support entrepreneurship projects for refugees, single parents and homeless people.
On November 22, the meeting will take place in the Red Auditorium in Montrouge “Investing in Africa: myth or reality”. This event will focus on opportunities and challenges related to investment operations in Africa and address the issue of the impact of entrepreneurship and financial inclusion on the African continent. On that occasion, investors and experts of investments in Africa will be present and will share their views on the topic of development and financial inclusion in African countries.
UNHCR, AIDS and the Foundation join forces for the inclusion of refugees
A programme for financial inclusion of refugees
Often perceived as risky clients, refugees are generally not or poorly assisted by financial service providers. However, their needs are very significant and the access to financing for income-generating activities can contribute largely to their social inclusion. To address this challenge, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation launched a programme to promote access to financial and non-financial services for refugees and host communities. The first phase of preliminary studies has just been accomplished.
The Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation was selected to manage the technical assistance of the programme and support its partner microfinance institutions to develop an offer of products and services properly adapted to refugee populations. Under the coordination of the Foundation, the consulting firm Microfinanza (Italy) carried out field missions to assess refugees’ financial and non-financial needs in Uganda and Jordan, the first two countries targeted by the programme.
A first evaluation on Uganda and Jordan
In Uganda, despite a structured refugee policy framework that tends to favor integration, job opportunities are limited. Approximately 1.5 million refugees currently live in the country and are concentrated mostly in rural areas where difficulties in access to employment and finance are even more significant.
In Jordan, 750 000 refugees have been registered so far. Nevertheless, due to regulatory constraints, refugees remain mostly excluded from the job market. In parallel, the local microfinance sector, still young comparing to other countries, does not have access to the resources needed to expand its existing range of services to benefit refugees population.
Within this context, the programme’s first study was carried out. Besides assessing the refugees’ financial needs, the study has also paved the way to set the most appropriate lines of action to address this challenge. Through financing and technical assistance, the second stage of the programme will seek to develop and enhance access to finance for refugees though the microfinance institutions supported by the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation.
Access the blog on the Findev Gateway website by clicking here.
For more information
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is mandated by the United Nations to lead and coordinate international action for the worldwide protection of refugees. The organization delivers life-saving assistance, helps safeguard fundamental rights and develops solutions for the well-being of refugee populations. UNHCR works in 128 countries around the world on behalf of 71.4 million people.
http://www.unhcr.org/ / @Refugees
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), is a government agency working on behalf of the Swedish Parliament and government, with the mission to reduce poverty in the world. Through its work and in cooperation with others, Sida contributes to implementing Sweden’s Policy for Global Development. Sida works in 35 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.
www.sida.se / @Sida
Microfinanza is a company specialized in services and technical assistance related to the microfinance sector. Its mission is to contribute to the financial inclusion and participate in the development and professionalization of the sector. With more than 15 years of experience, Microfinanza provides a wide range of activities: consulting projects, training, evaluations and preparation of studies and researches.
Photo exhibition: Let’s change our vision:The Foundation’s 10th anniversary
A photo exhibition celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Foundation
The Foundation was launched in 2008 under the joint leadership of the leaders of Crédit Agricole SA and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of the Grameen Trust, Pr. Muhammad Yunus to participate in the fight against poverty through the promotion of microfinance and social entrepreneurship. Today, with €77 million in commitments and over 70 partners in some 30 countries, this historic partnership will be honoured at the photo exhibition “Let’s change our vision, 10th anniversary of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation”.
Through pictures of clients of the microfinance institutions the Foundation supports, the exhibition reviews 10 years of work in favour of inclusive finance and shows the importance of microfinance and social entrepreneurship as socio-economic development levers.
The exhibition will be available from October 18th to November 30th at the Crédit Agricole campus in Montrouge and from 1st to 31st December at the Saint-Quentin campus.
A preview with the Foundation Friends Club
The preview of the exhibition will take place on the third meeting of the Foundation Friends Club on Thursday, October 18th from 17:30 to 19:00 at the Campus’ Forum of Credit Agricole in Montrouge. The Foundation Friends Club is a space open exclusively to Crédit Agricole (entities and Regional Banks) employees and directors interested in the Foundation’s activities and mission. It is a debate and information-sharing Club that will take part in the discussions about the synergies to exploit with the Group in the years to come. To date, the Club has over 150 members from the Group’s various business lines.
This meeting will be an opportunity to review two new projects launched this year by the Foundation and Crédit Agricole: “Solidarity Cents” and “Solidarity Banker”. Solidarity Cents is an operation launched in October at the collective restaurants of Crédit Agricole in Montrouge and Saint-Quentin to finance entrepreneurship projects. Solidarity Banker is a skill-based volunteer programme for the Group’s employees, on behalf of the Foundation’s partner institutions. It will also be an opportunity to discover the events that will take place in the campus of Montrouge during the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation Week in November.
Banquiers solidaires, the Crédit Agricole Group’s volunteer programme
Many Crédit Agricole Group employees volunteer for solidarity projects. To support this dynamic, the Group launched “CA Solidaires”, a programme that promotes employee commitment to projects with positive social impact. It is within this framework that a new commitment scheme is now proposed to the group’s employees: Solidarity Leaves. On the initiative of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA, skill-based voluntary missions carrying the “Banquier Solidaire” label are proposed to employees on behalf of microfinance institutions or “social business” companies, partners of the Foundation.
