A code of conduct for EMN and its members
Maria DOICIU - EMN Vice-President (Board of Directors)
For the European microfinance sector to grow and mature
, it needs to demonstrate to its stakeholders its commitment to the highest standards of governance and best practice. The establishment of a code of conduct for EMN and its members
was on the agenda of EMN’s Board
since the new bylaws of the association were approved in November 2009.
A code of conduct would be a good way to spread ethical and customer-friendly best practices among MFIs and is one of the measures proposed by the “European initiative for the development of microcredit in support of growth and employment”, adopted in November 2007. Moreover, it will act as a tool to support the JASMINE initiative, which also aims to help MFIs to develop quality services and to become sustainable
The code of conduct drafted by the Board of EMN consists of four sections:
- EMN and its members
- Client protection principles
- EMN and its activities
- EMN secretariat and EMN Board
The eight Client Protection principles that all EMN members are expected to subscribe to are:
- Avoidance of Over-indebtedness: Credit will be extended only if borrowers have demonstrated an adequate ability to repay;
- Transparent Pricing: The pricing, terms, and conditions of financial products will be transparent and will be adequately disclosed in a form understandable to clients;
- Appropriate Collection Practices: Debt collection practices of providers will not be abusive or coercive;
- Ethical Staff Behaviour: Staff of financial service providers will comply with high ethical standards in their interaction with microfinance clients;
- Mechanisms for Redress of Grievances: Providers will have in place timely and responsive mechanisms for complaints and problem resolution for their clients;
- Privacy of Client Data: The privacy of individual client data will be respected, and such data cannot be used for other purposes without the express permission of the client;
- Gender Equality and Non-discrimination: EMN members will promote and respect the policy of gender equality and non-discrimination in relations with their staff and clients;
- Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection and Improvement: EMN members will respect the framework of sustainable development and the promotion of the goal of protection and improvement of the environment.
The draft code of conduct will be sent to members for comment in order to improve its content, and will be submitted to the approval of the general assembly in June and the EMN Annual Conference which will be held in London from 23 to 25 June 2010.
EMN - Strengthened advocacy activities in 2010
As part of its development and strategic plan, the European Microfinance Network (EMN) has recruited a new Senior Programme Officer and, in January 2010, opened an office in Brussels, hosted in the premises of Belgian EMN member Fonds de Participation. This office will provide an excellent opportunity for the network to strengthen its advocacy activities at the European and national levels.
So far, EMN has been actively engaged in advocacy at the European level. EMN members and staff have met regularly with representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Investment Fund to discuss and influence the design and implementation of the JEREMIE and JASMINE initiatives as well as the new PROGRESS Microfinance Facility. As such, at the beginning of January, it turned out that out of the 15 European microfinance organizations selected for the 2010 JASMINE Technical Assistance programme, 10 were EMN members!
The new Brussels-based office will now reinforce EMN’s advocacy activities even more. It will allow the network to more closely monitor the actions of the European Commission and the European Parliament in the field of microfinance, to strengthen its ties with other Brussels-based European networks in the field of social exclusion, finance and banking, and to expand the advocacy activities of the network and its members, at the European, national and regional levels.
EMN welcomes 6 new members
The EMN Board welcomed six new members at its March meeting, bringing the number of members to 88 from 22 European countries.
Magdala Foundation (Spain) is a not-for-profit foundation whose main objective is to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable through microcredit programmes targeting women heads of households in a situation of extreme poverty or the disabled. To this end, Magdala conducts microcredit programmes in Africa, Latin America and Spain, following the methodology developed by Professor Yunus and whose prime example is the Grameen Bank.
Based in Brussels, CoopEst (Belgium)
is an investment company set up in 2006 to support and finance socially responsible projects in Central and Eastern Europe. CoopEst
was created by key players in social finance in Europe, together with the International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group). CoopEst
promotes both social and economic development in Central and Eastern Europe. It is a professional, innovative and committed long-term financial partner.
good.bee credit IFN SA
(Romania) is a non-bank financial institution dedicated to assisting the development of microentrepreneurs. good.bee credit
is a joint venture between the Economic Development Center Foundation, ERSTE Foundation and Erste Group Bank. At present, it disburses credits through a national network of 10 offices.
