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Author: e-MFP
We’re delighted to announce the publication of "Adapting to a New Normal", the latest annual paper that presents the outcomes of the European Microfinance Award 2019 on ‘Strengthening Resilience to Climate Change’. It is part of an Award publication series, produced since 2008, that details the issues and challenges of that year’s Award topic, summarises the Award process, profiles the Award semi-finalists and their relevant initiatives, and extracts factors for success that distinguish these programmes. More than ever, the lessons from the 2019 Award on how to protect clients, staff and institutions from external crises are especially relevant as a Covid-threatened sector seeks to adapt today to not just one, but two ‘new normals’. "Adapting to a New Normal" was written by e-MFP’s Sam Mendelson with support from Camille Dassy, Gemma Cavaliere, Gabriela Erice and Daniel Rozas. It opens with an explanation of the threats of climate change, what this ‘accretion of threats’ shares with the current Covid-19 crisis across the sector and the world at large, what financial services providers can do to protect vulnerable populations (and themselves) from the impacts of climate change, and then presents the climate change resilience initiatives of the ten semi-finalists across three broad categories: Increasing Resilience to Unpredictable/High-Impact External Shocks; Helping Clients Adapt to a Changing Climate; and Strengthening Institutional Resilience.

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Author: e-MFP
As part of our efforts to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on microfinance markets around the globe, e-MFP reached out to Cooperativa Tosepantomin in Mexico, a good and long-time friend of e-MFP, having been a winner of the European Microfinance Award in 2017. Via an email exchange, Álvaro Aguilar Ayón, Chairman of the Board of Directors, brought us up to speed on the situation on the ground: On 9 June 2020, the Mexican Ministry of Health reported that there were over 124,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 14,053 deaths since the first infections of this pandemic in our country. With these data, Mexico is one of the 10 countries with the most casualties due to COVID-19.

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Author: e-MFP
As part of our efforts to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on microfinance markets around the globe, e-MFP reached out to Advans CI in Cote d’Ivoire, a good and long-time friend of e-MFP, having been a winner of the European Microfinance Award in 2018. Via an email exchange, Mariam Djibo, CEO, brought us up to speed on the situation on the ground: To date, there have been 2,477 confirmed cases, of which 95% are in Abidjan, and 30 deaths. The government has built several testing centers in Abidjan and ordered 200 million masks. Given the statistics available and the potential impact of a strong economic crisis, restrictions on gatherings have recently been lifted and schools have been opened outside Abidjan. As of May 15 there is also an ease of restrictions within Abidjan.

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Author: e-MFP
As part of our efforts to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on microfinance markets around the globe, e-MFP reached out to Kompanion Bank in Kyrgyzstan, a good and long-time friend of e-MFP, having been a winner of the European Microfinance Award in 2014. Via an email exchange, Margarita Cherikbaeva, CEO, brought us up to speed on the situation on the ground: As of morning May 20, there were 1,322 coronavirus infection cases in Kyrgyzstan, 37 cases for the last 24 hours. 949 people recovered (68.3% of the total number of registered COVID-19 cases). Analysis shows a downward trend starting from April 16. An increase was observed from April 5 to 20. The highest numbers were registered on April 11-12. The number of cases has started to decrease since end of April. Regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the economy of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Ministry of Economy projects a 6.8% decline in the annual GDP due to self-isolation.

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Author: e-MFP
As part of our efforts to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on microfinance markets around the globe, e-MFP reached out to Kashf Foundation in Pakistan, a good and long-time friend of e-MFP, having been a winner of the European Microfinance Award in 2016. Via an email exchange, Roshaneh Zafar, Founder and Managing Director, brought us up to speed on the situation on the ground: "The novel coronavirus has wreaked havoc in the country. To date 31,728 cases have been confirmed in the country with 691 deaths. The province of Sindh and Punjab have been most impacted by the virus with 12,017 and 11,568 cases respectively. They are followed by KP (4,875), Balochistan (2,061), Islamabad (679) and GB/AJK (442/86). Moreover, as the country grapples with the coronavirus, the economic impact is mounting, with the economy expected to shrink to negative 1-1.5% against an expected growth rate of 2.4% during the current fiscal year. In addition, the imports are expected to decrease by 50-60% and the exports by 10-20%. The employment loss is also estimated at 20%".

