Banyan Global is the prime contractor to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Georgia to manage the longitudinal impact evaluation of the New Economic Opportunities (NEO) project. NEO aims to increase rural incomes, reduce poverty levels, improve food security, and address critical, small-scale household and agricultural water constraints in targeted communities. NEO also targets internally displaced persons (IDP) to sustainably maintain their households and assist communities distressed by natural or other disasters. Banyan Global is leading an evaluation of NEO in consortium with Counterpart International and the United Nations Association of Georgia. During the next three years, the evaluation team will measure NEO’s effectiveness and provide project implementers with data to help direct resources to high-impact interventions. The team will employ a mixed-methods evaluation, utilizing a combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques to answer questions related to NEO’s community-level impact. The NEO evaluation will generate important knowledge about economic-growth programming: what has worked, what has not worked, and why. This learning will inform USAID decision-makers and project designers to refine and improve future interventions. The NEO project evaluation is part of a new evaluation trend within USAID to hire third-party experts to assess ongoing projects as a means of identifying elements of project effectiveness and guiding future resource allocations.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Georgia Health Systems Strengthening Project played a critical role in transforming Georgia’s health care system from the public to the private sector, leading to efficiency gains and better consumer satisfaction as a result of market forces. The project contributed to these efforts by strengthening insurers’ capacity to provide quality health insurance services, providers’ capacity to manage and deliver quality health care services, and government’s capacity to guide and monitor health reforms. Banyan Global, as a subcontractor to Abt Associates, built local capacity to support private-sector development, including increasing the capacity of the private insurance industry and enabling health care providers to manage within Georgia’s newly privatized health system. We worked with local hospitals to increase their capacity to manage and operate large health facilities based on best management and business practices. Banyan Global also worked to expand access to financing for newly privatized health care businesses, including structuring and supporting a health-sector Development Credit Authority (DCA) guarantee with local financial institutions. This work included training on environmental safety standards and the development of environmental safety plans for DCA borrower health facilities.
As a subcontractor to Chemonics on the Asia and Middle East Economic Growth Best Practices project, Banyan Global worked in Kyrgyzstan to help USAID to expand its efforts in the most promising value chains. This was conducted to better inform the mission about key economic problems and issues in the Kyrgyz Republic. It provided analytical support to existing and potential economic projects and supported USAID’s Country Development Cooperation Strategy process. The value chain assessment included extensive literature reviews, in-country focus group and individual interviews with donors, the public, private sector, and civil society. Specifically, the study undertook a value chain assessment of the tourism and textile sectors, coupled with an in-depth review of the business enabling environment.
Banyan Global was awarded a contract with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to provide technical support in institution building and risk management to Mi-Bospo, a financial institution operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Banyan Global is helping Mi-Bospo transition to an operational and lending model that will enable it to keep pace with BiH’s dynamic financial sector while continuing to serve its core client base of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Banyan Global is assisting Mi-Bospo to strengthen its risk management functions, focusing primarily on financial risk. Specific tasks include helping Mi-Bospo to identify areas of weakness and implementing new policies and procedures to build a solid risk management system, including performing a risk management diagnostic, assessment, and strategic planning exercise to design and implement specific interventions required for improved risk management.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, October 2007– September 2010
The United States Agency for International Development’s RTLC project fosters economic growth and improves the competitiveness of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan by upgrading the conditions for international and cross-border trade and transit. The project helps host governments and the private sector to pursue and capitalize on the advantages of greater regional and global economic integration. Activities include targeted support for World Trade Organization accession and post-accession compliance; the reduction of trade barriers relating to transport, transit, border crossing, and customs clearance; and support for regional cooperation for data collection and sharing, including to increase the access of small and medium enterprises to market information within and beyond the region. As a subcontractor to AECOM, Banyan Global supports gender mainstreaming on the project. We provided technical oversight on research on female shuttle traders. Banyan Global designed research tools, including focus groups and survey instruments, and developed a research methodology tailored to the context of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. In addition Banyan Global conducted training and capacity building for nongovernmental organizations selected to implement the research. Banyan Global will continue to explore the impact of trade liberalization on micro, small, and medium enterprises, and women in particular, in the region.
In Romania, Banyan Global designed and implemented a project to increase access to financing for family doctors. Banyan Global conducted market research on the sector that it used to develop workshops for five financial institutions on loan product development and marketing to the health sector. Banyan Global also presented the market-research findings at a policy roundtable attended by representatives from the ministry of health, national health insurance house, family doctors associations, commercial banks, microfinance institutions (MFIs), the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Romanian Family Health Initiative (RFHI) project,USAID, the World Bank, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Banyan Global also worked with local partners to develop and roll out a training course for family doctors in business management and accessing financing. This limited technical assistance catalyzed a dramatic increase in health sector lending in Romania with three of the financial institutions developing health sector loan products and one financial institution launching a healthcare division. Following Banyan Global’s assistance, financial institutions lent almost $150 million to the private health sector. Banyan Global was a subcontractor to Abt Associates on the USAID-funded Banking on Health project.
