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December 2015 ISSUE #3
Dear colleagues,

The second half of 2015 has been extremely busy for  MicroLead partner institutions.  As you will read below, in the ‘Zooming into MicroLead’ story, all partners are moving forward on their goals to serve rural women sustainably and profitably with most employing ADCs and/or group linkages.  A lot of sharing went on during the period with two webinars hosted by MicroLead, one on savings group linkages in October and one on financial diaries in Myanmar in December.  In addition, MicroLead sponsored eight staff from partner FSPs to attend the SG2015 Savings Groups Conference held in November in Lusaka where we also led a panel on linkages with three of our MicroLead partners:, WOCCU Rwanda, Ugafode Uganda and CARE Ghana.  We also sponsored five MicroLead partner staff to attend a Helix Institute Agent Network Management training held in Senegal in December.  Also, a number of our partners joined us at The MasterCard Foundation Financial Inclusion Symposium and ADC workshop held in Cape Town in November.
In this issue you will be able to access an article giving highlights of the MicroLead partners’ projects, read about women’s economic empowerment in Tanzania via the SG linkage project with CARE and Mwanga Community Bank, learn about UNCDF’s involvement with the Linking for Change Savings Charter, follow the links to the two webinar recordings as well as see videos from our February knowledge sharing event workshop, Reaching Rural Areas with Digital Financial Services (DFS Go Rural).

Enjoy the reading,

MicroLead Team
Zooming into MicroLead in SSA
With 27 new products launched under the Africa programme, the financial service providers (FSPs) supported by MicroLead reached 390,398 new active voluntary depositors, of which 72% are women. Via these new products, the partner FSPs have mobilized more than USD 23.6 MM in deposits as per 30 September 2015.  Read more about the progress made by all MicroLead partners.
Reducing poverty by expanding financial services to underserved markets
MicroLead works to extend savings services offered by regulated institutions to the last mile unbanked population, with the goal of increasing uptake and usage of pro-poor financial services, particularly for women.  One example of MicroLead’s work to empower women through financial service access is via support to CARE and the Mwanga Community Bank in Tanzania. Read more about the learnings of the project 
Linking for Change Savings Charter signing
In September, UNCDF’s Executive Secretary Judith Karl signed the Linking for Change Savings Charter. Considering MicroLead’s long standing investment and support to savings group linkages, the signing appeared as a natural fit for UNCDF.  The signing ceremony was held in New York on 25 September with Laurie Lee, CEO, and Christine Svarer, Head of Women’s Economic Empowerment, from CARE International UK, plus Diane Eshleman, Global Head of Citizenship & Reputation, and Nyagaka Ongeri, Managing Director, Global Corporates Americas from Barclays Bank plus Melissa Nussbaum, Director of Outreach, Linking for Change Savings Charter.  More on the charter and the signature here.
Engaging with Savings Groups                                                                      
MicroLead web discussion on facilitated, spontaneous and combination savings groups
Right after UNCDF signed the Linking for Change Savings Charter, MicroLead hosted a web discussion to share best practices on the topic of Saving Groups linkages. Noel da’ Cruz, Project Manager at CARE Ghana, Jean Thiboutot, Project Director at WOCCU Rwanda, and Nathan Barigye, Manager Business Growth and Development at UGAFODE Uganda, were invited to share their learning on engaging with Saving Groups. Listen to the webinar.
Sponsoring Savings Groups Conference 2015
From Nov 10-12 in Lusaka, Zambia, over 350 participants took part in the SEEP Network’s SG2015 conference.  MicroLead was present in full force with scholarships provided to eight MicroLead partner institutions.  MicroLead also led a panel on SG linkages with Noel da’Cruz (CARE Ghana), Jean Thiboutot (WOCCU Rwanda), and Nathan Barigye (Ugafode) who described their work linking SGs, both INGO-sponsored as well as non-facilitated groups.  MicroLead held a partner institution lunch on Day 2 of the workshop to discuss take-aways and planning for the 2016 partner workshop.  For more information on SG2015, see
Learning from Financial Diaries
In this webinar held 9 December, the panel, composed of Guy Stuart, Microfinance Opportunities Executive Director, and Paul Luchtenburg, UNCDF MicroLead Programme Specialist in Myanmar, will take you through the financial diaries research methodology and the key findings of such a research conducted in Myanmar. Getting closer to clients’ financial complicated lives and understanding their behavior helps build appropriate services that will match their economic reality, needs and capacity. Financial diaries research is one of the tools that provides a deep knowledge of poor people’s financial behavior. If you missed this webinar you can listen in by following this link.
MicroLead Videos
In these videos, the MicroLead team and partners introduce the thinking behind the DFS Go Rural event and provide evidence on why and how it is compelling to go rural with digital financial services. You will also hear from the participants how a field visit to rural Uganda helped them learn about the benefits of a Human-Centered Product Development approach. Furthermore, partners disclose the key takeaways they brought back to their institutions. Watch videos.
Midterm Evaluation
All MicroLead projects under agreement in sub-Saharan Africa were reviewed and analysed by midterm evaluator M-CRIL during the second half of 2015.   In addition, an internal review was conducted by MicroLead team member Ivana Damjanov for the Myanmar MicroLead programming. The full reports, including recommendations, will be disseminated in January.
New MicroLead project in Benin approved in December
UNCDF approved a new project under the MicroLead umbrella with Freedom from Hunger as the TSP.  FFH will build the capacity of ALIDé, the fourth largest MFI in Benin in terms of depositors/borrowers, to interface with 100–120 mature Savings Groups (SGs) and capture their group savings in a specialized MFI account using an electronic money solution. Specifically, the project will (1) adapt FFH successful SG model to an MFI context and (2) equip ALIDé to identify and engage with existing SGs as part of a core business strategy to collect small deposits at scale in rural areas. ALIDé will employ two different strategies to engage with existing SGs: (i) collaborate with a NGO, FADEC, that forms and supports SGs and (ii) develop a media campaign to directly reach SGs using local radio and other traditional media sources such as town criers.
Upcoming Events
  • Final midterm evaluation report disseminated in January 2016
  • Exposure visit to NBS Malawi in February 2016 
  • Third annual MicroLead partner workshop, March 1-4, 2016 in Accra

The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations, including UNCDF, or their Member States.
Copyright © 2015 UNCDF, All rights reserved.

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