Newsletter – September 2022

MAIN ACTIVITIES OVER THE PERIOD

 

EDITORIAL

Dear Members,

The resume of work after the summer is always a busy time for MAIN Network. Thanks to our various summer training sessions, we continue to support the work of our partners and members of our network.

MAIN promotes the capacity building of Microfinance Institutions as much as it promotes the experiences sharing so that all together, we, actors of inclusive finance, can respond to the challenges of the sector collectively.

This newsletter is an opportunity for us to come back to the various training activities of the last months and to discuss topics of capital importance for the sector such as: ecological and social transition, Islamic finance, staff motivation mechanisms in MFIs, efficient management of MFIs, etc. Some participants who attended the training gave us their testimony and we thank them for their contribution.

Microfinance is at a crossroads and players must adapt to its ecosystem with new emerging paradigms. We are the agents of change of tomorrow’s microfinance. This newsletter highlights the changes in the sector which give it a new breath on the one hand with a focus on the different activities of MAIN on the other hand.

Capacity building for professionals in the microfinance sector remains our main concern and we hope to welcome many of you during our next training sessions.

Enjoy your reading

Mohamed ATTANDA

Executive Director

THE ACTIVITIES OF MAIN NETWORK DURING THE PERIOD JUNE-AUGUST 2022 ARE RELATED TO EST (ECOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL TRANSITION) INCUBATORS PROJECT, THEMATIC TRAININGS AND THE MASTER’S TRAINING IN MICROFINANCE.

 

EST Incubators Project: a model of collaboration between MFIs, MAIN and MSMEs (Medium and Small Micro Enterprises)

 

As part of the project entitled ” Inclusive finance in Africa facing the challenges of ecological and social transition: challenges and capacity building of African actors through an innovative and adapted training offer “, MAIN is experimenting an incubator model with two members institutions, namely Mutual ASJD and WAGES. The establishment of incubators allows MAIN to develop new skills for the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises wishing to engage in activities that contribute to EST: renewable energies, energy efficiency, waste recycling, etc.

The companies selected for this pilot are: Green Industry Plast Togo (GIP-TOGO) LLC, a company specializing in collecting, sorting and recycling of plastic waste, RUCHE/SETRAPAL, whose main activity is the drying and processing of organic food products, in particular the drying of pineapples and fresh mangoes and their marketing, EGENT TOGO, an Electrical Engineering and New Technologies company that supports companies, communities and individuals to have access to sustainable energy at an affordable cost and AgroSolutions and Development (ASD), a company that produces and markets organic soybean meal and oil, floating pellets for Tilapia and catfish, complete and complementary feed for poultry, ruminants and monogastrics.

The diagnosis of each MSME made it possible to identify the axes of intervention on which MAIN could support them and strengthen their organizational skills. Among others we can note:

  • Building a Business Plan
  • Analytical operating accounting
  • Digital Marketing and TES

Testimonial from a EST Incubator project company

We are a company specializing in the collection, sorting and recycling of plastic waste. The collaboration with MAIN network with the support of an Expert on Ecological and Social Transition (EST) issues has helped us a lot to improve our organization, particularly in  structuring our  business plan. This allowed us to highlight key indicators relating to EST. We had in-depth training on the business plan of a structure that is in EST and which takes into account his  parameters . We also had training on cost accounting. I admit that it is a tool for strategic decisions that I did not know at all. I did not know that apart from general accounting there is an accounting called analytical. But with this training and this technical assistance that we got from  MAIN , we came to know the meaning of cost accounting that we are putting in place in our structure. We are  able to identify the costs   associated with our products to know if they are profitable or not. The training really edified us and brought a lot to our institution. From this moment we will improve our way of doing things. We hope to continue benefiting from assistance from   MAIN  to allow us to become sustainable and competitive .

Mr Bemah GADO

Managing Director Green Industry Plast Togo

In addition to the classic themes that suit them, they must set up or diversify their businesses in the innovative theme of “Ecological and Social Transition”

For the project’s partner, it is an opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills in the design, creation and financing of products and services of an ecological nature. The micro-entrepreneurs will come out very tough from this experiment and will be able during the capitalization workshop to share their experiences, the lessons learned and the challenges encountered.

