MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Fonds pour l’inclusion Financière en République Démocratique du Congo (FPM) Receives Authorization from Central Bank of the Congo to Issue Wholesale Financing to Lenders Serving Micro-, Small, Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs)

Fonds pour l’inclusion Financière en République Démocratique du Congo (FPM) SA, a nonprofit organization based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that was formerly known as Fonds de Promotion de la Microfinance, recently received authorization to operate as a financial company from the Central Bank of the Congo, DRC’s central banking authority. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: European Fund for Southeast Europe Loans $23m to Burgan Bank of Turkey for Rural MSMEs

The European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE), a Luxembourg-based investor in the development of local financial sectors in Southeast Europe and parts of Central Asia, recently informed MicroCapital that it has loaned EUR 20 million (USD 23 million) to Burgan Bank Turkey, a retail bank that is part of Kuwait’s Burgan Bank Group. The funds are to be on-lent on a “long-term” basis to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises in rural areas of the country. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Amret Microfinance, Econet Wireless, myAgro, Urwego Opportunity Bank to Engage Human-Centered Design Firms to Improve Digital Financial Services for Smallholder Farmers in Cambodia, Africa

CGAP (The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), a US-based nonprofit that aims to facilitate the expansion of financial access, recently selected the following financial service providers to receive an unspecified level of support from human-centered design firms to improve their digital financial services for small-scale farmers: (1) Amret Microfinance, a Cambodian microfinance institution; (2) the Zimbabwean arm of South African mobile network operator Econet Wireless and US-based relief and development nonprofit Mercy Corps; (3) myAgro, a nonprofit organization in Mali that sells agricultural inputs via mobile technology; and (4) Urwego Opportunity Bank (UOB), a microfinance institution that was created as a result of a merger between Urwego Community Banking and Opportunity International Bank of Rwanda [1]. While the Econet-Mercy partnership will engage human-centered design firm Ideo.org, the other three programs have not yet released the names of the organizations with which they will work.  Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Sanad Fund for MSME Loans $5m to Enda Inter-Arabe to Serve More Low-income Microentrepreneurs in Tunisia

The Sanad Fund for MSME (micro-, small and medium-sized enterprise), a Germany-based provider of “medium- and long-term” and equity financing in the Middle East and North Africa, recently agreed to loan the equivalent of USD 5 million in local currency to Enda Inter-Arabe, to help it expand its lending into additional underserved areas of Tunisia.

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: European Fund for Southeast Europe Loans $23m to AccessBank of Azerbaijan for Rural MSMEs

The European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE), a Luxembourg-based investor in the development of local financial sectors in Southeast Europe and parts of Central Asia, recently informed MicroCapital that it has loaned EUR 20 million (USD 23 million) to AccessBank, an organization founded in 2002 to provide credit and other financial services to Azerbaijan’s smaller businesses and low-income families. The funds are to be on-lent to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises in rural areas of the country. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Triodos Fair Share, Triodos Microfinance Funds to Invest Debt, Equity in India’s Janalakshmi, Kazakhstan’s KazMicroFinance, Kyrgyzstan’s Kompanion

Two microfinance investment vehicles managed by a unit of the Netherlands’ Triodos Bank, the Triodos Fair Share Fund (TFSF), and the Triodos Microfinance Fund (TMF), have agreed to invest jointly in the following organizations: (1) Janalakshmi Financial Services (JFS), a Bangalore-based microfinance institution (MFI) that will borrow USD 11.4 million to expand its financing of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in India; (2) KazMicroFinance (KMF), which is reportedly the largest MFI in Kazakhstan and will sell the Triodos funds stakes totaling 13.7 percent of the organization’s shares; and (3) Kompanion Financial Group, an MFI in Kyrgyzstan that will sell the funds stakes totaling 17.5 percent of the organization’s shares as it seeks to transform from a community development financial institution into a microfinance bank [1] [2] [3]. Kompanion also sold a 17.5-percent stake to Dutch public-private development bank FMO; Mercy Corps, the founder of Kompanion, is retaining 65-percent ownership of the institution. The prices paid for the equity stakes in KMF and Kompanion have not been released. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: AccessHolding Enters Latin America Acquiring 93% Equity Stake in Accion Microfinancas of Brazil

Access Microfinance Holding AG (AccessHolding), a German company that invests in microfinance institutions (MFIs), recently announced that it has acquired 93 percent of the equity in Accion Microfinancas SCMEPP SA, a Brazilian MFI that operates as a subsidiary of US-based nonprofit Accion. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: IFC, Goldman Sachs Deliver Business Training, $80m in Loan Funds Via Alibaba’s Ant Credit to Support Women Entrepreneurs in China

