Loans to customers Savings. banks. Cooperative 49,8% banks 5,2% Private. banks 45,0%

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1 Credit Unions and their strong competitors in Spain: Saving Banks Cajas de ahorros Elizabeth Aro Sofia, March 2009 The cooperative banking sector in Spain represents only a small part of the whole banking system. There are, indeed, three different categories of in Spain: the private, savings and cooperative. According to different parameters, the market share is as follows: Considering total assets, cooperative have a 4,2% share; considering loans to customers, cooperative have a 5.2% share, finally looking at deposits from customers, the share of cooperative is in line with the previous data (at 3.8%). Savings 45% Total assets Cooperative 4% Loans to customers Savings 49,8% Cooperative 5,2% Deposits from customers Savings 50,2% Cooperative 3,8% Private 51% Private 45,0% Private 46,0% These few pieces of data tell us that, in any case, the role played by cooperative, even if important from a qualitative perspective and in specific market segments, it is only marginal when compared to the whole market. The 82 cooperative have a network of about branches (to be compared with for private and for saving. Branches Cooperative 11,1% Savings 54,7% Private 34,2% They operate on a local basis and serve limited areas where they express the will of the local community to promote, through the cooperative movement, forms of deposits collecting and loans granting in the same local area. In this perspective we can say that, by their nature, cooperative are microfinance institutions as their mission is to provide credit for small operators in rural areas or in the field of handcraft or self-employment. This is in accordance with their well rooted mission and tradition. We can see that their activity in rural areas, which are often deprived of economic activities, plays an important role in preventing financial exclusion. They assist financial inclusion of people living in areas or working in sectors where the risk of facing difficulties of access to credit is higher. However this role of promoting financial inclusion in Spain is shared with savings. As I have said, savings have in this country a network that is about five times that of cooperative. In Spain the phenomenon of financial exclusion or difficulty to access has 1

2 mainly received a market response. Although it is true that financial exclusion has not been high on the political agenda in this country, compared to other countries, various institutions (like the savings bank foundations) follow objectives with the intention of helping to reduce financial exclusion. Spanish savings offer banking products that are designed intentionally for groups at risk. In this context, Spain is probably one of the leading countries in dealing with financial exclusion via private market means. In the same way, cooperative are used to operating with a retail segment and offer products and services which are tailored for low and moderate income people. Microcredits first appeared in Spain in the eighties because of initiatives offered by singles social organizations. They have grown in the last ten years thanks to the assistance of the Public Administration working with ICO which is the Official Credit Institution (ICO is a stateowned corporate body attached to the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Spain). Indeed, the model of development of microcredit in Spain is in extremely interesting for other European countries. In this country microfinance has been able to develop quickly thanks to the strong and unique support of the savings, mainly due to their experience in financial intermediation and commitment to serving low income people at risk of exclusion. It is a special way in Spain: savings work in partnership with social organisations and develop social microcredit. This partnership model, with strong links between the financial and social sectors, is very interesting and function well. We should also mention that there is an other type of microcredit: financial microcredit. This is offered directly by some through their branches without the intervention of social organisations (This is the case of financial microcredit offered by MiCROBANK which is affiliated to the Caixa or Caixa de Catalunya In order to place in the context the activity of microcredit in Spain I suggest a quick look at the microcredit characteristics in this country Concept: Microcredit is defined as an individual loan which is granted to set up small business or microentreprises that generate self-employment and job for people at risk of social and financial exclusion. As previously mentioned, the largest part is social microcredit, but also financial microcredit exists. Loan size: the range is from 6,000-8,000 to 18,000-25,000 Euros Grace period: ( this is a debated issue) From 0 to 6 months, some programmes offer up to 24 months Repayment term: generally from 2,2 to 6 years Rate of interest : depending on market conditions, but lower than interest rates for that segment of market (unsecured small loans, often people without any credit history) Guarantees: no guarantees (in most cases) or group guarantees Fees: No fees in most cases, sometimes fees for late payments Main characteristics for the target groups: 1º) to be part of a disadvantage social group with particular difficulties in finding employment; 2º) no access to a formal financial system due to lack of collateral; 3º) to possess a valid business initiative. I presume that the above mentioned microcredit characteristics in Spain are common to other European countries. But the particular point of the Spanish experience is probably the joint effort of financial institutions and Social Support Organisations- SSOs. These organisations 2

