Is there a difference in performance by the legal status of microfinance institutions?
Based on some cases of notable successes in Latin America, some microfinance practitioners advocate a transformation of non-profit microfinance organizations into private and regulated companies. The performance of the latter is supposed to be higher than those of non-profit organizations. From this point of view, there is a relationship between the legal status of MFIs and their performance. This article's main objective is to test this relationship from the comparison of performance of 202 MFIs in the period from 2001 to 2006. Rather than restricting the comparison to NGOs and private companies, cooperatives have also been taken into account to compare the performance by the dominant legal forms of MFIs. The results show that the performance of private corporations is better than that of NGOs only when portfolio quality is used as an indicator for measuring performance. Also, our results show that for profit MFIs are more socially efficient than not-for-profit MFIs. The commercial approach of microfinance does not seem inconsistent with the social mission of MFIs.
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