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Certified Expert in Microfinance

The microfinance sector is dynamic and rapidly changing. Microfinance practitioners must be equipped with up-to-date knowledge and tools to strengthen their MFIs to be able to cope with the challenges of growth, complexity and competition.

The Certified Expert in Microfinance course is an excellent and comprehensive qualification for microfinance practitioners. It prepares you for the challenge of serving your clients in changing and increasingly competitive environments.

This course is also available in French.

What Do We Offer?

  • An interactive e-learning course including video lectures, PDF scripts, examples, practical exercises, online tests and case studies.
  • A discussion forum for course related issues as well as for exchange of opinions and experiences with , tutors, peers or the FSDF e-Campus team.
  • Personalized support from your e-Campus team.
  • The possibility to achieve a Frankfurt School certificate after passing the final exam or a confirmation of course completion after completing the course.

Tuition Fees*

Registration Date Fee
Before Jan. 15, 2021 EUR 700*
After Jan. 15, 2021 EUR 900*

Final exam fee: 50 EUR (included in the above mentioned tuition fees)

Certificate fee: After passing the final exam you will receive a digital certificate. Should you wish to receive a hard copy of your certificate as well, an administrative fee of EUR 50 will be charged.  


  • 10% group discount (for 2 or mre participants working for the same institution, informed to us before by an email)
  • 10% for FS Alumni
  • for company package discounts, please contact us
Payment Options
  • Bank Transfer (bank fees to be covered by participants)
  • Credit Card
  • PayPal

Payment in instalments is unfortunately not possible.

*Subject to change

Target Audience

MFI management and employees, bankers, central bankers, staff of apex institutions and students (preferably with banking and finance background) who wish to gain insights into successful MFI management.


The course takes approx. 6 months assuming 3-4 hours of self-study per week. It consists of 7 mandatory units and an elective, which build upon each other. The units need to be completed in a sequence.

Unit 2 and Unit 6 include an assignment which you will need to submit at a fixed deadline.

You are not sure if you manage to complete the course within 6 months? No worries! You can apply for a course extension (6 more months) against an administrative fee.


Course Start Course End Registration Early Bird
Sept. 1 Feb. 28 Jun. 1 - Sept. 1 by Jul. 15
Mar. 1 Aug. 31 Dec. 1 - Mar. 1 by Jan. 15

Course contributes to UN SDGs

This course will enhance your knowledge in the following SDGs. The SWA offers professional and executive courses dedicated to the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

All our courses contribute to the following SDGs


Registrations for the intake starting in September 2020 are open now. If you register before 15th July, you will benefit from 150 EUR early bird discount.

Course Details*

The CEMF course provides a detailed introduction into the topic of microfinance. It not only presents international trends and best practices with respect to microcredits, microsavings and microinsurance, but also dwells into the challenges and complexity of managing a microfinance institution. Most MFIs operate in an increasingly competitive environment that is quickly changing (e.g. through mobile banking), where both social and financial performance need to be closely monitored to correctly influence management decisions. Participants will thus learn how to cope with the specific challenges that microfinance institutions face today.

Suggestions & recommendations

While you decide on the timing and pace of your learning experience we would like to give you some recommendations on how to get the most out of this course:

Your schedule: We will provide you a course schedule including voluntary and mandatory deadlines. The course schedule serves as guideline for your personal learning schedule and will help you completing the programme within the given time frame.

Exercises: Even though the exercises in the script are not mandatory we strongly advise you to use them as an opportunity to check your knowledge and to prepare for the final exam.

Assignments: With the assignments you will learn how to apply the knowledge learned during the course. It is important that you take time to read the necessary material and to solve the assignment.

Networking Opportunities: Use the forum to introduce yourself your peers and start interesting discussions.

Unit 1: Microfinance - International Trends and Best Practice

This unit introduces you to the world of microfinance. We start with the most important aspect: our clients. Who are they, what do they really need and how do they manage their own finances? Even seasoned practitioners will find these sessions interesting as these sessions will explain what kind of products, services and delivery channels will work in real life.

The second part of the unit is dedicated to MFIs: where do they originate from and what are their characteristics? You will learn the pros and cons of different microfinance approaches. Finally, we conclude the unit by looking into the future: what are the trends and how can MFIs make use of them?

Unit 3: Managing Micro Savings and Micro Insurance

Unit 3 presents further microfinance products: micro-savings and micro-insurance. For a long time, people believed that the possibility to save was not as important for poor people as the availability of credit. Many people even thought that poor people could not save. Unit 3 will show you that they actually can, need and want to.

