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46th Midi de la Microfinance et de l'inclusion financière

Future Now: 3 hot topics that will impact inclusive finance in Africa: Digitalisation, client centricity and SME

46e Midi de la Microfinance

Pictures by Olivier Minaire

Yes to digital services, but adapted to the needs of microfinance institutions' clients 

The year of ADA's 25th anniversary began with a Midi de la Microfinance devoted to current topics in the sector that will shape the development of financial inclusion in the coming years. International speakers testified on digital, real added value for the client and gender equality in African entrepreneurship, in front of the audience in the auditorium of Banque de Luxembourg.

Inclusive financial services to achieve Sustainable Development Goals

ADA, the Luxembourg NGO, has been dedicated to the development of financial inclusion for 25 years through numerous projects. Moreover of  its 25th anniversary this year, ADA will also organize the 4th African Microfinance Week (SAM) in October in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. This large-scale event will be devoted to the theme of impact and solutions to achieve the Objectives for Sustainable Development 2030. The 46th Midi de la Microfinance, organised on 7 February at Banque de Luxembourg, was therefore the opportunity to introduce the first themes to be presented at the SAM, thanks to the experts present on stage: Gerhard Coetzee, Centricity Client Expert at CGAP, based in Washington, Madji Sock, Founder and President of Women's Investment Club and partner at Dalberg in Dakar and Arnaud de Lavalette, Senior Project Manager in Digital Finance at ADA in Luxembourg.

Technical solutions designed as added value for the customer 

Digital solutions are often mentioned as one of the most important themes of those that will shape the future of the financial inclusion sector, thanks to easier access to the most remote populations, reduced operational costs for microfinance institutions, or simply through the democratization of financial services. As Madji Sock pointed out: "Digital technology helps to reduce the gap between men and women or young entrepreneurs". Gerhard Coetzee added: "In fact, between 2006 and 2017, nearly two billion accounts were opened worldwide, but more than half of them are not used. It is therefore important to know why these clients have abandoned them. Is there any real added value behind this? The same is true for digital, the customer's needs must be put forward in the development of technical solutions".
This centricity customer expert adds: "The added value for the customer is to adapt products and services to the needs of customers and not suppliers".
Arnaud de Lavalette stated that as part of the "Digital finance initiative" project launched by ADA in 2017 in African countries, microfinance institutions are in fact turning to digital innovations following the request of their clients. Most technological products are therefore implemented first with the idea of bringing real added value to the customer. 
Finally, the issue of public-private partnerships was raised for the advancement of the sector: "The trend of profitability before social development should be avoided. For this reason, it is important that projects are carried out by NGOs," says Madji Sock.
The conclusion of the discussion between the three experts was presented by Sachin S Vankalas, Director of Operations and Sustainable Development, LuxFLAG Luxembourg who highlighted the need for capacity building for microfinance actors in Africa to access more investors and thereby improve their products and services, including digital. He concludes with an important note: "In addition, the benefits of digital innovations that improve and facilitate the work of financial institutions in the South must also be visible to the customer, for example by reducing interest rates on products offered".

This Midi was moderated by Myka Reinsch, Inclusive Finance Consultant (France).

The entire conference can be viewed in video on our YouTube channel.


Speakers of the Midi

Gerhard Coetzee, Lead, Customer Value, CGAP, USA

Gerhard Coetzee leads the customer value team at CGAP, including customer segments and insights, protection and value, and is also responsible for Gateway Academy, a digital learning platform. He is an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Stellenbosch Business School.
Before CGAP, Mr. Coetzee was Head of Inclusive Banking at Absa Bank (South Africa) responsible for its branchless banking proposition, founder and Director of the Centre for Inclusive Banking in Africa, Professor in Agricultural Economics at the University of Pretoria, technical lead and CEO of a consulting firm (owned by DAI) and had several senior roles at the Development Bank of Southern Africa. His specialization areas are development finance, financial inclusion, agricultural finance, and rural development. He is published widely and has worked in several countries, the majority in Africa.
Mr. Coetzee holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He is fluent in Afrikaans.


Madji Sock, Founder and President of WIC and Partner at Dalberg, Senegal

Madji is a Partner in Dalberg’s Senegal office and serves as Dalberg’s Global Operations Partner. She has more than 20 years of experience implementing and managing projects in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the United States. Her recent project portfolio is strongly focused on supporting national governments to take a leadership role in development programs, and development partners to build and/or strengthen the mechanisms for transition to stronger government ownership of sector programs. She is the co-founder of the Women’s Investment Club Senegal (WIC).

Madji holds an MBA in International Management from Thunderbird, School of Global Management. She is fluent in English and French.

Arnaud de Lavalette, Senior Project Manager, ADA, Luxembourg

Arnaud de Lavalette is currently leading the Digital Finance Initiative at ADA, helping African MFI digitalize their operations.
He is a seasoned expert in microfinance and SME funding with over 10 years of experience in this domain in Asia (Nepal, India and Philippines), West Africa and Latin America (Mexico).