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Cost accounting practice session at EGENT Togo

 

Strengthening the capacities of financial inclusion actors through appropriate training

Five thematic training sessions were carried out during the period respectively in Togo, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia and Rwanda. These are three training sessions on Ecological and Social Transition (Togo, DRC and Rwanda), one training session on Motivation (Togo) and one training session on Islamic Finance (Ethiopia).

The trainings on Ecological and Social Transition were for the participants and their institutions an opportunity to understand that the major challenge for African MFIs is to offer new financial and non-financial services that allow microfinance to play its role in the context of the fight against the effects of climate change and in achieving the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). And to achieve this, MFIs must, with a forward-looking vision, professionalism and experience, be able not only to offer accessible products and services that meet the needs of their customers, but to do so under sustainable conditions of institutional viability, economic and environmental in order to meet both social and environmental challenges. Climatic variations and the difficulty of predicting them jeopardize the livelihoods of microfinance borrowers and threaten the future ability of MFIs to operate in rural areas. The challenge for MFIs is therefore to strengthen the resilience of rural economies through financial service strategies that are better suited to their members/customers.

Presentations, experiences’ sharing, group work were the basis of these training sessions which were very practical and participatory. The participants, at the end of the training, were equipped to:

  • Understand the concepts related to Ecological and Social Transition (EST) and be able to develop their first personal concept on EST.
  • Know why EST is relevant for their clients and for their institutions;
  • Know the main elements of EST and some existing projects and experiences;
  • Understand how to integrate EST into the operating mechanism of their MFIs.

Testimonial from a participant of the EST workshop in Rwanda

The training held in Kigali, Rwanda was an excellent training. The training was practical and the questionnaire designed by the facilitator is thorough and requires a lot of time for reflection and verification. Immediately after the training, we organized a meeting with our 32 agencies and also a meeting with the management. Our mission is to serve entrepreneurs and economically active people by providing environmentally friendly, innovative, sustainable, women-centered and quality financial and non-financial services to improve the livelihoods of society by filling the financial inclusion gap. “We are currently working on the revision of our business plan. Smart climate change is one of the major pillars of our new strategic plan. We are working on the triple bottom line by encompassing profit and people and contributing to the well-being of the planet (The Three Ps) Participating in this training helped us to revise and update our mission which takes into account the triple mission of MFIs.

Mr Tezera K. Bekele

Managing Director, Peace Microfinance S.C.

Ethiopia

Regarding the training workshop organized by MAIN on the theme: ” From work to performance: the motivation and commitment of executives to work in microfinance institutions apart from remuneration” , it enabled participants to understand that beyond the issue of salary which is of the greatest concern to the leaders of Microfinance Institutions when it is already an asset for the staff, they must strive to understand the human person as a whole and allow him to reconcile his private life and his professional life. The leader must know how to inspire trust to motivate by being the credible person that employees choose to follow with both character and competence. Leaders must have the ability to bring employees together around the common strategy of the organization and achieve results with and through others using disciplined processes and coach employees as needed to unleash the abilities of each member of the team, to improve their performance, solve problems and develop their careers.

Testimony of a participant in the Lomé workshop on motivation

I would first like to thank the organizer of this training ,  (MAIN) , the participants and especially the consultant. It is true that before arriving and I even expressed it from the first day that I am waiting to the end and   see  how  we can motivate without the salary. We are indeed at the end of the training and I understood that apart from the salary, there are other elements that must be taken into account in Human Resources Management.

Mrs. Huguette Valentine ADOUKONOU

Managing Director Africa Finances

As for the training on Islamic finance that took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it is part of the promulgation by the National Bank of Ethiopia (Central Bank) of the ‘Banking Proclamation No. 592/2008 which enabled conventional banks and MFIs wishing to do Islamic banking and open interest-free banking windows from 2011. In addition, Islamic banking has become a rapidly growing universal phenomenon in Muslim and non-Muslim countries alike.   Following an assessment needs of members in Ethiopia, it emerged that there was a need for training on this subject. It is in this context that MAIN has decided to organize this training to train and develop its members who have started interest-free banking or plan to do so in the near future to better manage the challenges of adopting interest-free microfinance.

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Group picture training on Islamic finance, Addis Ababa, Etiopia

 

The training allowed in a participatory approach, participants to acquire notions on the piloting, launching and supply of Islamic financial products, including its mechanisms, scope, new product development processes, delivery methodologies and its durability. They are now also able to explain and integrate organizational, operational, governance and regulatory factors in the development of Islamic microfinance products and services and identify appropriate sources of funding and build strategic partnerships with partners, development and promoters of Islamic Microfinance.

