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FMO and AMZ ink long-term financing agreement

February 2019

FMO, the Dutch development bank, and Agora Microfinance Zambia Limited (AMZ), part of the Agora Microfinance Group, recently signed a financing facility to expand and consolidate AMZ’s work with small holder farmers and rural enterprises in Zambia.  The new facility will finance much of AMZ’s growth during 2019-2020.

Speaking about the partnership, Jeroen Harteveld, MASSIF Fund Manager of FMO, said that this loan facility in local currency to Agora will contribute further to rural development in the country since AMZ has the deepest rural outreach in Zambia, and it fits the fund’s mandate to promote financial inclusion in underserved regions. Providing local currency is essential to primarily local-currency earning end-clients who may otherwise be subject to currency mismatches.  AMZ’s strong operational and financial performance in the past two years indicates that the institution is ready for further scaling up.

Tanmay Chetan, Chairman of AMZ said – We are extremely pleased with the partnership, because it carries great potential for our growth and development into a deposit taking institution in the years to come.  FMO’s confidence in us proves that appropriate financing is available for strong financial institutions in the Zambian market, and we will do our best to leverage FMO’s participation to the fullest.  The Agora Group views AMZ as its flagship institution in Sub-Saharan Africa and this partnership will be crucial for our future developments.

 

About FMO:   FMO is the Dutch development bank. FMO has invested in the private sector in developing countries and emerging markets for more than 45 years. Its mission is to empower entrepreneurs to build a better world. FMO invest in sectors where it believes its contribution has the highest long-term impact: financial institutions, energy, and agribusiness. With an investment portfolio of EUR 9.2 billion spanning over 85 countries, FMO is one of the larger bilateral private sector development banks globally.

About AMZ:  AMZ is a non-deposit taking Zambian microfinance institution that works with 25,000 clients through 10 branches across 3 provinces of the country.  AMZ is regulated by the Bank of Zambia under its microfinance regulations.  Its primary shareholder is Agora Microfinance N.V.

 

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AMK celebrates 15 years since inception and launches Olga Torres Award for Innovation and Excellence

December 2018

Board members and senior management of AMK came together in Siem Reap on 30th November 2018 to mark the 15 years of its successful existence.  The day included a morning management strategy session, afternoon team-building exercises and concluded with a celebratory dinner.

At the dinner, AMK remembered the contribution of one of its founding members of the management, Olga Torres.  Olga’s family were felicitated and thanked on this emotional occasion.

Alongside, the first Olga Torres Award for Innovation and Excellence was launched.  The award went to the micro-insurance team for 2018.  An acknowledgement for continuing Olga’s legacy at AMK was presented to Sophy Pum, who took over from Olga and continued AMK’s work in research and product development over the past many years.

Finally AMK celebrated its 15 years of success in Cambodia by felicitating 19 members of its team who have been with AMK since its inception.  AMK’s past Director and representative of its past principal shareholder Agora, Gerhard Bruckermann presented the awards together with its new shareholder representative from the Shanghai Commercial and Savings Bank, John Yung.

 

               

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AMK joins the SCSB family: Press conference and Gala Event

            

 

In September 2018 AMK MFI Plc, one of Cambodia’s leading and largest microfinance institutions, become a member of the Shanghai Commercial & Savings Bank, Ltd., (SCSB). Both institution leaders believe that joining as one family will bring in banking experiences, capital and drive AMK to implement its strategy in achieving its goals.

On Wednesday 28th November 2018, AMK hosted a press conference in Phnom Penh to formally announce the acquisition.

Speaking to the press, Tanmay Chetan, Chairman of AMK and CEO of Agora Microfinance N.V., AMK’s previous principal shareholder, said: “Over the last 15 years, AMK has continued to reach large numbers of mainly rural customers through a range of financial products and services.  Today it offers deposits, loans, micro-insurance, leasing, housing finance products as well as money transfer services to its customers all across the country.  As we look ahead, we believe that AMK’s future lies in not just expanding into other segments of the market, but continuing to efficiently deliver its products and services to its core market of rural Cambodian households.  In this, we believe we have found the ideal partner in SCSB.”

AMK’s CEO, Kea Borann added, “We are excited to be a part of SCSB. SCSB’s participation in AMK will allow us to work better as it will be able to strengthen human resources, source funds and utilise the bank’s advanced technologies.  I believe that working together with SCSB will help us to provide better financial services and give confidence to Cambodians, especially our rural clients”.

SCSB’s EVP and Chief Information Officer, John Yung, said in his remarks that “SCSB made its decision to invest in AMK not only because of its financial strength and social mission but the confidence in its management and staff. We look to AMK management team and staff to continue its social mission and will assist in Capital needs, Corporate Governance and technology needs. At SCSB, employee is its most important asset and I believe AMK’s most important asset is also its employees. I see the employees at AMK do not treat their work as just a job but view it as important to better the future of the Cambodian people and carries the responsibility to meet AMK’s social mission.”

