Since 2009, Camille Moureaux has been working on the management and information systems of the partner microfinance institutions (MFIs) of the French NGO Entrepreneurs du Monde. She also represents an investor, Microfinance Solidaire, which has decided to provide its services to Entrepreneurs du Monde’s partners.
The French NGO Entrepreneurs du Monde was founded in 1998 and works on social microfinance and access to employment, “With the idea that the social approach leads to the viability of MFIs”, points out Camille Moureaux. Its guiding principle is “to lend to the poorest so that they can develop an economic activity”. In other words, it works with local partners or helps to create funding agencies in the field which are not drip fed from outside. The idea is to ensure they attain financial self-sufficiency in two or three years, under programs which take five to seven years to reach long-term financial and structural viability.
Entrepreneurs du Monde, an NGO which has practically no communication activities, does nevertheless clearly have an impact in Haiti, Cambodia and in four African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Togo). In 2011, it supported 24 partners in 12 countries, helping 140,000 micro-entrepreneurs. Its financing method involves raising private funds from some 1,400 “sponsors” and donors, private individuals and companies, but also seeking public funds, including from Agence Française de Développement (AFD). In 2009, the NGO raised EUR 1.9m (38% provided by foundations and companies and 36% by AFD).
Despite the “local” microfinance crises experienced in Morocco, India and Nicaragua, Entrepreneurs du Monde has never really felt a crisis. “The NGO works in Cambodia, a country where the proliferation of MFIs has led to a deterioration in portfolios, but is not exposed to risk”, explains Camille Moureaux. Indeed its local partner only offers microcredit loans averaging EUR 150.
For Camille Moureaux, the reflection made possible by the Convergences 2015 Forum, which was held in Paris from 19 to 21 September, “first and foremost focuses on the social mission of microfinance, whether it is for women on markets or for larger loans to companies”.
A sign that times are changing: “social” microfinance and microfinance have now become two distinct notions in specialists’ jargon. “The first places the individual at the center of the approach and develops savings and training services in order to raise the standard of living of clients”, points out Camille Moureaux. “We do not even speak of clients in this context but of partners”. The second remains focused on financial, savings or loan products, with an overriding consideration for profitability.