The bank for a changing world

Microfinance focus – Encouraging voluntary participation

  • 10.06.2008

Microfinance has as much need for expertise as it does for capital in the fight against poverty. In the wider scope of BNP Paribas' commitment to job creation via microfinance, two projects encouraging the voluntary provision of skills have been set up. On an international scale, MicroFinance Sans Frontières (MFSF – Microfinance without Borders) mobilises volunteers that offer their professional expertise to microfinance institutions in developing countries. In France, volunteers of the JACadie project (“J'Accompagne les Créateurs de l'Adie” or “I support ADIE entrepreneurs”) provide assistance to ADIE entrepreneurs.

“Microfinance Sans Frontières”: supporting microfinance worldwide

In order to meet microfinance needs and as a part of its social responsibility policy, BNP Paribas launched an ambitious support project for the sector in December 2006.

The MicroFinance sans Frontières project consists of identifying BNP Paribas volunteers, either retired or in active employment, whose skills (organisational and IT, internal audit and control, training, sales, logistics etc.) correspond to the needs of the microfinance institutions in the developing countries, and sending them out on short assignments. This initiative is heavily supported by the BNP Paribas “Association des Retraités” (ADR – Pensioners' Association).

This project allows BNP Paribas to both contribute to microfinance development throughout the world and also develop social relations within and outside the group.

Initially, volunteers are assisting in countries where BNP Paribas operates (developing countries) and where microfinance development is necessary, with a particular focus on Africa.

The project includes the following countries:
- North Africa: Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia, Egypt
- Sub-Saharan Africa: Burkina, Ivory Coast, Mali, Madagascar, Senegal
- Asia: China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam
- Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico
- Central and Eastern Europe: Bulgaria, Romania, Russia

As the project develops and according to the requirements of the partners, new countries may be added to the project, if necessary in countries where BNP Paribas is not present.

Following a career as Head of Territory at BNP Paribas, Benoit Monsaingeon wished to offer his time and expertise to voluntary activities during his retirement and so he developed the MFSF project (MicroFinance Sans Frontières).

“JACadie”: transfer of expertise supporting ADIE in France

JACadie (“J'Accompagne les Créateurs de l'Adie” or “I support ADIE entrepreneurs”) develops relations between ADR and ADIE throughout France. ADR, a key partner of the JACadie project, is comprised of around 22,000 members who have banking expertise and recognised experience.

JACadie identifies volunteers who wish to get involved and refers them to ADIE according to their skills and motivation. Throughout their assignment, JACadie supports and monitors the volunteers.

The volunteers assist ADIE with its permanent activities or in its supporting role for previously unemployed entrepreneurs during the first years of business. The assignments given to the volunteers can be varied: customised support and collective or individual assistance of the entrepreneurs, running entrepreneur focus groups, telephone support, attending credit committees, targeted support of young micro-entrepreneurs etc. The type of involvement assigned to the volunteer is dependant on his or her expertise and the local requirements of ADIE.