The International Association for Community Development (IACD) (UK)
is an international membership organisation for those working in or supporting community development and is open to both individuals and organisations. Members include individuals and organisations across seven global regions. IACD
is a volunteer-led, not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to building a global network of people and organisations working toward social justice through a community development approach.
DSL (Developing Strathclyde Ltd) (UK) is a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) providing business start-up and growth loans for small businesses and social enterprises that can’t access funding from banks and other traditional sources.
Established in Glasgow, Scotland in 1993, DSL
’s remit was to encourage and nurture profitable and sustainable enterprises in the areas that are amongst the most depressed and disadvantaged in Glasgow, and in most of lowland Scotland since 2009.
The Fédération des Caisses d’Epargne (France) is a representation and expression body for the Caisses d'Epargne, and the safeguard of the interests of the members and of the identity and mutualist values of the savings banks. For nearly two hundred years, the Caisses d'Epargne have been working for social cohesion and fighting exclusion. This is the reason the Federation has set up two programmes to promote financial inclusion, in particular through microcredit.
Microfinance in Croatia – The need for an enabling legal framework
Seriously damaged by the 1991-1995 war that followed Croatia’s independence from former Yugoslavia, the Croatian economy has gradually recovered, although set back once again by the economic crisis in 1998 and non-transparent reforms that resulted in peak levels of unemployment until 2002. Since 2000 though, Croatia has been striking a new path to democracy and to a market-oriented economy and was accepted as an EU candidate country in 2004.
has had a steadily growing economy with a stable currency
, the Kuna. GDP per capita in PPS (Purchasing Power Standards) grew to 62.7% in 2008, underpinned by strong private consumption and fuelled by a rapid expansion in consumer credit. Micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) constitute the principal motor of economic development. The service sector (including tourism) accounts for 70% of GDP. However, persistent economic problems still remain: Although constantly declining, unemployment still remained at a rather elevated level of 9.6% in 2008, with the Eastern regions particularly affected. This is coupled with slow progress in economic reforms, i.e. in the judiciary system and public administration.
The banking system has also endured several years of crisis, being left with a substantial amount of bad loans which rendered banks illiquid and near bankruptcy. Small businesses and farmers suffered the most from this shortage. Access to finance, especially working capital loans and loans for business investments, is still a major problem for entrepreneurs in Croatia, even for better established businesses. Today the Croatian banking sector is nearly entirely privatized and foreign-owned. Banks are present mainly in larger towns and require strict guarantees for loans where it is often difficult for individuals to ascertain ownership of property.
Three microfinance institutions, operating primarily in war-affected, economically depressed areas, try to fill this gap by offering transparent and personalized services and more flexible guarantees. However, these MFIs are hindered in their operations by a highly restrictive regulatory environment. MFIs are forced to adapt the clumsy and expensive legal form of Savings and Loan Cooperative (SLC), forbidding them to borrow from foreign investors and to use loans from local banks for on-lending. As such, the biggest Croatian MFI, Demos, founded by the Swiss-based refugee organization ICMC with a 100% USAID capital donation, was registered as an SLC in 2000. In 2007, it had 1,800 active borrowers (average loan size: €1,600) and about €2 million in lending and savings products, including group lending products to low-income clients in the informal and agricultural sectors, an SME loan product to low-income entrepreneurs as well as consumer loans. However, due to the heavy legal constraints, Demos had to stop its operations in January 2009. Another MFI, NOA was founded as an SLC in 1996 by Opportunity International/USAID in order to provide loans to small businesses in the war-torn areas of Eastern Croatia, with an average loan size of about €4,700. As of 2007, NOA had 552 active clients and an outstanding loan portfolio of €2.9 million. NOA recently turned into a Credit Union and is now struggling with the strict banking law. The third MFI, Mikroplus started as a direct implementation of the international NGO Catholic Relief Services, with a special permit from the Croatian National Bank, but it has already stopped lending in December 2007.
The need for microfinance in Croatia is acute, but the restrictive legal environment hinders MFIs from operating. MFIs had expected a lot from an updated Banking Law adopted in January 2007, providing for a sub-category of banks called Savings Banks that were allowed to access foreign equity capital and loans. However, this law has not delivered any positive results for microfinance institutions. Thus, legal issues need to be resolved first, so as to enable MFIs to operate effectively and provide the underserved Croatian citizens and enterprises with the financial services they need.
