Microfinance and Public Policy: Outreach, Performance and by Bernd Balkenhol (eds.)

By Bernd Balkenhol (eds.)

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The first question - the type of population that should benefit as a priority from microtinance services - opposes those who believe in the ripple effect and those who believe that MFls should directly target people according to poverty lines. For the former, microfinance is intended to provide microcredit and thereby to strengthen the productive activities of the less poor, whose consumption is thought to create jobs and thus provoke a ripple effect that has positive repercussions on the entire local popu lation, in pa rt icular the most needy.

How should donors accommodate the multiplicity of mission goals and their combinations in the microfinance industry? There is a puzzling variety of MFIs out there, some regulated and others not, many multi-purpose NGOs, others cooperatives, banks or non-bank financial institutions, a few very large and many others with barely a few thousand clients. To be even-handed in their decision to continue, discontinue or start funding support, governments and donors need to be able to discriminate between different types of MFls and different operating environments.

Similarly the CVECA Sissili in Burkina Faso, with 17,000 clients/ members in a mainly rural environment, came under pressure from diverse donors in 2002 to improve its financial performance. The MFI announced that it would set itself a target of at least 70 per cent operational self-sufficiency. To that end it opened branches in urban areas catering to better-off clients, largely wage earners in the public sector. The MFI declared its continued commitment to rural operations. It hoped that the change in the production function would compensate for losses incurred in operations in rural areas.

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