The Netherlands Development Finance Company, a government-backed institution also known by its Dutch acronym FMO, recently arranged a syndicated loan in the amount of USD 110 million for Ak Finansal Kiralama AS (“Aklease”), a leasing subsidiary of the Turkish bank Akbank, to support energy-efficiency and
Wala, a Cape Town-based financial services provider seeking to reduce barriers to financial access in Africa and elsewhere, recently sold an equity stake to South Africa’s Newtown Partners and raised USD 1.2 million from the public through an initial coin offering (ICO) of its Dala token. The size and price of the Newtown stake
US-based financial technology firm MasterCard recently began pilot testing a platform called Kionect, which allows kiosk owners in Kenya to use short message service (SMS), also known as text messaging, to
Event Name: Mobile World Conference 2018
Event Date: February 26 – March 1, 2018
Event Location: Barcelona, Spain
Summary of Event: This conference brings industry leaders together to cover recent trends and developments in the telecommunications industry. About 100,000 people from 200 countries are expected to attend. Among the networking opportunities and presentations are: “Expanding Digital Services
FINCA Pakistan, an affiliate of the US-based Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA International), recently hired Analytics Private Limited (APL), a Pakistani technology company, to help it deepen
Greenlight Planet, which has offices in Kenya, India and the US, recently raised a total of USD 60 million in equity and debt “to expand its solar-energy product lines, distribution networks, and financing capabilities in Africa and Asia.” Three entities purchased stakes of unspecified sizes in Greenlight, including Apis Growth Fund I, the lead investor in the funding round, which is managed by Nigeria- and UK-based Apis Partners. The other two entities increased existing stakes in Greenlight: Eight Roads Ventures, a private equity firm with offices in seven countries; and Bamboo Capital Partners, an investor seeking “economic, social and environmental
The Netherlands Development Finance Company, a government-backed institution also known by its Dutch acronym FMO, and Proparco, a subsidiary of the French government’s Agence Française de Développement (AFD), each recently loaned USD 15 million to Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR), a unit of the British Virgin Island’s-based Atlas Mara Group. Proparco served as
During the closing day of European Microfinance Week, Karima Wardak of the UN Capital Development Fund argued that copying digital financial services from country to country is not working. The same is true of country-specific “products that were designed in board rooms,” she said. Gilda Zarate Chabluk of Innate Motion, a consultancy with staff in 27 countries, launched the discussion of how concepts of human-centered design can sidestep these problems. All staff involved in a project should observe and talk to end-users early in the design process. She suggests a meeting at the home of the end-user that lasts about two hours, with most of that time focused on the user’s life rather than the product. The idea is to create the product with the users not for the
Telma Mobile, a Madagascar-based telecommunications company, recently rolled out the Mvola Avance and Epargne products, which offer loans and savings services, respectively, through the pre-existing Mvola mobile money service. With Mvola Avance, customers can borrow from MGA 1,000 to MGA 500,000 (USD 0.30 to USD 157) for
At European Microfinance Week on Thursday, Ken Lohento of the Netherlands-based Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation described successes engaging youth in agriculture through technology, even those with limited literacy. This can take the form of business tools to track spending or marketing as well as apps that help with pest management, for example. Even older “feature phones” can be used to receive information on markets and tips to optimize production. Among other efforts, Mr Lohento cited Agribusiness TV, which provides mobile-optimized video examples of youth profiting from agriculture, and a service in Senegal that connects owners of underused land with young people looking for acreage to till.
Dr Jonathan Agwe of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) stated that youth rarely are motivated to engage in the planting and weeding of primary agriculture. “Certain elements of the value chain are more interesting to youth than others,” he said. Youth are more interested in secondary activities that are less labor-intensive, such as using machinery to process crops or vehicles to get products to market. Dr Agwe suggests first “locating a market that is paying premium prices” and then
Mastercard, a US-based payment processing company, and Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Uganda, an affiliate of the nonprofit FSD Africa, recently entered a memorandum of understanding to create
On the first afternoon of European Microfinance Week, the European Microfinance Platform’s (e-MFP’s) Rural Outreach & Innovation Action Group presented a range of services that are reaching rural areas today.
Amsalu Alemayehu of Ethiopia’s Wasasa Microfinance explained that his organization has been financing agricultural cooperatives for about five years and how this can be an efficient method for serving a large number of people. However, the number of cooperatives Wasasa serves remains small. Mr Alemayehu explained that many of the 78,000 cooperatives in Ethiopia are member-managed and need significant capacity building to become creditworthy.
Marina Kortenbusch of Switzerland’s Business & Finance Consulting (BFC), who is also the chair of the Action Group, spoke passionately about
“Digital Wallet Adoption for the Oral Segment in India: Concept Development for MoWo (Mobile Wallet for Oral);” by Brett Hudson Matthews, Richa Valechha, Vivek Anand, Avantika Kushwaha, Saborni Poddar and Rachit Ohri; published by MicroSave; May 2017; 50 pages, available at:
The authors describe a project conducted during 2016 in India on the Mobile Wallet for Oral (MoWo), a mobile-money service designed for the “oral” market segment, which includes 264 million people in the country who have low reading-skill levels. A group of 310 participants from various communities were subjected to “signing, reading and numeracy” tests. Thereafter, 138 people of varying literacy levels participated in focus groups on the user interface of the mobile wallet. Finally, 29 participants performed usability testing.
KCB Bank Rwanda, a subsidiary of the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Group, recently announced the creation of Mobiloan, a platform that allows customers to access
Two organizations that facilitate lending to people and small businesses with limited credit histories, US-based Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL) and Singapore-based Lenddo, recently merged. Prior to the merger, the organizations had completed a total of 5 million
The Tanzanian affiliate of the US-based Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA International) recently began offering a service called HaloYako that allows people to open savings accounts via mobile phones. There is no fee to use the service or maintain the associated account. In fact, customers can earn
Event Name: 14th Annual Global Microfinance Forum
Event Date: March 15 – March 16, 2018
Event Location: Munich, Germany
Summary of Event: This conference will include sessions on microleasing, “green” microcredit, managing foreign exchange risk, crowdfunding, serving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), technology, leveraging guarantees
Singapore-based alternative credit scoring firm MicroMoney and Netherlands-domiciled peer-lending NGO Karma recently announced a partnership to work toward their shared “mission to help billions of people to be financially included” in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. MicroMoney will access repayment data from