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Boost for microfinance

Programme to tackle growth challenges plagued by regional institutions

Fifteen microfinance institutions in the Caribbean will participate in the second phase of the regional Microfinance Capacity-Building Project for the English-speaking Caribbean (Carib-Cap II), a programme aimed at helping the region develop its microfinance industry.

Carib-Cap II will be launched on September 30 during the Caribbean Microfinance Forum IV in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The program is a joint effort by the Multilateral Investment Fund, member of the IDB Group, the Caribbean Development Bank, the European Commission and Citi Foundation.

Carib-Cap II, a $2.7 million technical cooperation program, will provide individualized capacity-building training to 15 microfinance institutions in the region, building on Carib-Cap I successes in new client outreach and improved financial performance.

Beneficiaries will include microfinance institutions from The Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

The programme tackles the unique growth challenges faced by microfinance institutions in the English-speaking Caribbean, by providing training on areas including management, marketing, product design and financial tools.

In the first phase, the $3 million Carib-Cap I program provided non-reimbursable financing for training, product development and strengthening of the Caribbean Microfinance Alliance (CMFA), a network of microfinance institutions established to develop a business ecosystem that expands lending to low-income enterprises. In the first year of the program, client outreach of participating institutions rose by 14 per cent and their portfolio-at-risk was nearly cut in half, dropping from 27 per cent to 13.7 per cent.

Strengthen alliance

Carib-Cap II will further strengthen the Caribbean Microfinance Alliance to increase its capacity to serve as a focal point for networking, knowledge-sharing and capacity-building for microfinance institutions in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Microfinance Forum IV immediately precedes the Foromic, and is an annual gathering of microfinance institutions that begun under the auspices of the Carib-Cap project.

The theme of this year’s meeting is Building High Performance MFIs – Increasing Financial Access for the Poor. A highlight of this year’s meeting is a training program on the “SMART campaign”, an international effort spearheaded by the Center for Financial Inclusion (Accion) in Washington D.C. focusing on client protection.

This training for the Caribbean is part of a larger collaboration between the MIF and the Center, and the goal is to assess and eventually certify microfinance institutions in responsible financial practices. The first Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awards for the Caribbean will also be presented by Citi Foundation at this event.

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