Pact + LIFT: Myanmar Access to Rural Credit Project (MARC)

August 13, 2013

In July 2012, Pact Global Microfinance Fund (PGMF) began the Myanmar Access to Rural Credit (MARC) project as a three-year partnership with LIFT, a consortium of major donors, to improve the livelihoods and food security of poor, rural families by developing the capacity of nine local NGOs to effectively and sustainably provide access to financial services. 

The project draws on Pact’s long history of increasing the capacity of local organizations across the globe and its extensive microfinance experience in Myanmar.

Using a variety of methods, tools and activities, MARC aims to strengthen the management, operations and technical foundation of these newly registered local MFIs under Myanmar’s 2011 Microfinance Law and send them out with seed capital to make loans to improve the lives of rural families.

In the first year of the project, PGMF signed on four of the nine local MFI partners – Border Areas Development Association (BDA), Ratan Metta Oragnization (RMO), Environmental Conservation and Livelihood Outreach Foundation (ECLOF), and Ar Yone Oo Social Development Association (AYO) – based on a competitive application process. 

While most of the local partners have a wide-ranging history of development work in Myanmar, none had experience conducting institutional microfinance. During this year, PGMF conducted credit methodology, planning, management, and product design workshops to improve their technical capacities, transferring lessons learned from PGMF to its partners. In addition, PGMF applied organizational self-assessments and institutional-strengthening plans to improve their organizational capacities as measured by performance indicators and results. Through ongoing monitoring, PGMF can identify special training needs that arise and provide those on a case-by-case basis. The project’s unique concept and innovative design is truly groundbreaking. 

As it begins the second year of MARC, Pact plans to select another five local NGOs to undergo technical and organizational capacity strengthening.

To date, PGMF has received 21 applications from interested organizations; this is a clear indicator of the demand that this program is addressing. The project is not only on target to meet the goal of improving the livelihoods and food security of 45,000 people in Myanmar, but it is also setting a path to sustainable development by empowering nine new local MFIs to take the lead in their own country’s development.