A high jury panel, presided over by Luxembourg Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs Paulette Lenert, selected Kenya’s APA Insurance to win the 2019 European Microfinance Awards on 21 November. The panel, which included AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig, awarded the winner with the Euro 100,000 grand prize.
Under the theme “Strengthening Resilience to Climate Change”, the award highlights a growing trend that acknowledges the dual threats of financial exclusion and climate change as key barriers to financial stability. The award is jointly organised by Luxembourg’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the European Microfinance Platform and the Inclusive Finance Network Luxembourg.
European Investment Bank (EIB) Werner Hoyer described climate change as an “existential threat”, adding that adaption to it “is one of the top priorities in the EIB strategy.”
“It’s time to think climate big,” he said during a speech at the awards ceremony.
Runners-up Aski Group of Companies from the Philippines and Nicaragua’s Financiera Fondo De Desarrollo Local – both microfinance companies – each received Euro 10,000.
Minister Lenert reiterated the threats many communities face from climate change.
“Rural populations in developing countries are still largely illiterate and thus particularly vulnerable to changes in economic, social and political conditions just as much as natural disasters,” she said. “I consider it most important to provide services that reach out to beyond simply credit for the poor.”
As a major industry award, AFI’s selection on the panel acknowledges the network’s continued work as global advocates of financial inclusion policies that address the ongoing climate emergency. Through its Inclusive Green Finance (IGF) workstream and working group, AFI is a frontrunner in pursuing financial inclusion policy solutions that have positive outcomes for the environment, particularly among communities vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
APA Insurance provides agriculture insurance to its 355,000 customers, including index-based livestock insurance and area yield index insurance. Over 75 percent of Kenyan farmers are smallholder subsistence farmers who are highly vulnerable to the economic effects of natural disasters, particularly due to a dependence on rain-fed agriculture and low resilience.
Other members of the panel included: Mariam Djibo, Directrice Générale, Advans Côte d’Ivoire; Olivier Edelman, Head of Microfinance Unit, European Investment Bank; Mayada El-Zoghbi, Managing Director, Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion; Laura Hemrika, Chairwoman, European Microfinance Platform; Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment (India) and editor, fortnightly magazine Down To Earth.
The prize-giving ceremony was among the highlights of European Microfinance Week, a major annual event being held in Luxembourg where high-level industry players meet to discuss front line topics. Over 500 representatives are attending this year’s event, which runs from 20-22 November.
AFI’s Inclusive Green Finance workstream is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).