With a better understanding of its environment, its governance, its regulations, its supervision, the executives and managers of the microfinance institutions who participated in this training workshop are equipped to identify the main opportunities and challenges of the conversion or diversification towards Islamic microfinance.

The various evaluations of the trainings have revealed that, in view of the positive assessment which stems from the testimonies of satisfaction of the various participants, it can be deduced that the objectives of the training has been achieved.

 

Strengthen inclusive finance actors through universities programs

 

As part of its capacity building program, MAIN organized from August 07 to 28, 2022 the residential session of its Master’s program in Microfinance in Yaoundé. This program, which is jointly organized by MAIN in collaboration with UCAC, brought together for the 2022 edition, 35 participants from several countries (Togo, Benin, Cameroon, Mali, Guinea, DRC, Burundi, Congo Brazzaville, Chad, Burkina -Faso, etc.).

 

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Group picture UCAC 2022

It was a real occasion of experiences sharing between inclusive finance players as shown in the testimony below

The training allowed me to acquire so much knowledge in various fields to better manage my organization that I have to prioritize the reorganizations that I will bring   and remain pragmatic so that the added value is very quickly visible.

The mix of professionals of  the field with university lecture  from UCAC gave a special touch to this training session rich in experiences and good practices sharing between participants andfacilitators.

I would like to thank MAIN for having set up a special program of this kind, thanks  to UCAC and to its trainers  who gave the best of themselves during the session. Thanks  to the organizers for this great initiative. I encourage MFIs who are still reluctant to join MAIN to do so because MAIN training is very enriching and practical. This is truly an opportunity to seize for the growth of our respective MFIs.

NDEMIGN Ngaradoum Akominassi

Executive Director of WAKILI SA, Social MFI in GUINEA

 

This training allows MFI executives to manage their institutions effectively and soundly and better equips them in several areas such as: management , financial analysis, governance, social performance management, strategic planning, internal control , management of information systems, etc. so that they can better meet the demands of a sector that is constantly developing and evolving.

During this session, 19 participants in Master 2 defended their preliminary dissertation project in front of a jury made up of professors from the university. Instructions have been given to each student for what he has to do with the dissertation itself. In terms of training logistics, significant improvements have been made for the 2022 session.

The participants left very satisfied with the organization of this training and the lessons learned during the session.

It should be recalled that this training, intended for managers of French-speaking MFIs, is  certified by a Master’s degree in management of MFIs. It has been organized since 2016 in collaboration with the Catholic University of Central Africa It  meant for managers and board members  of French-speaking MFIs, members or non-members of MAIN. Lasting 2 years, this master involves both academics and professionals from the sector. The training includes three weeks of classes per year on the premises of the UCAC face-to-face. Between the different sessions, the participants work on the platform on which they drop their work and interact with the teachers.

Newsletter – May 2021

SAVINGS AND CLIMATE RESILIENCE

A review of successes and challenges in current programming

Development programs are increasingly aiming to support populations already affected by the impacts of climate change through a variety of interventions that aim to strengthen climate resilience. Programs focused on inclusive finance are also designing interventions to reach development outcomes, and within those programs, there are considerable discussions on how savings can contribute to resilience more broadly.

This knowledge review provides insights from across the current literature and shares illustrative examples of programs and activities that are designed to increase climate resilience through the use of savings components. The review focuses particularly on successes and challenges in building up climate resilience, across three dimensions: disaster preparedness, response, and adaptation to climate change.

Read more

CATALYZING WOMEN’S BANK ACCOUNT USE THROUGH COVID-19 RELIEF

Lessons from India on leveraging government transfers to drive women’s financial inclusion

In March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread worldwide, the Indian government undertook one of its largest relief initiatives to date. From April to June 2020, women customers in the government’s financial inclusion program, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), received a cash transfer of INR 500 (~ $6.85) per month. The initiative sought to mitigate potential loss of income as a result of the pandemic and bolster the overall financial security of women and their households.

Direct government transfers to women beneficiaries can contribute significantly to women’s financial inclusion by increasing access and usage of financial services. To see if this was happening in India, Women’s World Banking partnered with a leading public sector bank in India to assess the effect of COVID-19 relief payments on the account activity of approximately 318,000 women customers during lockdown. In this blog, we reflect upon key findings from our study and propose solutions which could help build women customers’ financial resilience amidst a global pandemic.

