In 2014, the 5th European Microfinance Award "Microfinance and the environment" focused on microfinance initiatives to improve environmental issues in the South and encourage industry to find innovative solutions for global environmental concerns.

Natural resources are essential for human survival. However, these natural resources are becoming increasingly strained as a result of unsustainable use, pollution and mismanagement. Awareness of the environment as a business risk and opportunity is growing amongst microfinance institutions.

By supporting environmentally sustainable interventions for people who depend on vital natural resources, microfinance institutions can improve the livelihoods of their clients, and contribute to a more sustainable environment.




Established in Kyrgyzstan since 2004, KOMPANION Financial Group provides microloans in combination with technical assistance to small-scale farmers and pastoralists (livestock herders / shepherds) to promote sustainable agriculture and natural resource management.

The initiative presented for the 5th European Microfinance Award 'Pasture Land Management Training Initiative: an ethno-ecological approach to pasture land preservation' addresses the pressing issue of pasture land degradation in Kyrgyzstan. It consists of a specialised loan package, 'Credits for Conservation', linked with a training program. Pastures account for 85% of all agricultural land in Kyrgyzstan, and are vitally important for the national economy.




ESAF Microfinance and Investments is a regulated Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC-MFI) since 2008. It is working with global agencies like the World Bank to support environment and livelihood initiatives, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to support formalisation of business enterprises.

The initiative presented for the 5th European Microfinance Award the ‘Clean Energy for the Poor initiative - Improving access to green products for the low income microfinance clients of ESAF'’ provides rural clients with solar energy solutions, efficient cook stoves, and water filters. According to ESAF, more than 50% of clients report 'feeling better' in terms of their health (the clients using cook stoves and water filters), around 25% report spending less on energy, and circa 40% say they have more time with their families and time to get involved in other income generating activities because they do not have to collect firewood.




XacBank LLC is a Mongolian bank founded in 2001. It provides a range of financial services and loan products and it is present in all 21 Mongolian provinces.

The initiative presented by XacBank for the Award is their 'Eco Product Program'. This microloans program distributes energy-efficient products to households in the ger (traditional Mongolian portable tent) districts of Ulanbataar. Those products are subsidised through the sale of carbon offsets destined for the voluntary carbon markets, and therefore, helps to reduce urban coal consumption, reduce greenhouse gas (carbon) emissions and reduce localised particulate matter pollution.

For more information about the 2014 winner and finalists, have a look at the 5th European Microfinance Award Report (e-MFP)