MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Call for Applicants for $227k Ashden International Sustainable Energy Awards Open until November 4, 2014

Ashden, a UK-based nonprofit established in 2001 that promotes the use of sustainable energy, has issued a call for applicants for the 2015 Ashden International Awards, which will recognize development programs with a focus on reducing carbon emissions and increasing access to sustainable energy. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Project Concern International (PCI) to Target 250,000 Additional Women Through Women Empowered (WE) Initiative

Project Concern International (PCI), a US-based non-governmental organization (NGO), recently announced that it plans to scale up the operations of its Women Empowered (WE) initiative by providing approximately 250,000 women, in addition to the 230,000 women it currently serves, with tools and training for their businesses. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Grameen Foundation, MicroEnsure, Penda, Clifford Chance Launch Uzima Health Microinsurance in Kenya

The Grameen Foundation, a US-based nonprofit organization; MicroEnsure, a UK-based, for-profit microinsurance company founded by US-based NGO Opportunity International; Penda Health, a Kenya-based, for-profit chain of medical centers; and Clifford Chance, a UK-based international law firm, recently announced that they have launched an initiative called the “Uzima Project” in Kenya with the aim of providing “low-cost“ health insurance. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Funds Advisory Services for Small, Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Morocco

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a UK-based financial institution that operates in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and North Africa, recently began funding advisory services to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Morocco. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Développement international Desjardins (DID), International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), Proxfin Members Endorse Draft Declaration on Food Security, Job Creation, Access to Healthcare

On the occasion of the recently convened International Summit of Cooperatives, Développement international Desjardins (DID), a Canadian nonprofit corporation that specializes in providing technical support and investment for the community finance sector in emerging economies; the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), a Belgium-based nonprofit with 271 member cooperatives in 94 countries; and microfinance institutions (MFIs) that are members of the Proxfin Network, an international network of 30 community finance institutions coordinated by DID, endorsed a Draft Declaration to tackle the “challenges of food security,” “employment crisis,” and “access to health care and services”[1]. Continue reading

SPECIAL REPORT: Over-indebtedness, Microfinance and Environment Award, Conflict Zones at e-MFP’s European Microfinance Week

MicroCapital: Please describe one of the key issues to be covered this year at European Microfinance Week.

Christoph Pausch: The question of over-indebtedness is still the major risk for the sector, as identified in the most recent Banana Skins survey. We had a very successful plenary last year exploring the issue from a research perspective. This year, we’re taking a very different approach by bringing CEOs of leading microfinance institutions (MFIs) from three countries – Bangladesh, Morocco, and Mexico – to discuss how they’ve been dealing with the issue. Each of these countries has had a different experience, with Bangladesh having successfully averted a potential crisis by slowing market growth (as described in an excellent paper by Stuart Rutherford and Greg Chen). Morocco was one of the original “microfinance crisis” countries during 2008 and 2009, and the MFIs there have had an interesting experience in resolving the problems from that period. Finally, Mexico is a major market with serious concerns regarding over-indebtedness, and MFIs there are working to avert a potential crisis. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: International Finance Corporation (IFC) Loans $15m to Eskhata Bank of Tajikistan to Fund Small, Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-investment arm of the World Bank Group, has announced that it will loan the equivalent of USD 15 million to Eskhata Bank, a commercial bank in Tajikistan. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: International Finance Corporation (IFC) Loans $2m to Al Majmoua of Lebanon for On-Lending to Small Businesses, Female Entrepreneurs

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-investment arm of the World Bank Group, has announced that it will loan USD 2 million to Al Majmoua, a Lebanese nongovernmental organization (NGO) that is also known as the Lebanese Association for Development. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Launches $807m Long-Term Rural Credit Fund

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), a development bank in India that formulates certain credit and banking policies, recently announced the launch of the long-term rural credit fund, which will provide INR 5,000 crores (USD 807 million) for refinancing agricultural loans disbursed by cooperative banks and regional rural banks (RRBs). Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Oxus Raises $4.2m in Equity from Investors including Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) for Expansion in Asia, Africa

The Oxus Group, a French microfinance organization with subsidiaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and three Asian countries, recently raised EUR 3.3 million (USD 4.2 million) in equity through its unit Oxus Holding by selling equity shares to the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), which remains its majority shareholder, and three unnamed retail investors. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE) Loans $19m to Komercijalna banka Beograd of Serbia for Housing Purchases, Improvements

Serbia’s Komercijalna banka Beograd, a bank based in Serbia, recently borrowed EUR 15 million (USD 19.2 million) under a senior loan agreement from the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE), a Luxembourg-based, government-backed microfinance investment vehicle. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: European Bank for Reconstruction (EBRD) Announces Potential $25m Risk-sharing Endeavor with Société Générale Serbia for Rural Microenterprise Financing Via VisionFund’s AgroInvest

The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a multilateral institution headquartered in London, England, recently announced that it is likely to participate in a risk-sharing endeavor totaling RSD 2.3 billion (USD 25 million) with Société Générale Serbia, a subsidiary of the France-based financial institution Société Générale. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: United Nations Global Compact, Gate Global Impact Launch Gateway 2.0 to Fund Socially Responsible Projects

The United Nations (UN) Global Compact, an initiative to encourage businesses to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and Gate Global Impact (GGI), a US-based regulatory-compliant electronic marketplace that focuses on impact investing, have launched Gateway 2.0, a website enabling small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) listed on the UN Global Compact Social Enterprise Hub to access financing for sustainable and “socially responsible” projects [1]. Continue reading

SPECIAL REPORT: Narda Sotomayor on Regulating Microfinance via Proportionality, Financial Education and Mobile Money in Peru

MicroCapital: Can you tell us a bit about your talk planned for European Microfinance Week on “balancing financial inclusion with market stability”?

Narda Sotomayor: A key element to achieve this balance is the principle of proportionality, under which regulations vary based on the risks associated with the product or service in question. For instance, for microloans for businesses with overall debt below PEN 20,000 (USD 7,000), the required documentation is minimal, and loan provision requirements are based only on the number of days any loans are overdue. The lender has the freedom to establish prices to cover its costs, such that institutional sustainability is guaranteed. It was determined that anti-money-laundering rules were making it too costly to open deposit accounts for the poor, mainly because of the heavy burden of “know-your-customer” documentation. Continue reading