Project objectives

To strengthen financial inclusion in Southeast Asia through microfinance networks

Project Manager


  • Lao Microfinance Association (LMFA) in Laos
  • Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA)
  • Myanmar Microfinance Association (MMFA)
  • in the Philippines with MCPI (Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc.)


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Strengthening networks to increase financial inclusion in South-East Asia

ADA works with professional associations in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines to strengthen the entire inclusive finance sector in the region. Thanks to the stronger and more competent associations, microfinance institutions are able to develop services and products that are better adapted to the needs of low-income populations.


Although they are fairly recent, the professional associations and MFI networks play an essential role in accelerating financial inclusion. By
contributing to creating conditions that are favourable to the sector’s development, they represent a powerful means of extending financially inclusive products and services. Our project in South-East Asia thus aims to strengthen professional associations in Laos and Cambodia  so that, in turn, they may provide efficient support to MFIs. A further aim is to enable the associations to become real spokespeople, capable of promoting the sector before the authorities and other stakeholders. 


ADA strengthens professional organisations in three main ways

1. Support to professionnalising the associations

Depending on needs, we strengthen associations’ competences through training courses and a tailor-made follow-up schedule. This may involve carrying out audits, providing training in governance, developing the skills of the association’s personnel, taking part in strategic development, as well as supporting requests made to the regulators. As underlined by Khanmany Southammavong, who is a member of the
board of the Lao Microfinance Association (LMFA), “the continuous support ADA has given us helped us to develop a strong and central role in Laos. In particular, the differences between us and the regulators were reduced.

2. Support in the services offered to member MFIs 

By focusing on themes such as risk management, the analysis of financial performance indicators and product development, we encourage the associations to develop their services, thus ensuring that MFI competences are strengthened. In 2015, ADA contributed to designing the Certificate in Microfinance Management (MFMCC), which has become compulsory for all MFI managers in Laos. Khanmany Southammavong, who is also the executive director of the Lao MFI Patukham, tells us that “Patukham is a small MFI and we did not have the means to hire experts who could advise us on managing our MFI. Thanks to LMFA, we were able to take the MFMCC course. Its content was very rich and it provided uswith tools to improve the way we manage ourselves. Since then, Patukham has been able to reduce its bad debts, while improving its financial analysis skills.

3. Support to communication between stakeholders and coordinating their actions

We contribute to setting up standardised systems for the monitoring of financial and social indicators, and we promote transparency and the exchange of information. The latter may involve the setting up of research repositories as well as support in writing publications and developing communication materials. We contribute to the agreement reached between the three professional associations so that they may exchange the lessons learnt all along the support program, capitalise on their experience and develop synergies on common questions. Khanmany Southammavong remembers an exchange meeting with the Cambodian association as being “a unique opportunity to learn from our neighbours’ experience.

The microfinance sector is experiencing varying degrees of development across Southeast Asia.

According to the World Bank, in 2014, the share of the population of over 15 years of age who held an account with a financial institution was 36 % in Laos and only 22% in Cambodia.

Although there has been a significant increase in recent years in Laos, the microfinance sector is often still in its starting stages and it is largely dominated by informal structures such as village banks. Given limited capacity, supervisory mechanisms have yet to be developed.

With thirty MFIs and around 1.2 million borrowers, Cambodia not only has the most developed industry but also the most effectively supervised and regulated. Amongst the actors, one commercial bank accounts for 20% of all microfinance clients.

In each of these three countries, the MFIs came together and formed professional organisations or national networks: the Lao Microfinance Association (LMFA) in Laos and the Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA) in Cambodia.



In Laos, ADA is working on promoting financial inclusion for low-income populations through consolidation and professionalisation of the country's inclusive finance sector

Lao Microfinance Association (LMFA) The Lao Microfinance Association was founded in May 2007 as the national microfinance industry network.  The association has a total of 92 members as of December 2016. These include 74 regulated microfinance institutions as well as donors, bi/multi-­lateral agencies, NGOs, service providers and resource persons working in microfinance. 72% of registered MFIs in Laos are members of the network.

ADA has had a partnership with the Lao Microfinance Association (LMFA - formerly known as Lao Microfinance Working Group) since 2010. The main objectives of the partnership were to professionalise the association and improve both its member services and sector-wide communication and transparency. 

At the end of 2016, the association underwent an evaluation of its governance and activities. The results of the evaluation were positive and proposed a set of recommendations for the improvement of the LMFA’s operations. In light of this, ADA is looking to extend its support to the financial inclusion sector in Laos for the 2018-2020 period, keeping the LMFA as the key partner on the ground.

The objectives to achieve are the following:

  • Reinforcing the LMFA’s position as the key representative body of microfinance practitioners in Laos;
  • Conducting advocacy activities to ensure the sound development of microfinance in Laos;
  • Increasing the LMFA’s outreach to include the majority of actors of the financial inclusion sector, particularly the Village Banks;
  • Developing the LMFA’s offer of services, including social performance management and the promotion of client protection principles;
  • Creating and disseminating sector information.

In 2019, ADA and LuxDev initiated a collaboration within the framework of the LAO/030 project in order for ADA and its long-standing partner, the LMFA association, to provide technical assistance for the creation of Village Banks in the four provinces in which LuxDev operates. The first phase of the project will cover the last six months of 2019 and will then be extended fo 2,5 years.


January 2020

ADA was present at the Annual General Assembly of the Myanmar Microfinance Association


Read more about the event

November 2019

ADA participated in the first ever Microfinance Forum in Myanmar

To know more about it


May 2019

FDC launches its report "The Inclusion Imperative: A Call to Action"

FDC’s latest report, The Inclusion Imperative: A Call to Action, explores priority issues, key trends and proposes specific recommendations to assist policy makers and regulators in creating more inclusive economies and societies across the Asia-Pacific region.

The report represents a “call to action” for stakeholders to combine their knowledge, resources and efforts to achieve equitable and sustainable outcomes through a more concrete dialogue on the institutional and legal reforms needed to make meaningful progress in support of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. 

The recommendations in this report are the result of the discussions and contributions of participants of two major policy initiatives implemented by FDC in 2018; namely the Asia-Pacific Financial Inclusion Forum (Tokyo, 27-28 June) and the Mekong Inclusive Growth Forum (Bangkok, 2-3 October) which was organised thanks to the support and contribution of ADA, together with the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), Banking with the Poor (BWTP), the Thailand Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s SHIFT ASEAN Programme, which is supported by the Australian Government.

Read the report

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