Group Governance in Kenya 
Wednesday, March 11, 2009, 09:57 AM - The Solidarity Economy & Microfinance

The Decentralized Financial Service Project began in 2003. Phase II aimed to develop and test simple and effective tools and training to strengthen self-governance in community/rural based financial organisations (CBFOs). Through financing of Financial Sector Deepening Trust, I reviewed DFS Phase II with Angela Wambugu from Microsave (Kenya).

The project took a creative approach to training with a focus on accountability and transparency. By the end, members were much better able to hold leaders accountable. In all 225 groups were trained, approximately 5,000 members. DFS used a unique approach to group capacity building focused on member responsibilities and rights. They were able to demonstrate that built capacity in groups to self-manage and self-govern improves the performance of both groups and the institutions that support them.

Even though the results were promising, scale overall was limited and potential to improve upon that really depended on the type of association. The managed ASCA model proved to be the strongest demonstration of lowered costs that resulted in both broadened and deepened outreach (up to 70 km from the outlets). Financial Service Associations (FSA) were largely successful at decentralising services and increasing ownership at the group level. Built group capacity allowed the FSAs to reduce contact time thereby reaching more groups as well as creating groups in areas that would otherwise be too costly to reach. While the methodology shows promise, potential for scale is limited by institutional weaknesses and product rigidities. The Savings and Credit Cooperative was the least successful due largely to a limited ability or mandate to work on the group methodology and other institutional constraints.

Does training groups to be self-managed maximize rural outreach? Yes, particularly for the managed ASCA model. In the other cases, institutional limitations meant that efficiency gains at both group and institutional limit potential for broad outreach. Electronic copies of the report are available on request.

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Social Rating in Mali Namibia and Algeria 
Monday, October 6, 2008, 10:19 AM - The Solidarity Economy & Microfinance
painting- Adelino Timoteo

FIDES is a microfinance organization (and investor) that supports rural microfinance organizations in Africa and Eastern Europe. While many microfinance programs consider aspects of poverty they rarely look at the households in terms of their coping and asset strategies. How families use animals, jewelry as forms of savings and insurance. How they use social networks and groups. I worked with FIDES to develop a monitoring system that tracks these areas combining the quantitative data that donors & investors demand with qualitative methods for capturing the messiness of coping and asset building strategies.

Three types of analyses are used:

I. Client Poverty Measurement e.g. As of Dec. 2008 22% of Mali clients were likely below the poverty line. This data is generated through a 5 minute survey that uses the same questions from the national household expense surveys.

II. Client Profiling e.g. 42% of female Namibian clients have business assets in their own name. This data describes (in %s) and segments (in quartiles or sections) the client base in terms of social data: gender, poverty, rurality and the nature of their enterprise. Key portfolio data is also included that is relevant to social: retention rate; distribution of savings balances and distribution of loans disbursed as % GNI p.c. This data provides a springboard for further analysis.

III. In-Depth Analysis. Here aspects of household strategies, gender issues are explored in more depth. Due to lack of inheritance property rights, for example, widowhood or divorce can leave women in Namibia and Algeria and their children destitute despite income wealth and position. So we track women's personal assets as well.

In Mali, based on poverty segmentation of the client base, coping and asset-building strategies were explored for different households according to risk profile as the basis for a drought insurance scheme. For a recent paper on the process or for copies of the score-cards for FIDESí Social Performance Monitoring system contact:

For a copy of a paper on this social performance system presented at the European Conference on Microfinance (Brussels) go to the link below and search "Complex Enough to Capture: Simple Enough to Use: Early Lessons from FIDES' Cross-Country Social Performance System"

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Kixi-Credito Angola and Financial Literacy 
Friday, July 11, 2008, 06:21 PM - The Solidarity Economy & Microfinance

Development Workshop pioneered microfinance in Angola in 1996, growing from itís earlier Women Enterprise Development programme and a series of research studies on the informal economy and survival strategies in the market place. DW scaled up its solidarity group lending practice from 1999 as the Sustainable Livelihoods Project (SLP) within the framework of DFID. In 2002, with USAID support and later the Mary Tidlund Trust, abranch of SLP was opened in Huambo project. By 2004 SLP has made loans of about $1.9 million to micro-entrepreneurs of which 2/3 are women. By the end of the year the SLP programme had grown to the largest in the country with 3,674 clients in Luanda and another 1007 in Huambo.

DW transformed SLP into a commercial MFI under new Angolan legislation. The new MFI -- KixiCredito -- was launched at a national micro-credit conference in November 2004. KixiCredito has overcome significant challenges regarding the post-war environment, displaced families, control of PAR and limiting its operating expenses. It had considerable portfolio growth in 2005 and is now fully self-sustaining. It has also launched new products including an innovative housing loan.

Through the Coady International Institute, I worked with KixiCredito staff to develop financial literacy training for clients. Financial literacy helps the households to sort through what can be a maze of financial services, understand how to choose and make best use of them and plan for the future. This includes helping to build an awareness about advocacy and policy issues that affect the self-employed. I am happy to share these training materials in Portuguese. ... p?ett=1801