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the US-based World Bank Group that offers financial services to businesses and governments in developing countries with the aim of increasing economic growth, will provide a senior loan of RMB 500 million (USD 80 million) to Ant Credit, the business-lending division of Ant Financial Services Group, which is an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba [1]. The funds will be used to provide credit lines to Chinese women who have online business. Ant Credit will on-lend these funds via the internet after assessing potential borrower’s “transactional and behavioral data” from their online business. The funds will be provided through the Goldman Sachs “10,000 Women” Program, which was launched in 2008 to teach business skills and facilitate access to capital for 10,000 women living in low- and moderate-income countries [2]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Sanad Fund for MSME Expands into Yemen with $3m Loan to Al-Amal Microfinance Bank

The Sanad Fund for MSME (micro-, small and medium-sized enterprise), a Germany-based fund providing medium- and long-term debt and equity financing in the Middle East and North Africa, recently disbursed a senior loan of USD 3 million to Al-Amal Microfinance Bank (AMB), a nonprofit minority-held by the government of Yemen, to support micro- and small enterprises (MSE) in the country. Continue reading

MICROFINANCE EVENT: Responsible Digital Finance; March 16, 2015; Frankfurt, Germany

Event Name: Responsible Digital Finance: Global and Local Perspectives on Emerging Opportunities and Risks

Event Date: March 16, 2015

Event Location: Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Frankfurt, Germany

Cost: There is no fee to attend the event, although participants must register in advance.

Summary of Event: Attendees will discuss the opportunities and challenges of implementing digital finance services in developing countries, such as the need for transparent and safe digital products tailor-made for low-income segments of the population living in remote areas. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: TBC Bank to Acquire ProCredit Bank Georgia’s Microcredit Portfolio

TBC Bank, a commercial bank that was founded in 1992 in Georgia as the Tblisi Business Centre, reportedly will acquire the microcredit portfolio of ProCredit Bank Georgia (PCBG), a financial institution that is majority-owned by Germany-based ProCredit Holding. As of January 2015, PCBG’s gross microloan portfolio amounted to GEL 39.3 million (USD 19.2 million). These loans, defined as those smaller than EUR 10,000 (USD 11,300), represent 5 percent of PCBG’s total loan portfolio. The purpose of the move is to allow PCBG to concentrate on the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Orange, Ecobank Partner to Launch Mobile Money Service in Mali with Plans to Expand Across Africa

Orange, a French provider of telephone and Internet service in 30 countries, and EcoBank Transnational Incorporated (EcoBank), a Togo-based bank operating in 28 countries, recently launched a mobile banking service that will enable Orange Money subscribers to transfer money between Ecobank accounts. As of February 5, both companies signed a partnership agreement to launch the service in Mali, and they plan to expand to Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry, Niger, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the future. Customers also will be able to check their account balances, receive “mini-statements” via short message service (SMS, also known as text messaging) and top-up their Orange Money e-wallets [1].  Continue reading

SPECIAL FEATURE: Are Microfinance Institutions and Investors Removed from Business Reality?

This opinion piece was contributed by David MacDougall, a consultant based in the US city of New York.

Microfinance inspires optimism. Investors – especially private equity investors – anticipate handsome returns; aid agencies see strong social impact; and microfinance institution (MFI) managers are certain they can grow themselves out of every tight situation. While microfinance can play an important role in development, most MFIs nevertheless are relatively simple financial institutions that need to be grounded in sound market and business principles rather than pie-in-the-sky expectations. These “Business 101″ principles, which may sound like common sense truisms, in my experience, have not trickled down to many MFIs. In over 10 years of examining the viability of MFI business models as an analyst and risk manager, I have seen decision makers fail again and again to do reality checks. What’s still urgently needed is sound market analysis and professional risk management. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Decree in Belarus Requires Microfinance Organizations to Register with National Bank Within 6 Months

The National Bank of the Republic of Belarus (NBRB), the central banking authority of the country, has announced that organizations providing microfinance services in the country have six months to register with the bank to comply with the guidelines set forth in “Decree No. 325,” a presidential order “on the raising and provision of loans, the operation of microfinance organizations” [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to Invest $17m in Equity in European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE) to Support MSME Financing in Ukraine

The German government’s Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) has agreed to invest equity in the amount of EUR 15 million (USD 17 million) in the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE), a Luxembourg-based microfinance investment vehicle (MIV). This new investment, which is in the highest risk “first-loss” tranche of EFSE, raises BMZ’s total commitment to the fund to approximately EUR 175 million (USD 200 million). The infusion will be used to provide local-currency financing to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Ukraine. Continue reading

MICROFINANCE EVENT: Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Winter Meeting; February 10, 2015; New York City, USA

Event Name: Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Winter Meeting

Event Date: February 10, 2015

Event Location: Grand Hyatt New York at Grand Central Terminal, New York, New York, USA

Cost: There is no fee to attend the event, although participants may attend by invitation only.

Summary of Event: The attendees will discuss current world development challenges, such as how to sustainably connect small-farmers with markets, the implementation of long-term investment strategies to build resilient health services, how to decrease skills gaps in the marketplace and methods for protecting and managing water resources. Members will be encouraged to create collective action plans around specific development challenges.  Continue reading