A technology solutions provider that serves Ivorian cocoa farmers and promotes school enrolment of their children was chosen as the recipient of the 2018 European Microfinance Award. Advans Côte d’Ivoire was selected ahead of two other finalists--India’s ESAF Small Finance Bank and Kazakhstan’s KMF--who had been evaluated from among 27 applicants for the 2018 award. The €100,000 prize was awarded for the 9th time by the Luxembourg ministry of foreign and European affairs at a ceremony hosted by the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg.
The jury, chaired by Luxembourg’s minister for development cooperation and humanitarian affairs, Romain Schneider, recognised the way that Advans Côte d’Ivoire uses technology, transparently and securely, to offer microfinance clients new possibilities for loans, savings, insurances and fund transfers and to ensure the efficiency of its back-office procedures. “Advans CI has been able to understand the needs of Ivorian cocoa farmers, and offers technological solutions adapted to their needs, be it in terms of savings, and transactions for cocoa, as well as credits allowing children of customers to go to school even before the harvest season,” said Schneider.
Commenting on the award, EIB President Werner Hoyer said that financial technology has tremendous potential. “It offers the opportunity to take financial inclusion to the next level. The three finalists, and in particular Advans CI, give us food for thought on how impact finance could successfully embrace fintech opportunities.”
The European Microfinance Award is one of the highlights of European Microfinance Week, which took place at the abbey de Neumünster from 14 to 16 November. The conference included an Action Group Day, during which specialised working groups met for in-depth discussions and training, as well as three plenaries. More than 80 organisations featured in over 25 sessions covering a range of front line topics.
In keeping with the theme of the award, topics under discussion included the role of fintech, which Radhika Shroff of Accion said was “pivotal” and needed “to be used the right way.”