AMK is a leading Microfinance Institution in Cambodia in terms of outreach and borrower numbers. As of September 2018, AMK reaches 89% of total villages in Cambodia, with over 830,000 clients, a loan portfolio of over USD244 million, and deposits of more than US$ 143 million. AMK provides a variety of financial services including Loan, Deposit, Money Transfer, Micro Insurance, Personal Accident Insurance, Payment Service, Payroll Service, Mobile Banking, ATMs, and CDMs.

SCSB and AMK also hosted a gala dinner as a celebratory announcement of their partnership, which was attended by Excellencies and Dignitaries from the National Bank of Cambodia, board members and senior management of AMK and SCSB, and many other dignitaries and guests.  The theme of the event was One Family-Great Synergy-Bright Future.

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Press Release

August 2018

The Shanghai Commercial and Savings Bank (“SCSB”) acquires an 80.01% stake in AMK Microfinance Institution Plc (“AMK” or “the Company”)

Continue reading “Press Release”

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Agora companies show strong results for 2017

February 2018

Cambodia

AMK finished a challenging 2017 with very credible results.  Despite regulatory changes, interest rate cap, and a competitive market, AMK increased both its loan book and its deposit balance by around 35%, while maintaining a satisfactory PAR30 level of just under 1.5% as on year-end.  Its micro-insurance product saw a strong growth of almost 50% to reach 286,000 policies sold during 2017.  Similarly, its money transfer and payroll/payment facility saw almost 2 million transactions during the year, a 23% increase over the previous year.

AMK continues to reach deep into the market and work with a large number of lower income families.  Its average insurance policy costs $6.72, the average deposit balance is $300, and the average money transfer is $291.  Its client satisfaction reports for 2017 showed that its poorest clients are its happiest insurance customers. As a result of its wide geographic and product coverage, AMK showed strong financial performance with a RoE of 14% even while its lending yield contracted by 15% over the previous year as a result of the new interest cap introduced in Cambodia.  As at end 2017, AMK was working with almost 700,000 clients through its loan, deposits and micro-insurance products.

 

Zambia

Meanwhile, AMZ finished 2017 with very strong results, the best in its short history so far.

It finished the year with a 70% growth in portfolio while achieving a 20% reduction in Operating Cost levels.  As a result, its topline income increased by 41% even as its effective lending rates came down by over 10%.  PAR30 remained impeccable at 0.5%, and profitability was strong at a RoE of around 20% for the year.  During the year AMZ also expanded operations and opened two new branches, diversified its loan book by introducing small-group and MSME loans in addition to Village Bank (large group) loans, and ventured into mobile money agency business by partnering with Airtel, MTN and Zoona.   Towards the end of the year it also developed two micro-insurance products in partnership with Insurance companies, for weather-index, health and funeral cover.  These products are set to be tested during 2018.

At the end of 2017, AMZ was working with 17,000 clients across 6 branches and with a staff strength of 71, of which half were Client Officers.  It has also built partnerships in and outside the country with Grameen Credit-Agricole, Oikocredit, LendAHand, Financial Sector Deepening Zambia and Global Partnerships.

 

India

AMIL continued its progress towards growth and viability and is set to record its second successive year of financial viability, after breaking even in the previous year.  While its financial year ends in March, the estimated loan book for its year end is over USD4.5 million, with a healthy position on portfolio quality and profitability.  Like other Agora MFIs, AMIL has also branched out into mobile payment services as a super-agent and has further consolidated its geographical reach in Mumbai with operations run from 11 branches.  We expect that AMIL will end its financial year with approximately 20,000 clients in Mumbai.

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In loving memory of Olga

January 2018

Our dear friend and colleague Olga Torres passed away on 20th July 2017 after a short battle with cancer.  Olga leaves behind an unmatched legacy wherever life took her – in the countries and the companies she worked in, and the roles and functions she covered over the years.

Olga came into our lives after she took up a consulting assignment with Concern Cambodia in 2001-2002, around the time she and Michael moved to Cambodia and got married (many of us also got to know Michael initially as Olga’s husband but increasingly thought of him as our friend over the years).  Her consulting work was so impactful for Concern, that it ultimately developed into a full time role for her.  As a key member of the management of the newly set up microfinance company, AMK she managed multiple roles in the beginning, including Company set up, hiring of key management and even training the board of AMK in microfinance.  Shortly thereafter, under her guidance AMK embarked upon its strategy strongly focused around social objectives in microfinance.  This pioneering work she performed in setting up the social performance system in AMK Cambodia was well before most of the microfinance industry caught up with the concept and execution of social performance management [AMK: 2002 to 2009].  This is probably her biggest legacy, what she will be most remembered for.