Sources: Mix Market data for 2007; Eurostat; “From NGOs to FFIs in Microfinance Services: Conversion Road Map and its challenges”, Dec 2005, Hungary; “SME Access to Finance in Croatia: Is there a Problem?” 2003, Porter Chilsen&Company; map: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/candidate-countries/croatia/index_en.htm
Berlin launches a Microcredit fund to help very small enterprises (VSE)
"Very small enterprises", as well as the self-employed, are particularly affected by "the shortage of credit", stated Ursula von der Leyen, of the Labour Ministry. With this "German Microcredit Fund", enterprises can seek a loan of up to €20,000 over three years, without having to provide a financial guarantee, contrary to the procedures of banks. Concretely, the loans will be granted by GLS Bank, which carries out its activities according to social and ecological criteria, and the fund will act as guarantor. Of the €100 million which are going to be engaged in this project up to 2015, 60 % stems from the European Union and 40 % from the German Labour Ministry.
A German microcredit fund had already been set up in 2006 with funds from the State and the European Social Fund. This fund was managed by GLS bank and credits were granted in cooperation with DMI (Deutsche Mikrofinanzinstitut), a network of 35 business support initiatives and a member of EMN. This fund came to an end in 2009 and has now been renewed with the aim of supplying microcredits nationwide. The aim is to grant at least 900 microcredits in 2010.
The FBF and France Active sign an agreement to promote banking microcredit
At the Entrepreneurs’ Exhibition, Baudouin Prot, President of the French Banking Federation (FBF), and Christian Sautter, President of France Active, an EMN member, signed a partnership agreement to promote business creation by jobseekers and enhance professional banking microcredit in France.
The FBF and France Active want to improve coordination between their structures so as to contribute more effectively to the creation, growth and survival of businesses created by people in difficulty.
An action plan around three axes has been implemented:
- Information for future entrepreneurs, based on the FBF programme of financial education on its website www.lesclesdelabanque.com, for traders, artisans, liberal professionals and entrepreneurs, and the launch of a new Guides’ Collection “Les clés de la banque Pro” (The Keys of the professional bank) entitled “How to do?”, whose first issue was presented at the conference organised during the exhibition;
- The operational merger of both networks in the field, starting with the testing of a close partnership in a few test areas;
- The training and in particular the capacity building of France Active network officers in terms of banking intermediation.
FEA benefits from JEREMIE thanks to local funds
A member of EMN
(European Microfinance Network), FEA®
is one of the official mediators of the JEREMIE microcredit programme in Hungary
. However, as a
non-profit enterprise promotion foundation it faces a real challenge when it comes to producing the sources for the 10% co-financing prescribed by the programme.
Within the scope of the announced programme, the local government has donated HUF 20 million (EUR 73,500) to the foundation. This amount will be used for co-financing the JEREMIE microcredit programme financed by the European Union in order to allocate a total of HUF 200 million (EUR 735,000) to finance the town microentrepreneurs ...
Adie increases its reputation in France
The new Adie
advert developed for TV and cinema to celebrate the last Microcredit Week
features top executives of major companies caught in daily situations and behaving like ordinary people. The advert creates a surprise reaction with a funny effect and concludes with the line; “Top managers are people just like you, so why not do as they do?”
. When first released on Dailymotion in June 2009 the advert proved to be a hit. The advert has been quite a success for the Adie PR team and the Young and Rubicam creative teams who worked free of charge to make the advert.
Adie - a recent survey shows strong crisis impact on microentrepreneurs' businesses, most of them however remain optimistic about the future
According to a survey of 452 microentrepreneurs carried out by CSA
, a major French research institute, 75% of microentrepreneurs have seen a reduction in their activities as a result of the current economic crisis. 78% have not invested in new projects and 71% have not been able to cover their expenses. Despite this, there is good news. Most of those interviewed still believe that their situation will improve, 43% even believing in a slight upturn at the end of 2009 and 80% believing an upturn will take place in 2010.
According to the survey, Adie is trusted as the right support partner. 64% of those surveyed stated that Adie provided the appropriate coaching, counselling and psychological support.
