SPECIAL REPORT: Youth Are Less Risky Borrowers? European Microfinance Week Participants on Serving Young People via Leasing, Peer Education, Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)

Countering the perception that youth are riskier borrowers than older clients, Maria Perdomo, the manager of the UN Capital Development Fund’s YouthStart program, recently presented data from seven African microfinance institutions (MFIs) showing that all but one have lower rates of portfolio at risk (PAR) within the segments of their portfolios serving youth than organization-wide. Nonetheless, she noted, youth often make up a disproportionately small share of an MFI’s customer base because loan officers believe they are less likely than others to repay, which would threaten the bonus that many loan officers receive when more of their clients do repay their loans.

SPECIAL REPORT: On Microbusiness Support in Conflict Zones, a Discussion at European Microfinance Week

Major David Beskow of the US Military Academy told a crowd at European Microfinance Week, about distributing microgrants in eastern Baghdad, Iraq, largely to women shop-owners for refrigeration, generators or inventory. Funded by the Iraqi government and the US Army’s Commander’s Emergency Response Program, each grant ranged in size from USD 500 to USD 5,000. Although no repayment was required, each beneficiary business was documented through photos and other means before disbursal and after one and six months, in the presence of local police.

SPECIAL REPORT: Distinguishing Multiple Lending from Over-indebtedness at European Microfinance Week

“Multiple borrowing was endemic,” in Bangladesh as of 2008, says Shameran Abed, the director of microfinance at Bangladesh-based Brac International, “but we didn’t know if this was bad, although we knew it was a risk.” Mr Abed was speaking this morning at the opening plenary of the last day of European Microfinance Week, which is organized by the Luxembourgish NGO European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP). In the past, he explained, the members of borrowing groups were good at letting Brac staff know who was a good credit risk. As the market was getting saturated, “Groups became less cohesive, so we couldn’t totally rely on them to tell us if individuals were becoming overindebted.”

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: The MasterCard Foundation, Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO) Provide $6.5m to Launch Accion Africa Board Fellowship

Accion, a US-based nonprofit organization that offers services such as microenterprise loans and business training in 32 countries; The MasterCard Foundation, a Canadian nonprofit that promotes financial inclusion and education in Africa and other emerging markets; and Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO), a Dutch development bank, recently partnered to launch the Accion Africa Board Fellowship in an effort to promote improved corporate governance and risk management practices in financial institutions assisting people with low incomes.

SPECIAL REPORT: Rural Action Group Discusses Product Ecosystems, Marital Strife at European Microfinance Week

The Rural Outreach & Innovation Action Group of the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) met today as part of a full day of Action Group meetings at European Microfinance Week, which is being hosted in Luxembourg by e-MFP, a 130-member NGO. Michael Tarazi, a senior financial sector specialist at CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) argued against pushing lending products on new rural clients, instead proposing a multi-stage approach. For example, farmers can be offered mobile phones for free, with the promise of receiving information such as crop management suggestions via SMS (text message). Then crop buyers can purchase access to the farmers’ phones, such as to request the preparation of a wholesale load of crops from a group of the farmers at a given price. This can increase the income of the farmers, putting them in a better position to repay future loans for improvements to their processes. As Mr Tarazi put it, “Finance comes at the end; first you develop the digital ecosystem with other valued services such as information.”

SPECIAL REPORT: At European Microfinance Week, University Meets Microfinance Action Group Presenting Awards for Papers on Impact Assessment, Downscaling via Banking Agents

Today, the University Meets Microfinance Action Group of the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) is presenting awards of EUR 500 (USD 620) each to students Hayyan Alia for “A Modified Household Economic Portfolio Model for Assessing Impact of Microfinance Using Diaries” and Eike Haas for his paper titled “Do Agent-assisted Banking Beyond Branches Channels Decrease Costs in Downscaling? A Qualitative and Quantitative Review.” The group also met earlier in the day as part of the series of Action Group meetings held during the first day of European Microfinance Week, which is hosted by e-MFP, a 130-member NGO located in Luxembourg.

SPECIAL REPORT: A Risk Management “Graduation Model” for Microfinance

MicroCapital: You will be speaking in a few days at European Microfinance Week. How will you describe the state of risk management within microfinance and where it fits in the broader context of the industry?

