Microfinance

Microfinance

  • PlaNet Finance: Administration Officer

    PlaNet Finance
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Thursday, February 28, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    PlaNet Finance is a nonprofit orgnaisation, leading provider of services contributing to promoting and developing the microfinance sector and thereby enable poor populations excluded from financial services to gain access to a loan, save or benefit from an insurance in order to create and develop revenue generating activities and protect from life’s risks.

    PlaNet Finance South Africa seeks to appoint an Administration Officer, based in South Africa.

    Starting date: 1 March 2013.

    Responsibilities:

    Office administration (with support from an intern)

    Implement the administrative processes of the office
    • Manage staff missions logistics (e.g. travel bookings);
    • Manage procurement and payment processes;
    • Manage the day to day relationship with local suppliers;
    • Ensure compliance with the procurement policies of PlaNet Finance and donors. Before any disbursement, check contract compliance and receipting;
    • Control preparation of cheques and payments;
    • Manage petty cash account;
    • Manage overheads and recurring expenses;
    • Maintain an up to date contact database in outlook and sharepoint.
    Procedures (with support from an intern)

    Define and update the internal administrative and financial procedures of the office
    • Organise the office's administration and finance unit in collaboration with the Executive Director (ED);
    • Define the Administrative and Financial Procedures Manual of the office in accordance with policies defined by head office;
    • Update these procedures when required.
    Human resources (not delegated)

    Facilitate the management of human resources
    • Support recruitment of new staff: draft job descriptions, job offers and request for recruitment, circulate offers in relevant media;
    • Ensure the integration of new staff;
    • Facilitate application for and renewal of work visas for the team;
    • Monitor Leave and Expenses accounts for the staff;
    • Coordinate with local authorities for payment of taxes (Social Insurance, Income tax, etc.).
    Bookkeeping and cash flow management (with support from an intern)

    Implement the accounting processes of the office
    • Manage client and donor billing, payment follow-up and filing;
    • Update Expenditures and Receipts ledger;
    • Keep journal entries and accounting books up to date;
    • Carry out regular bank reconciliations;
    • Manage office's fixed assets and stock;
    • Support accountant for financial audits;
    • Plan and update office cash flow with regard to contracts and budgets;
    • Manage the day to day relationship with the bank.
    Personal assistance to the regional director (with support from an intern)
    • Schedule meetings and manage diary;
    • Answering calls and managing messages;
    • Make travel bookings and other travel arrangements;
    • Print documents and prepare documents for signature;
    • Complete monthly expense claim sheets.
    Project administration (with support from an intern)

    Manage the administrative requirements of projects, facilitate projects budgeting and ensure follow up
    • Assist in project budgeting and monitor compliance with PlaNet Finance financial policies;
    • Follow up on project budgets and regularly reconcile actual expenses with the project officer;
    • Support the preparation of audit missions and the provision to auditors of all documents required for the missions;
    • Create projects on SAP.
    Requirements:
    • Excellent French (speaking and writing) skills;
    • Matric, Btech, national diploma, bachelor in business administration or accounting;
    • Minimum of one to three years of experience;
    • Rigorous;
    • Attention to detail;
    • Organised, ability to prioritise and manage time effectively;
    • Autonomous;
    • Demonstrated quantitative skills;
    • Excellent knowledge of Microsoft Office software especially Excel;
    • High level of personal integrity;
    • Ideally, some knowledge/experience of European Commission audit procedures.
    To apply, submit a CV and motivation letter to mdeferi@planetfinance.org.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    For more about PlaNet Finance, refer to www.planetfinance.org.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

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  • PlaNet Finance: New Business Development Officer

    PlaNet Finance
    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Thursday, February 28, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Employment
    PlaNet Finance is a nonprofit orgnaisation, leading provider of services contributing to promoting and developing the microfinance sector and thereby enable poor populations excluded from financial services to gain access to a loan, save or benefit from an insurance in order to create and develop revenue generating activities and protect from life’s risks.

    PlaNet Finance South Africa seeks to appoint a New Business Development Officer, based in South Africa.