Adie announces National Microcredit Week in June 2010
The 6th Microcredit Week will take place from 1–5 June, 2010. As every year, all Adie teams will take part in a variety of special events in most French cities to increase public awareness of Adie's activities and increase their contact with new potential clients. Information stands will be displayed, seminars and debates will be organized and a special free-of-charge telephone number set up in order to handle all requests related to microcredit facilities.
ABACO - Adult Basic Accounting and Control of Overindebtedness
is participating in the European funded ABACO project
(“Adult Basic Accounting and Control of Overindebtedness”
) that aims to implement a strategy to deal with the problem of lack of financial education for vulnerable adults and migrants in Southern Europe.
The project is attempting to adapt methodologies and contents
developed by the association NIBUD
, an independent Dutch foundation that provides information about household finance. NIBUD
´s experience has never been translated or implemented in other countries and has a large impact already in the Netherlands. Its websites are visited daily by more than 10,000 people!
OUTPUTS: The partnership will adapt teaching materials and publications already developed by NIBUD that will be available in English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Greek.
ABOUT THE PARTNERS: The consortium is multi-player: one partner per country (Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain) to represent the Mediterranean area which according to EU SILC is in greater need of prevention of indebtedness and has not yet developed significant strategies and tools. Additionally, a Swiss organization was able to join the project as a silent partner.
For more information on Transformando, please click here.
Crédit Coopératif launches OpenSpace and gets involved in the Working Group on Microcredit
OpenSpace is an initiative launched jointly by RMSF (
Risk Manager Sans Frontières), Elseware, Crédit Coopératif
in order to promote risk management in microfinance and help secure the sector's growth.
OpenSpace is intended for MFIs by providing them with a tool for prospective risk analysis. It is a borderless and quantitative approach to risk measurement (assessment of strategic, financial and operational risk at the same time). OpenSpace is also intended for donors and investors to help them assess the risk of a portfolio. The tool for MFIs is software made freely available in opensource, whereas the tool for institutional bodies requires a subscription to a database.
The first stage of the project was a field programme in the form of a risk audit with thirty MFIs in the world. This stage, completed in 2009, helped clarify the specifications of the tool and develop a network of users. The second stage of the project began early 2010. Its aim is to develop the tool and the database, and to start their dissemination among MFIs and institutional bodies.
Moreover, at the end of 2009, the CNIS (
Centre National de l’Information Statistique) set up a working group on microcredit. This group, chaired by Pierre Valentin, General Manager of Crédit Coopératif, brings together a little more than twenty experts from all sectors and aims to define the procedures for collecting both personal and professional statistical information on microcredit in France. The minutes of the Working Group are available on the CNIS website.
For more information on Crédit Coopératif, please click here.
BFS awarded with several grants to create jobs
UK-based Business Finance Solutions (BFS) is a not-for-profit, government-backed organisation that provides existing and start-up businesses with an alternative way of securing finance. It supports hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs across the Cheshire and Greater Manchester areas and generates millions of pounds in investment in the region. Recently, BFS won a £30,000 (around €33,000) grant from Barclays Bank, one of only five community development financial institutions in England to do this, and it has also been awarded a further £1.9 million (around €2,1 million) from the European Regional Development Fund and Northwest Regional Development Agency. Overall, BFS has been granted over £4 million (around €4.4 million) in funds that have contributed to creating 749 jobs and helped to safeguard 611 positions for new and existing businesses in Greater Manchester and Cheshire.
A fashion website created thanks to a Créa-Sol microcredit
In June 2006, all they had was the idea of a virtual store, an unshakeable faith in their project and a few thousand euros collected by selling their car. Three and a half years later,
Séverine Grégoire and Chloé Ramade generate an annual turnover of 5 million euros and have 22 employees, one hundred products referenced and the women’s wear on-line sales leadership in France. Their website monshowroom.com would never have emerged without the support of the Microfinance Institution Créa-Sol, which lent them €40,000 with a 4% interest rate over five years to start their business.
“At the time, says Frédéric N'Guyen, director of Créa-Sol Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, we did not yet have the clearance from the Ministry of Economy, which limits the amount of microcredit to 10,000 euros. As this project seemed viable, we supported it to the maximum, that is to say, with the maximum limit amount we had before the Ministry clearance that we finally obtained in April 2009.”
