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The largest French student association of microfinance is at l’X

Founded in 2006 by École Polytechnique students to help the Mayan people of Guatemala, X-MicroFinance (XMF) has become the largest student association of microcredit in France. After South America and Morocco, it now operates in Togo as well.

Ninety thousand euros is the total of money granted through loans to over 500 beneficiaries by the XMF student association in 2015. An important sum making it the largest student association of microfinance in France in terms of funds involved.

Founded in October 2006, XMF has forty student members from École Polytechnique. Its goal: to conduct an intelligent and sustainable humanitarian action through microfinance, encouraging economic development and combating poverty by providing "micro-loans".

Providing help to the people excluded from the traditional financial and banking system

Microcredit is about granting loans of small amounts to people without access to conventional bank loans and wishing to set up a project. Microfinance therefore encompasses all services provided to people without access to conventional financial institutions. The projects are in the areas of crafts (making fabrics and traditional clothing), commerce (grocery stores) or agriculture.

"We favor a local approach. The great advantage of microfinance is to offer long-term solutions with a real commitment of the populations concerned. The purpose is not to give them a one-time assistance, but to empower them to realize their own projects," explains Reda Agoumi (X 2013), President of XMF.

In Guatemala, 500 micro-entrepreneurs in total, such as Miguel, Maria and Pedro, have received help from fifteen École Polytechnique students to develop their agricultural or craft activities. "In Guatemala, the Maya populations and women are at the margin of the society and live in difficult conditions," says Reda.

The loans, which amount up to 500 euros, take place in two phases. In summer, the loan campaign takes place: students of the association go on site to see the projects of the beneficiaries of the previous year and to grant new loans to those who need them. Then, during the year, the Guatemalan employees of the association follow the progress of projects and collect the monthly payments.

Consulting advice to cooperatives in difficulty

In Morocco, the mission of the association is closer to micro-consulting. Twelve students, divided into three groups, help cooperatives producing saffron in the south. Their intervention consists first in analyzing the functioning of these cooperatives to then carry out projects to improve effectiveness and visibility.

A new challenge in Togo

This summer, three members of XMF went for the first time in Togo where they worked with IADES, a local microfinance organization based in Lomé, the capital of the country. In addition to microcredit activities, the NGO provides micro-savings services. The goal: to help and accompany the beneficiaries in the management of their finances. École Polytechnique students have allowed the association to strengthen its presence in certain neighborhoods of Lomé while revising some of its procedures in the interests of efficiency.

For its first campaign in 2007, XMF had lent 4,500 euros to 64 beneficiaries. In 2015, it is no less than 85,000 euros which have been distributed among 500 beneficiaries! This exceptional growth essentially relies on subsidies from other associations (X-Forum in particular) and companies (Société Générale and Crédit Suisse) which share the belief that microcredit can help the less fortunate populations by improving their economic situation.

Getting involved with XMF in projects that combine social action with the discovery of the wealth of the world and its populations, is thus a unique opportunity offered to École Polytechnique volunteer students.

> More information : www.xmicrofinance.org