The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is investing NGN 400 million (USD 2.5 million) in La Fayette Microfinance Bank, one of eight members of the Advans Network of microfinance institutions, which is based in Luxembourg and managed by Horus Development Finance of France.
Fondazione Giordano Dell’Amore, an Italian foundation that supports microfinance, has announced that it is accepting applications for its 2015 Giordano Dell’Amore Microfinance Best Practices International Award, which aims to increase the understanding of microfinance and promote the sharing of good practices among industry players.
During February 2015, Austria’s Absolute Portfolio Management disbursed loans totaling USD 2.5 million to unspecified microfinance institutions in Benin, Cambodia and Georgia.
The Social Performance Task Force, a US-based nonprofit charged with addressing questions about measuring and managing social performance, in collaboration with the Smart Campaign, a client-protection initiative of US-based nonprofit Accion, recently launched the Responsible Microfinance Facility (RMF), a three-year initiative funded by the French government’s Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) to improve the capacity and performance of microfinance institutions in Africa and the Middle East.
UK-based Fern Software recently informed MicroCapital that it has implemented its Abacus financial management information system (MIS) in two additional languages: in Arabic for a microfinance institution (MFI) in Jordan and in French for an MFI in Tunisia.
Fonds pour l’inclusion Financière en République Démocratique du Congo (FPM) SA, a nonprofit organization based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that was formerly known as Fonds de Promotion de la Microfinance, recently received authorization to operate as a financial company from the Central Bank of the Congo, DRC’s central banking authority.
CGAP (The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), a US-based nonprofit that aims to facilitate the expansion of financial access, recently selected the following financial service providers to receive an unspecified level of support from human-centered design firms to improve their digital financial services for small-scale farmers: (1) Amret Microfinance, a Cambodian microfinance institution; (2) the Zimbabwean arm of South African mobile network operator Econet Wireless and US-based relief and development nonprofit Mercy Corps; (3) myAgro, a nonprofit organization in Mali that sells agricultural inputs via mobile technology; and (4) Urwego Opportunity Bank (UOB), a microfinance institution that was created as a result of a merger between Urwego Community Banking and Opportunity International Bank of Rwanda . While the Econet-Mercy partnership will engage human-centered design firm Ideo.org, the other three programs have not yet released the names of the organizations with which they will work.
The Sanad Fund for MSME (micro-, small and medium-sized enterprise), a Germany-based provider of “medium- and long-term” and equity financing in the Middle East and North Africa, recently agreed to loan the equivalent of USD 5 million in local currency to Enda Inter-Arabe, to help it expand its lending into additional underserved areas of Tunisia.
Orange, a French provider of telephone and Internet service in 30 countries, and EcoBank Transnational Incorporated (EcoBank), a Togo-based bank operating in 28 countries, recently launched a mobile banking service that will enable Orange Money subscribers to transfer money between Ecobank accounts. As of February 5, both companies signed a partnership agreement to launch the service in Mali, and they plan to expand to Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry, Niger, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the future. Customers also will be able to check their account balances, receive “mini-statements” via short message service (SMS, also known as text messaging) and top-up their Orange Money e-wallets .
This opinion piece was contributed by David MacDougall, a consultant based in the US city of New York.
Microfinance inspires optimism. Investors – especially private equity investors – anticipate handsome returns; aid agencies see strong social impact; and microfinance institution (MFI) managers are certain they can grow themselves out of every tight situation. While microfinance can play an important role in development, most MFIs nevertheless are relatively simple financial institutions that need to be grounded in sound market and business principles rather than pie-in-the-sky expectations. These “Business 101” principles, which may sound like common sense truisms, in my experience, have not trickled down to many MFIs. In over 10 years of examining the viability of MFI business models as an analyst and risk manager, I have seen decision makers fail again and again to do reality checks. What’s still urgently needed is sound market analysis and professional risk management.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an agency of the United Nations that aims to alleviate poverty in rural areas, recently extended a loan of USD 29 million to the government of Uganda to support the Project for Financial Inclusion in Rural Areas (PROFIRA).
The Bank of Industry (BOI), which was established by the Nigerian government to promote domestic sectors such as agriculture and finance in Nigeria, recently earmarked NGN 19.8 billion (USD 105 million) to support micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a multilateral institution headquartered in London, has announced that it will loan EUR 40 million (USD 45.3 million) to Union bancaire pour le commerce et l’industrie (UBCI), the Tunisian commercial banking subsidiary of BNP Paribas, a French financial group.
Développement international Desjardins (DID), a Canadian nonprofit providing technical support and investment for the community finance sector in emerging economies, has announced that it will establish four new entrepreneur financial centers (EFCs) in Africa and Latin America.
Etisalat, a United Arab Emirates-based telecommunications services provider, and First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), a commercial bank based in the Nigerian state of Lagos, recently fused FBN’s “Firstmonie Mobile Money,” a service that allows customers to access their FirstBank accounts as well as transfer funds through their mobile devices , and Etisalat’s “Easywallet,” a service allowing money transfers, airtime top-up, and payment for goods and services via mobile phones .
The Sanad Fund for MSME (micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises), a Germany-based fund providing loans in the Middle East and North Africa, recently provided a senior loan of USD 20 million to Amen Bank, a Tunisia-based private commercial bank.
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 three loans: (1) EUR 630,000 (USD 732,000) over a two-year period to Oxus DRC, a for-profit MFI based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that was launched in 2013 by the France-based Oxus Group; (2) EUR 271,000 (USD 314,000) over a three-year period to Hekima, a nonprofit specialising in providing group loans to “economically active” poor people in eastern DRC; and (3) EUR 198,000 (USD 230,000) over a three-year period to Agence Communautaire pour le Financement de la Micro Entreprise (ACFIME), a microfinance institution serving low-income populations in Burkina Faso .
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 three loans in local currency equivalent to: (1) EUR 482,000 (USD 555,000) over a two-year period to Juhudi Kilimo, a for-profit provider of microloans and microinsurance in Kenya; (2) EUR 293,000 (USD 339,000) over a three-year period to Uganda Microcredit Foundation (UMF), a microfinance institution offering financial services to “economically active” Ugandans; and (3) EUR 257,000 (USD 297,000) over a three-year period to Encot, a provider of microloans to rural enterprises in Uganda .