e-MFP, 6 September 2013
This summer marked an important milestone in microfinance. David Roodman announced his move from the Center for Global Development to the Gates Foundation. In the process, David also stepped down from his role as the blogger of record for the sector. As we launch the new e-MFP blog, we look back and celebrate the most influential blog in microfinance.
My own journey into microfinance began at just about the time that David started his experiment of writing a book in the form of a blog, what he called the Open Book Blog. I have learned much from it, and I daresay few in microfinance can claim not to have been influenced by it. Even if you were not a reader, you likely have been exposed to ideas that were first broadly aired in David’s blog. more →
CGAP, 7 August 2013, co-authored with Emmanuelle Javoy
When you hear the word “Mimosa,” you might immediately think of the refreshing champagne cocktail. But now the MIMOSA - the Microfinance Index of Market Outreach and Saturation - also has relevance to financial inclusion. In brief, the MIMOSA is a simple way of measuring microfinance market capacity, an important complement to the approach described in a recent blog in this series by Annette Krauss and her colleagues from the University of Zurich. The key difference in the two approaches is that they work from entirely opposite starting points. more →
Financial Access Initiative, 5 June 2013
My last two posts described the high risk of a repayment crisis in Chiapas, Mexico, and its potentially devastating consequences to the microfinance sector around the world. But here is the good news: thus far there is no crisis, and one could still be avoided.
I have argued before that DFIs and other funders could leverage Smart Certification to enforce client protection practices and thus avoid the kind of overlending that’s happening in Chiapas. However, that prescription alone would not work in Mexico, mainly because a large number of Mexican MFIs are independent of foreign funding, and there are many other lenders active in the same space, including consumer finance companies and large retailers that provide credit.
The answer to avoiding a repayment crisis in Mexico will thus require government action, most likely new legislation that would bring all lenders under a common set of regulatory standards. Specifically, there are two key areas that must be addressed:
Financial Access Initiative, 27 March 2013
A month ago I wrote a post singling out the Mexican state of Chiapas as a potential site of a coming repayment crisis. No, this is not a follow-up announcing that it has begun, nor am I rooting for one to start. In my next post, I will review the options that the Mexican microfinance sector has to avoid it, and what the global microfinance community can do to help. But for now, let’s dig a bit deeper into what a Chiapas crisis might mean, and why I continue to focus on Mexico, as opposed to the broader issue of excessive credit and over-indebtedness.
Let’s be blunt: not all countries are created equal. Some remember my warning three years ago about the danger of a credit crisis in Andhra Pradesh. Back then I compared a possible crisis in India to the crisis in Bolivia a decade before: “India is no Bolivia – if the bubble bursts there, the entire global microfinance sector will find itself reeling.” Well, Mexico is no India.
A full-blown crisis in Mexico would be unlike anything we’ve seen, easily surpassing the negative impact of Andhra Pradesh. more →
Financial Access Initiative, 14 February 2013
It’s been over two years since the start of the great India insolvency. Four years since the Bosnia blight and No Pago Nicaragua. And nearly six years since the Morocco microfinance meltdown.
At this point, it’s reasonable to say that the first global crisis in microfinance has passed. Life is on the mend.
In a recent email, Alok Prasad, head of the Microfinance Institutions Network in India (MFIN) described its most recent quarterly report as “green shoots in evidence.” The numbers certainly bear him out. Elsewhere, investors speak of tightening their exposure to countries with overheating markets, pay attention to issues of overindebtedness, and are wary of the sort of runaway growth that was being posted by Indian MFIs back in 2008-10. more →
CGAP, 6 February 2013
Last month the Smart Campaign launched its certification program. For those who care about client protection, this is an important and welcome milestone in what has been an impressive journey, involving a broad spectrum of activities to promote client protection.
In the first post in this series, Philippe Serres describes one such project by the French development organization AFD and the Cambodian Microfinance Association (CMA) to support implementation of the Client Protection Principles, including support for MFIs seeking to undergo the Smart Certification process itself. Notably, this support comes alongside client protection requirements that funders like AFD, Proparco and FMO have been incorporating into their financing agreements with MFIs. Thus, not only are these funders supporting MFIs in their bid to strengthen client protection, they are increasingly making their funding conditional on the implementation of client protection practices.
In many respects, this is an exercise in self-regulation. The arrival of Smart Certification presents a unique opportunity to take these efforts to the next level and apply this self-regulation to the entire microfinance market in Cambodia and beyond. Read full article here.
Microfinance Focus, 10 December 2012; microDinero (Spanish), 12 December 2012
Over the past 18 months, one of the microfinance sector’s largest and most prominent funds, Blue Orchard’s Dexia Micro-Credit Fund (recently renamed Blue Orchard Microfinance Fund), saw a major outflow of investor capital, with some $268 million or nearly 50% of the fund’s peak value having been redeemed. The scale of these outflows is unprecedented in the sector. For years, investment capital largely flowed one way: in. The exit doors were there, but rarely used. That is no longer the case. The pioneer of the microfinance investment industry has now crossed another milestone in the industry’s development.
Like Dexia, many microfinance funds (commonly referred to as Microfinance Investment Vehicles or MIVs) are subject to unscheduled redemptions. For those funds, their investors, as well as others in the sector, BlueOrchard’s experience holds important lessons, and it is those lessons that this article hopes to convey. more →
Microfinance Focus, 25 November 2012, Co-authored with Vikash Kumar
This article is part of a series aimed at understanding what’s happening in India’s affordable housing sector. It is based on interviews with residents of three low-cost housing projects: Vaishnavi Sai (outside Mumbai), Anandgram (outside Pune), and Janaadhar Shubha (outside Bangalore). The interviews were conducted during May-June 2012. Read Part 1 here.
After a long train ride – nearly two hours – the line ends. Passengers disembark at a small, but bustling community, easily covered on foot. The commerce around the station is busy, but within a few city blocks, one already spies farmland beyond the last rows of houses. Residents of all stripes live here, but the feel is decidedly working-class.
This could easily be late 19th century streetcar suburb outside Chicago or New York. Or a fin-de-siècle banlieue on the outskirts of Paris. But no, it’s Virar, one of the terminal stops on the Western Railways line heading north out of Mumbai. Read full article here.