Kevin Fryatt: In the last several years, we have seen a lot of focus on new technology and serving clients better through new product development, savings mobilization and agent networks, amongst other avenues. Similarly, institutions’ balance sheets are getting increasingly diverse in the types of funding they are sourcing. But within this, the conversation of risk management isn’t happening. There’s a sense of cynicism within the leadership of microfinance institutions (MFIs) toward risk management. It is often misunder-stood and confused with the roles of internal audit or compliance. It is often very difficult to quantify the value of risk management.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: The MasterCard Foundation Commits $25m to Expand UN Capital Development Fund’s Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) Program

The MasterCard Foundation, a Canadian nonprofit that aims to promote youth learning and financial inclusion in Africa and other emerging markets, has partnered with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), a UN initiative to increase access to microfinance and other forms of investment capital for small businesses and individuals in developing countries, to expand the UNCDF Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) program.

MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: The Broadband Effect: Enhancing Market-based Solutions for the Base of the Pyramid, Strengthening Regulated SACCO Societies in Kenya, Microfinance Barometer

“The Broadband Effect: Enhancing Market-based Solutions for the Base of the Pyramid;” by Olivier Kayser, Lucie Klarsfeld and Simon Brossard; published by the Inter-American Development Bank; September 2014; available at http://www.iadb.org/en/publications/publication-detail,7101.html?id=75634

This report examines how private companies are using broadband, a high-capacity internet connection, to improve the efficiency and reach of their operations that are geared towards the “base of the pyramid (BOP) markets” [1].

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Liberia Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) Provides Technical Support, Access to $860k in Credit to Small, Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Via Banks

The Liberia Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) program, a project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that focuses on improving access to financial services for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by linking them with banks, provided clients in the agriculture, construction and trade sectors with access to loans totaling USD 860,000 from July to September 2014.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation Invests $788k in Oxus DR Congo, $321k in Uganda’s Encot

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation (GCAMF), a Luxembourg-based provider of financial services to microfinance institutions (MFIs) and other social businesses, recently informed MicroCapital that it has issued the following two loans:

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: SatADSL to Provide Microfinance Institutions, Money Transfer Firms with Satellite Technology to Expand Branch Networks in East Africa

SatADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), a Belgian telecommunications company that provides internet services in Sub-Saharan Africa, recently announced that it plans to provide microfinance institutions and money transfer firms with automated teller machines (ATMs) and money transfer capabilities using “ very small aperture terminal” (VSAT) equipment.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Establishes 2 Credit Unions Targeting Fishing Industry in Senegal

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), a US-based environmental non-governmental organization (NGO), recently announced its establishment of two credit unions geared towards people involved in fishing in the Senegalese villages of Cayar and Popenguine.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Dutch Development Bank Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappijvoor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO) Loans $9.5m to Nigeria’s Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) for Microfinance

The Dutch development bank Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappijvoor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO) recently signed an agreement to provide a five-year, local-currency loan equivalent to EUR 7.5 million (USD 9.5 million) to Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO), a Nigerian microfinance institution (MFI).

MICROFINANCE PAPER WRAP-UP: “The Next Stage of Financial Inclusion;” by Dean Karlan; Published by Stanford Social Innovation Review

“The Next Stage of Financial Inclusion;” by D. Karlan; published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review; fall 2014; 9 pages; available at: http://www.ssireview.org/pdf/Fall_2014_The_Next_Stage_of_Financial_Inclusion_1.pdf

This paper investigates the evolving role of nonprofit organizations in providing microcredit to people with low incomes.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Togo-based EcoBank to Accept MasterCard Debit, Credit, Prepaid Cards via 2,500 ATMs, 10,000 Points of Sale in 28 African Countries

MasterCard, a US-based payment solutions company, recently partnered with EcoBank Transnational Incorporated (EcoBank), a Togo-based bank, to enable Ecobank’s customers to use MasterCard debit, credit and prepaid cards at all of Ecobank’s point-of-sale (PoS) terminals and automated teller machines (ATMs).

MICROFINANCE EVENT: “Inclusive Microfinance Conference” 2014, to Address Serving People with Disabilities in Kampala, Uganda, November 11-12, 2014

Event Name: Inclusive Microfinance Conference 2014

Event Dates: November 11-12, 2014

Event Location: Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala, Uganda

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Turkish Government Launch “Finance and Advice to Women in Business” 

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a UK-based multilateral financial institution, along with the European Union Delegation to Turkey, the Turkish Employment Agency and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of the Republic of Turkey recently launched the “Finance and Advice to Women in Business” program, an initiative that aims to strengthen and increase the role of women in the Turkish economy.