International Microfinance Awards 2012

"The only war worth fighting is the war against poverty" ,
Joel Pain, CEO of PlaNet Finance

On 26 November 2012, the Louvre hosted Planet Finance for the fifth edition of the International Microfinance Awards. Chaired by Jacques Attali and Arnaud Ventura, this ceremony awards the most talented and deserving micro-entrepreneurs from around the world.

Many guests and partners of Planet Finance and MicroWorld were present to attend the award ceremony of the winners.

This year's winners were flown in from Morocco, Madagascar, Japan, Benin, France and Brazil to talk about their projects and accept their awards.

MicroWorld sponsored the Public Vote Award, and Ferdinand Agboton , was elected Entrepreneur of the Year. In addition to the trophy, received €500 from MicroWorld.

The International Microfinance Awards finished with a concert by the Sporto Kantes group.

Prize Ethical crafts in Brazil
Ana Lucia
Project : ASTA
Country : Brazil
Ana Lucia lives in one of the poorest and most vulnerable favelas of Rio de Janeiro. A few years ago she decided to collaborate with another woman from her favela to show and sell their own crafts for which they use a traditional Brazilian fabric from Bahia called Fuxico. Thus, Ana Lucia has gathered a group of 10 women who work together to create these innovative, diversified, and fine quality crafts. Through this gathering of women, Ana Lucia wanted to prove that women did not need to depend on their husbands and that they too could fully participate in their household income. Since the very start, Ana Lucia has fully invested herself in the professional growth of these women by giving them not only craft classes but also money management courses. Ever since they have joined the Fuxicarte group, all women have seen a significant improvement of their life styles. Indeed, they now have the means to pay for public transportation and/or are finally able to send their children to school. Today, each of these women works from home, however, Ana Lucia is determined to find a workspace which would allow them to work together under the same roof. A self-made woman with three children, Ana Lucia is a role-model and role model to many in her favela. Her group spirit has allowed her to touch the lives of many women and families but she doesnot count on stopping at that.

The prize for Women's Entrepreneurship in Madagascar
Project: MadaCraft
Microfinance Institution: Microcred, ACEP
Country: Madagascar
Born and raised in a family or craftsmen, BakoNoëline started practicing crafts since her early childhood as she helped her parents during school holidays. With time she learned to work leather before moving on to basketry. In 2003, at the age of 33, she designed her first products and managed to open her own workshop named Ts'ArtFibre in 2005. In her workshop, BakoNoëline creates and produces packages, fashion accessories and interior decoration objects from both plant and animal fibers. Her workshop began with only three employees but thanks to a strong increase of orders, the workshop now employs 150 women pear season as well as twenty permanent workers.In parallel, BakoNoëline has raised awareness on sustainable production techniques and environment friendly practices through her trainings. She also invites any woman who wishes to be trained to come into Ts'ArtFibre where she offers trainings and workshops in craft, workshop management and group organization to respond to large orders. According to Bako, "hand made products are valuable and can sustain those in need if they are persistent, have a certain know-how and are a little familiar with the market and its functioning". Thanks to the Economic Interest Group MadaCraft, BakoNoëline wants to help artisans develop and differentiate their brand so they canopen up to Northern customers. Ts'ArtFibre therefore operates on the values of sharing with the aim to reduce poverty through the development of a workshop that promotes the development of local economy and ofenvironment friendly technics.

Prize for area revitalization in Japan
Project: Peace Jam
Country: Japan
In March 2011, the North-East of Japan is hit by a devastating earthquake causing a huge tsunami after which the city of Kesennuma findsitself in devastating ruins and its people are left with nothing. For Ken Sato, former owner of a house and bar in Kesennuma, this is "the end of the world." However, faced with the pain of the people of his town, Ken Sato gives himself a brave mission to help suffering and struggling mothers and their babies. To do so, Sato travels to other nearby cities that have been less affected by the tsunami in order to buy all kinds of baby products and purchase them with his own funds. He then goes door to door, checking-up on mothers and providing them with essential products for the health of their babies. Soon after, Ken Sato developed a website which allowed him to collect baby product donations fromJapanese and international cities. Seven months later, Ken founded an NGO of fruit and vegetable jams production for which he hired 30 mothers, each paid a monthly wage of 500 euros. Thanks to this activity, Ken Sato creates jobs and helps reduce the financial vulnerability of these mothers. Through his motivation and dedication, this microentrepreneur gave back strength and hope to his community, a community that now considers him as a young influential leader.