Since most poor people use informal savings methods, the challenge for MFIs is to mobilize these savings and to design products that meet the needs of poor clients. Unit 3 discusses all aspects related to savings both from the clients' point of view and from the perspective of an MFI. You will get to know what poor people expect from a savings provider and his savings products. You will learn what prerequisites MFIs have to fulfil to take deposits and which factors influence their decision to offer savings products. Furthermore, unit 3 will point out the risk inherent to deposit-taking and will suggest appropriate risk management procedures.

Micro-insurances are another means to help poor people to better cope with the many risks they are faced with. The range of micro-insurances is broad. Unit 3 will familiarize you with the most important types of micro-insurance and will update you on the latest developments and international best-practices.

Unit 5: Marketing and Sales

A successful MFI manages to target the right clients and offers them the right products. Therefore, marketing and market research is an important part of MFI operations. This unit takes its start at market research and how to identify your market potential and market needs in a structured way, as well as the strengths of your MFI in comparison to your competitors. The unit further looks at marketing activities with a specific focus on microfinance marketing measures.

Microfinance is, at its core, about providing financial services to the poor. A significant part of this unit is therefore Customer Relationship Management, focusing on how to ensure that your MFI is service-minded and successful in providing services to your clients in a client-friendly manner.

Unit 7: Management of Human Resources

Staff is the biggest asset of an MFI. An MFI that is able to have motivated, well-trained, well-informed staff has a big advantage in a competitive environment. At the same time, microfinance is a sector where change happens often and continuously.

This last unit of our certification course will start looking at leadership and motivation and how to manage change projects in a successful way. It takes a more careful look at bonus systems as a way to create motivation and thereafter move into HR Management and the strategic parts of HR. HR is also about how to ensure the right people at the right place; therefore, the session ends with looking at a good operational set up of an MFI, including reporting and MIS set up.

Unit 2: Managing Micro Credits

Unit 2 focuses on the loan cycle and the two main different lending methodologies in microfinance: the group lending and the individual lending approach. The loan officer - playing a key role in each MFI - will be the central point of this unit. By going through each step of the loan cycle, we will discuss all of a loan officer’s tasks and duties in detail. We will explain you how to do a proper loan analysis. You will learn how to do effective site visits, to assess the character of the loan applicant and what to take into consideration when assessing his business and family income. In order to decide on the appropriate loan amount and repayment schedule we will teach you how to do financial analyses and in particular how to calculate cash-flows.

It is much easier to prevent loan delinquency than to resolve it! Hence we have dedicated an entire chapter to loan monitoring which includes a set of practical tips to support the loan officer in his daily work. Dealing with loans problems requires special skills from the loan officer and a strong delinquency management. Recommendations and practical solutions for handling difficult clients are described in the last chapter of unit 2.

Agrilending has certain specifics which make adjustments of the lending methodology necessary. Unit 2 provides guidance on product and delivery mechanisms that have been successful in the world.

Unit 4: Practical Ethics in Risk Management & Risk Governance

Risk Management is one of the core functions in financial institutions. Each MFI manager continuously has to decide which levels of risk he is willing to take and which trade-off between risk and return he wants to strike. Unit 4 introduces you to the different kinds of risks that your financial institution faces - mainly operational risk and financial risk.

Each type of risk is explained and defined so that you will get a thorough understanding of the risks involved in the business of your MFI. Importantly, unit 4 provides you with tools and measures to mitigate or even rule out the particular risks.

Unit 6: Financial and Social Performance Management

The eight chapters of this unit broadly cover two major aspects: how to measure financial and social performance, and how to use this information for management decisions. Many practical examples and exercises put the necessary flesh on these dry bones.

Chapter 1 gives an overview of what performance and sustainability means in microfinance, with special reference to the hotly debated ‘double bottom line’ (profits and social mission). Chapter 2 to chapter 5 deals with the issue of how to measure performance. We start by looking at formats of income statements, balance sheets and loan portfolio reports used in microfinance. Furthermore, various financial ratios and critical issues of how to interpret these ratios are being presented. Finally, the rating of Microfinance Institutions - with a focus on the so-called CAMEL system - is covered. Chapter 6 looks at profitability management. Different product costing and product pricing methods are illustrated. Chapter 7 covers latest aspects of social performance management. Various social performance indicators, as well as issues related to responsible finance, social audits, social ratings and social performance reporting are briefly presented. The last chapter deals with debt and equity funding, which is necessary for growth - a prerequisite for increasing financial and social performance. Various funding instruments and the required due diligence processes are presented.

