MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Symbiotics Issues Bonds Totaling $9.3m to Prasac of Cambodia, AccessBank Azerbaijan 

Symbiotics Group, a Swiss for-profit provider of investment and business services, recently issued bonds totaling USD 9.3 million to Prasac, a Cambodian microfinance institution (MFI), and AccessBank Azerbaijan, a microfinance bank (MFB) in Azerbaijan. Continue reading

SPECIAL REPORT: Rural Action Group Discusses Product Ecosystems, Marital Strife at European Microfinance Week

The Rural Outreach & Innovation Action Group of the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) met today as part of a full day of Action Group meetings at European Microfinance Week, which is being hosted in Luxembourg by e-MFP, a 130-member NGO. Michael Tarazi, a senior financial sector specialist at CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) argued against pushing lending products on new rural clients, instead proposing a multi-stage approach. For example, farmers can be offered mobile phones for free, with the promise of receiving information such as crop management suggestions via SMS (text message). Then crop buyers can purchase access to the farmers’ phones, such as to request the preparation of a wholesale load of crops from a group of the farmers at a given price. This can increase the income of the farmers, putting them in a better position to repay future loans for improvements to their processes. As Mr Tarazi put it, “Finance comes at the end; first you develop the digital ecosystem with other valued services such as information.” Continue reading

SPECIAL REPORT: At European Microfinance Week, University Meets Microfinance Action Group Presenting Awards for Papers on Impact Assessment, Downscaling via Banking Agents

Today, the University Meets Microfinance Action Group of the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) is presenting awards of EUR 500 (USD 620) each to students Hayyan Alia for “A Modified Household Economic Portfolio Model for Assessing Impact of Microfinance Using Diaries” and Eike Haas for his paper titled “Do Agent-assisted Banking Beyond Branches Channels Decrease Costs in Downscaling? A Qualitative and Quantitative Review.” The group also met earlier in the day as part of the series of Action Group meetings held during the first day of European Microfinance Week, which is hosted by e-MFP, a 130-member NGO located in Luxembourg. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) Mutually Reinforcing Institutions, Microcredit Summit Campaign, Freedom from Hunger Partner to Launch “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies” in Effort to Reach 600k Filipino Women

The Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI), a group of organizations in the Philippines that includes CARD Bank; the Microcredit Summit Campaign, a US-based advocacy organization; and Freedom from Hunger, a US-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that offers financial and health protection services in 23 countries, launched the program “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies,” which is expected to provide maternal health services to 600,000 Filipino women. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Considers $31m Investment in Green for Growth Fund (GGF) for Energy-Efficiency Financing

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a UK-based multilateral financial institution, is in the final stage of considering an investment totaling EUR 25 million (USD 31 million) in The Green for Growth Fund, Southeast Europe (GGF), a Germany-based fund that invests in energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy sources. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Dianrong.com to Expand Peer-to-Peer Lending to Small Businesses in China Via Joint Venture With Bank of Suzhou

The Bank of Suzhou Limited, a Chinese commercial bank, has announced that it will collaborate with Dianrong.com, a Chinese peer-to-peer lending platform, to build a website to intermediate loans from members of the public to micro- and small enterprises. Continue reading

SPECIAL REPORT: A Risk Management “Graduation Model” for Microfinance

MicroCapital: You will be speaking in a few days at European Microfinance Week. How will you describe the state of risk management within microfinance and where it fits in the broader context of the industry?

Kevin Fryatt: In the last several years, we have seen a lot of focus on new technology and serving clients better through new product development, savings mobilization and agent networks, amongst other avenues. Similarly, institutions’ balance sheets are getting increasingly diverse in the types of funding they are sourcing. But within this, the conversation of risk management isn’t happening. There’s a sense of cynicism within the leadership of microfinance institutions (MFIs) toward risk management. It is often misunder-stood and confused with the roles of internal audit or compliance. It is often very difficult to quantify the value of risk management. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Absolute Portfolio Management’s Vision Microfinance Funds Loan $1.5m to Microfinance Institution in Ecuador

Absolute Portfolio Management (APM), an arm of Austria-based asset management group C-Quadrat, recently informed MicroCapital that it has disbursed credits worth approximately USD 1.5 million to an unspecified microfinance institution (MFI) in Ecuador from its Vision Microfinance funds – the Dual Return Fund-Vision Microfinance and the Dual Return Fund-Vision Microfinance Local Currency [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: The MasterCard Foundation Commits $25m to Expand UN Capital Development Fund’s Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) Program

