SPECIAL REPORT: European Microfinance Week Opens: Microfinance and Environment Action Group Celebrates Rollout of Solar Products in Central America, Ethiopia, Philippines; Turns Eye to Scaling Up

On European Microfinance Week 2017the opening day of European Microfinance Week, the European Microfinance Platform’s (e-MFP’s) Microfinance and Environment Action Group met to review its successes and make plans for the next two years.

Carla Palomares of ADA, the Luxembourgish nonprofit formerly known as Appui au Développement Autonome, explained her organization’s work with the 60-member Microfinance Council of the Philippines (MCPI) and Red Centroamericana y del Caribe de Microfinanzas (REDCAMIF), a network of networks serving 139 microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the Dominican Republic and six Central American countries. ADA helped MCPI develop a team dedicated to supporting its member MFIs in offering loans for clients to buy solar lamps. MCPI is now working with six additional MFIs to roll out solar loans. The program with REDCAMIF is similar, but involves microleasing for agricultural equipment and support regarding environmentally sustainable farming practices as well as solar lamps. So far, 16 MFIs affiliated with REDCAMIF have assisted 2,200 customers in Central America with these products and services.

Aldo Moauro of Italy’s MicroFinanza Rating reported that his firm has completed 36 Green Index ratings as part of social ratings in 21 countries over the past year. Regarding the prospects for increased green offerings by MFIs, he said, “There are encouraging sings; the trend is positive.”

Giulia Corso of Germany’s MicroEnergy International described her firm’s work with 3 MFIs in Ethiopia that began lending for home solar systems in January 2017. By June, they had lent a total of EUR 100,000 (USD 119,000) for 600 home solar systems. The success has already attracted additional loan funding from the Ethiopian government.

Jurgen Hammer of the Grameen Credit Agricole Foundation argued in favor of studying the profitability of green microfinance products to help convince MFIs that they can be viable addition to their product line-up.

Geert Jan Schuite of Enclude, an affiliate of the Netherlands’ Triodos Bank, described the Action Group’s pivot from projects such as creating toolkits to figuring out how to scale up successful models. Davide Forcella, a researcher with the Centre for European Research in Microfinance (CERMi), led the group in brainstorming what the Action Group should do over the next two years. Among others, the ideas included arranging peer-learning visits, producing both positive and negative case studies, working with investors to increase the usage of tools already created by the Action Group and raising environmental awareness within MFIs.

Dr Forcella and Mr Schuite serve as co-chairs of the Microfinance and Environment Action Group.

This interview is part of a sponsored series on European Microfinance Week, which is ongoing in Luxembourg through December 1. MicroCapital has been engaged to promote and cover the event on-site.

Sources and Additional Resources

European Microfinance Week 2017

MicroCapital Coverage of European Microfinance Week Since 2012

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