Carnets de la SIDI, special trip to Ecuador!

This issue of Carnets is devoted entirely to the testimonies of SIDI shareholders and savers who left for Ecuador in September 2022 to meet local partners. Every two years, SIDI organizes a trip to enable people to discover first-hand what their commitment to solidarity can achieve.

To gain a better understanding of SIDI’s activities and those of its local partners, and in return to be able to bear witness to the experiences of the partners and their beneficiaries: this is the mission that our travellers set themselves.

Discover their stories in this new issue of SIDI’s Notebooks.

Official launch of the new European solidarity financing fund for Africa, FEFISOL II!

[chapeau]SIDI announces the1st closing of the new FEFISOL II fund, dedicated to financing rural microfinance and small family farms in Africa, at 22.5 million euros, with a technical support envelope of one million euros.[/chapeau]

The FEFISOL II Fund is designed to help meet the crucial challenges of financing vulnerable populations in rural areas of Africa, with a particular focus on financing the agricultural sector.

Financing the agricultural sector is of crucial importance in terms of food security, employment and resilience in the face of climate change, and also in terms of the financial inclusion of women who, despite representing more than half of the agricultural workforce, often do not have the same access to financing as men.

Although it makes a major contribution to many African economies, and its growth directly contributes to poverty reduction, the agricultural sector is still poorly served financially, as it is often perceived as too risky or not profitable enough.

FEFISOL II is structured to provide financial and technical support for solutions designed locally to meet these challenges. The fund will continue to target agricultural entities sourcing most of their supplies from sustainable family farming. It will be managed by Inpulse, a Brussels-based management company – a subsidiary of SIDI and Crédit Coopératif.

In addition to the two founders, SIDI and Alterfin, most of the investors in FEFISOL have renewed their commitment to the new fund. In particular, Agence Française de Développement’s private sector subsidiary Proparco, the European Investment Bank and the French social banks Crédit Coopératif and Banca Etica in Italy have renewed their commitment. New investors are also joining the initiative: the Belgian investment company for developing countries BIO, the Alternative Bank of Switzerland (BAS), and the NGO SOS Faim Luxembourg. The technical support package is financed by Proparco.

These commitments will enable the Fund to pursue its social mission and be even more ambitious in terms of social and environmental performance. FEFISOL II will be implemented in over 28 African countries, and should eventually support 110 microfinance institutions or agricultural companies and cooperatives sourcing from smallholders, most of them Fair Trade or organic certified. The first disbursements will be made in July 2022.

By supporting the implementation of socially and environmentally sustainable practices, FEFISOL II directly aims to improve the living standards of vulnerable populations in rural Africa, reduce inequalities and promote sustainable agricultural development.

Read the press release here

SIDI acquires a stake in ACEP Burkina

[chapeau]SIDI acquires a 20% stake in ACEP Burkina by purchasing the shares of the Incofin CVSO fund.[/chapeau]

Today, ACEP Burkina is the second largest microfinance institution (MFI) in Burkina Faso by portfolio size and reach: over 32,000 active customers, 23% of whom are women, and more than 15,000 borrowers. It focuses mainly on micro, small and medium-sized businesses.

Through this acquisition, SIDI wishes to strengthen its commitment to the development of inclusive finance in Africa and more particularly in the Sahel region. Given the multiple challenges facing the region – political and security issues, the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector, lack of employment opportunities particularly for young people – SIDI considers it a priority to develop its activities in the area in order to achieve its mission of social and environmental transition.

SIDI is currently working with 9 partners in Burkina Faso in a wide variety of sectors: inclusive finance, sustainable agricultural value chains, renewable energies and seed capital for small-scale industries that create jobs and added value. In Burkina Faso, 40% of the population still lives below the poverty line.

Becoming a shareholder of ACEP Burkina is a strong commitment on the part of SIDI and an opportunity to strengthen and diversify its activities in the country by including in its portfolio one of the leading and strong MFIs in the financial inclusion market. SIDI will therefore play an active role in governance to help strengthen the institution and promote social and environmental performance alongside financial and operational viability.