The MasterCard Foundation, a Canadian nonprofit that aims to promote youth learning and financial inclusion in Africa and other emerging markets, has partnered with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), a UN initiative to increase access to microfinance and other forms of investment capital for small businesses and individuals in developing countries, to expand the UNCDF Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) program. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Green for Growth Fund, Southeast Europe (GGF) Lends $5m to Muganbank of Azerbaijan for On-Lending to Micro-, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) for Energy Efficiency Projects

The Green for Growth Fund, Southeast Europe (GGF), a Germany-based fund that invests in energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy sources, recently disbursed a senior loan totaling USD 5 million to Muganbank, a financial institution that offers retail and corporate banking services in Azerbaijan, to on-lend to finance energy-efficient measures to be taken by households and micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: VisionFund Selling Georgian Microfinance Institution (MFI) Credo to Impact Investors AccessHolding, responsAbility, Triodos

VisionFund International, a subsidiary of US-based, Christian NGO World Vision International, recently received approval from the National Bank of Georgia to sell its stake in Microfinance Organization Credo, LLC (Credo), to “a consortium of social impact investors” including Access Microfinance Holding AG (AccessHolding), a holding company based in Germany that specializes in microfinance investments; responsAbility Investments AG (responsAbility), a company based in Zurich that primarily invests in developing economies; and Triodos Investment Management BV (Triodos), a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Triodos Bank. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Technology Recognized as Tool to Improve Property Rights, Payment Platforms, Reduce Transaction Costs at International Monetary Fund (IMF) Seminar: “Future of Finance – Technology and Financial Inclusion”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), a US-based arm of the United Nations, and the US-based World Bank Group, recently held a seminar on technology and financial inclusion as part of its seminar series entitled “The Future of Finance,” panelists discussed the role of technology as a tool to amend market failures in the provision of financial services for low-income people such as via the documentation of property rights and reductions in transaction costs. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Hivos-Triodos Fund (HTF) Loans $3.1m to India’s IntelleGrow for Loans to Small, Medium-Sized Enterprises

The Hivos-Triodos Fund (HTF), a Netherlands-based microfinance investment vehicle, recently loaned EUR 2.5 million (USD 3.1 million) to IntelleGrow, an Indian nonbank financial company that specializes in making loans to small and medium-sized “social enterprises” in the agriculture, clean energy, education, financial, healthcare, sanitation and water sectors. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Spain’s Gawa Capital Partners Launches Global Financial Inclusion Fund for Investing in Microfinance Institutions

Gawa Capital Partners, a Spain-based investment firm specializing in microfinance funds, recently announced its launch of The Global Financial Inclusion Fund, which is slated to invest in microfinance institutions that provide financial services such as loans, microinsurance and savings accounts. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Microfinance Enhancement Facility (MEF) Raises $25m via German Bank Gemeinschaftsbank für Leihen und Schenken (GLS)

Gemeinschaftsbank für Leihen und Schenken (GLS), a German bank that focuses on investing in social and ecological projects, has received USD 25 million from unspecified private investors to contribute to the Microfinance Enhancement Facility (MEF), a Luxembourg-based fund that aims to support the growth of microfinance institutions active in the trade, service and agriculture sectors in developing countries by providing them with refinancing liquidity. Continue reading

MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: The Broadband Effect: Enhancing Market-based Solutions for the Base of the Pyramid, Strengthening Regulated SACCO Societies in Kenya, Microfinance Barometer

“The Broadband Effect: Enhancing Market-based Solutions for the Base of the Pyramid;” by Olivier Kayser, Lucie Klarsfeld and Simon Brossard; published by the Inter-American Development Bank; September 2014; available at http://www.iadb.org/en/publications/publication-detail,7101.html?id=75634

This report examines how private companies are using broadband, a high-capacity internet connection, to improve the efficiency and reach of their operations that are geared towards the “base of the pyramid (BOP) markets” [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Développement International Desjardins (DiD) Loans $1m to Microfinance Institution Arnur of Kazakhstan

Développement international Desjardins (DiD), a Canada-based nonprofit organization that focuses on providing technical support and investment to community financial institutions, recently granted a loan of USD 1 million to Arnur Credit, a Kazakhstan-based microfinance institution (MFI) that focuses on agribusiness and individuals living in rural areas. Continue reading