Unit 8: Elective Units

Units 8 are non-compulsory units and will not be part of the final exam.

If you decide to take one of the elective units and if you pass it, we will mention it on your Certificate.

You can choose between the following tpics:

  • Agricultural Lending
  • Mobile Money & Digital Finance Services
  • Islamic Microfinance

Unit 8: Elective

Unit 8a: Agricultural Lending

High operational costs, as well as high exposures to risk reduce incentives for financial institutions to serve the agricultural sector and thus a considerable part of agricultural businesses remain without access to finance. However, the increasing demand for agricultural commodities as well as rising competition in the urban areas has lead financial institutions to think again about working with this sector. For any financial institution willing to go deeper into agricultural and livestock finance, the need for specific tools as well as technologies will be useful to reduce risks and costs.

The objective of this unit is to enable participants to identify potential business opportunities for lenders in the agricultural sector, as well as to optimally evaluate the risks caused by exposure to agricultural loans. For this, participants will study the characteristics of small farms, the risks of agriculture, the need for understanding agricultural markets as well as tools for assessing clients' repayment capacity with a focus on cash flow analysis.

Topics covered in this unit include:

  • Characteristics of agricultural sector in general and of agricultural businesses,
  • Key aspects of agricultural finance with a focus on client analysis
  • Agricultural loan products
Unit 8b: Mobile Money & Digital Financial Services

Mobile money is an important new opportunity within the realm of electronic payments that has the capacity to build greater financial inclusion for all. The extension of financial services to the rural areas through Agent networks creates critical infrastructure necessary to facilitate economic development. Once this delivery channel is developed innumerable products and services can be offered to reduce risks for those living on the margins and drive economic growth.

In this unit, participants will learn the concepts, business models, and approaches necessary for institutions to successfully integrate into ecosystem of electronic payments. Through use of scenarios and case studies, you will gain knowledge of mobile money in numerous different countries. Structured questions and activities will help you develop an appropriate strategy to leverage the mobile money and electronic payment systems in your Country.

Special thanks to GSMA for providing us with useful Information for this unit.

Unit 8c: Islamic Microfinance

This unit gives an overview on the Islamic finance and microfinance market. It describes the way Islamic microfinance functions, the alternative products they offer and how they manage risk.

The Islamic Microfinance market has gained a lot of importance in the last few years and showed to be a fast growing market. But, why Islamic Microfinance?

About 700 million of the world’s poor live in predominantly Muslim-populated countries. Yet, only very few of them have an account at a formal financial institution. When asked why they do not have a bank account, quite a few cite religious reasons. Hence, we can assume that many of these people voluntary exclude themselves from formal financial markets because of Shariah requirements.

Islamic Finance and especially Microfinance has already made a significant contribution to financial inclusion of the poor offering them an alternative to conventional finance and microfinance.

*Subject to change

Training Approach

The flexibility of our courses offers you the opportunity to follow your own schedule and to combine daily work with professional development.

The high quality offered will immediately improve your daily job performance as well as the performance of your institution.

Training Material

Video Lectures

  • Introvideos: After viewing the lectures, participants will have a basic understanding of each topic and will be able to classify importance and relevance of different techniques and aspects in a broader context.
  • Web-based Presentations: Web based presentation complement the scripts and give additional input on important topics.

Online Tests

Each unit ends with an online test comprising a set of 10 - 15 multiple choice questions. Only after having successfully completed an online test you will gain access to the next unit.

Reading Material

A PDF script is for most of our courses the main studying material. This reading material provides basic concepts and principles applicable to the subject of each unit.


The key to successful learning is the immediate use of newly acquired knowledge and the transfer of theory into practice. Our online courses are therefore supplemented by mandatory assignments.

Discussion Forum

A course discussion forum enables the interaction between participants and trainers and facilitates the exchange of experiences as well as possibilities to ask questions or get clarifications.

Final Exam

Passing a final examination is a requirement for obtaining your certificate.

  • Location: The final exam takes place online
  • Duration: The final exam takes 2 hours.
  • Costs:  The final exam costs an additional fee of EUR 50
  • Certificate: Your digital certificate will be available upon passing the final examination. Should you prefer receiving a printed version of your certificate, an administrative fee of EUR 50 per certificate will be charged.

