The Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI), a group of organizations in the Philippines that includes CARD Bank; the Microcredit Summit Campaign, a US-based advocacy organization; and Freedom from Hunger, a US-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that offers financial and health protection services in 23 countries, launched the program “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies,” which is expected to provide maternal health services to 600,000 Filipino women.
The Bank of Suzhou Limited, a Chinese commercial bank, has announced that it will collaborate with Dianrong.com, a Chinese peer-to-peer lending platform, to build a website to intermediate loans from members of the public to micro- and small enterprises.
The Hivos-Triodos Fund (HTF), a Netherlands-based microfinance investment vehicle, recently loaned EUR 2.5 million (USD 3.1 million) to IntelleGrow, an Indian nonbank financial company that specializes in making loans to small and medium-sized “social enterprises” in the agriculture, clean energy, education, financial, healthcare, sanitation and water sectors.
Alibaba Group Holding Limited, a Chinese internet and e-commerce company, recently launched Ant Financial Services Group, a microfinance arm to consolidate all six of Alibaba’s affiliated entities Alipay, an online payment tool; Alipay Wallet, a mobile payment application; Yu’e Bao, a USD 93 billion money market fund; Zhao Cai Bao, a platform that allows individuals and small businesses directly borrow from investors; Ant Micro, a microfinance provider and MY Bank, an affiliated private bank.
The US Agency for International Development (AID), a government agency that provides international economic and humanitarian assistance, and CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), a US-based, nonprofit that aims to facilitate the expansion of financial access, and The Mastercard Foundation, a Canadian nonprofit that aims to promote youth learning and financial inclusion in emerging markets, recently awarded approximately USD 1 million to ideas42, a US-based nonprofit consulting and behavioral design firm, for the implementation of a SMS text-messaging “push” notification system and voice-based platform that is intended to help microentrepreneurs better manage their finances.
MicroCapital: Please describe one of the key issues to be covered this year at European Microfinance Week.
Christoph Pausch: The question of over-indebtedness is still the major risk for the sector, as identified in the most recent Banana Skins survey. We had a very successful plenary last year exploring the issue from a research perspective. This year, we’re taking a very different approach by bringing CEOs of leading microfinance institutions (MFIs) from three countries – Bangladesh, Morocco, and Mexico – to discuss how they’ve been dealing with the issue. Each of these countries has had a different experience, with Bangladesh having successfully averted a potential crisis by slowing market growth (as described in an excellent paper by Stuart Rutherford and Greg Chen). Morocco was one of the original “microfinance crisis” countries during 2008 and 2009, and the MFIs there have had an interesting experience in resolving the problems from that period. Finally, Mexico is a major market with serious concerns regarding over-indebtedness, and MFIs there are working to avert a potential crisis.
Ezetap Mobile Solutions, a Bangalore-based mobile payments service provider, recently announced the launch of a mobile point-of-sale device costing approximately USD 50.
Hatton National Bank (HNB), a private commercial bank in Sri Lanka, reportedly has entered a shareholder agreement through which it will acquire a controlling 51-percent stake in Prime Grameen Micro Finance, a Sri Lankan microfinance institution (MFI).
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), a development bank in India that formulates certain credit and banking policies, recently announced the launch of the long-term rural credit fund, which will provide INR 5,000 crores (USD 807 million) for refinancing agricultural loans disbursed by cooperative banks and regional rural banks (RRBs).
Event Name: Banking South Asia’s Half Billion Unbanked
Event Date: November 17 – November 19, 2014
Event Location: Serena Hotel, Islamabad, Pakistan
The Citi Foundation, the charitable arm of US-based financial services provider Citigroup that promotes financial inclusion and other initiatives, recently announced that it has issued the first disbursement from its “Innovation Grant Program” with the aim of increasing its impact in India.
The Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation (GCAMF), a provider of financial services to microfinance institutions (MFIs) and other social businesses, recently informed MicroCapital that it has granted loans of EUR 739,000 (USD 937,000) to Faten, a microfinance institution based in the West Bank in Palestine; EUR 702,000 (USD 890,000) to Viator, an Azerbaijani microfinance organization; and a loan, which can be converted into equity, of EUR 240,000 (USD 304,000) to Grameen Danone Foods Limited, a social business in Bangladesh that sells food products containing nutrients that are generally lacking from the regional diet.
The Grameen Credit Agricole Microfinance Foundation (GCAMF), a Luxembourg-based investor in microfinance institutions (MFIs) and other social businesses, recently notified MicroCapital that it is disbursing local-currency loans totalling the equivalent of EUR 1.2 million (USD 1.5 million) to three MFIs in South-East Asia: Chamroeun Microfinance, a Cambodian MFI that offers savings, loans and microinsurance, will receive EUR 507,000 (USD 634,000) over a three-year period; Koperasi Mitra Dhuafa (Komida), an Indonesian MFI, will receive EUR 370,000 (USD 463,000) over a four-year period; and Tuba Rai Metin (TRM), a nonprofit MFI that serves women and small businesses in Timor-Leste, will receive EUR 299,000 (USD 374,000) over three years .
Belgium-based Incofin Investment Management (Incofin IM), a private company that manages funds investing in microfinance institutions (MFIs) and directly invests in companies in developing countries, recently disbursed a loan of USD 750,000, via its Rural Impulse Fund (RIF I), to Bimputh Finance, a Sri Lankan non-banking finance company.
PNB Housing Finance Limited (“PNB Housing”), a subsidiary of the India-based, government-controlled Punjab National Bank (PNB), recently accepted a loan of USD 50 million from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-investment arm of the US-based World Bank Group.
Symbiotics Group, a Swiss for-profit provider of microfinance-related and other investment services, recently issued impact bonds in the amount of USD 8.75 million to Satin, a microfinance institution based in Delhi, India; USD 6.78 million to Prasac, a microfinance institution offering financial services to people with low incomes in Cambodia; and USD 2.75 million to MicroCred China, a unit of France-based MicroCred Group.
“The Road to Inclusion: A Look at the Financially Excluded and Underserved;” Published by MasterCard; May 2014; 18 pages; available at http://newsroom.mastercard.com/asia-pacific/documents/the-road-to-inclusion-a-look-at-the-financially-excluded-and-underserved
This report, published by US-based financial services corporation MasterCard, seeks to shed light on how people manage with limited financial services in Egypt, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, the Philippines and Vietnam.
“Digital Financial Services Risk Assessment For Microfinance Institutions – A Pocket Guide;” by Tom Shaw, Marcella Willis, Daryl Skoog, Sonia Arenaza, Sudha Garg, Susan Salerno, Eve Hamilton and Shailee Adnolfi; published by The Digital Financial Services Working Group; September 2014; 15 pages; available at https://lextonblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/dfs_risk_guide_sept_2014_final.pdf
The authors of this “pocket guide” argue for the importance of “Digital Financial Services (DFS)” to reach low-income individuals who do not have access to traditional banking solutions.