3 serve as an essential link between the lenders who supply the microcredit and the microentrepreneur. They may be private or public institutions, are recognized for their close contact with groups at risk and their experience in social integration through promoting self-employment. Micro loans are usually granted in Spain in the following way: 1. Social Support Organisations disseminate information on microcredit among the people they serve/help; 2. the Social Support Organisation identifies the potential beneficiaries, provides them with the necessary help to complete a microcredit application, and forwards their application to the financial institution; 3. the financial institution then forms a credit rating based on the project s validity, and - if the assessment is positive - formalises the microcredit agreement. This agreement is signed directly by the financial institution and the microentrepreneur. 4. generally the Social Support Organisation does a follow-up work, provides the necessary support to benficiaries during the duration of the loan such as training, advice, assistance). The scheme operates as follows: The scheme of SOCIAL microcredit in Spain Dissemination information about microcredit Help in valutation the project and completing the application Follow up work: training, advice, mentoring Benificiarie s = Microentrepreneurs SSOs Microcredit agreement Association with a microcredit programme Financial institutions Three actors are involved in the implementation of microcredit programmes: financial institutions, clients and Social Support Organisations. As far as financial institutions are concerned, it is usefull to recall that in Spain microcredit programmes can be divided into two groups : 3

4 I. Financial institutions ownership programmes II. Financial institutions programmes affiliated with the Public Administration on a national scale In the first group the strongest operators are the savings. Savings are credit institutions organised as private foundations. Given their foundational nature, savings do not pay dividends, but rather donate a significant part of their profits (on average, 25 per cent) to community welfare projects (throughout Obra Social Foundations), such as microcredit programmes (e.g. Caixa Catalunya, Caja de Granada, Caixa Galicia). Savings launched their own programmes at the beginning of this decade as part of their mentioned social function to prevent financial exclusion and promote economic development and social progress. Programmes set up by savings are generally financed through the obligatory reinvestment of post-tax profits. Private followed this path reacting to the offer of Savings, and three of the main (BBV, Grupo Santander and Banco Popular) started in 2003 to operate in this field, mainly through the ICO Microcredit line. In order to provide an idea of the relative dimension of the activity of the two categories I would like to give you some data. In 2004 the five most active Savings Banks reached the following total volume of granted credits: ,1 5, ,7 1,5 0 La Caixa / Obra Social de "la Caixa" Fundacio Un BBK Solidarioa Sol Mon (Caixa Catalunya Obra Social Caixa Galicia Fundacion Caja Granada Desarrollo Solidario 2004 Data expressed in millions, 2004 In 2003 the activity of the 3 most active private is divided as follows: 4

5 7,0 6,0 6,0 5,0 4,4 4,0 3,0 2,0 2,1 2,6 1,0 0,0 BBVA Grupo Santander Banco Popular Otros 2003 We should consider that the total dimension of the market is as follows: Number of loans disbursed France Bulgaria Germany Romania Spain Finland UK Poland Hungary Belgium Italy Portugal Netherlands Austria Switzerland Source: ENM-Nantik Lum With reference to the second group of microcredit programmes - those promoted by financial institutions affiliated with the Public Administration on a national scale - there are two initiatives: 5

6 1. The Microcredit Line of the Official Credit Institution Instituto Crédito Oficial (ICO) 2. Microcredit Programme for Entrepreneurial and Business Women The ICO Microcredit Line was set up in The purpose of this facility is to finance projects conducive to the self-employment of the beneficiaries. It is open to private individuals who are not able to access the usual financial channels for lack of guarantees or credit history. The European Investment Fund collaborates with the ICO to improve financing conditions by partially covering the risk. Under this scheme, ICO contracts loan agreements with different Spanish, which in turn sign agreements with social institutions that are responsible for evaluating the feasibility, and play the role of introducing projects to the and monitoring. Beneficiaries of the programme are mainly unemployed, older people, one-parent households immigrants, women, the disabled. The amount of resources granted by this scheme are declining as you can see. Microcredit (loan granted: balance as of December and arrangements in the year) in millions, Euros * Balances at December 31th 4,2 5,6 7,4 10,8 12,2 0,1 Arrangements made in the year 0,6 2,1 2,0 3,4 12,1 0,1 * Starting September The Microcredit Programme for Entrepreneurial and Business Women has been implemented by the Spanish Women s Institute since This organisation answers to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, in collaboration with other ministries and la Caixa participates as the financial institution. This programme is co-financed by the European Social Fund. The natural target of microcredits are people at risk of social exclusion unemployed and looking for a self-employment opportunity and facing difficulties in accessing credit market. An analysis of clients in microcredit programmes carried out by the Savings Banks and the ICO Microcredit Line shows the following picture: with references to gender in particular women as beneficiaries, women are one of the main objectives of microcredit programmes, and this is important in light of the phenomenon of feminisation of poverty in Spain. In the following slides you can see this phenomenon: Microloans granted to women - Savings Banks ownership programmes in (2005) Microloans granted to women by the ICO Microcredit Line ( ) With reference to the analysis of client as Spanish native or immigrants, immigrants are important targets, although to a lesser extent for ICO than for Savings Microloans granted to immigrants by Saving Banks ownership programmes (2005) 6

