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Best Bank Awards

Myanmar's best bank for microfinance 2020: Dawn


Gonzalo Gonzalez, CEO, DAWN Microfinance.jpg
Gonzalo Gonzalez, Dawn

Early Dawn Microfinance was born under the wing of Save the Children International in 2002 as a donor-funded programme, but it was spun off in 2015 as an independent company and has become one of Myanmar’s largest and most reputable microfinance institutions (MFI).

Dawn has outperformed growth targets across the board, capturing more borrowers and boosting its portfolio and average size of loans. As of the end of 2019, it was the third-largest MFI by active borrowers and eighth-largest by loan portfolio in a sector with roughly 180 lenders.

Dawn added 51,000 active borrowers last year, taking the total number of clients to more than 246,000, and boosted its outstanding loan book to $52.2 million, surpassing a $50.6 million target.

More than 90% of its lending is still in group loans, with an average size of $270, but the MFI began rolling out its individual lending business after completing a pilot in October 2018. The unit focuses on small business owners and operates in 11 branches.

The MFI established 10 new branches in 2019, bringing the total to 63, expanding its presence in the Magway and Mandalay region, while opening two locations in the north-western a region.

Dawn has relationships with many of Myanmar’s top banks, including Yoma with which it signed a K3.49 billion ($2.4 million) funding agreement in December. Dawn raised $15.9 million in debt and $5.9 million in additional equity last year. It was also allocated $37 million from a multi-donor trust fund managed by the United Nations Office for Project Services. Through the trust, foreign investors lend to Myanmar’s MFIs in local currency. Dawn received nearly a quarter of the $163 million allocated for 12 selected MFIs.

It is one of 17 institutions with a deposit-taking licence in the saturated microfinance sector. It piloted its voluntary savings account product for existing clients in February 2019, expanding the scheme to nine branches by December and taking K44.9 million in deposits.

It also took steps to streamline and modernize its business: it completed a centralization of its core banking system, reducing manual processing and enabling real-time access to data.

To overcome the problems of operating in a cash-based economy, Dawn has developed a partnership with mobile money solutions provider Ongo to implement its cash management services in all of the firm’s branches.

By using Ongo for cash collections and provisioning, Dawn increased its loan officers’ productivity and safety by reducing the time spent counting cash and reducing the risks of carrying large quantities of money.

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