    Responsibilities:

    New Business development 

    Coordinate new business development for PlaNet Finance Southern Africa
    • Scan websites, newspapers and other media for new business opportunities;
    • Maintain the monitoring tool on a weekly basis including the status of prospects, proposals and projects in implementation;
    • Maintain the database of associate consultants, prospective partners, microfinance institutions;
    • Develop and maintain a list of corporate capability statements for projects that have been won/implemented according to required format;
    • Contribute to writing concept notes and proposals;
    • Coordinate/ manage the submission of proposals, concept notes and expression of interest;
    • Liaise regularly with the new business development team in head office for opportunities, progress reports, etc;
    • Identify opportunities and organise conferences, workshop and events to promote PlaNet Finance Southern Africa’s office and activities.
    Planning and management control

    Facilitate the strategic and financial monitoring of the office
    • Establish and update office budget according to the required format provided by head office;
    • Support the Regional Director in monitoring progress of the office's strategic and financial objectives;
    • Report to the Regional Director and PlaNet Finance's international head office's administrative and finance department in Paris.
    Project implementation

    Participate in ad hoc project implementation support
    • Conduct desk based or other research for projects on request;
    • Fulfil the role of project officer on projects administration and financial management;
    • Support projects on an ad hoc basis.
    Requirements:
    • Master’s degree from a university/business school or sciences Po specialised in development/ economics/ journalism/international affairs;
    • Excellent English writing skills;
    • Autonomous;
    • Structured and methodical;
    • Respects and meets deadlines;
    • Strives for excellent quality of work;
    • Strong Attention to detail.
    To apply, submit a CV and motivation letter to mdeferi@planetfinance.org.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    For more about PlaNet Finance, refer to www.planetfinance.org.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies.

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  • In the Footsteps of the Barefoot Banker

    Last year I set off for Bangladesh, land of cyclones, extreme poverty and home to global inspiration, Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Started in 1983, the bank provides collateral-free microloans to 8.2 million of Bangladesh’s poorest.

    Bangladesh, situated to the east of India, is home to 160 million people. Yet, it is a land area not bigger than the Eastern Cape. It is a delta of a country divided by many rivers. Dhaka, the capital, is delirious. The reek of corruption competes with the stench of bare sanitation and mountains of rubbish that clog the already constricted arteries of this city. This country ticks every box in terms of obstacles to advancement. The poverty is indescribable. Dhaka is a harsh place to settle in by any stretch of foreign imagination.

    The national religion is 90 percent Islamic. When Yunus started Grameen Bank, this ‘barefoot banker’ spoke to women from an adjacent room about the importance of financial security and pleaded with them to have the courage to let the bank help them. The women were shy, scared and hands trembling as they received their money, often via their husbands. Nowadays, women walk confidently into their bank branches, holding their heads high.

    In the commercial district of Dhaka, flanked by its biggest slums and far from the comparative peace of the consular suburbs, sits the headquarters of the Grameen Bank. Rising from the city haze, this building symbolises the defiance of any system that excludes the poorest of the poor.

    Professor Yunus can often be seen around the building of the Bank that he founded almost 30 years ago. He is a gracious man who radiates energy of quiet purpose and deep insight. When he speaks you cannot help but be swept up in his unshakable belief that we can eradicate poverty, and its usual suspects, if we just put our minds to it. He lives everyday to see this realised. It was a humbling privilege to see the work done in that building.

    To really learn about Grameen Bank you need to travel far from the corridors of its headquarters. You will not find the true essence of Grameen Bank there. You find it in the eyes of a borrower as she takes her first loan or in the spirit of the villages you visit. You will hear it in the laughter of children on their way to school. Although the Grameen Bhaban (tower) is the heart of the operation, to really live the Grameen model you need to be at the hands and feet of the work; and this is in the village. Grameen actually means village in the local language because the village structure is central to everything it does.

    The political spat over his position in the Bank is unfortunate. It is sad how some acknowledge those that dedicate their lives to others.

    While debate still ensues about whether microfinance can work in South Africa, I tell you with conviction that it is happening, it is working and that lives are transforming. Our own South African application needs tailoring here and there, such as financial training and more robust business support, but at its core it is based on exactly the same premise - a hand up, not a hand out.

    Our culture may be different and our poverty seemingly more complicated, but no matter where you are in the world, there will be a resourceful woman who wants to break free of the cycle of poverty and feed her children. So the women that gather in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, are little different from the women I met in the outskirts of Dhaka. All these women gravitate towards sincerity of purpose and this work that is carried out with such integrity and a dogged belief in their ability.

    And so my learning began in a building that carried the hopes of millions of people who had borrowed and paid back and borrowed again. In the village everyday started with the motto that begins every Grameen Bank meeting – from Board to village gathering – ‘Through unity, discipline and hard work we will succeed’.

    For more information visit: www.yunuscentre.org or www.grameen-info.org.

    - Samantha Braithwaite, Tshikululu CSI practitioner, spent last year working in Bangladesh for the Yunus Centre, training in the Grameen Bank model. She compares what she saw to our South Africa reality. This article first appeared on the Tshikululu Social Investments website. It is republished here with the permission of the TSI.
    Author(s): 
    Samantha Braithwaite
  • Can Microfinance Help Africa Meet the MDGs

    With only five years remaining until governments are to meet the targets set out by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the sub-Saharan Africa region continues to have the highest poverty rates in the world, with millions of people living on less than US$1 per day.

