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Author: e-MFP

2019 marks ten editions of the European Microfinance Award and to celebrate, e-MFP has decided to reach out to the previous winners, for a ‘where are they now?’ blog series, published throughout 2019, to look at what they have been doing with their initiative since they won, and how the winning of the Award has helped, and what plans they have in store. In 2017, the theme of the Award was 'Microfinance for Housing' which sought to highlight the role of microfinance in supporting access to better quality residential housing for low income, vulnerable and excluded groups, with no or limited access to housing finance in the mainstream sector. Cooperativa de Ahorro y Préstamo Tosepantomin won for its programme targeting rural communities living in marginalised areas, to which it offers savings and loans for housing improvement and house building. The cooperative mainly applies the solidarity group methodology and uses a holistic approach to its housing programme, with technical support that includes architectural planning, elaboration of housing project budgets, and oversight of the construction processes. The programme also promotes ecological and sustainable housing through eco-friendly building techniques, recycling, renewable energy and energy efficiency. We’re delighted to catch up with them in the fifth of our interviews.

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Author: e-MFP

2019 marks ten editions of the European Microfinance Award and to celebrate, e-MFP has decided to reach out to the previous winners, for a ‘where are they now?’ blog series, published throughout 2019, to look at what they have been doing with their initiative since they won, and how the winning of the Award has helped, and what plans they have in store. In 2014, the theme of the Award was 'Microfinance and the Environment', focusing on microfinance initiatives to improve environmental issues in developing economies, and encourage the sector to find innovative solutions to environmental challenges. Established in Kyrgyzstan since 2004, Kompanion Financial Group provides microloans in combination with technical assistance to small-scale farmers and pastoralists (livestock herders and shepherds) to promote sustainable agriculture and natural resource management. The winning initiative presented for the 2014 Award, Kompanion’s 'Pasture Land Management Training Initiative’, was an ethno-ecological approach to pasture land preservation, addressing the pressing issue of pasture land degradation in Kyrgyzstan. It consists of a specialised loan package, 'Credits for Conservation', linked with a training program. We’re delighted to catch up with them in the fourth of our interviews.

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Author: e-MFP

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, wrote Arthur C. Clarke. Put aside cynicism about the perils of our technology-obsessed culture, focus on how communication and convenience have been changed in recent years, and then – try to imagine how transformational the current technological revolution must be for the financially excluded in low-income countries. The ability to predict the weather; contact vendors or customers; send, save, receive or borrow money affordably and immediately; find new markets – this is magical in all but name. It’s happening so fast, too. The mobile phone and Internet are both barely twenty years old. The internet-connected smartphone – a tool of almost limitless utility – is half that age. What technology has done for the lives of richer consumers in the developed world may be nothing to what it can do for the financially excluded. These were the messages at a joint e-MFP/FIF UK Offsite Session held at Allen & Overy in London on 23rd May. The event was entitled 'Financial Inclusion through Technology' – the theme of the European Microfinance Award 2018 – and served to summarise the process and takeaways of that Award (including via a launch of the new report, 'Digital Pathways in Financial Inclusion') and bring together a panel of experts to debate the biggest issues in the financial inclusion and technology sector.

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Author: e-MFP

2019 marks ten editions of the European Microfinance Award and to celebrate, e-MFP has decided to reach out to the previous winners, for a ‘where are they now?’ blog series, published throughout 2019, to look at what they have been doing with their initiative since they won, and how the winning of the Award has helped, and what plans they have in store. In 2008, the theme of the Award was "Socially Responsible Microfinance", which aimed to highlight and catalyse initiatives that represented a breakthrough in promoting social responsibility and performance in microfinance. Buusaa Gonofaa MFI, founded in 2000, provides micro-lending and saving services to resource-poor households in Ethiopia to improve their livelihood. Buusaa Gonofaa has a particular focus on women, landless youth and smallholder farmers. Buusaa Gonofaa’s initiative, the development of a Client Assessment and Monitoring System or Social Ledger, was presented for the 2008 Award. Buusaa Gonofaa MFI had internally developed a scorecard including 20 indicators related to the poverty and progress of its clients’ wellbeing over time. We’re delighted to catch up with them in the third of our interviews.

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Author: e-MFP

2019 marks ten editions of the European Microfinance Award and to celebrate, e-MFP has decided to reach out to the previous winners, for a ‘where are they now?’ blog series, published throughout 2019, to look at what they have been doing with their initiative since they won, and how the winning of the Award has helped, and what plans they have in store. In 2016, the theme of the Award was "Microfinance & Access to Education". Kashf Foundation of Pakistan won for Kashf School Sarmaya, or Kashf Education Financial Program (KEFP), a holistically designed credit facility providing access to finance to Low Cost Private Schools as well as a capacity building and training for teachers and school owners, and a training of trainers on Financial Education for Youth. We’re delighted to catch up with them in the second of our interviews.

