MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Somalia’s Kaah International Microfinance Services (KIMS) Wins $100k Ethical Finance Innovation Challenge Award (EFICA) for Returning Refugee Programs

Somalia’s Kaah International Microfinance Services (KIMS) recently won the USD 100,000 Ethical Finance Innovation Challenge and Award (EFICA), part of a group of awards sponsored annually by Thomson Reuters, a media firm traded on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges, and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, which is based in the United Arab Emirates.

KIMS was recognized for two products it offers in the city of Kismayo, a “start-up micro-credit product for youth returnees…coupled with financial literacy and business training” and “growth financing for fisheries

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: FMO, Proparco Lend $30m to BPR to Serve More SMEs via Larger Branch Network, Digital Banking

The Entrepreneurial Development Bank, a government-backed institution also known by its Dutch acronym FMO, and Proparco, a subsidiary of the French government’s Agence Française de Développement (AFD), each recently loaned USD 15 million to Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR), a unit of the British Virgin Island’s-based Atlas Mara Group. Proparco served as

SPECIAL REPORT: Clients Come Clean on Sneaking Contraception, Practitioners Move from Serving Women to Empowering Households as European Microfinance Week Closes

During the closing day of European Microfinance WeekEuropean Microfinance Week 2017, Imran Matin of the US-based nonprofit Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) stressed the importance of not just whether women will use financial services, but “what account ownership will translate into in terms of achievement.” Foreshadowing a theme of the session, he added that “intra-household dynamics is very important and also particularly difficult to measure.”

Bdour Al-Hyari of Jordan’s Microfund for Women (MFW) described a long-running insurance product offered by her microfinance institution (MFI). The coverage provides cash to clients who are hospitalized or have a family member who is. While health issues were a major cause of default in the past, women who got “hospital cash” from MFW reportedly repaid their loans at a rate of

SPECIAL REPORT: Zemidjam Motorbike Drivers in Benin, Civil Service Retirees in Senegal Participate in Human-centered Design of Mobile Money Products

During the closing day of European Microfinance Week, European Microfinance Week 2017 Karima Wardak of the UN Capital Development Fund argued that copying digital financial services from country to country is not working. The same is true of country-specific “products that were designed in board room,” she said. Gilda Zarate Chabluk of Innate Motion, a consultancy with staff in 27 countries, launched the discussion of how concepts of human-centered design can sidestep these problems. All staff involved in a project should observe and talk to end-users early in the design process. She suggests a meeting at the home of the end-user that lasts about two hours, with most of that time focused on the user’s life rather than the product. The idea is to create the product with the users not for the

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Telma Introduces Mvola Mobile Loans, Savings in Madagascar

Telma Mobile, a Madagascar-based telecommunications company, recently rolled out the Mvola Avance and Epargne products, which offer loans and savings services, respectively, through the pre-existing Mvola mobile money service. With Mvola Avance, customers can borrow from MGA 1,000 to MGA 500,000 (USD 0.30 to USD 157) for

SPECIAL REPORT: Finding Markets First, Adding Value Post-harvest to Engage Youth in Agriculture

At European Microfinance Week on Thursday,European Microfinance Week 2017 Ken Lohento of the Netherlands-based Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation described successes engaging youth in agriculture through technology, even those with limited literacy. This can take the form of business tools to track spending or marketing as well as apps that help with pest management, for example. Even older “feature phones” can be used to receive information on markets and tips to optimize production. Among other efforts, Mr Lohento cited Agribusiness TV, which provides mobile-optimized video examples of youth profiting from agriculture, and a service in Senegal that connects owners of underused land with young people looking for acreage to till.

Dr Jonathan Agwe of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) stated that youth rarely are motivated to engage in the planting and weeding of primary agriculture. “Certain elements of the value chain are more interesting to youth than others,” he said. Youth are more interested in secondary activities that are less labor-intensive, such as using machinery to process crops or vehicles to get products to market. Dr Agwe suggests first “locating a market that is paying premium prices” and then

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Mastercard, Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Uganda Partnering on Digital Payments for Agriculture, Education, Health and Trade

Mastercard, a US-based payment processing company, and Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Uganda, an affiliate of the nonprofit FSD Africa, recently entered a memorandum of understanding to create

SPECIAL REPORT: Registering Property, Charging Up to 3% Monthly Interest, Promoting Local Currency for Housing Loans at European Microfinance Week

At European Microfinance Week 2017the session titled “Building an Enabling Environment for Low-Income Housing Finance,” R V Verma, former Chairman of the National Housing Bank (NHB) (India) and consultant to the the World Bank Group, said that “pushing the formal financial system to reach out to the informal sector [presents] a lot of challenges, but also huge opportunities. As part of financial inclusion, housing microfinance has a very important role.” Mr Verma went on to describe the market in India, which has an outstanding mortgage balance of INR 13 trillion (USD 200 billion) but a shortage of 24 million housing units. He also explained efforts to mitigate risk for housing lenders – both credit risk and issues with land title. Among the tools in use is a central registry of outstanding property loans. Mortgage insurance is also available even to informal workers – when lenders are willing to issue them loans.

