Many microfinance institutions need training in order to survive, and even mature institutions need help in developing products and extending operations. Through an investment facility established by the Cotonou Agreement, the European Investment Bank (EIB) provides technical assistance to strengthen microfinance in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. In 2008-2009, the EIB signed TA agreements totalling EUR 13.25 million. In 2010, Nathan London assessed whether the EIB’s support was in fact building the capacity of MFIs and small business financial intermediaries (MSME-Fis) to deliver services to customers, low-income households, and small enterprises.
We focused on five projects, two working with existing MFIs and three building capacity for starting subsidiaries in new locations. We
- Developed selection criteria for visiting seven MSME-Fis.
- Developed a rapid assessment questionnaire.
- Prepared focus group discussion guideline for MSME-FI clients.
- Prepared pre-visit questionnaires for MSME-Fis.
- Visited the MFIs and organized focus group discussions.
- Contributed to reports and presented the final report to the EIB.
Our evaluation took into account the objectives of the Cotonou Agreement and applied the EIB’s standard evaluation criteria of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability.
To improve technical assistance, we recommended that EIB refine its strategy, demand clear results, develop performance indicators, enforce reporting requirements, and install a performance monitoring database. We cautioned holding companies to avoid insularity, update business plans, and avoid micro-management.