Weathering the storm : a survey of microfinance in the midst of global crises

Carlman, Joel D. (2010-03)

Thesis (MDF (Development Finance))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study is to determine the effects of the global financial, economic, and food price crises on microfinance institutions (MFIs), and on the microfinance industry in general as well as to illuminate microfinance‘s way forward in the medium-term (2-3 year) future. The research report took the form of an international survey representing the responses of 59 MFIs in 39 countries. It is unique in its focus on microfinance practitioners from MFIs of all sizes and profit orientations, and that it only sought responses from the six developing regions of the world—Latin American and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East Asia and the Pacific. This report identifies 23 impacts of the crises and groups them into four classifications—client impacts, liquidity and profitability impacts, MFI growth and development impacts, and political and reputational impacts. This study demonstrates that the crises have affected MFIs around the world profoundly, and that MFIs have faced a resilient hierarchy of impact groups. Across MFI regions, sizes, ages, product offerings, registration status classifications, and affiliations, the four impact groups were shown to maintain the same order of severity, with client impacts being the category of biggest concern of MFI respondents. Also severe were liquidity and profitability impacts. The least severe categories of impacts were found to be MFI growth and development impacts and political and reputational impacts, respectively. Through quantitative and qualitative analysis of microfinance practitioner responses, this report establishes an overall ranking of the 23 impacts the global crises are having on the industry. The analysis has further revealed that Sub-Saharan Africa reported the highest impacts of the crises out of all the regions surveyed. The size of an MFI affects its resilience against the crises, with small MFIs being more severely affected than large MFIs. Age was found to have an inverse relationship with MFI impact ratings, and there were very few significant differences between for- and non-profit MFIs. This research report has demonstrated that the benefits afforded to MFIs by accepting deposits may have been over-promoted by industry observers during the early stages of the crises, as no apparent benefits have emerged from responses to this survey. The report concludes with a summary of respondent indications about the way forward for the microfinance industry.

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