Read the press release here

 

View the webinar on partner support

[chapeau]You can watch or re-watch this new edition of Les Témoins en Actes webinar on support, the cornerstone of the solidarity investor’s mission.[/chapeau]

The webinar featured Abdou-Rasmané OUEDRAOGO, Managing Director of Union des Baoré Tradition d’Epargne et de Crédit (UBTEC). UBTEC is a microfinance institution that operates mainly in rural areas of northern Burkina Faso, in the Sahelian zone, while maintaining a strong peasant base thanks to the fact that it was founded by Burkina Faso’s main peasant federation.

SIDI’s General Manager, in dialogue with SIDI’s partnership manager, came to talk about the relationship forged with SIDI to support farmers in the Ecological and Social Transition. Support from the ACTES Foundation has made it possible to finance and support the agro-ecological practices of UBTEC members.

 

Webinar: Partner support

[chapeau]To strengthen its support for its partners, SIDI has created the ACTES Foundation under the aegis of the Terre Solidaire Foundation. In this new webinar, Les Témoins en Actes focuses on support, the cornerstone of the solidarity investor’s mission.[/chapeau]

To find out more about the tailor-made support provided by the ACTES Foundation to SIDI’s partners, we invite you to a new ” Témoins en ACTES ” event on Thursday March 31 from 5 to 6.30pm.

This time we welcome Abdou-Rasmané OUEDRAOGO, Managing Director of Union des Baoré Tradition d’Epargne et de Crédit (UBTEC).

UBTEC is a microfinance institution that operates mainly in rural areas of northern Burkina Faso, in the Sahelian zone, while maintaining a strong peasant base thanks to the fact that it was founded by Burkina Faso’s main peasant federation.

The Managing Director of SIDI will give us his account, in dialogue with SIDI’s partnership manager, of the relationship forged with SIDI to support farmers in the Ecological and Social Transition. Support from the ACTES Foundation has made it possible to finance and support the agro-ecological practices of UBTEC members.

1h30 of discussions to better understand the links between SIDI’s investment and support activities, and the challenges it faces in consolidating its support mission with its partners.

Register for the webinar here

The first edition of Les Témoins en Actes webinar welcomed Assata DOUMBIA, producer and president of the ECAM cooperative in Côte d’Ivoire. You can read his testimonial and watch the webinar again:

ECAM wins the international Grands Prix de la Finance Solidaire!

[chapeau]SIDI partner ECAM, a cocoa producers’ cooperative, wins the International prize at the 12th Grands Prix de la Finance Solidaire organized by FAIR-Finansol and Le Monde newspaper. A highly deserved reward for this exemplary Ivorian cooperative in terms of both its social and environmental impact. [/chapeau]

Assata Doumbia, producer and president of the cooperative: “I’m delighted to receive this award for our cooperative. In Côte d’Ivoire, it’s rare to find cooperatives with good governance. This prize also crowns all the work we’ve put into our governance. Today I’m very happy for the producers and for the whole community!

The Entreprise Coopérative des Agriculteurs de Méagui (ECAM) was created in 2004 on the initiative of 87 cocoa producers, including Assata Doumbia. A very dynamic cooperative, ECAM now has a membership of 2,466 cocoa farmers and, remarkably, 367 women. As cocoa is traditionally a “man’s business”, ECAM encourages planters to hand over part of their plots to their wives, enabling these women to become producer-members of the cooperative and thus securing their situation.

Solidarity finance has played a crucial role in ECAM’s development, with the number of members more than doubling since it first became available. This financing, since 2017 through FEFISOL, the investment fund in which SIDI is a founding shareholder, and then from SIDI since 2020, has first enabled it to limit payment delays to its producers. And, more generally, to guarantee a degree of autonomy vis-à-vis its buyers, whose pre-financing is both uncertain and insufficient in terms of duration and amount. Today, it’s the banks that come to us with their offers,” smiles the President of ECAM, “but we prefer to stay with our partner SIDI because only solidarity finance enables us to have, beyond financing, the support that is essential to us.

