Category: South Asia, East Asia and Pacific

MICROFINANCE EVENT: Asia-Pacific Financial Inclusion Summit, Hanoi, Vietnam, March 21-22, 2017

Event Name: Asia-Pacific Financial Inclusion Summit

Event Date: March 21-22, 2017; optional field visits on March 23, 2017

Event Location: JW Marriott Hotel, Hanoi, Vietnam

Event Summary: Themed “Advancing Financial Inclusion in a Digital Age,” this event will include plenaries on topics such as collaboration and regulating digital financial services. Breakout sessions will address topics such as blockchain technology, gender, serving youth and reaching “the last mile.” On March 23, participants may visit with staff and clients of either Tinh Thuong Microfinance Institution or Continue reading

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SPECIAL REPORT: The Impact of Finance on the Development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSMEs) in Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam

ThisBanking With the Poor Network discussion of supporting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) centered on (1) building systems to boost institutions’ confidence in lending to the sector; and (2) the non-financial needs of MSMEs.

Gerald Sun, Vice President, Head of Sales for Commercial Payments Asia/Pacific at MasterCard Worldwide, said “the banks have trouble making a risk assessment cheaply enough. They lend to big organizations based on their income. For SMEs [small and medium enterprises], they revert to looking at assets as they would for consumer lending. The bank can value a house or car, but not a ton of fertilized chicken eggs.” MasterCard is addressing this issue by Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: 16 Additional Institutions Commit to World Bank’s Goal of Achieving Universal Financial Access by 2020

The US-based multilateral World Bank Group (WBG) recently announced that 16 additional financial institutions have committed to partner to work toward “universal financial access” (UFA) by 2020, bringing the size of the group to 30 organizations. The new partners, which have committed to helping a total of 168 million people open new transaction accounts by 2020, are:

(1) the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance, which operates in Africa, Asia and the Middle East;
(2) Ant Financial (Ali Baba Group) of China; Continue reading

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SPECIAL REPORT: Policy and Regulation in the Mekong: Developing Strategic Frameworks for Financial Inclusion

The Banking With the Poor Networkassembled regulators and trade group leaders offered a litany of current and soon-to-be-released strategies to create a nurturing environment for pro-client financial services. It is critically important to Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: D.light Raises $15m in Equity from Energy Access Ventures, KawiSafi, NewQuest, Omidyar to Expand Sales of Solar Products via Microloans, Develop Televisions for Emerging Markets

D.light, a privately-owned retailer of solar appliances based in the US city of San Francisco, recently raised USD 22.5 million in funding to expand its PayGo platform, which offers microloans to finance purchases of solar products. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: IFC, Cathay United Bank Loaning $50m to VPBank for SMEs in Vietnam with Support From Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the US-based World Bank Group, and Cathay United Bank, a Taiwan-based commercial bank, recently announced that they will each lend USD 25 million to Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VPBank) to support small businesses in Vietnam. Continue reading

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SPECIAL REPORT: Financing the Excluded: Innovations for Last Mile Financing in the Mekong

Organizations Banking With the Poor Networkserving people at the “bottom of the pyramid” are using solar lighting, doorstep savings services and mobile banking to reach potential customers still untouched by formal financial services. Gaurav Bhandari, Greenlight Planet‘s Senior Global Partnerships Manager for Asia, described his firm’s products, which he reports have prevented 10,000 house fires, increased homeworkers’ productivity by Continue reading

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MICROFINANCE EVENT: China International Microfinance Summit, November 29-December 1, 2016, Beijing, China

Event Name: 2016 China International Microfinance Summit

Event Date: November 29 – December 1, 2016

Event Location: Landmark Towers Hotel, Beijing, China Continue reading

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SPECIAL REPORT: Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum: Overview of the Region

In anticipation of the recently announced Asia-Pacific Financial Inclusion Forum, which will be held in Hanoi, Viet Nam, on March 21 and March 22, 2017, MicroCapital is launching a series of stories from the Banking with the Poor Network‘s Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum, which was held in July 2016. The Foundation for Development Cooperation engaged MicroCapital to assist in documenting the event.

