Category: South Asia, East Asia and Pacific

MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: Lessons on IPOs from Indian MFIs; Growth In Impact Investing; 10-Year Survey of Microfinance Investment Vehicles

“How to IPO Successfully and Responsibly: Lessons From Indian Financial Inclusion Institutions”; by Anna Kanze; published by the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) at Accion; Fall 2016; 25 pages; available at:

This report draws upon two recent initial public offerings (IPOs) in the financial inclusion industry – those of Equitas and Ujjivan, both microfinance lenders in India – to make the case that institutions can use IPOs to strengthen their capital base while remaining committed to their social missions. Continue reading


SPECIAL REPORT: Accelerating Financial Inclusion in the Mekong through Collaboration

AtBanking With the Poor Network the 2016 Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum, MFIs and funders led this session’s discussion of collaboration. Kelly Hattel, Financial Sector Specialist for the Asian Development Bank, underscored “the importance of having national strategies for financial inclusion and having them be evidence-based. These are important…both as a donor individually and for Continue reading


SPECIAL REPORT: Stimulating the Uptake and Impact of Remittances in Southeast Asia through Technology

AtBanking With the Poor Network the 2016 Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum, Ron Bevacqua, Managing Director of ACCESS Advisory, asked what gaps in local payment systems can be closed by digital services. Juanita Woodward, Singapore Country Director at WorldRemit, said “I think we are at a tipping point with Continue reading


MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Welcome Financial Group Acquires, Renames Green Central Microfinance of Cambodia

South Korea’s Welcome Financial Group (WFG) recently rebranded Cambodia’s Green Central Microfinance Limited as Welcome Finance (Cambodia). WFG closed its acquisition of the microlender after receiving central bank approval for the transaction in April. While the purchase price and the identity of the seller are not available, Green Central was held by Continue reading


SPECIAL REPORT: Realizing Potential and Minimizing Risk through Client Protection and Developing Financial Capability in Southeast Asia

ABanking With the Poor Network diverse set of panelists at this session of the Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum agreed that providing financial education can be expensive and yet often fails to produce measurable outcomes. Jayshree Venkatesan, a financial inclusion consultant, stated that “results from financial literacy campaigns are at best mixed.” Shane Nichols, Program Director for Good Return, said that the rise of randomized controlled trials has helped his organization discover that although “we used to do pre- and post-tests showing people gained knowledge…sustained behavior-change was virtually non-existent.”

Ms. Venkatesan explained that “there are a number of things that limit these efforts. They cost a lot of money. Most of these tend to be Continue reading


MICROFINANCE EVENT: Geodata for Inclusive Finance and Food; February 16, 2017; Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Event Name: Geodata for Inclusive Finance and Food

Event Date: February 16, 2017

Event Location: Hulstkamp Gebouw, Maaskade 116, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Cost: This event is open by invitation only.

Summary of Event: This event will address how “geodata” can be used to expand inclusive finance and food security. Continue reading


MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: UN’s Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) Provides $10m to The Currency Exchange Fund (TCX) to Subsidize Third-party Lending in Local Currency to Microfinance Institutions in Myanmar

The Currency Exchange Fund (TCX), which is based in the Netherlands, recently raised USD 10 million from the UN-managed Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) to reduce the cost of foreign-exchange hedging for “impact lenders” funding microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Myanmar. TCX provides this hedging service, absorbing the currency-exchange risk on the loans, so the lenders can commit US dollars while the MFIs access funding denominated in kyat. Via multiple microloan repayment cycles over three years, the MFIs are expected to gain sufficient liquidity from the LIFT-supported facility to fund Continue reading


MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: C-Quadrat’s Dual Return Vision Microfinance Funds Loan $22m in Burkina Faso, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Paraguay, Sri Lanka

Austria’s C-Quadrat Asset Management informed MicroCapital today that its Dual Return Vision Microfinance and Dual Return Vision Microfinance-Local Currency funds loaned a total approximately equivalent to USD 22 million during November to unspecified microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Continue reading


SPECIAL REPORT: The Place of MFIs in the Financial Inclusion Ecosystem of the Mekong Region

TheBanking With the Poor Network roles of MFIs in financial systems vary significantly from country to country, even within the Mekong region. Somphone Sisenglath, Managing Director of Ekphatthana Microfinance Institution, described the Lao industry as “very young,” with the median MFI just three years old. Most MFIs operate in the capital, Vientiane, while 80 percent of the population is rural. Since it often takes an hour to travel between villages, it is very expensive Continue reading


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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