Before approaching Créa-Sol, the two businesswomen had of course contacted traditional banks with no success. None of the bankers even bothered to refer them to the existing microfinance institutions.
Créa-Sol provides funding for people without access to banking services under normal conditions. The organisation provides them with loans at a preferential rate allowing them to create their business or achieve a specific project. Meanwhile, the association offers them personalised support. For this, it relies on the expertise and experience of the training tool of the Caisses d'Epargne, Finances & Pédagogie, and on its network of specialised partners.
MFC Annual Conference “Post-crisis Microfinance: What is the Responsible Way Forward?”
May 26-28, 2010, Astana, Kazakhstan
The conference will be co-organized in partnership with the Government of Kazakhstan, represented by the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning and the Association of Microfinance Organizations of Kazakhstan (AMFOK). For three days, over 500 representatives of MFIs, policy makers, investors, donors and experts will take part in the event. The event will provide the necessary updates and the ways MFC members can engage in client protection.
The conference workshops and plenary sessions will cover:
- Financial crisis: status of microfinance in Europe and Central Asia. Lessons learnt and ways forward;
- Challenges and perspectives for the microfinance sector in Central Asia, with particular focus on Kazakhstan;
- European approach to microfinance: more sustainable and more social?
- Why saving money is such a big issue in the region or is it?
- Protection of microfinance clients: how can you ensure that your MFI services do not harm?
- Towards balanced MFI performance: social performance management and why it is indispensible for further growth of the sector;
- Foreign exchange risk and local currency funding;
- Technology applications in offering new products, with particular focus on mobile banking;
- Promising approaches to financial education.
Millennium Bank celebrates its 4th anniversary
Since 8 November 2005, Millennium bcp
is the only bank in Portugal that has an Autonomous Microcredit Network
. Since January 2008, the four branches assume the country-wide coverage. Late November 2009, and to celebrate the 4th anniversary of the Autonomous Microcredit Network of Millennium bcp Bank, a "sympathy" a lunch was held with the presence of microentrepreneurs, project managers and journalists. Prior to lunch, there was a film presentation that featured testimonies from three microentrepreneurs, to be shown on the internal television of the bank, Millennium bcp TV. The aim of this event was to acquaint the media with the microcredit achievements of Millennium bcp in this particular area and, at the same time, give an opportunity for microentrepreneurs to meet and exchange experiences in order to feel that they are not alone in this new challenging stage of their lives. This was also an opportunity to promote an autograph session
of the book "To Get Around Without Money" (in Portuguese "dar a volta sem dinheiro"), with the presence of the author António Santos.
Up to December 2009 and over the four years of activity, the Microcredit department of Millennium bcp helped to create 1,708 new jobs and advised and implemented 1,050 micro-projects, representing a funding of 10.9 million euros, a process that includes the preparation of the Business Plan, the financing, the monitoring of the total process and an exquisite permanent advice service for the microentrepreneurs.
First EMN peer-to-peer exchange visit with Nantik Lum
The objective of this meeting was an exchange to benefit from the experience of Fondazione Giordano Dell'Amore, another EMN member, in terms of creation of a national microfinance network, of identification of best practices used in Italy and of comprehensive analysis of the internal functions of the organisation.
Fundación Nantik Lum thinks the visit was very useful and has allowed it further deepen more its practical understanding of the creation, the objectives and the management of a national network and it confirms the necessity of implementing a similar initiative in Spain.
New EMN Exchange Visit in Portugal
From 10 to 12 May 2010
is organising a new exchange visit
that will take place for the first time in Portugal
, organised in partnership with our Portuguese members, ANDC and Milleniuim bcp microcrédito
This new visit, the 11th organised by EMN, will allow participants once again to discover the specificities of the microfinance sector in a European country where the sector emerged in the late 1990s and is steadily expanding.
By participating in this exchange visit, which will be held in Lisbon, participants will have the opportunity to visit the main actors of the market and to meet clients and private and institutional partners.
