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Financial performance and outreach: a global analysis of leading microbanks

  • Robert Cull
  • Asli Demirguç-Kunt
  • Jonathan Morduch

Microfinance promises to reduce poverty by employing profit-making banking practices in low-income communities. Many microfinance institutions have secured high loan repayment rates but, so far, relatively few earn profits. We examine why this promise remains unmet. We explore patterns of profitability, loan repayment, and cost reduction with unusually high-quality data on 124 institutions in 49 countries. The evidence shows the possibility of earning profits while serving the poor, but a trade-off emerges between profitability and serving the poorest. Raising fees to very high levels does not ensure greater profitability and the benefits of cost-cutting diminish when serving better-off customers. Copyright 2007 The Author(s). Journal compilation Royal Economic Society 2007.

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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 117 (2007)
Issue (Month): 517 (02)
Pages: F107-F133

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:117:y:2007:i:517:p:f107-f133
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  1. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries With a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(6), pages 1993-2008, November.
  2. Besley, T., 1993. "Savings, Credit and Insurance," Papers 167, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
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  4. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1990. "Peer Monitoring and Credit Markets," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 4(3), pages 351-66, September.
  5. Patrick Honohan, 2004. "Financial Sector Policy and the Poor : Selected Findings and Issues," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14874.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Dean Karlan & Xavier Gine & Jonathan Morduch & Pamela Jakiela, 2006. "Microfinance Games," Working Papers 936, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  11. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Besley, Timothy & Guinnane, Timothy W, 1994. "Thy Neighbor's Keeper: The Design of a Credit Cooperative with Theory and a Test," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 491-515, May.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
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