What's different about us

Our approach differs from conventional microfinance investors and network-based operators in microfinance in a couple of important ways.

Unlike most microfinance investors, Agora takes controlling stakes in its investments and works closely with investee institutions to achieve the best performance and social results.
Unlike most microfinance networks, Agora works through a decentralised lean structure to oversee its investments. The emphasis is to establish strong local institutions with their own identity, rather than subsidiaries.

Investment Timeline

Agora investment timeline

At the operational (MFI) level, the Agora business model usually revolves around three core themes. These are also the stages of the evolution of our investee institutions. First we look to maximise depth of outreach (reaching the very poor), then ensure high efficiency in our operations (higher customer numbers/staff, intensive use of technology), followed by an expansion of the product range to go beyond loans and into other products such as deposits, insurance & remittances.

Theme 1: Reaching the poorest

Evidence of depth of outreach is reflected in the smaller loan sizes of Agora MFIs. Clients’ poverty levels are difficult to assess and even more difficult to benchmark against, since usually no market data exists that can accurately reflect microfinance clients’ poverty levels. Loan sizes provide a reasonable proxy – the smaller the loans the poorer the customer is likely to be (based on the valid assumption that loan size reflect the ability to repay) in most markets. This indicator shows that our customers are typically substantially poorer than the typical customer in all our markets.

agora loan balances per client agora loan balances - gdp per capita

Theme 2: Efficiency

Managing operations at high efficiency is especially relevant for our financial viability, since our MFIs’ average loan sizes are very small. We operate through a model that we have fine-tuned over many years and that enables us to operate at substantially higher efficiency levels than the market benchmarks while still maintaining very strong asset quality.

agora customers per staff

Theme 3: Full range of financial products

Agora MFIs provide the full suite of financial products and services in their mature stage as is the case with AMK MFI Plc, Cambodia. Our early stage operations in India and Zambia are progressing towards a multi-product structure progressively and already provide money transfer, insurance and bill payment services.

agora financial products by location

Multiple data sources including industry data from Sa-Dhan (India), CMA (Cambodia), and internal estimates.