Read more

MICROFINANCE IN EAST AFRICA SCHEMES-FOR-WOMEN-IN-THE-COFFEE-SECTOR

The coffee sector has a huge potential to contribute to poverty alleviation in East Africa, but the sector’s development is hampered by a lack of savings and credit facilities. Moreover, women’s access to financial services is even more restricted than that of men, and most women in rural areas continue to save in secret hiding places, and borrow from shops, agricultural input wholesalers or agro-vets. Microfinance in East Africa – Schemes for Women in the Coffee Sector aims to give an overview of the savings and credit landscape relevant to women engaged in the production and processing of coffee, particularly in Uganda and Kenya. It explains reasons for the limited microfinance coverage of women engaged in the sector, and provides suggestions to increase it. It also offers an easy overview of who-is-who in microfinance in East Africa with services targeted at women and the coffee sector.

Read more

MAIN will become champion of transparency in 2021

After the merger of MAIN & AMT which took place during the African Microfinance Week in 2017, the “Project of transparency promotion and development in microfinance sector in Africa” is in progress. Transparency is an essential value that still has a long way to go in African microfinance industry. To gain the confidence of investors and clients and finance the development of their activities, Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) must set up transparency policies detailing their financial and social performance and information provided to clients.

After two Tainings of Trainers (ToT) in transparency in 2019, personalized coaching on financial education, training on financial analysis and social performance, the year 2020 was the beginning of implementation of transparency actions in African MFIs. Also in 2020, Transparency Pact was proposed and signed by institution’s members wishing to commit to greater transparency in their practices, with key element as collecting, analyzing and publishing financial and social data on ATLAS. At the end of 2020, MAIN organized an online transparency project capitalization workshop to present the activities carried out, the results achieved and the main lessons learnt with more than sixty members who participated in this online workshop.

Forty-Five (45) institutions, either 47% of member microfinance institutions, have signed the Transparency Pact, including forty (40) French-speaking and five (5) English-speaking institutions. The Pact offers two options for the publication of financial and social data, one nominative (option 1) and another anonymous (option 2). Thirty (30) institutions, including twenty eight (28) French-speaking and two (2) English-speaking, chose option 1 and fifteen (15) institutions, including twelve (12) French-speaking and three (3) English-speaking, chose option 2; either 67% of the signatories of the Pact have chosen to publish their data  nominatevely and 33% have chosen to remain anonymous.

Of the forty-five (45) institutions that have signed the Transparency Pact, twenty seven (27) have sent their Factsheets for 2019 to MAIN, meaning 60% of the institutions that have signed the Pact. Out of these twenty seven (27), there are twenty (20) institutions, including eighteen (18) French-speaking and two (2) English-speaking for option 1. Seven (7) institutions that have opted for option 2 are exclusively French-speaking. This effort that you have made has been highly appreciated by the executive direction of MAIN.

MAIN Transparency Awards were created to reward institutions that respect good transparency practices. During the capitalization workshop, MAIN presented the Awards for the twenty one (21) institutions that have kept their commitments and shared their social and financial data. Three of the last received the “Gold” award consisting of a video clip highlighting their efforts in terms of transparency. Thirteen (13) others received the Bronze award and five (5) the Silver award.

We hereby, would like to urge members of the network who have signed the transparency charter to share their Factsheet from last year (2020) with MAIN during this year 2021, and invite other members of the network, to be part of this dynamic. MAIN wants to become a center of competence in matters of transparency which informs about international standards and disseminates good practices.

This requires the mobilization of all members of the network because your commitment to transparency will be a great achievement for the sector and for microfinance players in Africa. Do not hesitate to visit our dedicated page on https://www.mainnetwork.org/programme-transparence/ or contact us to find out about the next actions on transparency.

The Executive Direction

Welcome to the MAIN’s website

MAIN (Microfinance African Institutions Network) is an international non profit making association established in 1995 through the initiative of several institutions with long experience in microfinance and/or promoting microentreprises in Africa.As at december 31 st  2021, MAIN has organized  12 International Conferences, 39 sessions of university program,  76 trainings, 12 exchanges visits. In total 3 905 microfinance pratitionners have been trained as at the same date. Moreover, 10 publications have been published by MAIN.