In the SME domain, Arnaud has worked in Nepal where he conducted surveys for the IFC and supported SME entrepreneurs with the European Commission. In India he designed an investment vehicle (equity fund) which aimed at supporting Indian social SMEs.
In the microfinance sector – beside many technical assistance missions around the world, he managed the turnaround and sold MicroCred Mexico, and more recently was CEO of mBank Philippines, a greenfield banking project financed by international investors (FMO, Finnfund, MBH) and Smart the leading telecom company in the Philippines.

Currently, he works with ADA on a new digital finance project, helping African MFI digitalize their operations, i.e. integrate the mobile services as communication and distribution channels and migrate MIS into the cloud. As of now, half a dozen institutions are accompanied in their change process.

Prior to joining the development sector Arnaud gained a bright experience in both finance and new technologies. He started his career as an auditor with Arthur Andersen (3 years), evolved as a controller and finance analyst (3 years) and founded a web agency he has managed for 7 years.

Myka Reinsch, Inclusive Finance consultant, France

As a consultant to ADA, Myka is leading the strategic development of the 2019 Week of African Microfinance. Myka brings two decades of experience in international economic development, inclusive finance and livelihood development with a focus on brokering strategic, cross-sectoral partnerships and developing innovative approaches to equip poor people with sustainable tools to overcome poverty. 

She has consulted to CGAP/World Bank, Grameen Foundation USA, Ayani Inclusive Financial Sector Consultants, the European Microfinance Platform, AGRA, ARD Inc., Chemonics International, FHI-360, MIX, SEEP, United Nations Capital Development Fund, UN Women, numerous USAID projects, The New York Public Library and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (a financial intermediary for underserved communities in the US), among others. Myka is also Innovations Director at Ayani Inclusive Financial Sector Consultants and serves on the board of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) MRI Development Institute in the Philippines.

Myka spent six years at Freedom from Hunger, where she held various roles including Vice President of Programs, Director of Microfinance and Health Protection, and Senior Technical Advisor—providing direct training and technical assistance to financial service providers in West Africa and Southeast Asia. She led a four-year project funded by the Gates Foundation to test innovative combinations of microfinance and health protection services on three continents, resulting in five pioneering models that have gone on to reach millions of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Myka has an MBA in Development Economics and Nonprofit Management from Columbia Business School and a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Linguistics from Vassar College. She has lived and worked in a dozen countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America; she currently resides in France.


Sachin S Vankalas, Director of Operations and Sustainability, LuxFLAG, Luxembourg

Sachin S Vankalas is a multilingual financial services professional with a broad spectrum of international experience in Microfinance and Impact Investing.  At present, in his role as a Director of Operations and Sustainability at LuxFLAG, Sachin primarily works with Investment Funds active in Sustainable Investing themes which include Microfinance, Climate, ESG, Impact Finance, etc. He is a member of the Board of Directors at European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP), Inclusive Finance Network Luxembourg (InFiNe) and International Climate Finance Accelerator (ICFA).

Prior to joining LuxFLAG, Sachin worked first as an Investment Officer for a Swiss Microfinance Asset Management firm and as a Rating Analyst for an international rating agency. While working in a Rating Agency specialized in Microfinance and in a Social Investment firm operating in developing countries and economies in transition, Sachin worked on ratings, due diligences, institutional assessments and investment projects for more than 75 financial institutions across continents.

Sachin completed executive education programs in Financial Inclusion and Sustainability from Harvard University & NYU Stern School of Business and holds a MS in Banking and Finance from the Luxembourg School of Finance.


Thierry Feltgen, Investment Communication, Banque de Luxembourg

Thierry joined Banque de Luxembourg in 1999. In 2000, he specialised as a fund analyst focusing on bond funds selection and covered bond investments in our multimanagement portfolios. In 2007, he joined BLI’s fixed income team as a fund manager.
In 2010, Thierry took over the responsibility for the “investment communication” activity on BLI’s fund range and acted as a product specialist to support the sales team. With BLI’s distribution activity increasing, he took over the role of Head of Product Management and Client Services in 2017. 
He also acts as project manager covering transverse content-related projects at BLI. In this function, he supervised the implementation of BLI’s ESG strategy.
Thierry has a degree in agricultural engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich). He also has a degree in economics from the HSG in St Gallen. He obtained the CEFA (Certified EFFAS Financial Analyst) diploma in 2003.

This 46th Midi de la microfinance is organised with the support of the Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs and the InFine.lu network, and in collaboration with the Banque de Luxembourg.
The Midis de la microfinance are held during lunch breaks, between 12 and 2 p.m. Their agenda includes the presentation by an inclusive-finance expert of a study or a practical case, which is followed by a questions and answers session with the audience. At the end, a lunch is offered to all the participants.

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