If you do not wish to take the final exam, you will receive a confirmation of course participation after completing the course.

Course Lecturer

Helmut Grossmann

Helmut Grossmann has not only been working for Frankfurt School of Finance & Management for over 10 years as a Microfinance Specialist, he was also Acting Head of Frankfurt School’s International Advisory Services from 2004-2005.

He has worked in over 20 countries for Frankfurt School. Within his assignments he has been actively involved in giving trainings on the job as well as in classroom. More...


Beyond your Certificate:

Master of Leadership in Sustainable Finance

The Certified Expert in Agricultural Finance is an Elective Module of the  Master of Leadership in Sustainable Finance. Join our Master programme after completing the CEAF course and waive one elective module. Also, the amount you paid for the course will be deducted from the final tuition fee of the Master programme.

Inclusive Finance Summer Academy

As a participant of our “Certified Expert in Microfinance” e-learning course, we offer you an exclusive 30% discount* for the Microfinance Finance Track of our Inclusive Finance Summer Academy (12 - 16 July, 2021). This brings down the aggregated tuition fee from 750 EUR + 4300 EUR to 3920 EUR **  (Regular fee of both programmes) or 600 EUR + 3655 EUR to 3328,5 EUR** Early bird of both programmes)

*(including access to the e-learning course, training materials for the on campus training, full board, accommodation & local transportation ticket).

Diploma in Financial Inclusion

The Certified Expert in Microfinance is part of the curriculum of our Diploma in Financial Inclusion. Enroll to our Diploma  after completing the CEMF course and waive one module. Also, the amount you paid for the course will be deducted from the final tuition fee of the Diploma.

Alumni Interview: Benedikt Kramer

Benedikt Kramer is not only a Frankfurt School's Certified Expert in Microfinance, he also holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. Today Benedikt lives in Uganda and is the CO-founder and CEO of BCB Biometric Credit Bureau.

Benedikt, could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Ben Kramer and I studied business administration at Frankfurt School with an audit focus in cooperation with KPMG. Shortly before I did my semester abroad in Moscow I spent two months in Nairobi with the International Advisory Service. As soon as I heard about the LinkEd course by former colleagues I took the opportunity to add microfinance knowledge from a scientific prospective to the knowledge I gained during the internship. I participated in the second batch of the Certified Expert in Microfinance course. Currently I am working on my own project, establishing a credit bureau for the informal financial sector in Uganda.

Read the whole interview

During your studies at FS you took the LinkEd Certified Expert in Microfinance e-learning course. Why did you choose to take that course?

Already before joining Frankfurt School I was very interested in microfinance. Keen to find out more about the sector I did an internship with the International Advisory Service 2011 in Kenya and again in 2012 in Frankfurt. Therefore I got the practical experience in the field and learned how microfinance institutions operate. To top up my practical knowledge with theory seemed like the next logical step to me to get to know best practice in the sector.

Was it relevant /helpful to your studies?

My studies had a different focus, mainly on the European and American commercial banking sector. Therefore learning about the private banking sector in a totally other environment definitely added an interesting perspective to my studies. But also in the contrary, my studies helped me with the course, since topics like accounting are also part of it. Here it was nice to actually use the theory I learned in class for case studies.

What were the key advantages you took from the course?

I think the most useful parts are the best practice examples and case studies. It at least helped me understand the gap between what happens on the ground in for example Uganda and how processes could actually look like.

Was the course very demanding?

The course is demanding, but otherwise it would have not been worth taking it. Due to the good prepared documentation and scripts it was a very easy read. What has especially made it easier to understand all the theory are introductions in the beginning of each chapter that give practical examples how you can use the theory in real life.

What advantages/disadvantages do you see in an e-learning course as opposed to face-to-face training?

To be honest I did not miss the face-to-face part in the training. As I mentioned earlier, the course material has been prepared in a self-explaining way and it was very easy to follow. The well-prepared materials have been accompanied by videos of FS experts and other experts who have firsthand experience. In my opinion the course had a little bit of everything – a good mixture of reading material and video-lectures.

Is the course relevant for your current profession/occupation?

Yes, after graduating from Frankfurt school I started my own business and moved to Uganda in the beginning of last year. My business partner and I are currently setting up a biometric credit bureau to enable credit information sharing among unregulated financial institutions. We therefore equip microfinance institutions with a full-fledge core microbanking system which enables them to digitize their complete processes and run operations more efficient. The course has helped me to understand the microfinance sector in more depth and laid the ground for me starting my own company.