In 1999, a senior manager at SOGEBANK, Haiti’s largest commercial bank, became interested in microfinance after observing successful experiences in other countries. He believed that microfinance would offer SOGEBANK an opportunity to achieve both social and business objectives. Thus SOGEBANK enlisted Accion to help build SOGESOL, an independent, commercial microlending institution using a “service company” model. Under this model, SOGESOL provides loan origination and credit administration services to SOGEBANK. The loans are booked at SOGEBANK, but SOGESOL has primary responsibility for promoting, evaluating, approving, tracking and collecting them. SOGESOL’s first loans were issued in August 2000.
Accion has worked closely with SOGESOL since the company’s inception. As a shareholder, Accion plays an active governance role in the institution. Accion has also provided continuous technical assistance support to the management of the organization. Through various on-site resident advisors, Accion has supported SOGESOL with the development and the implementation of credit methodologies, the training of loan officers, the documentation of policies and procedures and general credit management.
In 2009, Accion established its Haitian partner as one of its Innovation Labs to experiment with streamlined processes for credit risk management and scoring. Knowledge gained from this innovative technical assistance program will be shared with Accion’s African partners that operate under similar business conditions and human resource constraints. Accion’s work in this area continues to advance well. Accion has also helped SOGESOL to implement the Fast Cash loan process, which enables branches to offer individual loans of less than US$700 to lower-income microentrepreneurs in a more efficient manner.