Category: South Asia, East Asia and Pacific

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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.”
Continue reading

Share

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: CGAP, Citi Foundation Launch Digital Financial Inclusion Policy Program in China, Indonesia, Philippines

CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), a US-based, nonprofit research center that aims to facilitate the expansion of financial access, and the Citi Foundation, the charitable arm of US-based financial services firm Citigroup, recently launched the “East Asia Digital Financial Inclusion Program”. Continue reading

Share

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Asian Development Bank, Citigroup to Facilitate Up to $100m in Local Currency Loans for MFIs in Asia

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), a 67-member development finance institution headquartered in the Philippines, and Citigroup, a financial services corporation based in the US city of New York, recently announced the intention to facilitate up to USD 100 million in local-currency loans for microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Asia under the Microfinance Risk Participation and Guarantee Program. Continue reading

Share

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Government of Canada to Invest $6m in Afghanistan’s Zardozi to Support Women’s Economic Empowerment

The government of Canada recently announced it will donate USD 5.9 million from 2016 to 2020 to Zardozi, an Afghanistan-based NGO supporting women in establishing microenterprises. Continue reading

Share

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Bangladeshi Farmers to Receive Microloans via Credit Cards Arranged by CARE Bangladesh, DAM, mPower, USAID

The Agricultural Extension Support Activity (AESA) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is implemented by the Bangladesh-based nonprofit Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM), is piloting an initiative to provide smallholder farmers with loans via bank cards. Continue reading

Share

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: India’s Kotak Mahindra Bank Buying BSS Microfinance for $21m

Kotak Mahindra Bank (KMB), a private-sector Indian bank, recently announced plans to acquire BSS Microfinance, a Karnataka-based non-banking financial company run by the Bharatha Swamukthi Samsthe (BSS) Trust, for INR 1.4 billion (USD 21 million) Continue reading

Share

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Microfinance Institution Equitas Begins Accepting Deposits in Chennai, India, With Interest Rates Starting at 6%

Equitas Small Finance Bank Limited, a subsidiary of India’s Equitas Holdings Limited, recently began operations with three branches in Chennai, offering deposit accounts with interest rates of six to 7.5 percent per year. Continue reading

Share

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Dual Return Funds Managed by C-Quadrat Loan $17m to Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines

Austria-based C-Quadrat Asset Management recently issued loans worth the equivalent of USD 17 million to unspecified microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mexico, Peru and the Philippines. Continue reading

Share

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Indian Banks Deceptively Reduce Number of Zero-Balance Accounts Under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana Financial Inclusion Effort

Although the proportion of zero-balance bank accounts opened under India’s Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) program was reduced from 76 percent in January 2015 to 24 percent as of September 2016, it recently has been reported that this is not due to customer deposits. Continue reading

Share