On Thursday 16 November 2023, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg presented this year's European Microfinance Award to Yikri, a microfinance institution from Burkina Faso, at a ceremony held at the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Luxembourg-Kirchberg.
Yikri has won the €100,000 European Microfinance Award 2023 from Luxembourg's Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs. The other two finalists were Kenya's Fortune Credit Ltd and Guatemala's Fundación Génesis Empresarial.
The award ceremony took place within the context of this year's European Microfinance Week, held in Luxembourg from Wednesday 15 to Friday 17 November 2023.
Supported by Entrepreneurs du Monde, Yikri champions social microfinance for poverty alleviation. The European Microfinance Award organisers (Luxembourg's Foreign Ministry, InFiNe and e-MFP) noted that Yikri stands out for its financial products and support services specifically designed for the most vulnerable groups, particularly women, forcibly displaced people, rural smallholders and young people. The organisers recalled that Burkina Faso has some of the highest levels of food insecurity in the world and must adapt its agricultural model to climate change risks to tackle this challenge.
To help smallholder farmers with this transition, Yikri offers an agricultural loan without a guarantee and adapted to harvest cycles, together with support from technical advisors with agricultural expertise. They help and advise producers on the environmentally friendly implementation of agro-ecological practices to improve their crop yields. Yikri also strengthens value chains by connecting farmers with input suppliers and buyers. This support is provided over time by way of individual visits and monthly group training sessions.
In addition, Yikri's social worker team identifies the families most affected by malnutrition (particularly in disadvantaged parts of Ouagadougou) and directs them to associations organising subsidised milk distribution programmes.
Yikri currently helps almost 40 000 people. It has seen that over an average support period of three years, the number of its beneficiaries in extreme poverty is cut in half while their monthly net income is doubled.
Grand Jury President Grand Duchess Maria Teresa said: "The innovative and ambitious solutions brought forth by our finalists have the potential to break the vicious cycle of hunger and poverty. I certainly hope that they will inspire others to follow their example."
"With its timely theme of food security and nutrition, this year's European Microfinance Award is of particular importance for Luxembourg’s development cooperation. Combating hunger and malnutrition is a priority in our work and inclusive finance has an important role to play in addressing this issue," added Luxembourg Director for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs Christophe Schiltz. "I am delighted that this year's award was able to attract such a strong field of participants. Yikri from Burkina Faso is a very deserving winner. They make a valuable contribution to improving living conditions by providing people in extreme poverty with access to financial services. Congratulations go not only to Yikri for winning this year’s European Microfinance Award, but also to all the other finalists and participants for the important work that they do."
EIB President Werner Hoyer commented: "We all know that development needs around the world are enormous. We must leverage ingenuity, innovation, and models that can make a difference and deliver real impact. Microfinance is a great tool for this, as the examples presented during European Microfinance Week and at the Microfinance Award show."
Launched in October 2005 by the Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs of Luxembourg's Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the aim of the European Microfinance Award is to nurture innovative microfinance initiatives. It is jointly organised by the ministry, the Inclusive Finance Network Luxembourg (InFiNe) and the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) - also based in Luxembourg.