Eclof x Alterfin

Financial inclusion for Kenyan women through Alterfin funding

In developing countries, women tend to save more than men and invest more in their children’s education. However, it is difficult for them to get finance to start or sustain their businesses. Microcredit can make a difference, as Joyce Murani in Kenya has seen. Thanks to the investment of more than 6,000 committed cooperators of Alterfin, a Belgian cooperative, women like Joyce can look forward to a better future for themselves and their families.

Opportunities for all: the story of Joyce Murani and her business

Joyce Murani lives in Kiambiu, a slum in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. Between 40,000 and 50,000 people live there in precarious conditions. Joyce, who is raising her 3 children alone, has managed to start her own business with little financial support. 

In 2018, she opened a small flatbread business with a microcredit from ECLOF, a local microfinance institution, as start-up capital. And that was just the beginning, she confides. “Today, I also own a cereal shop and sell school books. I received an education loan to pay for my children’s school fees and, thanks to the Home Improvement loan, I was able to buy beds, a gas cooker and a sofa. 

With her income, Joyce is able to pay back her loans and provide a better future for her children. Her self-esteem has also increased. “I feel proud and empowered,” she says.

The power of credit

Joyce is just one of the 35,000 people who benefit from ECLOF microcredit. 60% of them are women and 80% live in rural areas. Traditionally, in developing countries, women and people living in rural areas have less access to financing services. Yet women are an important driver of socio-economic progress in low- and middle-income countries. They invest more than men in their children’s education and save more. A microfinance system that focuses on women is therefore a powerful lever for empowerment, poverty reduction and education. And as Joyce testifies, it also boosts their self-confidence.

A social impact on 3.7 million families

ECLOF is financed by Alterfin, a Belgian cooperative specialising in social and environmental impact investments in developing countries. Alterfin’s capital comes mainly from the investment of more than 6,000 cooperators. Each of them has bought one or more shares, thus enabling Alterfin to carry out its mission.

To help vulnerable people, Alterfin focuses its activities on two sectors. On the one hand, the organisation supports microfinance institutions, focusing mainly on the financial inclusion of vulnerable populations. 69% of the clients of the institutions that Alterfin finances are women. In addition, Alterfin also supports producer cooperatives and SMEs active in sustainable agriculture. 

Since its foundation in 1994, Alterfin has granted 1,688 loans to partner organisations for a total amount of more than 641 million euros. If we look at the profile of the final beneficiaries in developing countries, we see that Alterfin and its Belgian co-operators offer better prospects to as many as 3.7 million vulnerable families in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

But how does Alterfin make a difference? Caterina Giordano, Director of Operations, explains: “With more than 25 years of experience and expertise, we know how to select organisations that do not usually receive funding from traditional investors, because they consider them too small or too risky. We are always careful to fund organisations that have a significant social and environmental impact, while being sufficiently risk-aware.

Alterfin, a sustainable investment

With shares at €62.50, investing in Alterfin shares is affordable. As a cooperator, you become a co-owner of the cooperative and invest money for inclusive finance. You support sustainable agriculture and vulnerable populations.

Alterfin is B-Corp certified and has also obtained the Finance Solidaire label. Investors have the guarantee that the cooperative has a real social and sustainable impact. Furthermore, Alterfin is an approved development fund. This means that as a private individual, from 7 shares invested (i.e. EUR 437.5), you can benefit from a tax reduction of 5% on your investment. What’s more, depending on the cooperative’s results, you can also receive an annual dividend. Although the main reason to become a cooperative member is the impact it has, even with a modest investment.

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