SPECIAL REPORT: Microfinance Investment Vehicles Setting “Green” Targets; Looking to Asian, Latin American MFIs to Deploy Environment-focused Microloans

During European Microfinance Platformone 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

SPECIAL REPORT: Evolving Regulations Obscure the Future of Microfinance in Myanmar

Paul European Microfinance PlatformLuchtenburg, 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

SPECIAL REPORT: Kashf Foundation of Pakistan Wins $106k European Microfinance Award for Supporting “Low-cost” Private Schools

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

SPECIAL REPORT: Fostering South-South Knowledge Exchange: Solar Home Systems in Bangladesh

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

SPECIAL REPORT: Overcoming Fears at European Microfinance Week: Farmers Eschew Microinsurance to Prevent Drought, MFIs Wary of Group Technology Purchases

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.

SPECIAL REPORT: Uniting Refugees, Locals via Lending Groups: European Microfinance Week Opens in Luxembourg

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

SPECIAL REPORT: A Preview of European Microfinance Week’s “New Frontiers on SPM: Measuring Client Outcomes”

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?

SPECIAL REPORT: Rajnish Dhall of Micro Housing Finance Corporation, Mark van Doesburgh of Triple Jump Preview European Microfinance Week Session on Micromortgages, More

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

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Guatemala’s Fundación Génesis Empresarial, Pakistan’s Kashf Foundation, Opportunity Bank of Uganda Named as Finalists for Education Edition of $112k European Microfinance Award

The European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP), a network of European microfinance stakeholders working in developing countries, recently announced that three finalists for the 7th European Microfinance Award have been selected from 30 applicants: (1) Fundación Génesis Empresarial of Guatemala; (2) Kashf Foundation of Pakistan; and (3) Opportunity Bank of Uganda.

MICROFINANCE EVENT: European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) to Host European Microfinance Week, November 16-18, 2016, Luxembourg

Event Name: European Microfinance Week 2016

Event Date: November 16 – November 18, 2016

Event Location: Neimënster, 28 Rue Münster, L-2160 Luxembourg

SPECIAL REPORT: Rural Outreach and Innovation Action Group of the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP)

Marina Kortenbusch, who serves as the Head of the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP’s) Rural Outreach and Innovation (ROI) Action Group, is the Managing Partner of Switzerland’s Business and Finance Consulting. Josien Sluijs is an e-MFP board member and Director of the Netherlands’ Platform for Inclusive Finance, which is also a member of the ROI Action Group.

MicroCapital: Why is it important to serve rural markets?

Marina Kortenbusch: In most emerging economies, the rural sector employs a large share of the working population. Developing rural markets is an effective way to boost prosperity by increasing the incomes of individuals whilst also contributing to food security, reducing environmental impact and increasing exports.

MC: What are some key differences between rural and urban markets?

SPECIAL REPORT: 7th European Microfinance Award: $112k for Education Funding

Christoph Pausch serves as Executive Secretary of the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP). The European Microfinance Award is jointly organised by the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs – Directorate for Development Cooperation, e-MFP and the Inclusive Finance Network Luxembourg, with the support of the European Investment Bank. For more details, please visit http://www.european-microfinance-award.com.

MicroCapital: Why is education access the topic of this year’s Award?

Christoph Pausch: Education is the strongest predictor of economic
well-being, and it can also have a major impact on health, women’s empowerment and even population growth. Unfortunately,

SPECIAL REPORT: June 1 is Deadline for $114k European Microfinance Award: “Microfinance and Access to Education”

June 1 is the deadline to apply for the seventh European Microfinance Award, which is themed “Microfinance and Access to Education” and includes the opportunity to win EUR 100,000 (approximately USD 114,000).

SPECIAL REPORT: Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Offers $114k Prize for Use of Microfinance to Increase Access to Education, Applications due June 1, 2016

The seventh European Microfinance Award, titled “Microfinance and Access to Education”, includes a cash prize totalling EUR 100,000 (approximately USD 114,000) to be presented by the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs – Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs on November 17, 2016, during European Microfinance Week.

SPECIAL REPORT: Good News, “Painful” News About Digital Finance at the Final Day of European Microfinance Week

European Microfinance WeekIn moderating Friday’s panel on “Integrating digital financial services” at European Microfinance Week, Philippe Breul of PHB Development opened with several examples of success: (1) Microfinance institution (MFI) Musoni Kenya reducing loan turnaround time from 72 to 6 hours; (2) Indian MFI Ujjivan boosting loan officers’ caseloads by 134 percent; and (3) Opportunity Bank Serbia, which operates in an area of better mobile connectivity than the other two MFIs, providing immediate credit decisions in response to 80 percent of loan applications. Mr Breul stated that the time period required to save enough on costs to offset the expense of the tablets and other elements of digital systems can be as low as

SPECIAL REPORT: Serving Youth: Back-to-School Savings Promotions, Lower Loan Portfolio-at-Risk (PAR) Ratios

European Microfinance WeekOn Friday, during the final day of European Microfinance Week, Ata Cisse of the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) explained how that organization’s YouthStart program, which was launched in 2010 in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation of Canada, facilitated microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Africa collecting deposits equivalent to USD 16 million through 2014 from 600,000 youth, roughly evenly divided between young men and women.

SPECIAL REPORT: How Microinsurance Affected Mongolian Herders Rebuilding After Drought

European Microfinance WeekAt European Microfinance Week yesterday, Veronika Bertram-Hümmer of Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung Berlin (the German Institute for Economic Research) and Leibniz Universitat Hannover presented research on how insured and uninsured herders in Mongolia recovered from the 2009-2010 drought that killed 22 percent of the livestock in the country. Insured households received an average payout of USD 312. None used the money to buy livestock, instead opting

SPECIAL REPORT: Crédit Rural de Guinée Wins $110k European Microfinance Award for Response to Ebola

Crédit Rural de Guinée (CRG) has been announced as the winner of the 6th European Microfinance Award, focusing this year on Microfinance in Post-disaster, Post-conflict Areas & Fragile States, for its innovative response to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea. The Award was presented during European Microfinance Week by Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, during a ceremony on 19th November held at the European Investment Bank headquarters in Luxembourg.