Amret Awarded Grant to Expand Women’s Financial Inclusion through Digital Finance Family+
The grant agreement between the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and Amret Microfinance Cambodia was publicly signed on 14 October 2016, in the presence of a representative from the United Nations, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Amret management staff.
This joint investment agreement is based on Family+ project of Amret being a winner of the UNCDF SHIFT Challenge Fund Second Window. The SHIFT Challenge Fund seeks to support innovations from private sector organizations in ASEAN on accelerating financial inclusion with a particular focus on women as entrepreneurs, employees and consumers. Family+ project meets the specific financial services needs of women factory workers and their rural family members.
Around 80 percent of Cambodia’s population live in rural areas and around 59 percent adults (FinScope 2015) have access to formal financial services. There are around 650,000 garment factory workers, mostly migrants who earn an average of USD 191 per month and remit money home to their rural family members. Most of these workers and their family members are still excluded from formal financial services that can enable them to effectively meet their respective socio-economic needs.
This initiative by Amret MFI titled, “Family+ product – an innovative financial solution for Cambodian women”, offers a no-cost remittance service by linking various savings accounts between the sender (urban factory worker) and recipient (rural parent or family member), and provides cash-in and cash-out doorstep services. The customers using Family + for undertaking no-cost remittances, will in future be motivated to save more in their respective savings account, thereby creating long term assets for families to reach their respective financial goals.
For many years, Cambodia’s microfinance sector has effectively served low-income rural customers with credit/lending products. Yet the uptake of products that increase savings and assets has been slow. It is expected that with no-cost remittance as a driving factor, women garment workers will open savings accounts in Amret. These savings by women factory workers and their rural family members, will also provide Amret with additional capital at low cost to grow and expand their outreach.
The project aims to benefit over 30,000 individuals (20,000 women) in Cambodia by 2018. The Family+ project is for a two-year period. The total estimated cost of the project is USD 539,000 of which UNCDF SHIFT will support USD 245,000 as grant and the rest will be met by Amret.
“Amret’s initiative, with support from UNCDF, means that many more women micro-entrepreneurs, employees and migrant segment, will be able to access financial services and eventually contribute to local community development” said Chea Phalarin, CEO of Amret.
Amret is a leading microfinance institution in Cambodia serving micro, small and medium enterprises, and low-to-middle‐income populations with a focus on rural areas and agriculture, and district and provincial cities. Amret offers a wide range of loan and deposit services including solidarity credit, individual credit, SME loans, savings accounts and term deposits. As of August 2016, Amret has 4,000 staff and serves over 426,000 clients in 142 branches across all 25 provinces of Cambodia, with USD268 million in deposits, a USD506 million loan portfolio and total assets of USD617 million.
UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 least developed countries. With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. UNCDF’s Shaping Inclusive Finance Transformations (SHIFT) programme aims to expand women's economic empowerment through financial inclusion. SHIFT advances financial markets by changing the behavior of market actors to stimulate investment, business innovations and regulatory reform in growing inclusive enterprises. SHIFT catalyses innovative partnerships to accelerate financial inclusion and women's economic participation in the least developed countries of the ASEAN region. The SHIFT programme is jointly co-funded by UNCDF and the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Amret’s initiative, with support from UNCDF, means that many more women micro-entrepreneurs, employees and migrant segment, will be able to access financial services and eventually contribute to local community development