Ms. Banking With the Poor NetworkNina Nayar, Associate of the Foundation for Development Cooperation, opened the session reviewing microfinance products and market segments in the region. She described the evolution from “credit and basic savings” years ago to today’s array of credit, savings, insurance, money transfer and other services for individuals as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). These include “a whole slew of innovations” such as payment cards and automated teller machines. She argued that new products are in demand by many segments of often-excluded people: farmers, people in conflict areas, minorities, youth, urban informal workers, migrants and single mothers. At the same time, fear and lack of confidence often Continue reading

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SPECIAL REPORT: Microfinance Investment Vehicles Setting “Green” Targets; Looking to Asian, Latin American MFIs to Deploy Environment-focused Microloans

During European Microfinance Platformone of Friday’s sessions of European Microfinance Week, Hatem Mahbouli, an investment officer with Dutch development bank Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO), described his institution’s plans to direct 20 percent of its investments each year to environmental efforts. FMO, which reports the equivalent of USD 9 billion in total assets, has disbursed about USD 120 million of its financial services investments in the “green” sub-sector. To move further toward its goal, FMO is looking particularly to Continue reading

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SPECIAL REPORT: Evolving Regulations Obscure the Future of Microfinance in Myanmar

Paul European Microfinance PlatformLuchtenburg, who serves as coordinator for the UN Capital Development Fund in Myanmar, described several of the contrasts in the microfinance industry in Myanmar at European Microfinance Week Thursday. Five years into civilian rule, Mr Luchtenburg says “I’ve never seen a government work so hard. You go to a meeting and the results go up the leadership chain that night…. There’s this rapid push for development.” To accept deposits, institutions must pay at least 10 percent per year and be deemed “sustainable” by the government. However, lending rates are capped at 2.5 percent per month, a level that all of the panelists agreed was too low, especially for serving rural areas. Rommel Caringal, the CEO of the local unit of US-based VisionFund, said, “The inconsistency is causing big problems, but Continue reading

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SPECIAL REPORT: Fostering South-South Knowledge Exchange: Solar Home Systems in Bangladesh

On this first day of European Microfinance Week conference sessions, three participants described their visits to Bangladesh to learn how low-income families there have financed purchases of home solar systems. Tesfaye Befekadu, the general manager of Ethiopia’s Harbu Microfinance Institution, explained, “The exposure visit opened my mind to green microfinance…. I came back from Bangladesh with a lot of knowledge. I collected the managers, and we exchanged information and immediately decided this idea should go to the Board of Directors. Then I asked the Board to explain it to the shareholders.… I can say that all levels of the organization, down to the clients, own this program.” In the year since the visit, Harbu has delivered Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: International Development Research Centre, Alliance for Financial Inclusion Partnering to Promote Knowledge Sharing on Financial Inclusion

The Canadian government’s International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) and Malaysia-based Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), recently signed a three-year partnership with the goal of “develop[ing] new knowledge and foster[ing] peer learning on financial inclusion” among AFI’s 123 members which include financial regulators and institutions in approximately 90 developing countries. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Infoteria, Tech Bureau Transfer Myanmar-based BC Finance’s Microfinance Data to Private Blockchain

Two Japanese firms, Infoteria Corporation, which specialises in the development of extensible markup language (XML) software, and Tech Bureau Corporation, which operates a bitcoin exchange platform, recently announced that they have transferred loan and deposit account information from BC Finance, a microfinance institution based in Myanmar that is wholly owned by Bagan Capital, to a private blockchain database. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: India’s Arman Financial Services Decreases Interest Rates on Two-wheel Vehicle, Microfinance Loans

Arman Financial Services Limited, a non-banking finance company based in the Indian state of Gujarat, recently announced it is reducing interest rates on its two-wheel vehicle and microfinance loans. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Intellegrow, Symbiotics Launch SME Debt Pool Program by Securitizing $5.3m Bond Issuance Benefiting Indian Entrepreneurs

Intellegrow, an India-based subsidiary of Intellecap Group specializing in venture debt, and Symbiotics, a Switzerland-based firm investing in smaller companies, recently launched a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) debt pool program, benefiting Indian entrepreneurs from “impact” sectors including, but not limited to, food and agriculture, healthcare, and waste management. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: India’s RBL Bank Acquires 10% Equity Stake in Utkarsh Micro Finance

RBL Bank Limited, an institution formerly known as Ratnakar Bank Limited (RBL) that is headquartered in the Indian state of Maharashtra, recently announced its plan to buy a 9.99-percent stake in Utkarsh Micro Finance, a non-banking financial institution based in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Nepalese Microfinance Institutions Invest in Nepal Finsoft to Develop MIS Software

A group of Nepalese microfinance organizations is investing in Nepal Finsoft Limited, an information technology (IT) company based in Kathmandu, to develop a banking management information system (MIS) the thirty-four institutions hope will provide them with “increased efficiency and capacity to serve clients [and] lower overall costs of the infrastructure shared by all participating financial institutions.”
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