Category: Trends/Challenges

SPECIAL REPORT: Application Period Open for $106k European Microfinance Award on Housing Until May 22

The European Microfinance PlatformEuropean Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) has begun accepting applications for the eighth iteration of its European Microfinance Award, which is focused this year on financing housing improvements for people with low incomes. The deadline to apply is May 22. The award, which includes a cash prize of EUR 100,000 (USD 106,000), will be presented at European Microfinance Week, which is being held Continue reading


MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: Alternative Financing in Africa, Middle East; Interoperability of Digital Financial Systems; Financial Inclusion in Kerala, India

“The Africa and Middle East Alternative Finance Benchmarking Report”; by The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) and Energy4Impact; published by CCAF; February 2017; 64 pages; available at

This report focuses on assessing the types and prevalence of alternative financing in Africa and the Middle East. Continue reading


SPECIAL REPORT: The Mergers & Acquisitions Market in Africa’s Alternative Finance Sector

Headlines in the M&A market in Africa in recent years seem to have been dominated by the to-ing and fro-ing of Anglo-South African giants such as Barclays Africa/ABSA and Old Mutual. However, financial institutions in the middle market perhaps have been more active. The M&A market in the alternative finance sector (non-bank or “specialty” lenders) has seen at least 30 transactions (excluding minority stakes) completed over the last five years, and activity levels have remained robust over the last 18 months notwithstanding the slow-down of the M&A market overall.

The alternative finance sector covers a range of credit institutions that are not part of the traditional banking sector, for example, micro (enterprise) finance, consumer finance, leasing or invoice discounting, vehicle lending, housing finance, student finance, fintech, and specialist banks. Continue reading


MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Indonesian Government Seeks to Shift KUR Microlending to Agriculture, Fisheries, Manufacturing from Trading, Services

The Indonesian government recently announced it plans to grow the portion of its Kredit Usaha Rakyat (KUR) program that is used for agriculture, fishing and manufacturing from 22 percent of the program total to 40 percent. The remainder of KUR lending is for trading and services. Continue reading


MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: AYo Offers Free Mobile Health, Life Insurance to MTN Phone Subscribers in Uganda: “Recharge with Care” & “Send with Care”

AYo, which is a joint venture between two South African firms, insurer MMI Holdings and the MTN (Mobile Telecommunications Network) Group, recently launched its first two products, both in Uganda: (1) Recharge with Care, which provides life and/or hospitalization insurance when an MTN phone subscriber buys airtime; and (2) Send with Care, which Continue reading


MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: EFSE Lends $2m to VisionFund’s SEF International for Micro-, Small Enterprises in Armenia

The European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE), a Luxembourg-based microfinance investment vehicle, recently announced that it has loaned AMD 970 million (USD 2 million) to Armenia’s SEF International to support the microfinance institution’s (MFI’s) lending to micro- and small businesses. SEF, which offers Continue reading


MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: UN Digital Financial Services Toolkits; 7th IMF Financial Access Survey; IFC, The MasterCard Foundation Mobile Money Handbook

“How to Succeed in Your Digital Journey: a Series of Toolkits for Financial Service Providers”; Published by the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s MicroLead Program; October 2016; available upon request via:

This first portion of a six-part digital toolkit, which is available in English and French, was designed to benefit microfinance institutions (MFIs) and other financial services providers that aim to offer digital financial services to unbanked populations residing in remote locations. Continue reading


MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Asian University for Women Expanding on Partnerships with Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, BRAC Afghanistan

Asian University for Women (AUW), which was created in 2008 in Chittagong, Bangladesh, is in the process of bringing on additional partners through which it will recruit bachelor’s degree candidates from low-income regions of Asia and the Middle East. The mission of AUW is to offer talented young women from families with minimal educational and financial resources the opportunity to earn an undergraduate Continue reading


MICROFINANCE EVENT: Savings and Credit Forum; March 16, 2017; Zürich, Switzerland

Event Name: Savings and Credit Forum: What are the Social Performance Management and Reporting Practices of Financial Institutions and Microfinance Impact Investors?

Event Date: March 16, 2017

Event Location: University of Zürich, Rämistrasse 59, Zürich, Switzerland

Summary of Event: The draft agenda for this event includes topics such as standards for social performance management and the social performance reporting practices of several microfinance institutions. This half-day event Continue reading


MICROFINANCE EVENT: Social Performance Task Force (SPTF) Social Investor Working Group Meeting; March 15-16, 2017; Zurich, Switzerland

Event Name: SPTF Social Investor Working Group Meeting

Event Date: March 15 – March 16, 2017

Event Location: University of Zurich, Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zürich, Switzerland

Summary of Event: Participants in this meeting will discuss the challenges of social performance management (SPM) as it relates to investing in inclusive finance. Speakers also will share Continue reading


SPECIAL REPORT: Recommendations from the Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum

AtBanking With the Poor Network the 2016 Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum, Ms. Claire Van der Vaeren, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Cambodia, said that financial inclusion is a vital enabler that can help unlock the potential of the poor and underserved, enhance women’s economic empowerment and catalyse a range of national development objectives. Its importance is shown in references to six of the seventeen UN sustainable development goals.

Ms. Van der Vaeren also was impressed by level of private and public engagement in Continue reading


MICROFINANCE EVENT: Impact Investing: Mainstreaming Purpose-Driven Finance; February 15, 2017; New York, USA

Event Name: Impact Investing: Mainstreaming Purpose-Driven Finance

Event Date: February 15, 2017

Event Location: Time Warner Center, 60 Columbus Circle, New York, New York, USA

Summary of Event: Speakers here will analyze opportunities and obstacles present in the “mainstreaming” of impact investing, which the organizers define as Continue reading


MICROFINANCE EVENT: Foro Latinoamericano de Inversión de Impacto; February 14 – 16, 2017; Mérida, México

Event Name: Foro Latinoamericano de Inversión de Impacto (FLII) 2017

Event Date: February 14 – 16, 2017

Event Location: Hotel Hyatt Regency, Mérida, México

Summary of Event: This event will address trends in impact investing as well as the social and environmental impacts of the financial industry in general. Speakers will discuss Continue reading


MICROFINANCE EVENT: 12th Biennial Conference on Entrepreneurship; February 22 – 24, 2017; Ahmedabad, India

Event Name: 12th Biennial Conference on Entrepreneurship

Event Date: February 22 – 24, 2017

Event Location: Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Summary of Event: This event offers researchers, educators and practitioners opportunities to discuss their work with the goal of advancing research in entrepreneurship. In past Continue reading


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


MICROFINANCE EVENT: 13th Annual Global Microfinance Forum; March 16 – 17, 2017; Prague, Czech Republic

Event Name: 13th Annual Global Microfinance Forum

Event Date: March 16 – 17, 2017

Event Location: Grandior Prague Hotel, Prague, Czech Republic

Summary of Event: Participants at this event will discuss recent changes in the microfinance industry and predictions for its future. Speakers will address topics 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


MICROFINANCE EVENT: African Finance & Investment Forum: Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Growth; February 13 – 16, 2017; Nairobi, Kenya

Event Name: Africa Finance & Investment Forum (AFIF) Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Growth

Event Date: February 13 – 16, 2017

Event Location: Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya

Summary of Event: This year’s iteration of the annual African Finance & Investment Forum (AFIF) will focus on entrepreneurship and innovation over two days of conference sessions preceded by a two-day training session. The goal of Continue reading