MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Microfinance Institution Equitas Begins Accepting Deposits in Chennai, India, With Interest Rates Starting at 6%

Equitas Small Finance Bank Limited, a subsidiary of India’s Equitas Holdings Limited, recently began operations with three branches in Chennai, offering deposit accounts with interest rates of six to 7.5 percent per year.

MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: MFI Client Satisfaction and Consumer Protection in Peru; Mobile Microfinance Users Predicted to Triple by 2020; Mobilizing Savings Through Agency Banking

“Voice of the Client: An analysis of client satisfaction and consumer protection across four microfinance institutions in Peru,” by J. Foelster, A. Pierantozzi, M. Pistelli; published by the Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX) in collaboration with Hivos People Unlimited; February 2016; 31 pages; available at: http://www.themix.org/sites/default/files/Voice%20of%20the%20Client%20Peru_0.pdf

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Reserve Bank India (RBI) Eases Microfinance Interest Rate Norm to Allow Cheaper Loans to Members of Scheduled Castes (SC) Earning Less than $2.50 Per Day

The Reserve Bank India (RBI), the nation’s central banking authority, has eased the maximum allowance of a variance of 4 percent between minimum and maximum interest rates on loans by microfinance institutions (MFIs) in order to encourage the provision of cheaper loans to those members of Scheduled Castes (SC), historically disadvantaged people in India, who earn less than double the international poverty line defined by the United Nations (UN) as USD 1.25 per day.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: India’s Bandhan Bank Sets Deposit Interest Rates, Will Open 3 Branches in South India

Bandhan Bank, an Indian commercial bank based in Kolkata, recently announced that it plans to open one branch each in the cities of Bengaluru, Koramangala and Bannerghatta, all of which are located in southern India.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN) of India Advises Members to Reduce Interest Rates

The Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN), a trade organization composed of 47 Indian microlenders, has advised its members to reduce their interest rates voluntarily by “at least 25 basis points” [1] by the end of September 2015.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Starbucks to Commit Additional $30m to Global Farmer Fund Program; Fairtrade Access Fund, Root Capital to Assist with Loans to Coffee Farmers

Starbucks Coffee Company, a US-based coffee retailer, recently announced that it would commit an additional USD 30 million to its Global Farmer Fund program, one of the organization’s “ethical sourcing initiatives”[1] that aims to ensure the sustainability of the organization’s production chain up to 2020.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Indonesia to Disburse $2.2b under Microfinance Program Kredit Usaha Rakyat (KUR) to Encourage Growth of Micro-, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs)

The Indonesian government intends to disburse IDR 30 trillion (USD 2.2 billion) in small business loans under its Kredit Usaha Rakyat (KUR) program, which is intended to provide credit to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and cooperatives.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: After Suspension Due to Low Repayment Rates, Bank Rakyat Indonesia, Bank Negara Indonesia, Bank Mandiri Resume Government’s $1.5b Kredit Usaha Rakyat (KUR) Microloan Program

Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) and Bank Mandiri, three state-owned banks in Indonesia, will resume efforts to distribute IDR 20 trillion (USD 1.5 billion) during 2015 via the microloan program Kredit Usaha Rakyat (KUR) [1].

SPECIAL REPORT: Youth Are Less Risky Borrowers? European Microfinance Week Participants on Serving Young People via Leasing, Peer Education, Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)

Countering the perception that youth are riskier borrowers than older clients, Maria Perdomo, the manager of the UN Capital Development Fund’s YouthStart program, recently presented data from seven African microfinance institutions (MFIs) showing that all but one have lower rates of portfolio at risk (PAR) within the segments of their portfolios serving youth than organization-wide. Nonetheless, she noted, youth often make up a disproportionately small share of an MFI’s customer base because loan officers believe they are less likely than others to repay, which would threaten the bonus that many loan officers receive when more of their clients do repay their loans.

SPECIAL REPORT: European Microfinance Week Participants: Transparency, Competition, Product-specific Rate Caps Can Lower Microloan Interest Rates

To open the two-day conference portion of European Microfinance Week, which is hosted by the 130-member, Luxembourg-based European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP), panelists and attendees addressed “Balancing financial inclusion, market stability and client protection.” Narda Sotomayor, who leads the Department of Microfinance Analysis at Peru’s Superintendencia de Banca, Seguros y Administradoras Privadas de Fondos de Pensiones, stated that “MFIs [microfinance institutions] moving further down market to serve new people is risky, as this group has less financial education, less collateral. An institution’s credit portfolio can deteriorate quickly unless its lending methodology is revised as part of a dynamic process.” On the issue of increasing financial capability, she added, “We find synergies between financial education and stability. This also leads to benefits for institutions and the whole system.”

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Launches $807m Long-Term Rural Credit Fund

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).

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Microfinance Institutions in Ghana to Charge Clients Unspecified Fee for Maintaining Deposits Beginning in October 2014

According to a statement attributed to Mr. Collins Amponsah, the board chairman of the Ghana association of microfinance companies (GAMC), an association of 560 member companies providing microfinance services, all Ghanaian microfinance institutions (MFIs) that are members of GAMC will begin charging clients an unspecified fee for managing their deposits beginning in October of 2014.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Issues First Disbursements from $1.36b Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF) After 2 Years of Delay

President Goodwill Jonathan of Nigeria officially launched the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Fund at the eighth MSME finance conference in Abuja, Nigeria, where he announced the provision of NGN 870 million (USD 5.36 million) from the NGN 220 billion (USD 1.36 billion) fund to four beneficiaries

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Microcredit Regulatory Authority (MRA) of Bangladesh Warns of Punishment for Non-compliant MFIs

The Microcredit Regulatory Authority (MRA), a Bangladeshi government body that oversees the operations of nongovernmental organization (NGO) microfinance institutions (MFIs), reportedly has issued a warning to MFIs in the country in response to violations of MRA regulations such as the requirement of a 15-day grace period on new loans before collecting loan repayments as well as the use of a declining-balance method of calculating interest.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Bandhan Financial Services of India Reduces Lending Rate to 22.4% per Year

Bandhan Financial Services, a microfinance institution (MFI) based in the Indian city of Kolkata, reportedly announced that it has reduced its lending rate by 50 basis points, or 0.5 percent, bringing its annual interest rate down to 22.4 percent.