SPECIAL REPORT: Accelerating Financial Inclusion in the Mekong through Collaboration

AtBanking With the Poor Network the 2016 Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum, MFIs and funders led this session’s discussion of collaboration. Kelly Hattel, Financial Sector Specialist for the Asian Development Bank, underscored “the importance of having national strategies for financial inclusion and having them be evidence-based. These are important…both as a donor individually and for

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

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: EFSE Loans $16m to Halkbank for Housing, Microenterprise, Small-business Lending in Macedonia

The European Fund for Southeast Europe, a microfinance investment vehicle that was launched by Germany’s KfW Development Bank, announced today that it has issued senior loans totaling EUR 15 million (USD 16 million) to Halkbank AD Skopje, which describes itself as Macedonia’s “first downscaling bank,

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

MICROFINANCE EVENT: European Microfinance Summit; January 26 – 27, 2017; Barcelona, Spain

Event Name: European Microfinance Summit

Event Date: January 26 – 27, 2017

Event Location: Paseo García Faria 37-47, Barceló Atenea Mar Hotel, Barcelona, Spain

Summary of Event: Speakers will discuss where microfinance may be headed and the impact it has on both developed and developing countries. The schedule

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Welcome Financial Group Acquires, Renames Green Central Microfinance of Cambodia

South Korea’s Welcome Financial Group (WFG) recently rebranded Cambodia’s Green Central Microfinance Limited as Welcome Finance (Cambodia). WFG closed its acquisition of the microlender after receiving central bank approval for the transaction in April. While the purchase price and the identity of the seller are not available, Green Central was held by

MICROFINANCE EVENT: HBS-Accion Program on Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance; April 17 – 22, 2017; Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Event Name: Harvard Business School–Accion Program on Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance

Event Date: April 17 – 22, 2017

Event Location: Harvard Business School, Soldiers Field, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Summary of Event: This week-long program will cover approaches financial inclusion executives can take to address “industry change, managing competition, organization growth, and creating economic and social value.” [1] Past iterations

SPECIAL REPORT: Realizing Potential and Minimizing Risk through Client Protection and Developing Financial Capability in Southeast Asia

ABanking With the Poor Network diverse set of panelists at this session of the Mekong Financial Inclusion Forum agreed that providing financial education can be expensive and yet often fails to produce measurable outcomes. Jayshree Venkatesan, a financial inclusion consultant, stated that “results from financial literacy campaigns are at best mixed.” Shane Nichols, Program Director for Good Return, said that the rise of randomized controlled trials has helped his organization discover that although “we used to do pre- and post-tests showing people gained knowledge…sustained behavior-change was virtually non-existent.”

Ms. Venkatesan explained that “there are a number of things that limit these efforts. They cost a lot of money. Most of these tend to be

MICROFINANCE EVENT: Committing to Action: Accelerating Financial Inclusion through Partnership in Uganda; January 17 – 18, 2017; Kampala, Uganda

Event Name: Committing to Action: Accelerating Financial Inclusion through Partnership in Uganda

Event Date: January 17 – 18, 2017

Event Location: City Royal Resort Hotel, Kampala, Uganda

Summary of Event: This event will focus on the current state of financial inclusion in Uganda. On Day 1 speakers will discuss methods for increasing the presence of women in the workplace, implementing digital solutions, and “product development for rural outreach and agriculture” [1]. Day 2 will focus on

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank, Armeconombank (AEB) Borrow $8.7m via Symbiotics’ Bond Platform to Benefit SMEs in Armenia

Switzerland-based Symbiotics SA, which specializes in micro-, small and medium-sized enterprise investment, recently issued bonds for two Armenian banks: USD 5 million for ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank and USD 3.7 million for Armeconombank (AEB). The latter was the second of two tranches this year totaling USD 10 million for AEB. All of these transactions were intermediated through

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Islamic Development Bank’s ICD, Dragon Capital to Develop Sharia-compliant Investment “Silk-way Growth Fund” for SMEs in Kazakhstan

The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), a development finance institution of the Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB), and Dragon Capital Partners, the venture capital and private equity arm of Ukraine-based Dragon Capital Group, recently announced the intention to develop the Silk-way Growth Fund, a Sharia-compliant investment fund benefitting “high growth” small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in manufacturing in Kazakhstan.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Banque Atlantique, Express Union, MTN, WorldRemit to Offer Digital Remittance Services in Cameroon

WorldRemit, a UK-based online money transfer service, recently announced that it will partner with Mobile Telecommunications Network Group (MTN), a South Africa-based telecommunications provider; Express Union, a Cameroon-based financial services firm; and Banque Atlantique, a Togo-based retail bank, to offer digital remittance services in Cameroon.

MICROFINANCE EVENT: Geodata for Inclusive Finance and Food; February 16, 2017; Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Event Name: Geodata for Inclusive Finance and Food

Event Date: February 16, 2017

Event Location: Hulstkamp Gebouw, Maaskade 116, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Cost: This event is open by invitation only.

Summary of Event: This event will address how “geodata” can be used to expand inclusive finance and food security.

MICROFINANCE EVENT: Digital Financial Services: Are We Realising Their Full Potential?; January 19, 2017; London, UK

Event Name: Digital Financial Services: Are We Realising Their Full Potential?

Event Date: January 19, 2017

Event Location: Citigroup Centre, 33 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, UK

Cost: There is no registration fee, but in order to attend you must purchase a membership to the Financial Inclusion Forum unless it is your first time at one of the organization’s events.

Summary of Event: This event will address concerns regarding digital financial services and how to move beyond the focus on payments to increase the availability and usage of savings, credit and insurance.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: UN’s Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) Provides $10m to The Currency Exchange Fund (TCX) to Subsidize Third-party Lending in Local Currency to Microfinance Institutions in Myanmar

The Currency Exchange Fund (TCX), which is based in the Netherlands, recently raised USD 10 million from the UN-managed Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) to reduce the cost of foreign-exchange hedging for “impact lenders” funding microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Myanmar. TCX provides this hedging service, absorbing the currency-exchange risk on the loans, so the lenders can commit US dollars while the MFIs access funding denominated in kyat. Via multiple microloan repayment cycles over three years, the MFIs are expected to gain sufficient liquidity from the LIFT-supported facility to fund

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: C-Quadrat’s Dual Return Vision Microfinance Funds Loan $22m in Burkina Faso, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Paraguay, Sri Lanka

Austria’s C-Quadrat Asset Management informed MicroCapital today that its Dual Return Vision Microfinance and Dual Return Vision Microfinance-Local Currency funds loaned a total approximately equivalent to USD 22 million during November to unspecified microfinance institutions (MFIs) in