This is a unique partnership in the history of Crédit Agricole and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. With “Banquier Solidaire,” the Group and the Foundation are capitalizing on their synergies and stepping up their action in favour of sustainable finance. The objective is to provide additional advice and guidance for the microfinance and social businesses supported by the Foundation via pro bono missions carried out by the staff of the Crédit Agricole Group.
First missions in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Cambodia
The first mission under the “Banquier Solidaire” programme was carried out in Burkina Faso, in cooperation with Crédit Agricole Assurances. Eduardo Cardoso de Miranda, an expert in borrowers insurance at CA Insurance, provided guidance and support for the Foundation during a due diligence exercise at CIF-VIE. Created in 2013 with the support of the RCPB, the main microfinance cooperative network in Burkina Faso, and the NGO ADA, CIF-VIE intervenes in the micro-insurance sector and holds 6% of the shares of the local market. Taking a new step in its growth at this time, CIF-VIE is opening its capital to new shareholders. Thanks to the contributions by CA Assurance, the Foundation has been able to get a better understanding of the structure and to assess the possibility of investing in it. The assessment of the CIF-VIE financing file is in progress.
A second mission was carried out in Senegal for the Laiterie du Berger, a social company in which the Foundation is a shareholder, which today supports over 800 Peuls stockbreeders in the north of the country. With the support of Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté (shareholder of the Laiterie du Berger), Jonathan Michaud, an agricultural engineer from the Regional Bank, embarked on a technical assistance mission for two weeks. The aim was to structure an operating framework to be able to go from experimentation to deployment for 15 pilot mini-farms of the Laiterie du Berger. As a result of the mission, an action plan was formalized and a more ambitious cooperation was planned between Crédit Agricole Franche Comté and the Laiterie du Berger.
In cooperation with Crédit Agricole’s International Retail Banking (BPI), a mission was held in September and October in favour of Chamroeun, a microfinance institution supported by the Foundation. François Galland, International Human Resources Manager, spent two weeks in the field to help improve the HR management of Chamroeun, a microfinance institution supported by the Foundation. The HR strategy that will be charted following the mission will be geared to providing support for the organisation restructuring of Chamroeun, which today serves over 25,200 clients in Cambodia, including 82% women.
Upcoming missions in Morocco and Kazakhstan
Before the end of 2018, two other missions could be launched in favour of Al-Karama in Morocco and KMF in Kazakhstan. Al-Karama today serves over 26,200 clients in Morocco. It should benefit from financing and technical assistance under a cooperation scheme by and between the Foundation and Crédit du Maroc, including a mission of “Banquier Solidaire” to improve its systems for the prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism. KMF is the largest microfinance institution in Kazakhstan with more than 220 000 active borrowers and a €257 million portfolio. KMF will welcome a Crédit Agricole expert to help it develop its products and services offering.
The commitment of the Crédit Agricole Group alongside the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation is being bolstered with “Banquier Solidaire,” which marks the commitment of the mutualist Group for a sustainable finance that promotes a more responsible and better-shared economy.
How to apply?
There are several missions pending for CA Solidaires. To discover them:
Go to the CA Solidaires website “Find your mission ”
Enter “Grameen Foundation” in the search bar: All the Solidarity Leaves will appear!
Click on the offer of your choice and you will find all the information you need to apply.
For more information: email@example.com
Solidarity: Crédit Agricole supports entrepreneurship projects in favour of refugees, single parents and homeless people
Promoting commitment from the Group’s employees
Many employees of the Crédit Agricole group are volunteering for solidarity projects. To provide guidance and support for this effort, the Group has launched “CA Solidaires,” a mechanism that enhances, supports and promotes the commitment of employees for projects that have a positive social impact. The “Centimes Solidaires” operation will be launched against this background at the initiative of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and Crédit Agricole SA to finance entrepreneurship projects.
During one week per month, in October and November, the staff of the Crédit Agricole Campuses in Montrouge and Saint-Quentin will be invited to make a 50 cents donation when paying for their meals in the canteens of those campuses. Crédit Agricole SA, the Caisse Régionale Centre-Est and the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation will contribute to the final amount collected. The total amount collected will go towards supporting “Programme France,” which has been set up by the French NGO Entrepreneurs du Monde.
Support an inclusion programme through entrepreneurship
Implemented at the beginning of 2018 in the Lyon area, with the support of the Solidarités Foundation by Crédit Agricole Center-Est and Crédit Agricole Solidarité et Développement, Entrepreneurs du Monde’s “Programme France” provides a mechanism for restoring hope to people in a situation of financial vulnerability and social exclusion in France. Through collective training programmes and personalized advice and support for business creation, the programme is intended to support refugees, homeless people and single parents to create and develop their entrepreneurship projects.
The support offered is a three-step process: listening and orientation to assess the feasibility and relevance of the project, advice and support before and monitoring after the business is created. Various companies from grocery shops, to computer repair, fashion design, etc. will be supported within the framework of the programme, which has already provided guidance and support to 13 project holders to date. The aim for the years to come is to reach a larger number of beneficiaries, i.e. a total of 40 project holders by the end of 2019 and 50 in 2020.
The “Centimes Solidaires” operation is launched on the 10th anniversary of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. The funds raised will be donated during an event bringing together the Group’s employees on November 19 in Montrouge.
The new plant of VERT Ltd in Kenya: a lever of development for 1.800 smallholder farmers
August 29, 2018 will und