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Author: e-MFP

2019 marks ten editions of the European Microfinance Award and to celebrate, e-MFP has decided to reach out to the previous winners, for a ‘where are they now?’ blog series, published throughout 2019, to look at what they have been doing with their initiative since they won, and how the winning of the Award has helped, and what plans they have in store. In 2012, the theme of the Award was "Microfinance for Food Security", focusing on microfinance initiatives that contribute to improving food production and distribution conditions in developing countries. Alalay Sa Kaunlaran Inc. (ASKI) of The Philippines won for serving smallholder farmers and fostering effective market linkages and here we catch up with them in the first of our interviews.

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Author: e-MFP

It hardly needs saying that Climate Change represents the greatest issue we face today. Slowly – excruciatingly so – action is being taken at the macro level, reining in carbon emissions to attempt to keep global temperature increases within manageable levels. However, tacking Climate Change requires battles on many fronts, and not just on the mitigation side (minimising the actual Climate Change that takes place) but on the adaptation side too: how can we live in a world with a climate different to that we’ve had before? This is the challenge selected as the theme of the €100,000 European Microfinance Award 2019, which launches mid-March. Entitled “Strengthening Resilience to Climate Change”, it highlights the important role of the financial inclusion sector in increasing the resilience of low-income and financially excluded populations vulnerable to the effects of Climate Change.

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Author: e-MFP

This is the second in a publication series of three interview pieces with the three finalists for the European Microfinance Award on "Financial Inclusion through Technology". ESAF Small Finance Bank (ESAF SFB) is an Indian MFI that is leveraging the rapid expansion of mobile phone and smartphone penetration in India to digitise a wide range of its lending processes, in particular customer onboarding, electronic applications, customer financial training, credit appraisal, in-field verification, mandatory customer identity and address verification using eKYC, as well as opening of accounts, cashless disbursement and paperless collections of loan repayments. ESAF’s field officers use Internet-connected tablets with biometric identity verification and its clients have QR-enabled Aadhaar Cards – with Government-issued 12-digit unique identify numbers based on biometric and demographic data. Their details are automatically transmitted for credit bureau verification, and clients are given ATM cards to withdraw money in convenient tranches from any ATM.

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Author: e-MFP

This is the first in a publication series of three interview pieces with the three finalists for the European Microfinance Award on "Financial Inclusion through Technology". Advans Côte d'Ivoire (Advans CI) is a NBFI in the Ivory Coast which offers payment, saving and credit services enabled by an Advans account linked to a MTN mobile money account. Advans CI has responded to traceability and safety issues faced by cooperatives paying cocoa farmers, as well as low school enrolment due to lack of regular cashflow among farmers, by offering its digital savings and payment solution, with wallet-to-bank and bank-to-wallet transfer services, enabling producers’ cooperatives to make digital payments to farmers for their crop revenue. Since 2017, Advans CI has been also providing small digital school loans, based on an algorithm reflecting farmers’ cashflows. Advans CI also successfully negotiated free MTN transfers between mobile wallets and Advans accounts for their farmer clients.

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Author: Sam Mendelson

There’s a saying in technology circles: “If you’re not paying, then you’re the product.” Nothing could be more axiomatic in the current zeitgeist, as shown by Mark Zuckerberg’s recent testimony in front of Congress to explain the ongoing furore about the sale of Facebook users’ personal data to nefarious entities. Facebook, of course, is free to use. Its users – and the data we produce – are the product. The advertisers and other beneficiaries of that data are its customers. Surprisingly, this little axiom long pre-dates social media. In fact, it goes back at least as far as 1973, when artists Richard Serra and Carlota Fay Schoolman broadcast a short video entitled “Television Delivers People.” But whatever people have until now understood of their relationship with technology platforms such as Facebook and Google, there can be no doubt that the mood has turned. For all the Pollyanna-ish talk of liberation, efficiency and modernization, technology is increasingly seen as the proverbial double-edged sword – something not just from which to benefit, but also, as CFI’s Elisabeth Rhyne has argued just this week, from which to be protected. The protection of clients is central to financial inclusion (or, at least, it is when done well). Technology, too, becomes more and more embedded in how financial services can be offered to low-income and excluded client segments. Coming with it are the well-known opportunities to reduce costs, increase outreach, drive financial education and in particular help remote populations access information and tools to increase their income and protect themselves from shocks.

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