This is a guide to all things at the intersection of Microfinance, Singapore and social change. Feel free to edit if you’d like to improve it!
The exit of the Australia-headquartered Foundation for Development Cooperation. which had their Asian regional office based out of Singapore, has been a setback to microfinance in Singapore. As the secretariat for the Banking with the Poor Network (a network of apex MFI institutions) was incubated within FDC, this means that a key focus of energy for microfinance is gone as well. The BWTP Executive Committee members spoke at a Social Conversation in Mar 2009.
Likewise, with Unitus Capital. a financial advisory firm specialising in arranging capital for microfinance institutions and social enterprises which serve customers at the bottom of the economic pyramid in India, which no longer has a Singapore presence. However, the Microfinance Society (Singapore) is still doing a great job in stoking the interest in the issue.
Names are in alphabetical order, hyperlinked to LinkedIn, else Facebook. Listing is based on prior experience in an area, plus a connection to Singapore in some way.
International Conventions & Networks
The Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX) is the leading business information provider dedicated to strengthening the microfinance sector. MIX promotes financial transparency in the industry and helps building the information infrastructure in developing countries.
World Vision’s Micro lets you fund small loans to empower hardworking men and women in poverty. Connect one-on-one with the entrepreneur of your choice — each with a sound business idea, but no access to credit to qualify for a traditional loan.
SG Networks & Associations
The Microfinance Society (Singapore) is a grass-roots organisation for people in Singapore interested in learning about microfinance, microcredit, and related finance, economic, and development topics. Its mission is to connect, educate and engage people in the field of microfinance by creating a forum for innovation and collaboration. Join their Facebook group here to be informed about our upcoming activities.
The Kiva Lending Team: Singapore is a group of people in Singapore who provide micro-loans on the Kiva platform to micro-entrepreneurs from around the world. They have lent out almost US$10,000 (S$14,400) to start-ups in countries as far away as Peru, with no interest earned or repayment guaranteed, according to AsiaOne. Find them on Facebook here.
Opt In Now has a Singapore group. for people who want to provide micro-loans on the Opportunity International platform. Food for Thought. a social enterprise, also has a lending team.
Microfinance SG was an early-stage network that provides occasional updates on microfinance issues.
SG Organisations & Companies
India-based Caspian Advisors has just set up a Singapore office, under the name Microfinance Investment Advisors. They have launched an equity-based microfinance investment fund for Southeast Asia, called
Milaap takes low cost capital, loaned by you, to the people who need it the most, providing them with the means to a sustainable income and access to necessities for a healthy and dignified life.
Symbiotics SA is a Geneva-based investment intermediary between investors and MFIs seeking commercial funding. It now has a Singapore representative.
Co-ops are generally recognised worldwide in the MF field as a kind of MFI, albeit a savers/borrowers-owned MFI. They have been active in lending small amounts to people that cannot otherwise get access to loans from banks for many years. Social Enterprise Association has a listing of co-ops in Singapore.
The Microcredit Business Scheme aims to help eligible Singaporeans obtain financing for their small businesses, which is not available from mainstream financial institutions. The loan can be used to start-up new small businesses or to expand existing small businesses that is managed and operated by the applicant.
Citibank has a comprehensive microfinance programme that looks at expanding access to financial services in developing markets. It also funds the Citi Network Strengthening Project (CNSP), administered by the Banking with the Poor Network. The aim of the CNSP is to promote the growth and development of national microfinance operations by strengthening the operational, technical, and financial capacities of national and regional microfinance networks.
Through their Life-Changing Gifts Catalogue. WorldVision Singapore provides micro-loans to the poor in Cambodia, Mongolia and Sri Laka so that they can set up small businesses and overcome poverty in their lives. Their also organise, on an ad-hoc basis, WorldVision Supporters’ visit to VisionFund Mongolia and VisionFund Cambodia, where participants will be able to meet and interact with families who have benefited from VisionFund’s microfinance programmes.
aidha provides financial education for its domestic worker students, and creates partnerships with microfinance institutions in their students’ home countries so that they are ready to become microfinance borrowers and start their own businesses.
The Singapore-NTU Alliance for Micro-insurance seeks to advance the use of micro-insurance in the region, for the benefit of those who are most threatened by natural disasters.
Kiva Campus @ NTU is part of Campus Kiva. an international network of micro-finance clubs that gives university students an easy way to play a direct role in changing lives.
Videos & Publications
2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed Yunus is the standard bearer of microfinance, and his two books, Banker to the Poor and Creating a World Without Poverty. are must-reads.
The Asia Resource Centre for Microfinance is a learning and information hub for Banking with the Poor Network members and other microfinance stakeholders in Asia. It consists of BWTP Network publications and resources and information drawn from the microfinance community internationally.
See an article that The Online Citizen wrote about microfinance.
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