Technical assistance to five moroccan microcredit associations.

 An ambitious initiative to fight poverty in rural areas through microcredit

In July last, ended the first year of the project “Technical assistance to five local and regional microcredit associations working in rural areas”. The initiative is funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign  Affairs, through the Moroccan Ministry of Economics and Finances, and is implemented by Microfinanza srl in partnership with the Moroccan organization AgriConsulting.

The project lasts two years and officially started in July 2014. The main project objective is to promote microcredit as a tool to fight against poverty in rural areas mainly through a tailor-made capacity building program targeting 5 microcredit associations (Amos, Inmaa, Atil, Attadamoune and Ismailia) that are among the smallest microfinance institutions in Morocco in terms of credit portfolio, serving particularly the rural areas.

Indeed the initiative focuses on an adapted technical support to be provided to the 5 target associations  towards the improvement of their  financial and social performance and to the development of the offer of financial and non financial services in order to better meet the needs of final beneficiaries mainly represented by vulnerable persons, often  economically active and/or formal/informal micro enterprises operating in the most deprived areas of the country.

Microfinanza srl, through a resident project coordinator and a network of local and international experts with longstanding professional experience in microfinance, contributes to the institutional strengthening  of these associations by providing them  with tailor made technical assistance and trainings that concretely respond to their needs.

The project has two main components: the first component, ended in March 2015, consisted in carrying out an in-depth technical evaluation (institutional diagnostic) of each one of the 5 associations. For this technical assistance phase Microfinanza srl mobilized a team of international experts who  carried out an overall assessment on several areas such as governance, products, procedures, human resources, financial performance, management information system, social performance, etc. The final purpose of this work was to get a quick and in depth overview on the overall performance and to highlight the main strengths and weaknesses of each association. This first project phase contributed to the identification of the  main topics to be addressed in the second phase of the initiative (currently on going) which is mainly focused on  trainings and tailored made  technical assistance.

The main findings of the assessments phase highlighted some priorities and needs such as product diversification, market studies, risk management, governance, etc.  According to that, recently some  market studies have been conducted in order to analyze and better understand the needs of specific areas and to better explore opportunities  in place  such as: the rural tourism value chain in the region of Tetouan (north of the country); the agriculture, breeding and handicraft sectors in the Kénifra region (center-north of the country) and the cooperatives sector in the area of Kenitra.

Moreover in September/October 2015 a new cycle of trainings will start on the following topics: asset/liability management, governance, risk management and social performance management. According to the identified training needs, these training sessions will be specifically addressed to target associations. Additionally, some local experts will be mobilized to review and update the internal procedures and manuals that are not yet operational.

Beneficiaries have many expectations toward this program and programs’ objectives are very ambitious; in particular microfinance  associations are hoping  that, through the technical assistance provided by our International and Local Team of experts,  they can really improve their strategic positioning  in the Moroccan microfinance market as well as overcome some fundamental obstacle that still hamper the growth and weaken the overall quality of financial and non-financial services offered to final beneficiaries.

Our purpose is to satisfy these expectations by ensuring an high quality of technical support, to really answer to their needs, to contribute to the improvement of their social and financial performance and to support the achievement of the social goals that each association already bravely follows.