Category: Africa

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

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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

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Loans $29m to Government of Uganda in Effort to Bring Financial Inclusion, Improved Nutrition to 576k Rural Households

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an agency of the United Nations that aims to alleviate poverty in rural areas, recently extended a loan of USD 29 million to the government of Uganda to support the Project for Financial Inclusion in Rural Areas (PROFIRA). Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Nigeria’s Bank of Industry (BOI) Earmarks $105m for Micro-, Small, Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in the Country

The Bank of Industry (BOI), which was established by the Nigerian government to promote domestic sectors such as agriculture and finance in Nigeria, recently earmarked NGN 19.8 billion (USD 105 million) to support micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Loans $45.3m to Union bancaire pour le commerce et l’industrie (UBCI) of Tunisia for On-lending to Micro-, Small, Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs)

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a multilateral institution headquartered in London, has announced that it will loan EUR 40 million (USD 45.3 million) to Union bancaire pour le commerce et l’industrie (UBCI), the Tunisian commercial banking subsidiary of BNP Paribas, a French financial group. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Développement international Desjardins (DID) to Establish 4 More Entrepreneur Financial Centers in Tunisia, Elsewhere in Africa, Latin America

Développement international Desjardins (DID), a Canadian nonprofit providing technical support and investment for the community finance sector in emerging economies, has announced that it will establish four new entrepreneur financial centers (EFCs) in Africa and Latin America. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Etisalat, First Bank of Nigeria Merge Easywallet, Firstmonie Mobile Money

Etisalat, a United Arab Emirates-based telecommunications services provider, and First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), a commercial bank based in the Nigerian state of Lagos, recently fused FBN’s “Firstmonie Mobile Money,” a service that allows customers to access their FirstBank accounts as well as transfer funds through their mobile devices [2], and Etisalat’s “Easywallet,” a service allowing money transfers, airtime top-up, and payment for goods and services via mobile phones [3]. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Sanad Fund for MSME Lends $20m to Amen Bank for Very Small, Small, Medium-sized Enterprises in Tunisia

The Sanad Fund for MSME (micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises), a Germany-based fund providing loans in the Middle East and North Africa, recently provided a senior loan of USD 20 million to Amen Bank, a Tunisia-based private commercial bank. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation Loans $1.2m to Oxus DRC, DRC’s Hekima, Burkina Faso’s ACFIME

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation (GCAMF), a Luxembourg-based provider of financial services to microfinance institutions (MFIs) and other social businesses, recently informed MicroCapital that it has issued the following three loans: (1) EUR 630,000 (USD 732,000) over a two-year period to Oxus DRC, a for-profit MFI based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that was launched in 2013 by the France-based Oxus Group; (2) EUR 271,000 (USD 314,000) over a three-year period to Hekima, a nonprofit specialising in providing group loans to “economically active” poor people in eastern DRC; and (3) EUR 198,000 (USD 230,000) over a three-year period to Agence Communautaire pour le Financement de la Micro Entreprise (ACFIME), a microfinance institution serving low-income populations in Burkina Faso [1]. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation Loans $1.2m to Kenya’s Juhudi Kilimo, Uganda Microcredit Foundation (UMF), Uganda’s Encot

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation (GCAMF), a Luxembourg-based provider of financial services to microfinance institutions (MFIs) and other social businesses, recently informed MicroCapital that it has issued the following three loans in local currency equivalent to: (1) EUR 482,000 (USD 555,000) over a two-year period to Juhudi Kilimo, a for-profit provider of microloans and microinsurance in Kenya; (2) EUR 293,000 (USD 339,000) over a three-year period to Uganda Microcredit Foundation (UMF), a microfinance institution offering financial services to “economically active” Ugandans; and (3) EUR 257,000 (USD 297,000) over a three-year period to Encot, a provider of microloans to rural enterprises in Uganda [1].  Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Swaziland Ministry of Finance to Develop Credit Information Sharing Program as Plan to Increase Financial Inclusion to 75% by 2022

