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Performance and trade-offs in Microfinance Organisations-does ownership matter?


  • Roy Mersland

    (Agder University, Kristiansand, Norway)

  • Reidar Øystein Strøm

    (Østfold University College, 1757, Halden, Norway)


Policy advocates argue for the transformation of non-government Microfinance Organisations (MFOs) into shareholder owned firms (SHFs). This paper investigates whether the proposed superiority of shareholder owned MFOs is empirically supported. The findings indicate that the difference between shareholder owned MFOs and non-government MFOs is minimal. Our results contradict established paradigms and policy guidelines in the industry. However, the results are not necessarily surprising since ownership theories support our findings. So do also studies from the general banking markets as well as historical studies. Adaptation of legal frameworks allowing well-performing NGOs to mobilise savings appears to be a better option than transformation. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Roy Mersland & Reidar Øystein Strøm, 2008. "Performance and trade-offs in Microfinance Organisations-does ownership matter?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(5), pages 598-612.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:20:y:2008:i:5:p:598-612 DOI: 10.1002/jid.1432

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joanna Ledgerwood & Victoria White, 2006. "Transforming Microfinance Institutions : Providing Full Financial Services to the Poor," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7086.
    2. Hartarska, Valentina M., 2005. "Governance and Performance of Microfinance Institutions in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States," 2005 International Congress, August 23-27, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark 24568, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Hartarska, Valentina, 2005. "Governance and performance of microfinance institutions in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1627-1643, October.
    4. repec:idb:brikps:78868 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Mark Schreiner, 2002. "Aspects of outreach: a framework for discussion of the social benefits of microfinance," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(5), pages 591-603.
    6. Cull, Robert & Davis, Lance E. & Lamoreaux, Naomi R. & Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent, 2006. "Historical financing of small- and medium-size enterprises," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 3017-3042, November.
    7. Altunbas, Yener & Evans, Lynne & Molyneux, Philip, 2001. "Bank Ownership and Efficiency," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(4), pages 926-954, November.
    8. Desrochers, Martin & Fischer, Klaus P., 2002. "Corporate Governance and Depository Institutions Failure: the Case of an Emerging Market Economy," Cahiers de recherche 0201, CIRPEE.
    9. Fama, Eugene F & Jensen, Michael C, 1983. "Separation of Ownership and Control," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 301-325, June.
    10. J. D. Von Pischke, 1996. "Measuring the trade-off between outreach and sustainability of microenterprise lenders," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(2), pages 225-239.
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