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Microfinance – Header image (photo)

Microfinance

Impact measures

Triodos Investment Management’s specialised microfinance funds provided finance to 100 microfinance institutions (2014: 102) in 45 countries (2014: 44). These organisations reached approximately 10.2 million savers (2014: 8.2 million) and 15.5 million borrowing clients in 2015 (2014: 11 million).

Microfinance – Impact measures (pie chart)

Our vision and activities

Microfinance lending

Percentage of our loans and investments to the microfinance sector

Loans and investments by region

Microfinance – Lending by region (pie chart)

Our vision

Access to finance offers a lifeline to millions of people enabling them to better manage their daily life, cope with unexpected difficulties, fulfill aspirations and plan for the future. Yet, there are still two billion people worldwide who are excluded from basic financial products and services.

Based on our deep-rooted commitment to make money work for positive change, Triodos Bank aims to address this challenge because we strongly believe that access to finance gives people the freedom of choice to pursue the life they wish to live. Inclusive finance offers financial services, including savings, credit, and insurance to traditionally underserved people. These services enable them to better support themselves and their families and improve their quality of life.

Through our investment activities, we also aim to contribute to building a robust and transparent financial sector with a sustainable approach to providing financial services to all. In this way, inclusive finance bolsters local economies by stimulating entrepreneurship and job creation.

Evolving and expanding sector

As an early and pioneering investor (since 1994), we have seen the inclusive finance sector rapidly evolve and expand, especially over the past decade. The sector has shown that those with low income are bankable and can be offered financial services in a sustainable way.

A rising number of global, national and local leaders have come to acknowledge that access to financial services is an important prerequisite for economic and social development in developing countries. Financial inclusion is therefore an important topic on the agendas of many governments and international forums, and also reflected in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Not as a goal in itself but as a powerful tool to reach many of the most important development objectives.

What does the future of inclusive finance hold?

Two global trends in particular will impact and shape the inclusive finance sector more and more: the impact of new technologies on the financial services industry and the growth in purchasing power of lower income populations in emerging markets. As the sector has matured, microfinance institutions and banks have embraced opportunities to finance projects that have a positive impact on the environment, as well as other prospects in sectors like housing, water and sanitation, education and agriculture. This makes inclusive finance a cross-cutting theme, taking in a range of issues.

We are also looking forward to further developing and executing multiple strategies to engage the small and medium enterprise market segment for their job creation capacity, with a particular interest in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. By investing in these sectors and building on the in-depth knowledge and experience of Triodos Group as a result, we want to promote access to renewable energy and contribute to sustainable development of the agricultural sector in developing countries.

Case study

DAWN
 

Microfinance – Case study (photo)

Hannes Manndorff, Director Dawn Myanmar

What challenge was the inspiration for the project?

When Accion began looking to invest in Myanmar some 2½ years ago, less than 20% of the population had access to formal financial services and there were very few microfinance providers operating in the country. While Myanmar had embarked on a political and economic reform process, it was still the third poorest country in Asia. The vast un-tapped microfinance market, coupled with low capacity, poor infrastructure and a very uncertain regulatory environment, provided both an opportunity as well as a challenge that we were committed to tackle.

What was your innovation that addresses this problem?

Accion teamed up with Triodos Investment Management and FMO, two institutions with whom we have had a long and fruitful history of collaboration, to bid for the only MFI in the country that was open to an acquisition: Save the Children’s Dawn Microfinance. After winning the competitive bid, the consortium successfully transferred the operation, including all staff and assets, from Save the Children to a new for profit entity, with basically no disruption for clients and staff. This acquisition and transformation provided a huge advantage vis-à-vis starting an operation from scratch, which would have been the only alternative for providing high quality financial services to unbanked masses in Myanmar. The institutional transformation of what was a program of Save the Children into an independent, for profit microfinance company, licensed by the Central Bank was truly ground breaking in Myanmar at the time.

What impact has Triodos Bank had on the business?

Triodos Investment Management, FMO and Accion came together to take over a fledgling MFI in Myanmar at a time when there was still a lot of political, economic and regulatory uncertainty. The unity and commitment of all three investors to turn DAWN into a leading best practice MFI convinced Save the Children to sell the entity to the consortium. Both Triodos and FMO brought a lot of experience and credibility to the deal, which positively influenced the regulators to provide the necessary approvals and licences for the transaction. Triodos has also brought a lot of value through its involvement at the governance level of DAWN, with Femke Bos, fund manager of Triodos Microfinance Fund, as a highly engaged member of the board of directors and Chair of the Audit Committee. In addition, DAWN has already benefited from the broader relationships Triodos has in the region, for example through the facilitation of a field visit some leading MFIs in Cambodia, which helped the organisation to gain exposure to best practices in governance, management, and operations.

What impact has your business had on the sector it works in?

Since the consortium took over Dawn in March 2015, the outreach has doubled in terms of number of active clients served to 54,000. The consortium investors are also striving to influence the development of the sector both through becoming a leading example for high-quality microfinance in Myanmar and by actively engaging with the regulators and the broader financial inclusion community.

What impact has the business had on the community?

Because of the investment made by Triodos Investment Management, FMO and Accion, DAWN has been able to rapidly expand its services to new geographies and serve thousands of new formerly unbanked clients. Since the take-over, clients have also benefited from streamlined products, shorter turn-around times and lower fees. The investors and DAWN are committed to further strengthening and expanding the product offering, improve the customer experience and reach at least 200,000 active clients within the next four years.

How does Triodos Bank share the vision behind the project?

Since the early days of the partnership, Triodos Investment Management, FMO and Accion have shared the same vision for Myanmar and DAWN, i.e. to use DAWN as a vehicle to foster financial inclusion in the country, develop a best practice model MFI, contribute to the development of the financial sector and look for both a financial and social return with long-term view.

Methodology

The evidence of the impact of our microfinance activity is drawn from Triodos Investment Management’s Emerging Markets Sustainability Management System. This information is based on detailed quarterly reports by the microfinance institutions and banks in the portfolio, annual reviews, and on-site visits.

We include 100% of the impact when we co-finance a project. If it is not possible to record 100% of the data required, we estimate the number of individuals based on credit proposals or measure at least 80% of the projects in the portfolio, create a conservative average for the number of individuals and calculate the figure for the remaining 20% if applicable.