MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Fiji’s National Financial Inclusion Taskforce (NFIT), Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF), Pacific Financial Inclusion Program (PFIP) Make Progress Towards 2014 Goal of Financial Inclusion for 150k Unbanked Citizens

Fiji’s National Financial Inclusion Taskforce (NFIT), a committee formed in 2010 by the country’s national bank the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) and the Pacific Financial Inclusion Program (PFIP), a program established with the intent of increasing access to financial services among low-income households in the Pacific Islands, reportedly has reached 87 percent of its goal of extending financial services to 150,000 unbanked citizens in the country by 2014 [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Western Union, eTranzact Launch Mobile Money Product in Nigeria

The Western Union Company, a US-based financial services company, reportedly is partnering with eTranzact, a Nigeria-based mobile money service provider, to launch a mobile money service in Nigeria. The service is expected to allow customers on the eTranzact mobile money platform, PocketMoni, to receive mobile money transfers from 23 “sender” countries using their mobile phones. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: People’s Bank of China (PBC) Reports Growth of Microcredit Sector in Country

The People’s Bank of China (PBC), the central bank of the People’s Republic of China, has reported significant growth in the country’s microcredit sector over the past three years, with the number of microcredit companies reaching approximately 7,000 and the total outstanding loans reaching CNY 700 billion (USD 115 billion) at the end of June 2013 in China [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: IndiaFirst Life Insurance to Offer Pension Products and Microinsurance

IndiaFirst Life Insurance Company Limited, a joint venture backed by two public-sector Indian banks and the local arm of the UK-based Legal and General Group, reportedly has announced plans to start offering pension products and microinsurance during the financial year 2013-14 following the release of the updates to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) guidelines on microinsurance, according to a statement attributed to the IndiaFirst Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer P. Nandagopal [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Applications Open for Citi Foundation’s Indian Micro Enterprise Awards 2013

Citi Foundation, the charitable arm of US-based financial services provider Citigroup that provides grants for small and growing businesses, in partnership with Access Development Services, an Indian nonprofit consultant to microfinance institutions (MFIs), has opened applications for the 10th annual Citi Micro Enterprise Awards, which aim to recognize and honor microenterprises in India that have generated employment and reduced poverty in their communities [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Transition Fund Grants $11m to Moroccan Youth Microentrepreneurship Projects

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Transition Fund, a financial intermediary fund established by the US-based World Bank in 2012 that provides grants to help countries implement social reforms, has sponsored a total of USD 11 million in grants for two projects that will aim to assist approximately 5,000 Moroccan youths with starting their own businesses and micro-enterprises [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Belgium’s Incofin Investment Management, Amsterdam’s Agora Microfinance Collect Equity Stakes in Cambodia’s Angkor Mikroheranhvatho Kampuchea

Incofin Investment Management, a Belgium-based microfinance investment fund manager, and Agora Microfinance NV (AMNV), an Amsterdam-based microfinance holding company, have acquired minority stakes in Angkor Mikroheranhvatho Kampuchea (AMK), a microfinance institution (MFI) that distributes loans to approximately 300,000 clients in Cambodia [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Considers $27m Loan to BaltCap Private Equity Fund II for Small, Medium-Sized Enterprises in the Baltic Region

The UK-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) recently revealed the pending approval of a EUR 20 million (USD 26.7 million) loan facility for the BaltCap Private Equity Fund II for investments in equity-related securities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small and mid-cap enterprises (SMCs) in the Baltic region. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Loans $6m to Asian MFIs ASA Philippines Foundation, Mitra Bisnis Keluarga Ventura of Indonesia

Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), a UK-based financial services company, recently notified MicroCapital that it has disbursed a total local-currency equivalent of USD 5.7 million to ASA Philippines Foundation (ASA) and Mitra Bisnis Keluarga Ventura (MBK) of Indonesia. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Rwanda’s Bank of Kigali Announces New ‘mVisa’ Mobile Banking Service

The Bank of Kigali (BK), a commercial bank based in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, reportedly has announced the development of a new mobile banking product, ‘mVisa’, that is expected to allow rural populations to gain access to banking services that historically have been inaccessible to rural Rwandans. According to a statement attributed to Lawson Naibo, the chief operations officer of BK, the service will aim to allow rural clients to easily access their bank account through their mobile phone and encourage higher banking participation rates in rural Rwandan communities where bank branches are often not present. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Loans $13m to Indian MFIs Janalakshmi Financial Services Private Limited, Ujjivan Financial Services Private Limited

Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), a UK-based financial services company, recently notified MicroCapital that it has disbursed local-currency loans equivalent to USD 13 million to Janalakshmi Financial Services Private Limited (JFS) and Ujjivan Financial Services Private Limited (UFS). Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Austria’s Absolute Portfolio Management Issues Credits Worth $4m to Microfinance Institutions in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Georgia, Honduras, Indonesia

In July 2013, Absolute Portfolio Management (APM), an Austria-based asset management company that offers investment and advisory services to microfinance institutions, issued approximately USD 4 million in credit to microfinance institutions (MFIs) located in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Georgia, Honduras and Indonesia through its two microfinance funds, Dual Return Fund – Vision Microfinance and Dual Return Fund – Vision Microfinance Local Currency [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: World Council of Credit Unions Publishes Islamic Operations Manual for Shariah-compliant Credit Unions

The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), a US-based association of credit union trade groups in 54 countries, recently published the “Islamic Finance Manual: Operating Policies and Procedures,” a guide that is intended to assist bankers with establishing Shariah-compliant credit unions in developing countries. The Shariah, which is alternatively referred to as “Islamic law,” prohibits interest payments and fees, so Islamic banking is centered instead on the concept of joint venture and profit sharing. The manual was developed by the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA), an Australia-based member organization of WOCCU, based on COBA’s experience establishing Islamic investment and finance cooperatives in Afghanistan since 2004. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Foundation, Grameen Bank, Brazil Foods (BRF) to Invest in Small Businesses, Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Haiti

Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Muhammad Yunus reportedly announced in June 2013 a new partnership between the Grameen Foundation, a US-based nonprofit of which Yunus serves is a board member, the Grameen Bank, a Bangladesh-based microfinance institution (MFI) founded by Dr Yunus, and Brazil Foods (BRF), a Brazil-based food production and processing company, to offer an unspecified amount of money through microfinance loans to small businesses in Haiti that are engaged in the production of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), particularly in the poultry industry [1,2]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: WorldRemit Launches Direct Worldwide Money Transfer Service through Telesom’s Zaad Service

WorldRemit Limited, a UK-based online money transfer service that enables customers to send remittances to family and friends in approximately 100 receiving countries, reportedly has partnered with Somaliland-based communications company Telesom’s Zaad, a mobile banking service that allows customers to use their mobile phones for money transfers and purchases, to launch a mobile money transfer program. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Money Lenders Association of Ghana Signs Memorandum of Understanding to Provide Members with Microinsurance Products

The Money Lenders Association of Ghana (MLAG), an umbrella organization for 350 money-lending organizations in the country, and Star Microinsurance Services Limited, a company that provides microinsurance products to low-income households in Ghana, reportedly have signed a memorandum of understanding to provide MLAG’s clients with microinsurance products, including a funeral policy, micro-healthcare policy and a child education policy [1]. Continue reading

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Announces Regulations on Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in Nepal to Increase Financial Inclusion of the Unbanked

The Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), Nepal’s central banking authority, recently announced new regulations for microfinance institutions (MFIs) that aim to increase the financial inclusion of unbanked districts in the country. Continue reading