    Certain countries, like Ghana, Cameroon and Uganda, have shown great progress towards decreasing poverty levels, while the rest of the region continues to lag behind on the 2015 deliverables.

    However, among a range of seemingly futile poverty reduction strategies, some initiatives, including women-led microfinance projects, show promise and have returned positive results.

    After emerging in the early 1990s, microfinance Institutions (MFIs) have increased in sub-Saharan Africa in recent years, with current records from the 2009 Africa Microfinance Analysis and Benchmarking Report showing that more than 195 active MFIs exist throughout the region.

    In Malawi, some MFIs have made concerted efforts to target women. These goals are in line with MDG3 which focuses on achieving "female empowerment, gender equality and control of resources, such as money," with the end goal of reducing vulnerability, eliminating discrimination, providing freedom from patriarchal constraints and providing women with economic stability.

    For instance, The Hunger Project (THP), an international non-profit organisation committed to ending world hunger in Africa, Asia and Latin America, currently reaches more than 110 000 people in 190 villages in Malawi, and is providing women with new skills in small business management and agricultural development to help them ‘lead lives of self-reliance’.

    Delifa Zulu, a mother of five from Nancholi, an impoverished district on the outskirts of Blantyre's city centre, sells vegetables in the market thanks to a loan from THP. "When I am here I can feed for my family," she says with a smile. "And my children are all able to go to school."

    Women who choose to partake in the project's agricultural initiatives receive the loan as a group and are required to pay back the full amount with interest every month after receiving the loan.
    "I now feel more powerful," says Zulu. "I don't have to beg my husband to send my kids to school. I can still manage my family."

    According to a 2009 Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX) report, sub-Saharan Africa reached 6.5 million borrowers by the end of 2008, which is higher than Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Women made up 57 percent of all microfinance borrowers.

    Finley Kandaya, operations manager for Malawi's Finance Trust for the Self Employed (FISE) says his organisation, a branch of World Vision International, has been able to assist about 13 000 Malawians.

    "Currently the membership that we have is in excess of 3 000, in which 60 percent of those are women," he says.
    Before FISE grants an individual credit, they have to provide collateral savings of 20 percent of the requested loan, with a set interest rate of four percent.

    "The repayment rate for women is quite interesting, it's so good," says Kandaya. "Since most women take loans as groups, they use a strategy known as peer pressure, so they are paying really well. If a member fails to pay back a loan, it's in the group policy to follow-up. We do not directly confiscate property."

    Similarly, a grassroots organisation based in Chirimba, in southern Malawi, called Women for Fair Development (WOFAD), emerged in 2005 after a group of women - mostly widows infected with or affected by HIV and AIDS - decided to do something to improve the living standard of their community, 85 percent of whom were affected by HIV and AIDS.

    With money provided by the United States Embassy, the director, Linnah Matanya, distributes grants to more than 55 women across three rural villages, who then opt to take part in a bursary programme, operate small businesses, or buy livestock.

    Matanya says these projects "reduce stigma and discrimination in the community because the women can stand on their own. They have a free mind now."

    WOFAD trains 20 women in small business management for the timber project - a profession often dominated by men - and afterwards, the women have the skills needed to train another 20 women, ensuring sustainability.

    In the past, most women involved in the timber industry barely made five dollars a month and now they bring home approximately US$400: more than enough to support themselves and their families.

    However, vice-president of the New York-based MicroFinance Transparency, Alexandra Fiorillo, outlines certain concerns over lending.

    In a September article in The Nation, one of Malawi's national newspapers, Fiorillo said there is a definite "need for increased transparency on interest rates and charges levied by micro-finance institutions" in order to ensure customers make informed decisions when taking loans.

    She urged the Malawi microfinance industry to "start practicing transparent pricing for their long-term survival, growth and relevance in the financial industry."

    Addressing poverty is not cut and dry. With deeply embedded hierarchical corruption so often prevalent in developing countries, it remains to be seen if microfinancing institutions can bridge the gap between the extreme rich and the poor.

    Yet for women like Zulu who must support a family of five, microfinance has been a lifesaver. "Without THP, people were really finding it difficult to move forward. Since they came to our village it has changed our lives for the better."

    - Andrea Lynett is a Canadian journalist based in Malawi with Journalists for Human Rights (JHR). This article is part of the GL Opinion and Commentary Service.


  • Towards a Brighter Future

    This story is about a day in the life of a CARE beneficiary as told to and written by Connie Mussumir former Microenterprises/Microfinance Officer for one of CARE Mozambique's programs.

