The US Agency for International Development (AID), a government agency that provides international economic and humanitarian assistance, and CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), a US-based, nonprofit that aims to facilitate the expansion of financial access, and The Mastercard Foundation, a Canadian nonprofit that aims to promote youth learning and financial inclusion in emerging markets, recently awarded approximately USD 1 million to ideas42, a US-based nonprofit consulting and behavioral design firm, for the implementation of a SMS text-messaging “push” notification system and voice-based platform that is intended to help microentrepreneurs better manage their finances.
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.
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.
Event Name: Triple Bottom Line Investment (TBLI) Conference Europe 2014
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
Ezetap Mobile Solutions, a Bangalore-based mobile payments service provider, recently announced the launch of a mobile point-of-sale device costing approximately USD 50.
Hatton National Bank (HNB), a private commercial bank in Sri Lanka, reportedly has entered a shareholder agreement through which it will acquire a controlling 51-percent stake in Prime Grameen Micro Finance, a Sri Lankan microfinance institution (MFI).
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.
Morgan Stanley, a US-based international financial services corporation, recently created two “Investing with Impact” portfolios as part of its goal to draw USD 10 billion in client assets towards “sustainable” investing products.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 .