EMN Annual Conference
"2010: A Changing Europe"
combatting poverty,supporting enterprise
From 23 to 25 June 2010, EMN is organising its 7th Annual Conference which will be held in London (UK), in partnership with the cdfa (Community Development Financial Association) and with the support of the European Commission, the Levi Strauss Foundation and BIS (Department for Business Innovation & Skills).
During this major event, EMN and the cdfa
will welcome around 350 participants, among whom will be practitioners, bankers, researchers, investors, local government
and European Commission representatives, policy makers and the private sector.
This 7th Annual Conference, which is a joint conference, will provide the opportunity to discuss the changes experienced by the European countries and how this can affect the microfinance and community development sectors.
Furthermore, during the conference the “Award Europe” for Microfinance Good Practices
will be presented for the second time, endowed with €50,000.
In addition, the “European Microcredit Research Award”,
which is endowed with €1,000, will be distributed once again.
For more information on the joint EMN-cdfa Conference and the accompanying events, please visit our website. On-line registrations will soon be available.
EMN develops and makes itself known
In January 2010, EMN opened an office in Brussels, following the integration into the team of Daniel Sorrosal as Senior Programme Officer. This new office, housed in the premises of our Belgian member Fonds de Participation, will allow EMN to develop its advocacy activities with the European Commission in particular, and to strengthen its links with other European networks working in the fields of social and financial inclusion, the fight against poverty and entrepreneurship.
Furthermore, and in order to raise awareness about its activities and about the microfinance sector in Europe, EMN has opened a Facebook account. You will find there news and events and will have the opportunity to meet all those interested in the microfinance sector in Europe. Do not hesitate to become a fan and help us to become known!!
Over recent months, EMN has also made new sections on its website available to Internet users and people interested in the microfinance field so as to better inform them about the sector. In particular, you will find there the following new sections:
Do not hesitate to send us your comments to help us improve the information we offer.
Capacity Building at ANDC and at NEEM
, the National Association for a Right to Credit, is the largest microfinance-only institution in Portugal. Supported by the National Employment Agency, it has provided credits and support to microenterprises for just over ten years, with the result that around 2,000 jobs have been created and many more stabilised. ANDC
works in close partnership with the three main Portuguese banks; the Association conducts the credit assessment and presents the case to one of the banks, which then disburses the credit. ANDC
is also in charge of client monitoring and takes care of any problem that may arise with the credit, until final payment.
In the context of the global economic crisis, ANDC
clients are facing difficulties and sometimes have problems with loan repayment. To deal with a looming delinquency crisis, ANDC
has called in EMN
for a tailor-made training programme on delinquency management within the framework of the Consulting Partnership
The training programme took place over three days in mid-December, and was attended by most of the ANDC
staff, from loan officers to management and the administration team. This hands-on and interactive training was greatly appreciated.
All participants indicated that it had provided them with good guidance and specific tools for better credit analysis and monitoring procedures, leading to an improved loan portfolio in the near future.
NEEM is a Swedish NGO that supports immigrant women who wish to set up their own small business and become self-employed as part of the general social integration process. NEEM provides business advice and helps the would-be entrepreneurs at every stage of the administrative process. One of the bottlenecks in the creation of a microenterprise is access to finance, as most banks don't lend to this segment. NEEM has thus set up partnerships with local banks to intermediate for the clients, but has also taken steps to become a financial company that lends its own funds.
To consolidate its structure ahead of such an important move and prepare its team for increased responsibilities, NEEM
to organise a three-day seminar to build capacity on loan systems and procedures
. Within the framework of the Consulting Partnership
, Manuel Moyart
(EMN Microfinance Consultant
) conducted the workshop on Microfinance Institution Capacity Building with great success. The 13 participants comprised the future loan officers, the administration team, the members of the credit committee and the board. This introductory workshop should lead to further training sessions on product development, management information systems, lending methodology and other specific subjects.
If you wish to benefit from the EMN Consulting Partnership, please contact us (this service is restricted to EMN members only).
Microfinance Good Practices Europe Award 2010
In 2010, the European Microfinance Network and Fondazione Giordano Dell'Amore renewed their partnership within the framework of the “Microfinance Good Practices Europe Award”. The Award carries a prize of 50,000 euros and rewards the best microfinance experience in Europe.
