AFI`s four pillars of an evolving digital financial ecosystem

The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) recently launched an interesting report “Fintech for Financial inclusion: a Framework for Digital Financial Transformation” on how developing and emerging markets can increase financial inclusion and economic development through fintech. Even though I thought the title was promising more than the report could offer, I thought it had interesting ideas and let me sharpen my conceptual thinking about the use of technology to increase financial inclusion.

Specifically does the report present four pillars providing –  together with a conducive enabling policy and regulatory environment and supporting infrastructure – a foundation for an evolving digital financial ecosystem. These pillars are poised to help countries maximize the benefits from financial inclusion. They are interdependent but still reinforce each other: Continue reading

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Go Big by Going Small: Serving the Needs of Smallholder Farmers

This time “I” was the guest blogger on the recently rebranded FinDevGateway.

Please find below my blog on smallholder farmers in preparation of my panel at the European Microfinance Week 2018 in Luxembourg.

This blog post is also available in French: Voir grand en visant petit : répondre aux besoins des petits agriculteursFarmers in the Philippines. Photo by Froi Rivera, 2017 CGAP Photo Contest.

Small family farms are the basis of agricultural production in developing countries, and according to the FAO, 80 percent of these countries’ food comes from smallholders. However, as important as this sector is, it still faces many challenges, especially funding. The financial sector still struggles to find a viable strategy to reach and support small producers. As part of this year’s European Microfinance Week, Hannah Siedek of the European Investment Bank will moderate a session that highlights successful and potentially replicable examples of small farmer financing. Alterfin, CGAP and Ugandan financial services provider Pride Microfinance will share their experiences in this panel. More in English


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Smallholder agriculture – impressive impact by CSAF members!

The Council of Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF) State of the Sector 2018 publication showcases the success of this alliance of 12 social lending institutions targeting agricultural businesses  in low- and middle-income countries. Very concretely, the members have had the following impact since the foundation of the CSAF in 2013: Continue reading

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Flash from the Past: business case of digital financial services

Whow, I remember the times so clearly before having been hijacked by the European Investment Bank. I was an independent consultant hired by one of the consultancies contracted by the IFC to develop the business case on digital financial services (DFS) with 5 (the final study was done on 9) microfinance service providers. We were visiting institutions in DRC, Madagascar, Senegal, etc to learn about their… Continue reading

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Breaking Free of the Branch!

Breaking Free of the Branch!Very excited to present you my latest publication! Before joining the European Investment Bank in Oktober 2015, I was working as independent consultant and specifically on „The Partnership for Financial Inclusion.“ This initiative was a joint effort by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the MasterCard Foundation (MCF). Besides an overall programme evaluation together with Oxford Policy Management (OPM) , I had been primarily hired to develop a business case of Alternative Delivery Channels (ADC) or banking agents in microfinance. Via a multi-year longitudinal study of eight microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Sub-Saharan Africa, we were helping these institutions to implement ADC channels to achieve profitable growth, plus we were asked to identify general lessons about ADC implementations. In this very first publication we wanted to present  the initial objectives when the MFIs set out to launch agent networks and their lessons learned from this initial first step. The participating institutions are: Continue reading

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What is a typical smallholder in Tanzania?

Financial Sector Deepening Trust–Tanzania (FSDT) and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) conducted a nationally representative survey of smallholder households In Tanzania between August and September 2015. I am spending currently a lot for time on how to best finance smallholders and think that the results of the published report have not received sufficient attention from the microfinance industry. Especially when thinking about financial inclusion,  70% of Sub-Saharan Africa households depend on agriculture, most of them are unbanked, and most are smallholder farmers!

But what or who is a smallholder farmer? Continue reading

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Re-establishing mobile money momentum in Indonesia!


The recent visit of Dutch Queen Maxima has brought financial inclusion back onto the agenda of Indonesia`s government.

According to the World Bank`s Global Findex report 2014, only 36% of the Indonesian adult population (older then 15 years) has access to a bank account in a formal financial institution. It has a population of 250 million, over 13,000 islands and about 300 different ethnic groups. Continue reading

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The 2016 Brookings FDIP is out!

brookingsI really enjoyed reading the report – which is not often the case with these “full of data” kind of reports.

Please find below the update on the 2015 and 2016 Brookings FDIP, plus some interesting highlights. Continue reading

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Zidisha! the future of microfinance?!?

I have already written about online lenders (Online lenders – threat or promise?) or about the use of alternative data for credit assessments (As excited about alternative data?). Even though I find the concepts very exciting and the underlying promise hugely convincing, there is always something which worries me. It might be old fashioned but microfinance is based on the knowledge about the client receiving the loan. Since there is little collateral being provided it is important that the loan officers evaluates the client, determines repayment capacity, get cross references from neighbours, etc. I am still not convinced that this can be done remotely. There is definitely a role for alternative data to play to complement a client credit profile, but I am hesitant to believe that it is wise lending to poor people just based on how many people they have in their phonebook on their mobile phone. Continue reading

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SIBs – the good, the bad, and the ugly!

SIBs in the UKI spent my last 3 blogs on Social/Development Impact Bonds (“Social Impact Bonds! Moving from outputs to outcomes…“, “After SIBs… now we talk DIBs!” or “An experiment – two SIBs to help Germany solve its migration crisis!? (1 of 2)“). I wanted to spend this one on an update on SIBs in the UK which is the country where actors have acquired most experience with this new tool. And BridgesVentures is the fund manager which has raised the world’s first fund dedicated entirely to investing in SIB-funded outcome contracts. In addition, since 2012 BridgesVentures has directly invested in 13 of these contracts, almost half of them commissioned by the UK government. Continue reading

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