Premiere Agence de Microfinance Burkina Faso (PAMF-B) was established in 2006 and is among AKDN’s economic development projects, which range from supporting the cotton industry (Faso Coton), sugar industry (SOSUCO) and plastic industry (Fasoplast) to the aviation business (Air Burkina) and have made it one of the largest employers in the country. Its initiatives also extend to cultural activities, including highlighting the work of Burkinabé architects through the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
Burkina Faso is a low-income, landlocked country of 17 million people. While mineral mining makes large contributions to its $12.5 billion GDP, the economy depends heavily on agriculture, forestry and livestock farming, accounting for about a third of economic output and employing more than 90 percent of the workforce. PAMF-B is among the top three mid-sized players in the microfinance sector in terms of number of clients, loan values, disbursements and savings portfolio. The small but growing sector is dominated by the Réseau des Caisses Populaires du Burkina, which serves 60 percent of MFI clients and accounts for 80 percent of the outstanding portfolio and savings. There are more than a dozen mid-sized MFIs, as well as a large number of smaller institutions. The sector is overseen by government regulation and supervised at the regional level by the West African Union’s Central Bank. PAMF-B has extended its presence on the ground steadily. While 90 percent of its clients are in rural areas and use livestock and agricultural loans, PAMF-B has opened branches in urban areas to serve trade and small enterprise in an effort to balance its portfolio and expand its range of clients. About one third of borrowers and depositors are women, with the expectation that this will reach 40 percent in 2016. PAMF-B has been traditionally strong in the agriculture sector. The group loan product helps rural clients pay for input materials and proposes adapted repayment conditions at the end of the harvest or sales. This facility is used repeatedly by clients and has created a loyal customer base. The system works based on a social rather than financial guarantee, with each individual co-responsible for the loan. PAMF-B is now focusing on introducing financial services to help small farmers in rural areas with agricultural specific products, focusing on rice, cassava, maize, and livestock. It is also part of a group selected by the government to participate in a national programme to boost the agriculture sector. The adoption of Digital Financial Services is a focus for the near future, with implementation in commercial areas to take place by 2017.