Swaziland’s Ministry of Finance reportedly will launch a program to protect Swazi consumers from over-indebtedness by making consumer credit information available to all credit providers in the country, including development finance institutions, microlenders, savings cooperatives and retailers [1]. Another aim of the effort is to lower the cost of credit to support a government effort to increase financial inclusion in the country from 50 percent in 2011 to 75 percent by 2022 [2]. The principal secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Bheki Bhembe, reportedly said that “The project aims to strengthen credit information flow in Swaziland. By so doing, the project aims to increase access to affordable credit among the under-served market segments.” Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Triodos Investment Management Invests in Tunisia’s Enda Inter-Arabe, Uganda’s Entrepreneurs Financial Centre

Triodos Investment Management, a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Triodos Bank, recently disbursed loans of unspecified sizes to Enda Inter-Arabe, a Tunisian financial services provider that is part of Senegal-based non-governmental organization Enda Third-World, and Entrepreneurs Financial Centre (EFC) Uganda, a microfinance institution that provides financial services to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).  Continue reading

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MICROFINANCE PAPER WRAP-UP: Exploring New Frontiers – The Potential of Impact Investments in Microinsurance

By Jeremy Leach, Sandisiwe Ncube and Anand Menon; published by the Microinsurance Network; 2014; 49 pages; available at http://www.microinsurancenetwork.org/sites/default/files/MICRO_NetworkInvestor_PaperWEB.pdf

Microinsurance, a risk mitigation and management tool for people with low incomes, has grown from 78 million lives covered in 2005 to approximately 263 million lives in 2013, with a potential market estimated at 3 billion to 4 billion policies generating USD 30 billion to USD 50 billion in annual premium revenue. Total demand for microinsurance is growing approximately 10 percent per year, which the authors argue points to increasing investment opportunities and a promising business case for investors. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Triodos Sustainable Trade Fund Opens $2m Credit Line for Thai Organic Rice Company Urmatt, Cocoa Producer ICAM Uganda

The Triodos Sustainable Trade Fund, which provides trade finance loans to co-operatives and private companies operating in “sustainable” agricultural value chains, recently opened a credit line for Urmatt Limited, a Thai company producing and processing certified organic rice, and ICAM Chocolate Uganda Limited, a subsidiary of the Italian firm Industria Cioccolato e Affini Morbegno (ICAM) that sources organically grown green cocoa beans directly from local farmers in Uganda. The funding, which is capped at USD 2 million [3], is intended to enable these two companies to pay “fair” prices to farmers and improve their cash flow management [1]. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Egyptian Financial Supervisory Association Regulates Microfinance Companies, Setting $2m Capital Requirement

The Egyptian Financial Supervisory Association (EFSA), a governmental body that supervises and regulates the financial sector in the country, recently issued a resolution regulating the activities undertaken by microfinance companies. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: MasterCard Labs for Financial Inclusion in East Africa Launched with $19m Donation from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

MasterCard, a US-based global payments and technology company, recently announced that it is launching the MasterCard Labs for Financial Inclusion, which is intended to generate new ideas and financial tools to promote financial inclusion in East Africa via a three-year grant in the amount of USD 11 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a US-based nonprofit that supports innovations in health, education and other fields. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Access Bank, Airtel Nigeria Collaborate to Launch “Access Money” Mobile Money Service

Access Bank Plc, a Nigerian commercial bank with branches in nine African countries and the UK, recently partnered with Airtel Nigeria, a subsidiary of India-based Airtel Limited, to launch a mobile money service named Access Money. Continue reading

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MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), The MasterCard Foundation Award $900k to Advans Cote d’Ivoire, MFS Africa, Money Express for Branchless Banking Projects in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal

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 Canada-based nonprofit that aims to promote youth learning and financial inclusion in emerging markets, recently awarded a total of USD 900,000 to three projects in countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) to expand the availability of banking in the region. Continue reading

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