Price Renewable Energy in Morocco
Abdelkader RBAIBI
Project: Freeme
Microfinance Institution: Foundation Ardi
Country: Morocco
Passionate about irrigation and renewable energy, AbdelkaderRbaibi already had 14 years of field experience before embarking on the creation of his own business back in 2006. As a trainer and moderator heavily invested in the civil society milieu, Abdelkader continues to develop his projects and specializes in the field of solar water pumping to offer several solutions to farmers living and working in an arid country where the ever growing water demand is due very limited resources. After six years of activity, Abdelkader’s business capital has more than tripled going from 5,700 euros to 19,500 euros. His increase in revenu significantly improved and he is now able to pay for his daughter’s education. Recently, Abdelkader worked on the creation and implementation of a solar dryer to better dry and preserve the quality of various agriculture products (seeds, plants, herbs). He also supports a regional school of medicinal and aromatic plants on irrigation and drying projects.

Price Manual Entrepreneurship in France
Faizina AHMED
Project: Business in Suburbs / manual Entrepreneurship in France
Country: France

Since her early teen years Faizina dreamed of one day becoming a hairdresser and salon owner. During her schooling, her many experiences as a hairdresser trainee affirmed her passion for hairstyling. She therefore decided to enroll in ahairstyling BTS (upper technician certificate) which, in parallel, allowed her work in a hair salon specialized inAfro-textured hair. Following her graduation, Faizina felt ready to take her independence and decided to embark on the creation of her own hair salon. During six months PlaNet ADAM (Association Detection and Accompanying Microentrepreneurs) accompanied her through multiple tasks: looking for a local, administrative paperwork, funding applications etc. The total project cost amounted to 67 500 euros. Today Faizina has accomplished her dream by opening her very own afro hair salon in a downtown street in Marseille. Her salon now has six chairs enabling it to generate steady traffic. Following her customer’s growing demand, Faizina recently decided to diversify her space by installing a makeup and nail station. Today, Faizina’s next goal is to open a new salon in the Comoros, her country of origin.

Price Microinsurance in Benin
Ferdinand AGBOTON
Project: Micro Health Insurance
Microfinance Institution: RENACA Benin
Country: Benin
At the age of 17, Ferdinand was forced to drop out of school due to insufficient resources.He then grew fond of agriculture, a sector which his parents already worked in, and decided to get involved in the sector. In 2005, after working a year and a half as a farm laborer, Ferdinand decided to start his own farm by growing tomatoes, corn and cassava on an area of 0.5 hectares lent to him by his father. In 2006, thanks to his side income as a farm laborer and worker, Ferdinand was able to invest in his own farm by adding oil palm cultivation to his crops. Following his meeting with a member of a local association involved in the chain of pineapple production, Ferdinand decided to try and diversify his crops by investing in pineapple cultivation in 2010. In 2010 Ferdinand obtains a first loan of 300 euros followed by a second one of 460 euros in 2012. These two loans allowthe new found farmer not onlyto gain extra land (from 0.5 hectares in 2005 to 4.5 hectares in 2012) but also to employ 20 seasonal workers (up from four workers in 2008). In 2011 his annual turnover is estimated at 6 200 euros for a result of 2 300 euros. However, despite these developments, Ferdinand still faces several challenges, such as fixing the resale price competition and input supply. Through his activities Ferdinand now has the means to ensure the education of his three children. Through the development of his activity and income, Ferdinand was able to afford a Micro Health Insurance plan which allowed him to offer his family essentialhealth care whenever needed. He was also able to buy a plot of land on which he built his own house. Today, Ferdinand aims to become the owner of a domain for further development of his pineapples and palm oil crops. He would also like to buy machines to make palm oil extraction more efficient.

To see the institutional film click here
To see the official photos of the event click here