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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 2018, the theme of the Award was 'Financial Inclusion through Technology'. Advans Côte d’Ivoire, part of the Advans Group, is a non-bank financial institution in the Ivory Coast which won for its response 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 a digital savings and payment solution, with wallet-to-bank and bank-to-wallet transfer services that enable producers’ cooperatives to make digital payments to farmers for their crop revenue. We’re delighted to catch up with them in this interview.

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Author: Anna Kanze - Grassroots Capital Management

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has the potential to be the “breadbasket of the world”, with a significant portion of the world’s fresh water and arable farmland. Small farmers represent over 80% of the total holdings and provide between 30 -40% of the region’s agricultural GDP. However, rural areas continue to be afflicted by high ratios of poverty, which far exceed the regions’ average. Additionally, smallholders are especially vulnerable to climate change, which increases their food insecurity and widens the gender divide, given that women are often already restricted from owning land or accessing resources despite making up a significant part of agricultural labour. In LAC, 39 million people are undernourished and severe food insecurity is on the rise, worsened by climate extremes. The Prospero Microfinanzas Fund, co-managed by Grassroots Capital Management PBC (Grassroots) and BIM, tackled these issues in six of its nine portfolio companies with mostly rural and agriculture-focused clients in LAC. As the fund is winding down in 2019, Grassroots reflects on four key lessons as we launch a new initiative to address food security, climate resiliency and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in LAC.

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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

The Luxembourg microfinance community has just added a new member – the Social Performance Task Force (SPTF) launched its European presence, headed by Jurgen Hammer in the House of Microfinance, Luxembourg. For us at e-MFP, this is a very welcome step! The Social Performance Task Force is a major force in the financial inclusion sector, having spent the past decade developing a range of standards and tools to measure the too-often overlooked second part of the double bottom line – standards and tools based on long-running consultations and input from practitioners, investors, and assessors.

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Author: Sam Mendelson

There were two topics that dominated debate at the recent European Microfinance Week (EMW) conference: the threats and opportunities brought about by the fintech revolution in inclusive finance, and the issue of financial inclusion for refugees and internally displaced persons. The event, organized by the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP), provided the venue for a discussion of these issues that ranged from hopeful to surprisingly cautionary. EMW 2018 focused heavily on the spectre – or, depending on your perspective, the promise – of technology. The theme was approached from many angles, as panelists explored the opportunities and risks of digital financial services, Big Data and new fintech entrants into the sector. It was even the focus of the 2018 European Microfinance Award, Financial Inclusion through Technology. The opening plenary captured both sides of the issue, with a keynote speech from Graham Wright of MicroSave – who played the Cassandra role that suits him so well to implore the inclusive finance sector to pay attention to the risks that technology can pose to clients and institutions.

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