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Author: e-MFP
Like many major microfinance markets, the Philippines microfinance sector is suffering from the twin threats of a public health emergency and the mitigation response which entails economic shutdown, both of which disproportionately impact vulnerable population segments and the financial providers that serve them. As part of our efforts to understand the impact of the pandemic on our partners, e-MFP reached out to Alalay sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI), a good and long-time friend of e-MFP, having been a winner and finalist of the European Microfinance Award on multiple occasions. Via an email exchange, ASKI brought us up to speed on the situation on the ground which has greatly affected the whole community including the microentrepreneur clients of ASKI.

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Author: Daniel Rozas
Liquidity has been foremost on the minds of just about everyone in the financial inclusion sector. Several essays on this site have delved into the topic. The first article in our liquidity series outlined three drivers for illiquidity: deposit withdrawals, operating costs, and maturing debt, and argues that maturing debt presents the greatest risk. But what does the data say? Here we will dig into that, and investigate just how severe the different elements of the liquidity crunch are to different categories of MFI around the world. We don't have access to sector-wide data reflecting the situation right now. Nobody does. But we can get a good view of what may be happening from historical data collected by MIX Market over many years. Let's start with the most basic question. Assume an MFI is operating under complete shutdown, with no repayments, no new disbursements, and no other inflow or outflow of funds - it's operating entirely from cash reserves. How many months would it be able to survive before the money runs out?

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Author: Daniel Rozas - Sam Mendelson
In our first piece in this series "Keeping the Patient Alive - Adapting Crisis Rubrics for a Covid World", we introduced the analogy of the emergency room doctors trying to treat a critically ill patient - a financial services provider (FSP), its staff and clients in lockdown or socially distancing, unable to travel and with incomes collapsing, health expenditures increasing, and some sick or dying. Repayments are close to impossible, and new loan applications are flat. But operational expenses continue, and it’s a race against the clock. In short, this patient is critical. To continue the analogy, ensuring the reciprocal trust and confidence of staff and clients and investors is like treating a patient’s organs, with interventions from pharmacology to surgery to transplant. We’ll get to that, though. For now, the challenges need triage. The patient can’t breathe, so she cannot oxygenate and circulate her blood. This, to come back to our institution, is the critical need for liquidity.

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Author: e-MFP
These are frightening and unprecedented days. In response, many are looking for ways to provide relevant, actionable support. News, blogs, and webinars - well-intentioned as they may be - feel like they’re creating information overload. Yet it’s clear that in a rapidly evolving situation, information is critical. At e-MFP, we want to add value and support where we can, especially to our members, and avoid adding to the noise when what everyone needs is focus, clarity and purpose. We’d like to use our core strengths - facilitating exchange, connecting stakeholders and being a clearing-house for discussion - to help the sector (and especially our members) prepare, weather this crisis, and eventually recover and rebuild. In the coming weeks and months, e-MFP will be re-focusing several work streams towards the COVID-19 response. The Financial Inclusion Compass sector-wide survey will be brought forward, and will be specifically focused on how stakeholders are triaging their challenges and what they see as the most critical interventions needed - and by whom. European Microfinance Week will be significantly adapted to focus on this topic. The current European Microfinance Award on Encouraging Effective and Inclusive Savings will collect examples of how savings can increase resilience to the kind of health and financial shocks that microfinance clients and SMEs are about to face. We would like to hear from our members what e-MFP can do to support them, and we stand ready to offer that support where we can.

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Author: e-MFP
“Save money – and money will save you” goes a Jamaican proverb. Variations of this adage exist in countless languages, lauding preparedness, prudence and forethought when managing one’s finances. But the notion goes even further than money. Benjamin Franklin said as much – “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” It is probably one of the few genuinely universal life tenets. It’s also intuitive. We all have a basic understanding of what savings – or the act of saving – are. You hold back some of what you earn, sacrificing immediate pleasures or opportunities for some future benefit. This benefit can vary from coping with the unknown and unplanned shocks that can throw one’s life into disarray, to more highly planned savings for high-cost but predictable future expenses – a wedding, pregnancy, a deposit for a house, or retirement. Extending these benefits to more of the people who need them most is the topic of the European Microfinance Award 2020 – “Encouraging Effective & Inclusive Savings” – which is now open for applications until April 15. In over 10 editions to date, the €100,000 award has sought to shine the spotlight on organisations innovating in a particular area of inclusive finance. It’s open to providers of all categories and sizes that have demonstrated excellence, creativity and rigour in their initiatives for the vulnerable and financially excluded.

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