With nearly 7,000 tonnes of production per year from an area of over 1,2883 ha, ECAM is now one of Côte d’Ivoire’s best-known cocoa cooperatives. ECAM provides its members with strong added value, stemming directly from its social and environmental vision: to strengthen the financial autonomy of its members and their families while respecting the environment. In cooperation with its members, the cooperative decides how to use the premiums linked to the Fair Trade and UTZ/Rainforest certifications it has acquired: almost half of these premiums are paid back to producers in proportion to the volumes delivered. The remainder is used for social projects providing direct aid to the poorest, or for public services such as building schools or pumps.

The environmental issue, crucial in the cocoa sector, has been central to the cooperative’s approach since 2016: distribution of shade trees to planters as part of an agroecological approach, geolocation of plots to respect protected forest areas. In 2018, it started a program to convert some of its members to organic: 55 are certified organic to date, making it one of the country’s 5 organic cooperatives. Around a hundred growers have also begun conversion.

SIDI wishes ECAM every success in the future and will continue its commitment to the development of cocoa that respects producers and their environment.

VAHATRA and ECAM nominated for the Grands Prix de la Finance Solidaire!

[chapeau] Every year, FAIR and the newspaper Le Monde join forces to award the Grands Prix de la finance solidaire. This year, for the 12th edition, two SIDI partners have been nominated in the International Prize category: the ECAM cocoa cooperative in Côte d’Ivoire and Vahatra, a social micro-finance institution in Madagascar. [/chapeau]

In Madagascar, the Vahatra association – Malagasy for roots – was created in 2002 by two associations, one French and the other Malagasy, with the aim of combating extreme poverty in the center of the island. The originality of its intervention lies in the fact that it combines savings, credit, social support and mutual health insurance services.

Vahatra targets people living below the poverty line (less than 2USD/day) and 67% of its customers are women. In addition, 77% of its portfolio is dedicated to agricultural financing. Its integrated approach, combining economic and financial tools with social and health support, makes it a unique partner in a country that suffers from a lack of public support and dramatic inaction in rural areas. The association gives these poor people the opportunity to benefit from advice, training and loans, enabling them to develop an income-generating activity. This economic support is backed up by individualized social follow-up to help families resolve other problems, such as children’s schooling, lack of identity documents, health or family budget management.

Vahatra has benefited from solidarity finance since 2015 through SIDI in the form of guarantees that have enabled it to take on debt with local banks in order to develop its portfolio. This contribution is necessary for an MFI that targets populations considered too risky by other players. In addition, solidarity finance provides Vahatra with support for its future institutional transformation. Although Vahatra will be supporting 17,277 borrowers in 2020, it is not yet self-sufficient and needs to step up its activities to break even. In order to be able to receive capital financing and comply with the requirements of the regulator, it has therefore embarked on a transformation into a limited company. With the separation of microcredit and social activities, the latter should be fully covered by subsidy programs, enabling the microcredit component to boost its profitability. The association will retain a majority shareholding in the SA dedicated to microfinance in order to guarantee its social mission. SIDI is also examining the possibility of acquiring a stake in the future entity, to help ensure the sustainability of its unique and essential service offering in this very poor region of Madagascar.

The Entreprise Coopérative des Agriculteurs de Méagui (ECAM) is located in the southwest of Côte d’Ivoire, in the country’s leading cocoa-producing region. The cooperative was created in 2004 on the initiative of 87 cocoa producers. A very dynamic cooperative, ECAM currently has 2113 cocoa farmers, including 322 women. As cocoa is traditionally a “man’s business”, ECAM encourages planters to hand over part of their plots to their wives, enabling these women to become producer-members of the cooperative.

ECAM brings strong added value to its members as a direct result of its social and environmental mission. The cooperative thus has a five-year development plan drawn up in cooperation with its members, which it uses to determine how to use the premiums linked to the fair trade and UTZ/Rainforest certifications it has acquired. Half of these premiums are paid directly to producers in proportion to volumes delivered, in line with our policy of improving their income. The cooperative also helps them diversify their income, mainly through market gardening and poultry farming. At the same time, part of the premiums is used for social projects: direct aid to the poorest – distribution of food and school kits, for example – and public service projects such as the construction of schools or pumps.

