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Financial performance and outreach : a global analysis of leading microbanks

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  • Cull, Robert
  • Demirguc-Kunt, Asli
  • Morduch, Jonathan

Abstract

Microfinance contracts have proven able to secure high rates of loan repayment in the face of limited liability and information asymmetries, but high repayment rates have not translated easily into profits for most microbanks. Profitability, though, is at the heart of the promise that microfinance can deliver poverty reduction while not relying on ongoing subsidy. The authors examine why this promise remains unmet for most institutions. Using a data set with unusually high quality financial information on 124 institutions in 49 countries, they explore the patterns of profitability, loan repayment, and cost reduction. The authors find that institutional design and orientation matter substantially. Lenders that do not use group-based methods to overcome incentive problems experience weaker portfolio quality and lower profit rates when interest rates are raised substantially. For these individual-based lenders, one key to achieving profitability is investing more heavily in staff costs-a finding consistent with the economics of information but contrary to the conventional wisdom that profitability is largely a function of minimizing cost.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3827.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2006
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3827

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Keywords: Banks&Banking Reform; Economic Theory&Research; Economic Adjustment and Lending; Investment and Investment Climate; Rural Finance;

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  1. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Observing unobservables: identifying information asymmetries with a consumer-credit field experiment," Proceedings 961, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Xavier Gin� & Pamela Jakiela & Dean Karlan & Jonathan Morduch, 2010. "Microfinance Games," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 60-95, July.
  3. Armendariz de Aghion, Beatriz, 1999. "On the design of a credit agreement with peer monitoring," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 79-104, October.
  4. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  5. Dehejia, Rajeev & Montgomery, Heather & Morduch, Jonathan, 2012. "Do interest rates matter? Credit demand in the Dhaka slums," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 437-449.
  6. Patrick Honohan, 2004. "Financial Sector Policy and the Poor : Selected Findings and Issues," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14874, October.
  7. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Savings, credit and insurance," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 36, pages 2123-2207 Elsevier.
  8. Guinnane, T. & Banerjee, A. & Besley, T., 1993. "Thy Neighbor's Keeper: the Design of a Credit Cooperative with Theory and a Test," Papers 705, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  9. Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2000. "Screening by the Company You Keep: Joint Liability Lending and the Peer Selection Effect," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(465), pages 601-31, July.
  10. Conning, Jonathan, 1999. "Outreach, sustainability and leverage in monitored and peer-monitored lending," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 51-77, October.
  11. Ashok S. Rai & Tomas Sj–str–m, 2004. "Is Grameen Lending Efficient? Repayment Incentives and Insurance in Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 217-234, 01.
  12. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1990. "Peer Monitoring and Credit Markets," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 4(3), pages 351-66, September.
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