    As the birds in the trees, echoed by the distant crow of a solitary cock sing to herald the break of dawn, many inhabitants of Mujavange community in rural Mozambique stir under their covers, trying to savor the last precious moments of sleep. I quickly rise from my bed with thoughts of nothing but the day ahead of me. My name is Luisa and I am a beneficiary of a CARE Mozambique program.

    With my husband working more than 800 km away from home in the capital Maputo and only coming home twice during the year on average, I have to single handedly take care of all the day-to-day affairs of my family of 8.Although I am usually up early, this morning I am up even earlier as I have to travel 14 km on foot to a neighboring village to provide training for a new savings group that I am forming as part of a self-replicating microfinance methodology being implemented in my community by CARE.

    As usual, after getting up, the first thing I have to do is make sure that the children are provided for and that the ones that go to school do so on time. My father died when I was very young, leaving my illiterate mother to fend for the family with much difficulty as a result, I quickly learnt to appreciate the importance of education and hope to pass this message on to my children. With bread reserved for weekends, special occasions or visitors, breakfast usually comprises of whatever was leftover from supper, with elaborate meals being prepared later on during the day for lunch and supper. Having hurriedly prepared and served breakfast, I, with the help of my eldest daughter Nora quickly make sure water has been fetched for the household and that there is enough firewood for the next couple of days, I notice we are running low on firewood so I make a mental note to collect some on my way back from the neighboring village.

    Mujavange is a small semi-farming community in the north of Inhambane province; one of the most natural disaster prone and HIV/AIDS ravaged regions of the country and thus an ideal target for a CARE International in Mozambique intervention. There are very few economic opportunities in my community with the main income generating activities being the cutting and selling of grass for construction of houses and the sale of basic commodities like soap and cooking oil.
    CARE arrived in Mujavange and subsequently stepped into my life in March 2006 through its Sustainable Effective Economic Development (SEED) program’s Village Savings and Loans (VSL) component.

    Because of SEED’s innovative approach in which beneficiaries do not receive handouts of any nature, but instead are equipped with knowledge that they can use to improve their lives in a sustainable manner, getting beneficiaries to participate in the program was not an easy task for CARE.

    When we heard that CARE was introducing a new program in our community where we had to save our own money, it was difficult to imagine how and where one would get money to put away as savings or for emergencies and that is why many people, myself included were initially reluctant to join this savings and credit program. It did not take long, however for us to see the numerous long and short-term benefits of VSL and soon after all 25 positions in our group had been filled, another VSL with the maximum number of 25 people was formed in Mujavange.

    The VSL methodology is a very innovative, community based rural microfinance approach in which a group of 10 to 25 individuals meet regularly, usually weekly to deposit their savings and to make contributions to a ‘social fund’ used in case of emergency. The accumulated savings are then loaned out to members in a systematic way: common uses for these loans range from starting up small businesses to paying for school fees and other household expenses. Besides providing an opportunity for villagers to save money, access loans and insurance through the emergency fund, VSL helps create a social network through which group members provide mutual support to each other in times of need. These social networks are very sustainable and usually continue functioning even after the end of an intervention or the demise of a group.

    After experiencing firsthand the benefits of VSL and demonstrating my good leadership and facilitation skills while working as the President of CARE’S first saving’s groups in Mujavange, I was selected by my peers to work as a village agent, I then went on to receive training, as well as a start-up kit from CARE. Through my work, I now help spread CARE’s message in my community a thing I am sure I will continue doing even after the end of CARE’s intervention.

    Having completed all the household chores and given instructions for the preparation of lunch and supper to my daughter, I finally leave the house. A typical meal usually comprises of rice and the leaves of the cassava plant known as matapa, cooked in coconut milk, with groundnuts, tomatoes and onions and that is what my family will be having for lunch today.

    The walk to the meeting in the neighboring community takes me just under 2 hours. I get there to find 12 of the 25 members already sitting under the shade, waiting for me and the other members of the group to arrive. It is not long before other members of the group start arriving. Not everyone is going to make it to today’s meeting though, there has been a death in the village, a common occurrence in the community these days and some of the members have gone to the funeral. The training goes ahead as planned and at the end of the meeting, a date is set for the next meeting.

    As I leave the group and head home, quickly remembering the firewood I need to collect, I am filled with happiness. I am proud to be partnering with CARE in providing badly needed financial services to my community and am happy for the opportunities and economic options the program gives to the community, women in particular. Another source of happiness for me is the income I will be able to gain through my work as a village agent, I have already started building a house with some of the money I saved up with my group and the additional income from working as a village agent will help me improve my family’s living conditions. The future, which not too long ago was bleak is now so bright and full of opportunities thanks to the wonderful work being done by CARE.

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