Banyan Global conducted an assessment in Georgia in 2008 for the United States Agency for International development (USAID)-funded Banking on Health project that identified the private health sector’s challenges as well as opportunities for USAID to support the reform process. Recommendations included a health-sector Development Credit Authority guarantee to support commercial financing of the private health sector, support for primary health care providers whose practices were slated for privatization, strengthening the insurance industry, and hospital-management capacity building. To improve the viability of primary health care providers, Banyan Global built the capacity of a local business-development service provider to offer a business-management course for physicians covering topics such as business decision making, financial management, and managing contracts. Banyan Global also provided advisory services to the government of Georgia to improve registration requirements for newly privatized providers.
Banyan Global assessed the financing needs of small-scale private health care providers, distributors, and retailers in Azerbaijan for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The objectives of the assessment were to identify the market’s composition, size, financing needs, and potential financing options, as well as to define the regulatory and operating environment for the small-scale private health sector. The final report included the results of a document review, stakeholder interviews with public- and private-sector representatives, focus group discussions, and individual interviews with health-sector businesses and the EBRD’s partner financial institutions in Azerbaijan. The assessment describes the risks and opportunities in the sector and provides essential market information for the EBRD and its partner financial institutions that are interested in deepening their exposure to private-health-sector micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises. The results of this assessment informed internal EBRD discussions on strategies to support microenterprise and small and medium enterprise lending to the health care sector in Azerbaijan and the region.
Banyan Global delivered two consecutive courses to upper-level managers of banks and microfinance institutions in Azerbaijan. The courses focused on practical skills and tools for risk management to identify, measure, limit, and monitor risks associated with interest rates, exchange rates, liquidity management, and deposits. Internal-audit requirements and human resource requirements also were addressed. These trainings were delivered in partnership with the Azerbaijan Microfinance Association.
Through the USAID-funded SME Support through Financial Sector Development (SME-FSD) project, the QED Group contracted Banyan Global to conduct a three-day training in Azerbaijan called “Tools and techniques for effective financial risk management.” The training will be provided to members of the Azerbaijan Microfinance Association (AFMA) and will cover interest-rate risk-management requirements, managing deposits, liquidity risk-management requirements, internal-audit requirements, and human-resource requirements for risk management. At the end of the course participants will be able to measure, manage, and monitor the foreign exchange; liquidity; and interest-rate risks of a microfinance institution to make more-informed decisions for continued sustainability and profitability and to meet the requirements of investors, commercial funders, and regulators. The course will contribute to SME-FSD’s strengthening of AFMA’s ability to be a training, service, and advocacy institution that encourages the development of non-bank financial institutions that serve MSME clients.
As USAID/Romania prepared to close in 2008, Banyan Global assessed the impact of the United States’ assistance to support the development of Romania’s private sector by improving its access to finance. The assessment analyzed impacts at the firm, sector, financial-sector, and business-environment levels. Entities studied included microfinance institutions, investment funds, a mortgage-finance company, and a rural-development project. The report details the states of the private and financial sectors before the U.S. government’s involvement, the types of interventions, and the changes the impacted companies and sub-sectors and the overall financial sector experienced. Report findings include lessons learned for USAID, the government of Romania, and other donors.
Banyan Global worked with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to support the transformation of IMON in Tajikistan into a registered deposit-taking financial institution. Banyan Global provided technical assistance to IMON to build its capacity in financial management and reporting. Our work focused on training and technical assistance in the regulatory requirements and risk management needs of a deposit-taking institution. By accepting deposits IMON has a better opportunity to expand its loan portfolio and diversify its client base. Nevertheless it also will need to demonstrate to depositors, regulators, and potential investors that these funds will be well managed and that it is taking the necessary precautions to ensure liquidity. This affirmation will prove critical as IMON transforms into a full-fledged microfinance bank.
Our experts conducted an institutional appraisal of the Micro Development Fund (MDF), a local microfinance institution in Serbia and the International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC) local partner. Banyan Global advised ICRC on the relevance of its investment in MDF, in relation to its project objectives and goals. We also recommended the conditions for the hand over of funds, as well as the parameters that should govern any future partnership between ICRC and MDF.
Partners for Development (PFD) contracted Banyan Global to evaluate the rural credit program for the Independent Farmers’ Association of the Upper Vrbas Region (IFA). The IFA was organized by PFD through an agricultural development project funded by the US Department of Agriculture in 1999 with the aim of increasing the IFA’s access to markets through the provision of market linkages, technical assistance and credit.
Banyan Global conducted an institutional evaluation of Micro Development Fund and Microfins, two Serbian partners of the International Labour Organization (ILO)–United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that provide financial services. We examined such issues as governance, management, human resource development, clients and markets, operational systems and procedures, financial management, and institutional alliances. Banyan Global also helped guide UNHCR’s decision-making process in handing over funds previously allocated to these partners.