MicroCapital: Do you find that microfinance institutions (MFIs) tend to underinvest in human resources (HR)?
Rüdiger Meister: Definitely! Despite the efforts of many consultants in this field, the crucial role of HR management remains under-estimated. Technical assistance interventions, which often accompany investments into MFIs, tend to focus on discrete areas rather than following a holistic and structured approach to capacity building.
There is also a problem of short-term versus long-term thinking. In the short term, the MFI will function even if there are weaknesses in HR management. But in the long term, the MFI will have to pay for mistakes in areas such as
The European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) recently announced the following finalists for the European Microfinance Award, which in 2017 is focused on housing: First Microfinance Bank Afghanistan, Peru’s Mibanco and Mexico’s Cooperative Tosepantomin. The award, with a cash prize of EUR 100,000 (USD 118,000), will be presented during European Microfinance Week in
MicroCapital: How does micro-leasing compare with microlending?
Manuel Hörl: Microcredits do not fit the needs of every situation. Often, the borrower cannot meet the collateral or other requirements for receiving a loan. Micro-leasing can allow a farmer, for example, to pre-finance the purchase of a productive asset, such as a cow. The farmer receives basic training in handling the asset, and risk is mitigated by
Event Name: European Microfinance Week
Event Date: November 29 – December 1, 2017
Event Location: Luxembourg
Summary of Event: On November 29, the European Microfinance Platform’s (e-MFP’s) ten Action Groups will meet to build on months of work by holding in-depth discussions and training on their focus topics, such as inclusive green finance, digital innovations, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) finance and rural finance.
On November 30 and December 1, more than 80 organisations will be represented in over 30 sessions covering front line topics such as low-cost technology for financial services providers, responsible exits, reaching scale in inclusive green finance, rural youth
Now that three years have passed since CGAP and the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) at Accion published “The Art of the Responsible Exit in Microfinance Equity Sales,” this subject deserves a re-visit and perhaps expansion of the paper’s general principles into industry guidelines.
As the financial inclusion and impact investment industries mature and grow, so does the issue of how investors committed to advancing financial inclusion can “exit responsibly” from
MicroCapital: Why was housing selected as the theme of this year’s European Microfinance Award?
Christoph Pausch: It’s really a question of staying true to the underlying purpose of the Award: to highlight practices that are outside the microfinance mainstream, but are financially sustainable and deliver significant
Until May 22, the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) is accepting applications for the 2017 European Microfinance Award, which is focused this year on financing housing improvements for
The European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) has begun accepting applications for the eighth iteration of its European Microfinance Award, which is focused this year on financing housing improvements for people with low incomes. The deadline to apply is May 22. The award, which includes a cash prize of EUR 100,000 (USD 106,000), will be presented at European Microfinance Week, which is being held
The European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) notified MicroCapital today that it has scheduled the next iteration of its European Microfinance Week for November 29 through December 1, 2017, at
At Friday’s closing session of European Microfinance Week, representatives of Luxembourg-based MyBucks, US-based Opportunity International and India-based MicroSave argued about the risks and rewards of digital finance services. Vicki Escarra, the CEO of Opportunity International, said, “What we’ve done over the past five years to get to very rural areas is to use these digital channels.… To focus on women in Africa – not just women, but women living in
During one of Friday’s sessions of European Microfinance Week, Hatem Mahbouli, an investment officer with Dutch development bank Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO), described his institution’s plans to direct 20 percent of its investments each year to environmental efforts. FMO, which reports the equivalent of USD 9 billion in total assets, has disbursed about USD 120 million of its financial services investments in the “green” sub-sector. To move further toward its goal, FMO is looking particularly to
Paul Luchtenburg, who serves as coordinator for the UN Capital Development Fund in Myanmar, described several of the contrasts in the microfinance industry in Myanmar at European Microfinance Week Thursday. Five years into civilian rule, Mr Luchtenburg says “I’ve never seen a government work so hard. You go to a meeting and the results go up the leadership chain that night…. There’s this rapid push for development.” To accept deposits, institutions must pay at least 10 percent per year and be deemed “sustainable” by the government. However, lending rates are capped at 2.5 percent per month, a level that all of the panelists agreed was too low, especially for serving rural areas. Rommel Caringal, the CEO of the local unit of US-based VisionFund, said, “The inconsistency is causing big problems, but
The Kashf Foundation, a Pakistani nonprofit providing microfinance services and advocacy on social issues, won the seventh European Microfinance Award last night for its support of private schools that serve students from low-income families. In addition to financing the schools, Kashf provides training in areas ranging from classroom management to human resources. The organization also assists
On this first day of European Microfinance Week conference sessions, three participants described their visits to Bangladesh to learn how low-income families there have financed purchases of home solar systems. Tesfaye Befekadu, the general manager of Ethiopia’s Harbu Microfinance Institution, explained, “The exposure visit opened my mind to green microfinance…. I came back from Bangladesh with a lot of knowledge. I collected the managers, and we exchanged information and immediately decided this idea should go to the Board of Directors. Then I asked the Board to explain it to the shareholders.… I can say that all levels of the organization, down to the clients, own this program.” In the year since the visit, Harbu has delivered
At yesterday’s meeting of the European Microfinance Platform’s (e-MFP’s) Digital Innovations for Financial Empowerment Action Group, a wide range of presenters described their challenges and successes in implementing financial technologies.
Among today’s opening meetings of European Microfinance Week was a working session on the financial inclusion of refugees that was organized by the US-based nonprofit Social Performance Task Force (SPTF) and the Luxembourgish nonprofit European Microfinance Platform (e-EMP). Lene Hansen, a consultant to SPTF, offered evidence to counter some of the common misconceptions discouraging microfinance institutions (MFIs) and their funders from serving refugees. Key among these is
MicroCapital: What is the value of social performance management (SPM)?
Lucia Spaggiari & Amelia Greenberg: Financial service providers (FSPs) do not achieve their social goals without deliberately managing their social performance. Providing access to financial products and services can have a neutral or even harmful effect when it is not done responsibly. Even the best-intentioned FSPs have been shocked upon seeing their first data about client outreach, satisfaction and exit. Simply put, they were not reaching their target clients; their products were not well adapted to clients’ needs; and they were not achieving their missions.
MC: What social performance outcomes are you measuring?
MicroCapital: How does housing finance differ from traditional microfinance?
Rajnish Dhall: In India, traditional microloans usually are: (1) sized less than USD 1,000; (2) targeted for productive assets; (3) priced at around 22 percent per year; (4) repaid within less than a year or two; and (5) carry a group guarantee in lieu of collateral. In contrast, the micromortgages that Micro Housing Finance Corporation (MHFC) offers first-time homebuyers: (1) average about USD 8,000 in size; (2) carry interest rates of about 12.5 percent per year; (3) usually have a term of 15 years; (4) are individual rather than group-based; and (5) most importantly, are secured with the home as collateral. While the audience is quite similar, the products are almost at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Mark van Doesburgh: The MicroBuild Fund (MBF) we manage for Habitat for Humanity