Model Credit Bureau "Open Source" Solution Being Tested in Morocco

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A credit bureau to assist microfinance borrowers move into mainstream financial services.

PlaNet Finance Maroc (Morocco) and Grameen Foundation USA (GFUSA) today announced a joint initiative to develop a software package for creating a credit bureau for microfinance borrowers. This innovative program, when implemented, will allow poor borrowers in Morocco to establish a credit history which will help move them into the financial mainstream.

The project, managed by PlaNet Finance Maroc with technical advice from the Grameen Technology Center (a program initiative of GFUSA), leverages open source tools to allow the easy adoption of the credit bureau management application. Seven of Morocco's 11 microfinance institutions (MFIs) have tested the first release over the last months and have reported positive results. Following the testing, the first pilot program will be launched in Morocco to validate the technology, and the business and institutional model. Morocco is the most advanced microfinance sector in the Middle East -North African Region, with 11 MFIs reaching more than 450,000 borrowers. It will then be released to other countries seeking a similar credit tracking solution.

"After having tested the Credit Bureau for Microfinance concept en Benin (West Africa) with the World Bank's funding, PlaNet Finance is pleased to go one step further in the design and implementation of this efficient credit reporting tool for MFIs, and looks forward to implementing new Credit Bureau for microfinance worldwide," said Arnaud Ventura, Vice President of PlaNet Finance Maroc Board of Directors.

"Microfinance is designed to move people from the bottom of the economic ladder into self sufficiency and that includes the ability to access traditional financial markets," commented James Dailey of GFUSA's Technology Center, based in Seattle, WA. "A credit history is an important step in that progression."

In addition to establishing a credit history for poor borrowers, the initiative will allow Morocco's MFIs to more closely track the loans they extend to borrowers and more effectively manage risk.

ALLSER, a Moroccan computer company, was selected by the MFI and their Federation to develop the software. "The quality of their work has been outstanding," says Dailey. Maroc Connect will be responsible for the hosting, maintaining, hot line and security of the process. From an institutional point of view, the Moroccan MFIs will be directly managing the credit bureau and will be the owner of the database. PlaNet Finance Maroc and the Grameen Foundation USA have taken into accounts during all the process the expectations of the main Moroccan MFIs, as direct and main users of the Credit Bureau. The project has adopted a collaborative approach. "We asked the industry what they needed and they have been involved in every aspect of creating this project. It has been a grassroots exercise," remarked Sébastien Duquet, Director of PlaNet Finance Maroc.

The project is supported by a grant from the Mosaic Fund for Arab World, and is part of the Grameen-Abdul Latif Jameel Initiative, a GFUSA project to support microfinance in the Arab World.

About PlaNet Finance Maroc (http://www.planetfinance.org)

PlaNet Finance is an International Solidarity Organisation, which aims to alleviate poverty by contributing to the development of the microfinance sector.

PlaNet Finance supports microfinance institutions and increases their rate of growth through the provision of services to enable them to strengthen their technical capacities and financial resources.

PlaNet Finance is present in over 60 countries and has permanent programs and offices in 15 countries (Mexico, Brazil, Morocco, Benin, Senegal, China, India, Italy, USA, United Arab Emirates, Portugal, UK, Spain, Belgium, France).

PlaNet Finance Maroc is an affiliated NGO of this international network, and is dedicated to the implementation of the development of microfinance in Morocco.

About Grameen Foundation USA (http://www.gfusa.org)

Grameen Foundation USA is a young, dynamic, global organization that combines microfinance, new technologies, and innovative thinking to empower the world's poorest people to escape poverty. In just seven years, GFUSA has established a global network of 50 partners in 20 countries and has impacted an estimated 5.5 million lives in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East. Grameen Foundation USA was conceived in 1997 by Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and a current board member of GFUSA.

Contact: PlaNet Finance

Sébastien Duquet, sduquet@planetfinance.org

Phone: + 212 - (0) 22 48 08 64.

Contact: Grameen Foundation

James Dailey, jdailey@gfusa.org

Phone: 206-325-6690 x202

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