Created with the purpose of raising awareness among the European public of the role of microfinance, of encouraging experience exchanges among European practitioners and of promoting best practices, the 2010 Award will evaluate the candidates based on criteria of sustainability, innovation, impact, implementation and quality of the project.
The Award must be designed to extend the offer of financial or non-financial services, with the intention of contributing to the growth of the awarded institution in terms of innovation, feasibility and impact. The numerous proposals received, which had to be submitted by 7 February 2010, come from 10 countries within the European Union and candidate countries.
Once the finalists have been informed, the names of the organisations will be published before 31 March on the Fondazione Giordano Dell'Amore website (www.fgda.org). These organisations will be invited to participate in the 7th EMN Annual Conference to be held from 23 to 25 June 2010 in London (United Kingdom).
During the conference, all participants will receive a publication which will present the experiences of this year's finalists as well as a short presentation of the laureates. An international jury will also select and reward the organisation winning the Microfinance Good Practices Europe Award 2010.
The new EMN IT WG organises its first meeting in Milan
On 15 December 2009, with its first meeting held in Milan, Italy, the fifth EMN working group was born! The Working Group is led by Maria Cristina Negro from Fondazione Giordano Dell’Amore, an Italian institution supporting MFI growth, capacity building, networking and other activities related to the improvement of microfinance services.
The main mission of this new Working Group is to promote innovation as a driving force for the sector and the proposed objective is “To identify best practices in order to use technology to make the difference, improving access outreach and sustainability.” The newborn working group doesn’t as yet have a working plan for the current year but it is starting work on it with a survey of IT management systems adopted by European MFIs, taking advantage of the EMN Survey on the European Microfinance Sector by introducing several specific questions on this topic.
The results of the survey will allow the IT Working Group to have a better picture of the situation and the needs for IT innovation, and will allow MFIs to better define possible fields of intervention.
The next meeting will be held on 16 April 2010 in Budapest, Hungary, hosted by Fejér Enterprise Agency, which will present to the group the Internet-based service providing system they recently adopted.
Updates on EMN Research WG activities
The Research Working Group
has officially launched the 2008/2009 Pan-European Microcredit Survey!
It works with 27 countries
to collect information regarding microcredit programmes carried out over the last two years in Europe
. The information received will be used to write an overview about the status of microfinance in Europe. The overview produced from the results of the last survey can be downloaded by clicking here
. We invite all MFIs to participate in the survey, to promote the microfinance sector in Europe and to help the microfinance sector be more transparent.
If you have not received the request for participation, do not hesitate to contact us.
We have also submitted a call for papers for the 2010 European Microcredit Research Award
that has an endowment of €1,000. Three finalists will be chosen from the papers submitted and a winner announced at the Research Strand Workshop organised within the framework of the 7th annual EMN Conference
which will be held in London, from 23 to 25 June 2010. Abstracts are being accepted until Friday 26 March. For more information, visit the EMN European Microcredit Research Award webpage
Activities of the EMN LER WG
Started in June 2009, the Legal Environment and Regulation Workgroup pursues two objectives:
- Develop lobbying activities at both European and National levels;
- Give EMN members the opportunity to share experiences as regards legal environment and regulation.
Composed of three core members
) and led by Reseau Financement Alternatif, the group has created the first Lobby Network within EMN
with National Contact Points in each country. A “Lobby and advocacy kit” of best practices and a synthesis of existing regulations, tools and financing opportunities at EU level (including “on which door to knock”) are available upon request.
The LEG WG met in February in Budapest to define its 2010 work plan focusing on activating national lobbying and mobilising Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in each country. National lobbying will promote microfinance within the NAPs (National Action Plans for Social Inclusion) that are submitted by each Member State to the European Commission. NAPs include actions on Social Inclusion, Pensions and Health Care. In 2010, NAPs are being drafted for the 2011-13 period.
The LEG WG will coordinate EMN’s participation in the NAP consultation process, the goal being to include Microfinance in the NAPs as a Social Inclusion tool. Success in this process means microfinance becoming part of the National Social Inclusion Strategy and consequently having national funding allocated to Microfinance. It will ensure access to European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) funding, managed by national and regional authorities and will also have an important policy impact at the European level.
