Higher impact: Assilassime in Togo

Welcome to Higher impact, a series dedicated to sharing high-level impact progress at Kiva. You’ll hear a lot of great individual borrower stories from Kiva, but this series takes you behind the scenes to catch a glimpse of the impact our Field Partners are making in their regional communities. Check out the difference we’re making and tune in every month.

Manon with colleagues in the San Francisco Kiva office.

Our first installment comes from our Francophone Africa Investment Manager Manon Genouille. Below she highlights a unique and interesting partner in Togo called Assilassimé Solidarité.

As our only partner in the west African country of Togo, Assilassimé reaches the most vulnerable populations at scale, contributing to both our breadth and depth of impact.

Since the partnership began in 2013, they’ve grown through us and used our technical assistance to launch a new agricultural loan product. Together, we’ve funded over $2.5 million in loans for over 9,600 borrowers. In the future, we’re confident in Assilassimé’s continued growth and impact through the continued evolution of Kiva’s platform.

Assilassimé works in a challenging context and reaches highly vulnerable borrowers in an underserved market.  

Francophone West Africa is less advanced relative to East Africa in terms of technology, infrastructure, governance and institutions. There are heightened regional challenges around internal conflicts, political instability and natural disasters. It’s also difficult to find qualified staff because well-functioning microfinance institutions are rare.

Very few microfinance institutions provide credit to the very poor in Togo. But with Assilassimé’s socially-oriented approach to microlending, it bolsters unbanked Togolese citizens' business skills and provides opportunity for them to participate in local economies and improve their own standards of living. Assilassimé is distinguished in the Togolese microfinance landscape because it offers services only to vulnerable individuals in the Lomé area - particularly unbanked individuals, the disabled, single mothers, sex workers, people living with HIV and widows.

A group of three Kiva borrowers in Togo.

Developing and deepening with partners over time leads to greater impact

Identifying and onboarding mission-aligned Field Partners with the operational and organizational viability to work well with Kiva is difficult.  In the case of Assilassimé, their connection to the Entrepreneurs du Monde (EdM) network helped build confidence, as we’re familiar and aligned with their lending methodology and practices. We also work with EdM entities in Vietnam, Cambodia, Haiti and Burkina Faso.

Assilassimé has learned the ins and outs of working with Kiva, and their leadership team has always advocated for our partnership. They have grown with us accordingly: Assilassimé was founded in early 2012, posted its first Kiva loans in 2013 and since then has raised over 10,000 loans.

What’s next

We are deepening our partnership with Assilassimé toward greater impact. Recently, as part of piloting technical assistance (TA) for our field partners with the Mastercard Foundation, we supported Assilassimé to create its first agricultural loan product. Borrowers had expressed the interest and need for this type of product, which would enable Assilassimé to not only serve their existing clients better, but also to further expand their client base and geographic reach.

A Kiva borrower and his staff in Togo.

Assilassimé opened its very first rural branch, located several hours north of its main area of operation, and started slowly disbursing agricultural loans in late 2018. In May 2019, Assilassimé posted its first seven agricultural loans on Kiva.org. As an Investment Manager, I would say that technical assistance can really make a big difference for many of our partners who lack resources and expertise to grow. Assilassimé’s case shows how a small amount of funding can unlock services for an entirely new demographic segment. It will be interesting to see how we can continue to find, facilitate or administer more technical assistance for our partners in the future.

Based on Assilassimé’s size, mission-aligned practices, impact, and strong relationship with Kiva, we see a bright future ahead. I would not be surprised to see Assilassimé doubling its impact, with our partnership, in the next few years.

About the author

Manon Genouille

Born French American, Manon's wanderlust has taken her to over 30 countries. Through her travels, she witnessed inequality from a young age and became passionate about contributing to poverty reduction in her career. Prior to joining Kiva, Manon undertook research and project management roles in boutique economic development and social impact consulting firms in San Francisco and Montreal, working with multilateral institutions, nonprofits and foundations. Since moving to the Bay Area, she is excited to see how technology can be leveraged towards greater good around the world. Manon holds a BA in International Development from McGill University and a MS in Development Administration and Planning from University College London. Her favorite things include dogs, tennis, cheese, photography and lists.