SPECIAL REPORT: Clinton Global Initiative Members Emphasize Empowering Women and Girls for Fifth Consecutive Year

In the US city of New York today, at the tenth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, an effort by the US-based Clinton Foundation to connect public and private organizations to address problems such as poverty and climate change, a major focus was placed on empowering women and girls for the fifth consecutive year. Lilianne Ploumen, the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, argued that it is critical to reach out to those with whom you generally disagree in order to seek common ground from which progress is possible. Regarding issues facing women and girls, Minister Ploumen argued that “leveling the playing field” for females involves more than economics, but extends into areas such as inheritance law, safety in transportation, and the passage and enforcement of laws against domestic violence. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Bank of Ghana (BoG) Closes Down Illegal Microfinance Institutions, Increases Capital Requirements

The Bank of Ghana (BoG), the country’s central bank, reportedly is cancelling the licenses of and shutting down microfinance institutions (MFIs) that are engaging in practices such as: (1) charging interest rates in excess of government-mandated limits; (2) transferring operating licenses among organizations; or (3) changing their publicly recognized business name repeatedly in order to mitigate any effects of the firm’s poor reputation among current and former customers. Continue reading

MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: Digital Financial Services Risk Assessment for Microfinance Institutions, Microinsurance Awareness in Ghana, G2P for Financial Inclusion: A Job Half Done

“Digital Financial Services Risk Assessment For Microfinance Institutions – A Pocket Guide;” by Tom Shaw, Marcella Willis, Daryl Skoog, Sonia Arenaza, Sudha Garg, Susan Salerno, Eve Hamilton and Shailee Adnolfi; published by The Digital Financial Services Working Group; September 2014; 15 pages; available at https://lextonblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/dfs_risk_guide_sept_2014_final.pdf

The authors of this “pocket guide”[1] argue for the importance of “Digital Financial Services (DFS)”[1] to reach low-income individuals who do not have access to traditional banking solutions. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: International Finance Corporation (IFC) Acquires Minority Stake in Brazilian Insurer Austral Participações for $36m to Support Sectors such as Agriculture

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-investment arm of the US-based World Bank Group, recently announced that it has invested BRL 80 million (USD 36 million) to acquire a minority stake in the Brazilian firm Austral Participações, whose holdings include Austral Seguradora, an insurance company focusing on the oil, engineering and surety markets; and Austral Resseguradora (Austral Re), a reinsurance company. Continue reading

 MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Commits $5m to Belarusian Minsk Transit Bank (MTB) for Onlending to Micro-, Small, Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs)

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a UK-based multilateral financial institution that finances companies in countries that are transitioning to open market economies, recently agreed to commit a local-currency,  senior loan worth up to USD 5 million to Minsk Transit Bank (MTB), a government-backed bank that provides loans to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Belarus.  Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Dutch Development Bank Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappijvoor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO) Loans $20m to Armenia’s Ameriabank

The Dutch development bank Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappijvoor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO) recently agreed to loan USD 20 million to Ameriabank Closed Joint Stock Company (CJSC) (Ameriabank), a commercial bank in Armenia. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Borrowing in Cambodia from Microfinance, Commercial Banks Forecast to Increase by 147% to $14b by 2020

The latest outlook published by the Credit Bureau of Cambodia (CBC), a provider of credit information to organizations and consumers in Cambodia, forecasts that the total number of customers of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and commercial banks will increase from 1.9 million to 3.3 million individuals by 2020 and that these customers will borrow a total of USD 14 billion by that time, up from USD 5.7 billion [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: FirstRand Bank Downscaling into Microfinance in Suburban Mumbai, India

Under a pilot project named “Easy Banking,” FirstRand Bank, a commercial bank based in South Africa, is providing financial services to shops and other small businesses in areas of suburban Mumbai, such as Bandra and Lokhandwala, based on the rationale that competition is too fierce in areas with higher population densities. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Lanka Orix Leasing Company (LOLC) of Sri Lanka Pays $20m to Acquire 60% Stake in Thaneakea Phum (Cambodia) from Developing World Markets, TPC Employee Association

Thaneakea Phum (Cambodia) (TPC), a Cambodia-based microfinance institution (MFI), recently informed MicroCapital that Developing World Markets Asset Management (DWM), a US-based investment fund manager, has sold 55-percent equity stake in TPC to LOLC Micro Investments Limited (LOMI), a subsidiary of Sri-Lankan financial services group Lanka Orix Leasing Company (LOLC) [1]. Continue reading

MICROFINANCE PAPER WRAP-UP: “Does Good Client Protection Impact Financial Performance?”; by B. Perez-Rocha, A.G.F. Hoepner, L. Spaggiari, C. Lapenu and B. Brusky; Published by European Microfinance Platform

“Does Good Client Protection Impact Financial Performance?”; by B. Perez-Rocha, A.G.F. Hoepner, L. Spaggiari, C. Lapenu and B. Brusky in collaboration with the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) Making Microfinance Responsible Action Group; May 2014; 28 pages; available at http://www.e-mfp.eu/sites/default/files/resources/2014/05/Brief_No_4_2014_web.pdf

This paper explores the relationship between the financial performance of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and the Client Protection Principles (CPP) that are promoted by the Smart Campaign, a US-based consumer protection initiative targeting microfinance clients worldwide. Continue reading

MICROFINANCE PAPER WRAP-UP: “Integrated Health and Microfinance in India, Volume II: The Way Forward;” by Somen Saha, D.S.K. Rao; published by Microcredit Summit Campaign, Freedom from Hunger

“Integrated Health and Microfinance in India, Volume II: The Way Forward;” by Somen Saha and D.S.K. Rao; published by the Microcredit Summit Campaign and Freedom from Hunger; 2014; 36 pages; available at http://microcreditsummit.org/uploads/resource/document/ffh_indiareport_2014_web_58274.pdf

This paper builds on a report entitled “Integrated Health and Microfinance in India: Harnessing the Strengths of Two Sectors to Improve Health and Alleviate Poverty”, which was written in 2012 by a group of authors that includes those who wrote “Volume Two.” Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Philippines-Based Metrobank Foundation to Expand Microfinance, Metrobank Group Donates $456k for Development Projects

The Metrobank Foundation, an arm of Philippine Financial Conglomerate Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank Group) recently announced that it plans to expand its microfinance project that is focused on Filipino citizens who work overseas, with particular attention to domestic workers based in Singapore and Hong Kong. Continue reading

MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: Microinsurance Distribution Channels, Friendship Bridge, MicroVest Impact Reports

“Microinsurance Distribution Channels: Insights for Insurers;” by Alice Merry, Pranav Prashad and Tobias Hoffarth; published by the Microinsurance Innovation Faciltiy as Paper Number 33; International Labour Organization; June 2014; 25 pages; available at http://www.microinsurancefacility.org/sites/default/files/MP33.pdf

The Microinsurance Innovation Facility of the International Labour Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations that addresses labour standards and related issues, recently analyzed the distribution channels available to microinsurance providers based on the experiences of 60 of its partner institutions. Continue reading