Her work led AMK to considerable success and much recognition as a responsible microfinance institution, one that keeps the customer at the centre of all its decisions.  This would not have been achieved in the absence of Olga’s inspiring leadership – both in the adoption of a client-centred approach to financial service, but also in the practical use of her technical skills in designing a system that could track and measure social performance within a business framework.

During their time in Cambodia, Olga and Michael became proud parents to Daniel, their eldest son born in 2006.  Soon thereafter, little Daniel was already happily accompanying his mother to staff retreats and even on an overseas work trip to India, made possible by Michael’s presence alongside…while Olga juggled a conference in between feeding Daniel.

In 2009, Olga moved with her family to Dar-es-Salaam, from where she worked part-time as a consultant for the Agora group for a few short years soon after her younger son Ruben was born [Agora: 2010 to 2011].  Her stint with Agora eventually led to her subsequent move to Zambia, to help Agora’s new green-field AMZ take shape [AMZ: 2012 to 2016].  At AMZ she again performed multiple roles, beginning with the set-up of the intended social performance and research systems and finishing with her final 18 months as the CEO of the Company.  In Zambia, she brought her diligence and discipline to bear upon the entire institution as AMZ tried to cope with difficult conditions for rural finance.  In the process Olga led us to internalise the spirit of a tireless pursuit which AMZ is currently engaged in, one in which success is not achieved easily, but definitely comes about if someone has the fierce commitment and drive that came so easily to her.

Olga will be remembered for many things.  Such was her passion for everything she lay her hands on, that it was only a matter of time before whatever she touched would blossom into full bloom.  In her work she did not do short-cuts, that was just not who she was.  As a result, every piece of her work was detailed with the care and finesse of an expert craftswoman, making it almost impossible to find a flaw in whatever she did.  Also, if you looked carefully, or long enough, you would see that hidden beneath this perfectionist was also an extremely sensitive person who would always go well beyond the call of duty to make others succeed, and always without expecting or asking any credit for it.  Her humility made her an inspirational leader and it was an absolute privilege to work with her.

Her lasting memories are many, but perhaps the most long-lasting one is of her smiling face, one that reflected positivity, aspirations, strength, and much else; but above all the genuine warmth that she possessed.  While we mourn her loss, it is also time to celebrate the person she was and the life she lived.

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AMZ expands into new market segments and new product lines

February 2017

In the last months of 2016, AMZ successfully started operations in two new locations in Zambia.  It started a new rural operation in Chongwe, and the first few months have seen strong demand in the area from small farmers and traders.  AMZ also kickstarted its SME product in Lusaka after a short gap.  Another new initiative towards the end of 2016 was an agreement between AMZ and Airtel Money to appoint AMZ as a super-agent of Airtel Money for managing agent-level liquidity in rural areas.

As at the end of December 2016, AMZ had 919 clients and ZMW 680,000 (USD$ 68,706) loan portfolio in Chongwe, comprising about 4% of the total loans outstanding.  Similarly it had 23 clients and ZMW 1,719,000 (USD$ 173,685) loan portfolio in Lusaka (SME only), comprising 11% of the total loans outstanding.

The new locations now extend AMZ’s network to 6 locations.  Their geographical location is highlighted below.

 

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AMIL consolidates its presence in Mumbai

January 2017

Alongside achieving financial viability during 2016, AMIL has also strengthened its geographic reach in Mumbai, and successfully started operations in 3 new locations during the year.  In addition to its pre-existing 5 branches, it established new branches in Vashi Naka, Bhandup and Mumbra (Thane).  Thus it is now operational in 8 branches, all of whom are managed through its Head Office in Chembur.

Its branch and head office locations are shown below.

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AMZ registers its first full year profits

January 2017

AMZ achieved an important milestone in its short history by achieving full year profits for 2016, in its 5th full year of operations.  AMZ’s achievement was aided in large part by growth as well as strong portfolio quality over the last two years.

On the achievement of this milestone, Abduqodir Sattorov, CEO said – I want to thank all AMZ staff for their hard work and commitment to achieve this milestone. Also I want to thank to my predecessors who have laid a strong foundation for this success and the Board of Directors for their guidance and support. All AMZ staff are committed to continue on the same pace and achieving even much more higher milestones in the coming couple of years.

Tanmay Chetan, Chair of the Board, said – I want to thank the management and staff of AMZ for this strong and hopefully sustainable turnaround.  AMZ has taken important strides in diversifying its operations by adding mobile payment services, micro-insurance and MSME lending to its rural portfolio.  These steps will hold it in good stead in the years to come and enable it to reach larger numbers of rural Zambian populations.

Both Abduqodir and Tanmay had a special word of appreciation for Grameen Credit-Agricole, who were the primary lender to AMZ during 2016, and also helped in institutional development through targeted technical assistance.

For more information on AMZ, please visit www.amz.co.zm

 

AMZ’s Audited Financial Statement 2016 is also available to download by clicking on the link below.

AMZ-Audited-Financial-Statement-2016