6th European Microfinance Award 2015
MICROFINANCE IN POST-DISASTER, POST-CONFLICT AREAS AND FRAGILE STATES
The 6th European Microfinance Award 2015 recognised Microfinance Institutions that operate in post-disaster, post-conflict areas and fragiles states, and provide financial and non-financial services aimed to increase the resilience of the affected, vulnerable population.
After natural disasters, heath crises or armed conflicts, populations experience critical levels of poverty, insecurity and instability. Not just people, but infrastructure, economic conditions, social cohesion and mobility are all victims of disaster or conflict in so-called "fragile states". And while addressing these challenges requires a spectrum of interventions, microfinance - alongside traditional relief and aid channels - can play a key role in creating employment, driving economic growth, ensuring a range of critical services, and bringing people together during times of need and challenges.
Crédit Rural de Guinée S.A (CRG) - Republic of Guinea
CRG started operations in 1989 as an experimental project which aimed to put in place a policy of rural financing in conjunction with development projects, and to test credit provision to the needs of the poorest. By 2014, CRG had outreached ruraly with 120 community banks across the country serving 248,000 members (including borrowers and savers).
At the Ebola virus outbreak, Crédit Rural de Guinée took health and safety measures directed at beneficiaries and staff. All head office and network branches were equipped with sanitary kits (chlorinated water and soap for hand washing and forehead thermometers).
In addition, a national awareness raising campaign was delivered on the risks associated with contracting the virus and on prevention.
Taytay SA Kauswagan, Incorporated (TSKI) - The Philippines
TSKI started as a non-stock, non-profit Christian development organisation in 1986 in the Philippines. It has now established 117 branches with over 2,000 staff serving 340,000 clients nationwide.
It is the standing policy of TSKI to give EUR 4.11 worth of relief goods to the affected clients following any disaster. Immediately after the Typhoon Haiyan, all staff was sent to the field, check client statuses, and never to demand any payment, except for those who were willing to pay. Field staff also carried aid in the form of food, goods and other relief products that could help them in the disaster aftermath.
Medical mission and feeding for affected clients was organised in cooperation with volunteers from Iloilo Doctors’ Hospital, nurses from University of Iloilo, while the Department of Health provided medicines.
The First Microfinance Institution - Syria (FMFI-S)
Established as a programme in March 2003 in an otherwise underserved and under-banked Middle East, FMFI-S was the first private-sector microfinance service provider in Syria. In 2009, the institution was transformed into a regulated non-bank financial institution under the new Syrian microfinance law, which allowed it to invite new shareholders and mobilize savings from the public.
The MFI managed to maintain its operations during the conflict providing services to clients (loans but also saving opportunities) and keep the staff safe. The MFI replaced the branch in Homs that was destroyed with two service units located nearby to maintain its presence in the area, and allow clients to have access to their savings and assure loan repayment. The MFI checked the clients’ status and addresses. It redefined the loans requirement (due to reduced clients purchase power): lending limits were incrementally raised to satisfy clients’ needs and cope with inflation, more power was devolved to branch managers to speed up the loans procedures. A Contingency and Business Continuity Plan (BCP) during disasters was put in place. The MFI strengthened its Anti Money Laundering Procedures, a crisis response intervention was developed: including procedures for loan forgiveness, loan rescheduling, grace periods up to 12 months, lending to new customers with adaptation of procedures to the new conflict situation, and development of new products (among which for energy due to electricity shortage.