Adedeji Adesemoye of the Central Bank of Nigeria described his institution’s efforts to address Nigeria’s shortage of 17 million housing units via resources including a loan package of USD 300 million awarded by the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) in 2012. While much of this package was for refinancing mortgages, USD 15 million of it was earmarked for housing microfinance. That portion was disbursed to nine microfinance institutions to test lending to existing (non-housing) clients for land acquisition, incremental construction and

SPECIAL REPORT: Rural Outreach and Innovation Action Group Highlights Apps, Soil Test Kits, Funding Agricultural Cooperatives

On European Microfinance Week 2017the first afternoon of European Microfinance Week, the European Microfinance Platform’s (e-MFP’s) Rural Outreach & Innovation Action Group presented a range of services that are reaching rural areas today.

Amsalu Alemayehu of Ethiopia’s Wasasa Microfinance explained that his organization has been financing agricultural cooperatives for about five years and how this can be an efficient method for serving a large number of people. However, the number of cooperatives Wasasa serves remains small. Mr Alemayehu explained that many of the 78,000 cooperatives in Ethiopia are member-managed and need significant capacity building to become creditworthy.

Marina Kortenbusch of Switzerland’s Business & Finance Consulting (BFC), who is also the chair of the Action Group, spoke passionately about

SPECIAL REPORT: European Microfinance Week Opens: Microfinance and Environment Action Group Celebrates Rollout of Solar Products in Central America, Ethiopia, Philippines; Turns Eye to Scaling Up

On European Microfinance Week 2017the opening day of European Microfinance Week, the European Microfinance Platform’s (e-MFP’s) Microfinance and Environment Action Group met to review its successes and make plans for the next two years.

Carla Palomares of ADA, the Luxembourgish nonprofit formerly known as Appui au Développement Autonome, explained her organization’s work with the 60-member Microfinance Council of the Philippines (MCPI) and Red Centroamericana y del Caribe de Microfinanzas (REDCAMIF), a network of networks serving 139 microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the Dominican Republic and six Central American countries. ADA helped MCPI develop a team dedicated to supporting its member MFIs in offering loans for clients to buy solar lamps. MCPI is now working with six additional MFIs to roll out solar loans. The program with REDCAMIF is similar, but involves microleasing for agricultural equipment and support regarding environmentally sustainable farming practices as well as

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Opportunity International EduFinance, FINCA Microfinance Bank Nigeria to Offer Education Loans to Students’ Families, Schools

FINCA Microfinance Bank Nigeria, an affiliate of the US-based Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA International), recently partnered with Opportunity International (OI) EduFinance to lend money for

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Zambia Introduces National Financial Inclusion Strategy with Support from World Bank Group

The government of Zambia recently initiated a National Financial Inclusion Strategy with support from the World Bank Group (WBG), a multilateral institution seeking to improve the living standards of people in developing countries. The strategy is linked with a Financial Sector Development Policy and a Financial Capability Survey Report in an effort to promote “universal access” to a greater diversity of financial products. The Finance Minister of Zambia, Felix Mutati, said of the strategy,

MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: Digital Wallets for Illiterate Customers in India, Agency Banking in Africa, Gender Equality in Financial Services

“Digital Wallet Adoption for the Oral Segment in India: Concept Development for MoWo (Mobile Wallet for Oral);” by Brett Hudson Matthews, Richa Valechha, Vivek Anand, Avantika Kushwaha, Saborni Poddar and Rachit Ohri; published by MicroSave; May 2017; 50 pages, available at:

http://www.microsave.net/files/pdf/DWA_Research_Concept_Development_for_MoWO.pdf

The authors describe a project conducted during 2016 in India on the Mobile Wallet for Oral (MoWo), a mobile-money service designed for the “oral” market segment, which includes 264 million people in the country who have low reading-skill levels. A group of 310 participants from various communities were subjected to “signing, reading and numeracy” tests. Thereafter, 138 people of varying literacy levels participated in focus groups on the user interface of the mobile wallet. Finally, 29 participants performed usability testing.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: FINCA Microfinance Bank of Tanzania Rolls Out HaloYako Mobile Savings Product

The Tanzanian affiliate of the US-based Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA International) recently began offering a service called HaloYako that allows people to open savings accounts via mobile phones. There is no fee to use the service or maintain the associated account. In fact, customers can earn

MICROFINANCE EVENT: Africa Banking & Finance Conference; April 10 – 11, 2018; Lagos, Nigeria

Event Name: Africa Banking & Finance Conference

Event Date: April 10 – April 11, 2018

Event Location: Lagos, Nigeria

Summary of Event: This is the seventh iteration of this event, which will focus again on financial inclusion. In addition to a trade show, the conference will include sessions on insurance, savings, payments, capacity building, measuring success, regulation, agent banking, serving women and youth, and how banks can downscale

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Bank of Ghana Warns Public About Illegal Microfinance Institutions

The Bank of Ghana recently accused a group of microfinance institutions of operating illegally, including Agro Development Fund Services Limited, Hebron Financial Services, MMM, Money-doubler and Oboanipa Ventures Limited. The government of Ghana is in the process of implementing a Depositors Insurance Act

MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: 11th Symbiotics MIV Survey, Very Small Businesses in Ethiopia, Climate-shock Recovery Lending in Africa

“2017 Symbiotics MIV Survey,” published by the Symbiotics Group, September 2017, 55 pages, available at:
http://symbioticsgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Symbiotics-2017-MIV-Survey.pdf

This 11th annual survey of microfinance investment vehicles (MIV) offers data from 93 microfinance funds managed by “44 specialized asset management companies located in 17 countries.” The responding firms’ funds comprise 94 percent of the estimated market size of USD 13.5 billion. The MIV’s assets allocated to microfinance total USD 9.6 billion, of which 73 percent is in fixed-income funds, 16 percent in mixed funds and