SPECIAL REPORT: June 3 is Deadline to Apply for $106k Sixth European Microfinance Award: “Microfinance in Post-Disaster, Post-Conflict Areas and Fragile States”

Through June 3, the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP), a Luxembourg-based network of approximately 130 microfinance organizations and individuals, is accepting applications for the Sixth European Microfinance Award, which will include a cash prize of EUR 100,000 (USD 106,000). This year’s award aims to recognize providers of financial services in post-disaster, post-conflict and fragile states. Successful applicants will illustrate their strategy for increasing “both their own resilience and that of their clients,” while highlighting how these services will respond to the immediate, medium- and long-term needs of clients in afflicted areas. To qualify, an institution must be based in a developing country and obtain a letter of support from a member of e-MFP. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Loans $16m to Indian Microfinance Institution (MFI) Janalakshmi Financial Services

The Indian unit of UK-based commercial institution Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) recently notified MicroCapital that it has disbursed a loan of INR 985 million (USD 15.5 million) to Janalakshmi Financial Services (JFS), an Indian microfinance institution (MFI). Continue reading

MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: Driving Scale, Agent Network Density in Peru; Youth Banking in the Dominican Republic; Aging, Financial Inclusion in Colombia

“Aging and Financial Inclusion: An Opportunity;” published by HelpAge International and Accion’s Center for Financial Inclusion; 2015; 40 pages; available at https://centerforfinancialinclusionblog.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/aging_and_financial_inclusion_an_opportunity.pdf

This report highlights various barriers and opportunities in providing financial services to older people and helping younger people plan for old age, focusing on middle-income countries, in particular Colombia. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: EFSE Lends $7.8m to Microfinance Institutions Mikrofin of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Opportunity Bank Serbia

The European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE), a Luxembourg-based microfinance investment vehicle focusing on Southeast Europe and Central Asia, recently invested in two microfinance institutions (MFIs) in an effort to support micro- and small enterprises: Mikrofin, an MFI in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a network of 64 offices; and Opportunity Bank Serbia (OBS), a member of US-based Opportunity International, which is active in 22 countries. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Voyager Innovation, Cash Credit to Offer Mobile Consumer Microloans in the Philippines via Smart Communication

Voyager Innovation, a tech company wholly owned by the Philippine wireless service provider Smart Communications, is partnering with the Bulgaria-based finance company Cash Credit to provide mobile-based consumer loans to approximately 75 million Smart Communication subscribers [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Grameen Capital India Raises Undisclosed Sum to Loan to Social Enterprises

Grameen Capital India, a Mumbai-based social business, recently raised fresh investment funds to provide debt finance for social enterprises in India from new investors including Ratan Tata, the former chairman of the India-based conglomerate Tata Group; Shrinivas Dempo, the chairman of Indian mining company Dempo Group; and Indian investment banker Vikram Gandhi. This is in addition to additional funds sourced from existing investors, the US-based nonprofit organization Grameen Foundation and two individual Indian investors, Amit Patni and Arihant Patni [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Bamboo Finance Raises $31m to Complete First Close of Financial Inclusion Fund II with Plans to Grow Savings Options

Bamboo Finance, a Luxembourg-based commercial investment firm, recently announced the first close of Financial Inclusion Fund II at USD 31 million, with the slate of investors including US-based financial services company Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) and European-based asset management company AXA Investment Managers (AXA IM). Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Loans $6m to Indian Microfinance Institution (MFI) Sonata Finance

The Indian unit of UK-based commercial financial institution Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) recently notified MicroCapital that it has disbursed a loan of INR 370 million (USD 5.8 million) to Sonata Finance Private Limited, an Indian microfinance institution (MFI) that serves India’s northern states. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Money Transfer Startups Bitpesa, Igot Leverage Bitcoin to Reduce Price of Remittances

Currency exchange companies such as Kenya’s BitPesa and Australia’s Igot are tapping into remittance markets such as Kenya’s, which reached a volume of USD 1.43 billion in 2014, by using Bitcoin transfers to undercut the fees charged by firms such as US-based Western Union to deliver money across national borders.  Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Accion, Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO), Triodos to Acquire Myanmar’s Dawn Microfinance for $7m

Accion, a US-based microfinance NGO; Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO), a Dutch public-private partnership that aims to promote growth in developing economies; and Triodos Investment Management, a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Triodos Bank, have announced plans to invest a total of USD 6.85 million in Dawn Microfinance, a Myanmar-based microfinance institution (MFI).

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MICROFINANCE EVENT: African Microfinance Week (Semaine Africaine de la Microfinance), June 29 – July 3, 2015, Dakar, Senegal, With On-site Reporting by MicroCapital

Event Name: African Microfinance Week (Semaine Africaine de la Microfinance) 2015

Event Dates: June 29 – July 3, 2015

Location: King Fahd Palace Conference Center, Dakar, Senegal

Event Summary: The second annual African Microfinance Week will center around “accelerating innovative rural finance in Africa,” providing practitioners with a venue for exchanging ideas and reflecting on the trajectory of the industry. The event is designed to improve “the synergies” between the Benin-based African Microfinance Network (AFMIN), an association of 21 national microfinance networks; the African Microfinance Transparency Forum (AMT), a South Africa-based group that aims to strengthen the performance of African microfinance institutions (MFIs); the African Rural & Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA), a Kenya-based group of 105 central banks, retail financial service providers and microfinance networks; and the Microfinance African Institutions Network (MAIN), a Cote d’Ivoire-based NGO with 71 members. The program is sponsored by the governments of Senegal and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg with support from the US-based Citi Foundation; the Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank; the United Nations Capital Development Fund; and Microfact, a nonprofit, web-based platform that provides toolkits for building the capacity of MFIs. The week will include plenary sessions, trainings, an investors’ fair and the general assemblies of AFMIN and MAIN. The primary languages of the event will be French and English. MicroCapital will provide sponsored, onsite coverage of selected sessions. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Safaricom, Vodacom Partner to Support Cross-Border Mobile Money Transactions Between Kenya, Tanzania via M-Pesa

Safaricom, a Kenya-based telecommunications company, has partnered with South Africa-based telecommunications firm Vodacom to offer cross-border transactions via M-Pesa, a mobile money service developed by UK-based telecom company Vodafone, which is a majority shareholder in both Safaricom and Vodacom.  Continue reading