7 Microloans granted to immigrants by the ICO Microcredit Line( ) As far as Social Support Organisations are concerned, they are both public and private. The public organisations are run by regional or local councils such as employment agencies, local development agencies, employment enterprise centres, etc. While the private ones are generally non-profit organisations such as chambers of commerce, unions, NGOs, administrative agencies and consultants. In order to perform their tasks, the basic conditions are: - good experience in social integration: - understanding of and work experience with the at risk groups, such as the unemployed, immigrants, ethnic minorities, women or the disabled. - well rooted in the targeted geographical or social area in coordination with other organisations and the local Public Administration. - training and business management skills in order to follow up and monitor the projects - ability to negotiate and work in partnership with the financial institutions which provide the money and assume the credit risk. Whereas Social Support Organisations are responsible for selecting the beneficiaries and remaining close to them during the business launch and during the term of the microloan In conclusion, the functions of the Social Support Organisations are double: one to the beneficiary of the microcredit and one to the financial institutions. Special mention has to be made of the fact that some Social Support Organisations provide potential microcredit clients with training and courses in business management, negotiation, and banking processes. In some cases, attendance at these courses is a prior condition to applying for a microcredit. This training period guarantees better technical preparation for the client. It also works as a natural selection process in identifying clients. The role played by Social Support Organisations is very important, even essential for the functioning of the model: they promote the distribution of microcredit all over Spain and allow financial institutions to gain access to collectives that they have not traditionally dealt with. Especially as many of these population segments reside in remote or marginalised areas with little financial profitability potential and without a banking coverage. In this scheme, the running cost of the activities of the SSOs such as staff, travel, management and administrative costs, are entirely paid by the same Social Support Organisations. Success of social microcredit can not be measured strictly by financial metrics, but rather by social impact. Giving confidence to people at risk offering them a chance to take part in the society creating new jobs and offering new creative opportunities are the most relevant factors for social inclusion. In order to appreciate the appropriateness of criteria of customer selection, I would like to highlight the survey carried out by Foro Nantik Lum de MicroFinanzas in According to this survey, the criteria generally used to select microcredit beneficiaries are: - enterprenurial spirit - cash flows and income 7

8 - technical skills - other income sources for the households - savings - previous labour experience - family stability and - social inclusion Sometimes the following indicators are used: - level of education - number of dependants and household size - previous business experience and business training - instability of current employment - lack of chronic illness affecting them or the family - no addiction to drugs or alcohol The following elements are generally considered not to be relevant: - house condition - relationship with neighbours - receiving public assistance and - length of unemployment condition. To sum up, the Spanish experience demonstrates that this model is well organized, with a high level of satisfaction of the main actors: customers, financial institutions and Social Support Organisations. Indeed this tool is useful to facilitate financial and social inclusion of people at risk of exclusion, although it is not appropriate for the poorest. In these cases non-returnable subsidies are more appropriate, because microcredit, by nature, involve the ability to repay credit, although incidents and difficulties are always possible events. Obviously, proposals are put forward in order to improve the Spanish microcredit model, but, all in all, the experience is very positive and improvement are incremental, but marginal. The main areas of improvement are indicated as follows by the different actors: According to benificiaries: Opinion regarding the microloans: It has added difficulties 4% It has helped me a little 31% It has helped me greatly 65% Possible improvements in the microloan programmes: - better terms for loans 27 % - possibility of extending the loan 24 % - advisory services and paperwork 16 % - adapt the terms to the profile 12 % - more advertising 5 % - give a non repayable amount 3% - others 13 % Obviously, the main need is to have a higher volume of resources open to microcredit programmes, and this need is growing fast with the actual economic crisis. 8

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