Foreign microfinance investors to pour $6.85m into Myanmar firm

Visual via MBT

American non-profit Accion, together with the Dutch development bank FMO and Triodos Investment Management, is to invest in Dawn Microfinance in a bid to expand the local microfinance firm.

The consortium said the $6.85-million investment is intended to establish the newly incorporated microfinance institution (MFI) as a “premier institution that can serve as a model for the country’s nascent microfinance industry and influence the development of the sector.”

Originally launched in 2002 as a program of Save the Children, Dawn is now a licensed microfinance institution, today serving approximately 30,000 clients with loans ranging from $50 to $250. It consists of 120 employees and 12 branches in four different regions of Myanmar.

Under the new structure, Accion will hold 40 percent of the new company and will serve as the operating partner; FMO and funds managed by Triodos Investment Management will each hold 30 percent. Save the Children will remain a strategic partner, with a role in governance.

The consortium said it seeks to rapidly increase the MFI’s outreach, as well as its product diversification.

Despite slowly improving economic conditions, Myanmar remains one of the poorest countries in Asia. More than a quarter of the population of 51 million lives in poverty, with 80-90 percent lacking access to formal financial services. Of 187 countries in the 2014 UNDP Human Development Index, Myanmar ranks 150th.

Accion CEO and President Michael Schlein, said, “The demand for financial services throughout the country is booming and we believe we can help meet those needs. … Our goal is to provide many more entrepreneurs and families with the financial tools they need to realise their economic potential.”

The consortium said it intends to strengthen Dawn’s operations by seconding senior staff; implementing new training and coaching programs; developing a wider range of products and services; establishing new HR and IT systems and internal controls; and prioritising customer education and protection.

Accion, FMO and Triodos Investment Management said they will assess Dawn’s performance and examine how the work’s ‘demonstration effect’ will encourage other financial inclusion leaders to invest in the country.

“Myanmar is a country with great economic upside potential, waiting to blossom,” said FMO CEO Nanno Kleiterp. “Our combined efforts [will improve] the access to finance and will support the creation of jobs for many people.”

The consortium said it anticipates that Dawn can serve as a “role model” for other microfinance institutions, helping to support and embed client protection, sound governance, financial literacy and social-performance management across the fledgling industry.

Femke Bos, fund manager, Triodos Microfinance Fund, said, “With this joint investment we are very much looking forward to expand Dawn’s outreach. By doing so we can make a substantial contribution to improving financial inclusion in Myanmar.”

Source: Content sharing agreement with Myanmar Business Today