Good governance for Member-Owned Institutions in Remote Rural Areas 
Friday, August 8, 2008, 07:28 PM - MF Publications

Savings and Spider Plants: What is good governance for Member-Owned Institutions in Remote Rural Areas? This is a thematic cross-cutting article based on seven institutional case-studies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This article is part of a larger FORD Foundation-funded, Coady Institute study on member-owned institutions. For access to the other articles go to the related link.

Key findings:

• Members are more likely to safeguard money that they perceive as their own rather than as external capital.

• Member-ownership did not guarantee trust or patronage if services were not competitive or flexible enough.

• Small autonomous groups and larger MOIs seem to have the strongest forms of governance and accountability. Small associations keep transactions simple and use witness-style governance, local norms for organizing and, often, oral bookkeeping. Complex reporting requirements can threaten groups’ ability to keep their own records or to supervise others to do so.

• Large sophisticated networks or cooperatives are able to effectively combine internal controls with external regulation and supervision including audits. Their success depended on finding creative ways to decentralize decision-making and member input.

• There is a trade-off between product diversity and member ownership. The complexity of products affects the complexity of governance and members’ ability to oversee.

• Being localized and networked at the same time proves quite challenging for governance because there are two overlapping governance structures. This model can be the worst of two worlds lacking the flexibility of localized as well as the standardization required to control risks.

• Village-based models that use local governance structures are an effective way to ensure wide outreach and local ownership. However, it is more likely that local power structures are making use of the MOI than the other way around. How these governance structures can be held accountable is the key to this model.

Click on related link for a copy of the paper.

  |  related link
Kixi-Credito Angola and Financial Literacy 
Friday, July 11, 2008, 10:21 PM - The Solidarity Economy & Microfinance

Development Workshop pioneered microfinance in Angola in 1996, growing from it’s 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

A Gold Thread: Building Assets and Courage among SEWA's Microfinance Members 
Tuesday, July 8, 2008, 07:35 PM - MF Publications

This article talks about the links between the "practical" livelihood interests of women and the broader "strategic" interests such as power shifts and policy change. There are necessary links between the two that I have seen demonstrated through the work at Self Employed Women's Association Bank and SEWA Association.

This women's association/union for the self-employed is comprised of over 800,000 women in India. It is an inspiring story of organizing, microfinance and advocacy through the visionary leadership of founder Ela Bhatt.

Through the Coady Institute, I worked with SEWA Bank on developing a training program for financial literacy of members, management of self help groups and strategic planning for district-level associations. These training materials are also available in English and Gujurati upon request.

For a copy of the article please contact me.

Remote Rural Finance and Selfish Genes 
Tuesday, July 8, 2008, 07:21 PM - MF Publications
Selfish genes is a good metaphor for small, informal financial associations. At their best, they are self-replicating and adaptive. This was a paper that I wrote for the Microcredit Summit in Halifax November 2006 based on our early work with the FORD Foundation study on remote, rural member-owned finance. I argue that there are different routes to overcoming the limitations of being small. Achieving scale is one route but there are others including self-replication of associations or linkages with other institutions (that allow them to stay small and flexible).
  |  related link
Words of Advice 
Thursday, March 27, 2008, 12:50 PM - Outdoor adventure
One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.
-- Edward Abbey

Back Next