In addition to the financial support provided by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, Coopec-Sifa has benefitted from the support of the African Facility programme. Philippe Fori, Managing Director of the MFI, looks back on this relationship of trust with the Foundation.
Could you introduce us to Coopec-Sifa?
Founded in 1997, Coopec-Sifa is a Tier 3 microfinance institution that provides financial and non-financial services to vulnerable populations. At the end of December 2020, the institution had 43,232 clients for an outstanding loan portfolio of €5.37 million. Approved in 2011 by the Togolese Ministry of Economy and Finance, Coopec-Sifa operates in the Savanes region in northern Togo. Our clients are organised individually or collectively and are mostly women (72%) living in rural areas (70%).
How did the various technical assistance missions you benefited from go?
Under the African Facility programme, Coopec-Sifa has benefitted since 2013 from 16 technical assistance missions aimed at the institutional strengthening of our organisation. Most of these missions were conducted by local experts, always with rigour and in close cooperation with our teams. Dedicated to strategy, organisational strengthening, human resources or information systems, each mission has helped us progress.
Among the missions carried out, the relevant analysis of our environment has allowed the development of the 2014-2018 and 2019-2021 business plans, integrating our strategic objectives, detailed financial projections and an action plan. A mission to strengthen risk management also led to the creation of an internal control procedures manual and training for internal controllers and members of the Supervisory Board, to enable them to play their roles satisfactorily. Finally, another essential project was the improvement of the information system and the interconnection of the databases of each agency with the headquarters.
How have these missions helped you strengthen your institutional and operational capacities?
Managing an MFI requires real know-how. The partnership with the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation has enabled us to integrate the best practices and knowledge necessary for the proper functioning of our institution. The development of business plans has laid the foundations for controlled growth, better risk management and better governance. Furthermore, the interconnection of databases is real added value internally and externally. We now have reliable, real-time financial and operational information, enhanced control of field activities, and professionalised institutional management. Our clients can carry out operations without having to travel, which is a real competitive advantage.
What do you think of the overall guidance and support provided by the Foundation?
The tools deployed to help Coopec-Sifa get off the ground have proven to be extremely effective. Despite our limited geographical coverage, we are often cited by the authorities as a model of cooperative management. Our institution would never have reached its current position without the guidance and support of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. Beyond technical assistance, the Foundation promotes meetings and the sharing of experiences among peers. The annual African Facility Forums bring together all programme partners and are excellent opportunities for exchange and learning.
This article was published in “Our technical assistance offer”, accessible here