Solidarity finance has played a crucial role in the development of ECAM, which has seen the number of its members double since it gained access to it. This financing, since 2017 through FEFISOL, the investment fund in which SIDI is a founding shareholder, and then from SIDI since 2020, has first enabled it to limit payment delays to its producers. And, more generally, to guarantee a degree of autonomy vis-à-vis its buyers, whose pre-financing is both uncertain and insufficient in terms of duration and amount.

With nearly 6,500 tonnes of production per year from an area of over 1,202 ha, ECAM is now one of Côte d’Ivoire’s most recognized cocoa cooperatives, as much for its operational performance as for its social and environmental impact.

ECAM is a cooperative that supports its producers while respecting the environment. The environmental issue, crucial in the cocoa sector, has been central to its approach since 2016. The cooperative geolocates plots to preserve protected forests, and is developing a nursery project to distribute shade trees to planters, with the aim of limiting evaporation in the dry season and recreating biodiversity in the plots. In 2018, it started a program to convert some of its members to organic: 55 are certified organic to date, making it one of the country’s 5 organic cooperatives. Around a hundred growers have also begun conversion.

Join FAIR and Le Monde in Lyon on November 9 to discover the 2021 winners!

Further information: www.vahatra.mg www.ecam-meagui.com

 

Palestine – SIDI pursues its commitment to the economic rights of the Palestinian people

[chapeau] In the face of a major new crisis affecting Palestine, SIDI rejects all violence and recalls that the Palestinians are first and foremost a people, of all secular and religious persuasions, deprived of their rights. SIDI intends to pursue its commitment in this area in order to provide the population with access to the essential financial services they need to develop their economic activities. [/chapeau]

SIDI has been involved in Palestine since the 90s, defending the economic rights of the population through its work with local microfinance institutions ACAD and ASALA. It was the first solidarity investor.

Given the recurrence of crises and the violent effects of occupation, it became clear to SIDI that microfinance could not develop without a guarantee fund to cover these contextual risks. Current events once again confirm the relevance of the DAMAN guarantee fund, set up in 2008 by SIDI with its two partners ACAD Finance and ASALA Credit & Development.

This risk is in fact multiplied, and concerns in particular the foreseeable destruction of economic projects financed by microfinance institutions. In practical terms, DAMAN enables local microfinance institutions to continue covering the risk of lending to vulnerable populations in the West Bank and Gaza: when the beneficiary of a microcredit is unable to repay due to acts of war or the consequences of the Israeli occupation, the MFI can then call on DAMAN for compensation.

DAMAN was perpetuated in 2015 by the creation of a non-profit company recognized by the Palestinian Monetary Authority. The DAMAN fund is therefore open to financial support from other players, and today enjoys the support of the NGO Paix Juste au Proche Orient.

SIDI is pursuing its mission as a solidarity investor in Palestine and is standing by its partners as they face up to the dramatic challenges of today. It will continue to call for sincere dialogue and a just peace.

SIDI information – Covid-19 pandemic situation

[chapeau]The covid-19 pandemic led to the implementation of total containment in France on Tuesday March 17, 2020. SIDI has closed its premises at 12, rue Guy de la Brosse in Paris, and the entire team is now working from home.[/chapeau]

Since the implementation of containment, mail cannot be collected on a daily basis, and some of SIDI’s activities, notably the processing of share movement requests (subscriptions, withdrawals and donations), are slowed down for technical reasons until the end of the containment period.

The SIDI team continues to work remotely and can be reached by e-mail. If you have any questions, you can contact SIDI via the contact form and the address

info@sidi.fr

SIDI would like to assure you that the shareholder trip planned for Ecuador will indeed take place, but cannot yet comment on the dates until clearer information on the evolution of the pandemic and travel possibilities is known. Consequently, the dates and deadlines communicated in the letter of invitation to the trip sent in February 2020 have been revised. The processing of pre-registrations for the trip and the final response to these requests are suspended until further notice.

Despite the suspension of its field missions, SIDI continues to provide remote support to its partners, who are also confronted with the health situation we are experiencing in France. Our partners will keep you informed of the effects of the pandemic in subsequent messages.

SIDI sends a message of support and courage at this difficult time, and hopes that everyone was able to organize these weeks of confinement in the best possible conditions.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones,

Dominique LESAFFRE,

Managing Director of SIDI