It is estimated that are almost 1.3 billion people living under the poverty line throughout the world. The major part of these people lives in Asia and Africa and most of them are yet access microfinance services.
To meet this challenge, a global equity investment fund called “Catalyst Microfinance Investors” (CMI) was established in August 2005. The major objective of this fund is to provide Technical Assistance as well as financing to emerging Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in Asia and Africa so that they can help the poor directly and become self-sustainable. The activities and funds of CMI is managed by “Catalyst Microfinance Investment Company” (CMIC). It has two major office, once in Europe and one in South Asia. The European office is based in Utrecht, the Netherlands and the Asian & African Regional Office is in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Catalyst Microfinance Investors (CMI)
CMI (www.catalyst-microfinance.com) has been formed by a partnership between SEQUOIA (a corporate finance & private equity specialist) from the Netherlands and ASA from Bangladesh, and is the only microfinance fund that is managed by the microfinance practitioners.
The activities of CMI is run by CMIC who also identifies, analyzes and negotiates every investment made by the CMI. CMIC is governed and managed by its “Executive Committee”, consisting of Md. Shafiqual Haque Choudhury (CMIC Executive Chairman, Founder and President of ASA) and Mr. Dirk Brouwer (CMIC Executive Directors, Founder and Managing Director of SEQUOIA). The Executive Committee is responsible for overall strategic decision making as well as identifying and negotiating potential investments. Each of the investments is sponsored, fostered and monitored by practitioner. For effective implementation of this fund, ASA has formed an implementation team with senior level staff. CMI has selected a number of countries like India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Philippines, Pakistan, Ghana, Nigeria, etc. to invest its fund and work has already begun in some of the countries. At the time of it’s closing in 2007, CMI has a total equity of US$ 125 million.
ASA International (www.asa-international.com) has been established to greenfield ASA’s Model of microfinance operations in various countries around the world, with the funding from CMI. ASAI is currently establishing new MFIs in various countries like India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, and Ghana. Each of these MFIs will follow the highly efficient ASA model, adjusted to local circumstances.
Experienced staff from ASA has been seconded to these institutions to replicate the model. It is foreseen that each of these MFIs will, over time, be the market leader in terms of efficiency and scale in each of the mentioned markets. This will stimulate competition in these markets and put pressure on other MFIs to reduce their operating expenses and ultimately reduce the costs of borrowing for the clients.