The 2010 LEG WG work plan includes:
- Coordinating national lobbying through National Contact Points (NCPs), representing EMN members in each country
- Producing tools for National lobbying
- Ensuring Training of NCPs on National Lobbying
- Mobilising MEPs to support Microfinance in Europe
In order to share best national practices and suggest improvements in the regulatory framework, the overview of legal and regulatory framework per country will be updated. A summary of Lobby activities and outputs will be presented during the EMN 2010 conference in London.
JASMINE TA: first beneficiaries selected
Following the call for Expressions of Interest for the JASMINE Technical Assistance programme in December 2009, the European Investment Fund has selected 15 European microfinance actors to receive technical assistance funds.
Ten EMN members have been selected to benefit from an adapted technical assistance in 2010. They are Mikrofond and Nachala (Bulgaria), CréaSol (France), Fejer Enterprise Agency (Hungary), PerMicro (Italy), Omro and Faer (Romania), Fundacion CP’AC (Spain), The Prince Scottish Youth Business Trust (UK).
All will benefit from an evaluation of their activities, organisation and structure by an independent specialised team, having the choice between an institutional assessment or a full rating.
Evaluations will be conducted by Microfinanza and PlaNet Rating, starting in March 2010 with Nachala and Mikrofond and continuing until November 2010.
Following the evaluation results, organisations will receive training in specific areas, in order to address the weaknesses identified in the evaluation. Training will be conducted through 2010, with the last training programme taking place in December.
Both evaluations and training are financed by the European Commission, Directorate General for Regional Policy, with no charge to the beneficiary institutions.
A new Call for Expressions of Interest will take place in September/October 2010 in order to select 15 new organisations that will receive similar assistance in 2011.
We strongly encourage EMN members
to respond to this call and will inform you when it is published. Should you require any assistance in submitting your proposal, please do not hesitate to contact the EMN Secretariat
Green light for the European Microfinance Facility
On 11 February 2010, the European Parliament MEPs gave the green light to the EU funding for the new “European Microfinance Facility for Employment and Social Inclusion (Progress)”. Funding will come partly from the existing Progress Employment and Social Solidarity programme and partly from unallocated money in the EU budget. The agreement on this issue, reached between MEPs in the Employment and Social Affairs Committee and the Spanish Presidency on 5 February, was endorsed by the full Parliament by 511 votes to 95, with 11 abstentions.
In December, the Parliament had approved the creation of the Microfinance Facility, intended to facilitate access to credit for people who have lost or risk losing their jobs and who wish to start up their own businesses. MEPs agreed to make €100 million available for the facility over four years. However, while the Commission had proposed that the facility be funded from the Progress Programme, MEPs in the Employment and Social Affairs Committee wanted fresh money for the facility.
Under the compromise, €60 million will come from the Progress programme and €40 million from unallocated funds in the EU budget. For 2010, the Parliament and Council have already agreed to release €25 million from the 2010 EU budget.
These funds will be used for capital loans and guarantees. No funds are foreseen for technical assistance of MFIs or capacity building of microfinance clients. The first instrument to be activated will be the guarantee facility, for which EIF will launch a call for tenders before the summer. A second call for tenders for credit lines is scheduled for September 2010.
European Consultation 2020
Last November, the European Commission
sent out a consultation on Europe 2020 Strategy
, which is designed to be the post-crisis successor to the Lisbon Strategy. EMN
summarised its members’ feed back and responded (click here to download the EMN response
agrees on the need to build a reshaped market economy that seeks sustainability through increased economic dynamism and modernised social protection systems. EMN
pointed out that to ensure such a sustainable market economy, there should be more focus on the following:
- Actively promoting microenterprises and related services, such as microfinance
- Improving the legal and regulatory environment for microenterprises
- Supporting the bodies that assist enterprise creators, such as mentors and finance providers
- Introducing courses on entrepreneurship into the educational system
- Allowing for a diversification of financial providers and financial services to respond to specific clients, such as microenterprises or the newly self-employed
- Adapting the legal and regulatory environment to favour the development of microfinance institutions and products
- Spreading good practice on legal status and access to services for the self-employed
- Embedding self-employment in flexible social security systems.
EMN will follow up on the definition of Europe 2020 strategy to ensure microfinance is in its rightful place.
On-line EMN Library