Launch of the Transparent Pricing Initiative in West Africa
Last month MFTransparency launched the Transparent Pricing Initiative in West Africa. The launch workshops took place on July 6th in Dakar, Senegal and July 9th in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. These are the first two countries to launch the Transparent Pricing Initiative of the eight countries participating in the Transparent Pricing Initiative in West Africa.
The Transparent Pricing Initiative in West Africa, funded by Luxembourg Cooperation, aims to promote transparent pricing in the microfinance industries of the following eight countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. All eight are members of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), a partnership which we hope will help these countries cooperate on the Transparent Pricing Initiative. This project is backed by the governments of each of the participating countries as well as many national and international organizations involved in microfinance in the region. The objective of the project will be to collect product pricing data from MFIs and calculate and publish the Annual Percentage Rates (APR) and Effective Interest Rates (EIR) for these products. This information will be published on the MFTransparency website along with educational materials, supporting the training that MFTransparency will offer industry stakeholders in each country.
The first two countries to begin the Transparent Pricing Initiative in West Africa were Senegal and Burkina Faso. In both these countries MFTransparency launched the Initiative with a training workshop led by CEO & President Chuck Waterfield. I attended these workshops as one of my first activities in my role as Research Associate for the West Africa project. I moved from Niamey, Niger to Dakar, Senegal to work on this project. Although I have been to some of the WAEMU countries, this was my first time in Senegal, so it was very exciting.
Both workshops were very successful, fully attended by most of the microfinance organizations active in each country’s industry. There were many participants at each workshop and they were very interested in the training. The workshops in both countries were opened by the Luxembourg Cooperation ambassador of the country, the representatives of the government and some of the MFIs. Chuck offered training on interest rates and led the attendees in a discussion of transparent pricing. The attendees participated actively in the discussion, and made many interesting points. In the end many of them gave their written support to MFTransparency by signing the endorser statement.
The participants in these two countries both appreciated and showed their interest in this global initiative. Many expressed their belief that since transparency in microfinance is emphasized in the new regulations in the region, MFTransparency’s West Africa project will help them in their own purposes. They also expressed that MFTransparency is welcome to offer their expertise to teach the MFIs how to apply principles of transparency to their work.
Following the workshops in both countries, Chuck and I had many meetings with different industry stakeholders. I will write about our experiences in Senegal and Burkina Faso, as well as the progress of these Initiatives, in upcoming posts.