Category: South Asia, East Asia and Pacific

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Reserve Bank of India Asks Rural Banks to Open 25 Percent of New Branches in Unbanked Areas

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s financial regulatory authority, recently tasked regional rural banks (RRBs) to ensure that at least one-quarter of their proposed branches are sited in unbanked parts of the country.  Continue reading

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SPECIAL REPORT: Alalay Sa Kaunlaran Incorporated (ASKI) of the Philippines Takes $127k European Microfinance Award for Innovation in Food Security

The fourth European Microfinance Award, which focused this year on food security, has been awarded to Alalay Sa Kaunlaran Incorporated (ASKI) of the Philippines for its work serving people in rural areas with traditional financial services as well as community development efforts. Executive Director Rolando Victoria of ASKI, who is pictured at the right, stated that, “The motivation at the time [of our founding] was credit…. Now we were able to install a hanging bridge…linking farmers to markets.” Another way that ASKI has assisted its clients is by linking groups of customers with major buyers. A signature achievement was working with government partners to connect small-scale growers of onions and cassava with fast-food restaurant chain Jollibee Foods Corporation, which reported sales of PHP 44 billion (USD 1 billion) during the year ending June 2012. Mr Victoria reported that one of the challenges ASKI had to overcome was convincing farmers of the value of having a guaranteed customer with a price set in advance, even if market prices might turn out to be higher after the harvest. The award was presented as part of European Microfinance Week, which closes in Luxembourg on November 16. Continue reading

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SPECIAL REPORT: Sanjay Sinha of M-CRIL Calls Overexuberant Growth “Recipe for Disaster” at European Microfinance Week Opening

This morning, following a day of member meetings, the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) opened its eighth European Microfinance Week, which is themed “Combining Strength, Delivering Results” and aims to address the loss of confidence in many circles that microfinance benefits poor people. In the opening plenary session, Sanjay Sinha, managing director of India’s Micro Credit Rating International Limited (M-CRIL), said that, “Moderate growth is good for inclusion. Rampant growth, which is what we had for a long time in India, is a recipe for disaster…. In order to reduce growth, we need to temper the egos of the promoters of microfinance institutions (MFIs). And we all know we need to dampen the expectations of investors – I’m talking mainly of the Indian commercial banking sector.” Continue reading

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SPECIAL REPORT: European Microfinance Platform Remittances Action Group, GIZ, PHB Development Release Handbook: “Financial Literacy for Remittances and Diaspora Investments”

This afternoon, the Remittances Action Group of the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) met to share member experiences, plan future action steps and announce the release of the “Financial Literacy for Remittances and Diaspora Investments” handbook. The document, which is the first of three planned outputs to be completed by the group, was published by German bilateral development agency GIZ, with participation from PHB Development, a Belgium-based consulting firm, and e-MFP, which is a Luxembourg-based membership organization. As the handbook was released as a compact disc and on paper, it is not available online other than via the above link as of today. Details on the other proceedings of the meeting, such as the other planned outputs of the Remittance Action Group and news from action group members, are slated for publication by MicroCapital in a separate brief. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Lends $70m to Garanti Bank of Turkey, Hipotekarna Banka of Montenegro, Bai Tushum of Kyrgyz Republic

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a development finance institution based in London, recently extended a USD 60 million credit line to Garanti Bank, a Turkish private bank, to develop small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) owned by women. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Private Equity Firms Investing in Indian Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) After Two-Year Hiatus

Private equity firms are beginning to invest in Indian microfinance institutions (MFIs) that offer products such as insurance, pension plans and chit funds in order to diversify their portfolios. It is reported that private equity firms have invested INR 7.5 billion (USD 138 million) in Indian MFIs this year, as compared to INR 2.5 billion (USD 46 million) invested in 2011. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: International Finance Corporation (IFC) Commits Technical Assistance To Indian Credit Bureau, High Mark

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private investment arm of the World Bank Group, recently agreed to provide technical assistance to High Mark, an Indian credit bureau, in an effort to encourage microfinance lenders in India to use credit bureaus in assessing the repayment capacity of borrowers. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Bank Mandiri, Pos Indonesia Open Joint Microcredit-Postal Branch in East Java

Bank Mandiri, a government-owned provider of financial services to private and state-owned businesses as well as individuals and microentrepreneurs, recently opened its first office in Sidoarjo, East Java, as part of its partnership with Pos Indonesia, the national postal service. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Lack of Law and Order Causes Microfinance Institution (MFI) Ujjivan of India to Put Lending Operations on Hold in Parts of Bihar

Ujjivan Financial Services, a Bangalore-based microfinance institution (MFI), recently put its lending operations on hold in the districts Vaishali and Muzaffarpur in the Indian state of Bihar after an October attack on its customer relations officer, Achchhe Lal Prasad. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Absolute Portfolio Management Dual Return Fund Loans $2.5m to KazMicroFinance of Kazakhstan, Imon International of Tajikistan, Frontiers of Kyrgyzstan, Thaneakea Phum of Cambodia

Absolute Portfolio Management GmbH (APM), Austrian-based investment and asset management company that offers microfinance institutions (MFIs) financing and investment strategy advisory services, recently disbursed a loan of USD 1 million to KazMicroFinance (KMF), a microfinance institution (MFI) in Kazakhstan, via the Dual Return Fund, a sub-fund of Vision Microfinance created by APM that issues direct loans to MFIs in developing countries. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Absolute Dual Return-Vision Microfinance Fund Invests $3.2m in FINCA Russia, AzerCredit of Azerbaijan, Bank Constanta of Georgia, Mikrofin of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Absolute Portfolio Management GmbH (APM), an Austrian investment company that specializes in microfinance and asset management, recently disbursed USD 3.2 million in loans to microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina through a microfinance investment vehicle that it manages, the Dual Return-Vision Microfinance Fund. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Vietnam’s Ministry of Health and Social Insurance to Provide Free Health Insurance to Poor People

The Ministry of Health of Vietnam and Vietnam Social Insurance, a government-funded organization that offers insurance to workers, reportedly will issue health insurance cards free of charge to families living close to or below the poverty line. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: SME Business Support Fund, Kashf Microfinance Bank Partner

SME Business Support Fund, a nonprofit organisation that assists small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as business development service providers (BDSPs), recently partnered with Kashf Microfinance Bank in an effort to create viable business support models that will encourage self employment in Pakistan. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Equitas of India Receives $9.3m from MicroVentures, India Financial Inclusion Funds

Equitas Holdings, a microfinance institution (MFI) based in Chennai, India, raised INR 500 million (USD 9.26 million) from MicroVentures India and India Financial Inclusion Fund, two funds dedicated to supporting the Indian microfinance industry. Continue reading

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