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Distribution, growth, and performance of microfinance institutions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America


  • Lapenu, Cécile
  • Zeller, Manfred


How many microfinance institutions (MFIs) exist in the developing world? What are their current performances? In 1999, an International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) team on microfinance conducted a survey on MFIs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America in order to offer a new in-depth analysis on the distribution and performances of MFIs at the international level. A systematic sampling has been adopted through the contacting of international NGOs and networks supporting various MFIs. The information has been complemented by a review of publications and technical manuals on microfinance. The database of MFIs from 85 developing countries shows 1,500 institutions (790 institutions worldwide plus 688 in Indonesia) supported by international organizations. They reach 54 million members, 44 million savers (voluntary and compulsory savings), and 23 million borrowers. The total volume of outstanding credit is $18 billion. The total savings volume is $12 billion, or 72 percent of the volume of the outstanding loans. MFIs have developed at least 46,000 branches and employ around 175,000 staff. The IFPRI database underlines the presence of a multitude of MFIs that, except in unstable countries, are widespread, with no forgotten regions. MFIs are very diverse in terms of lending technologies and legal status, which allows room for innovation, but they remain highly concentrated. The data are analyzed by type of MFIs and by geographic regions. The results presented give an overview of the current development of MFIs and offer a benchmark for comparisons.

Suggested Citation

  • Lapenu, Cécile & Zeller, Manfred, 2001. "Distribution, growth, and performance of microfinance institutions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America," FCND briefs 114, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:fcndbr:114

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bouis, Howarth E., 1994. "Agricultural technology and food policy to combat iron deficiency in developing countries," FCND discussion papers 1, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    Cited by:

    1. John Weiss & Heather Montgomery, 2005. "Great Expectations: Microfinance and Poverty Reduction in Asia and Latin America," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(3-4), pages 391-416.
    2. repec:dgr:rugsom:05e05 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Delfiner, Miguel & Pailhé, Cristina & Perón, Silvana, 2006. "Microfinanzas: Un análisis de experiencias y alternativas de regulacion," MPRA Paper 497, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 02 Apr 2006.
    4. Sajjad Zohir & Imran Matin, 2004. "Wider impacts of microfinance institutions: issues and concepts," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(3), pages 301-330.
    5. Muriel Gilardone & Isabelle Guérin & Jane Palier, 2002. "The weight of institutions on women's capabilities," Post-Print halshs-00421839, HAL.
    6. Weiss, John & Montgomery, Heather & Kurmanalieva, Elvira, 2003. "Micro finance and poverty reduction in Asia: what is the evidence?," MPRA Paper 33140, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Simon Cornée & Gervais Thenet, 2015. "Efficience des institutions de microfinance en Bolivie et au Pérou : une approche Data Envelopment Analysis en deux étapes," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 201516, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
    8. Asalatha, B. P. & Vijayamohanan, Pillai N., 2010. "Raising the ‘Beatrice’s Goat’: The Indian Experience in Microcredit," MPRA Paper 29049, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Hermes, Niels & Lensink, Robert & Mehrteab, Habteab T., 2005. "Does the group leader matter? The impact of monitoring activities and social ties of group leaders on the repayment performance of groupbased lending Eritrea," Research Report 05E05, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    10. Pederson, Glenn D., 2003. "Rural Finance Institutions, Markets And Policies In Africa," Conference Papers 28070, University of the Free State, Department of Agricultural Economics.
    11. repec:afe:journl:v:20:y:2018:i:2:p:21-33 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Remco Eijkel & Niels Hermes & Robert Lensink, 2011. "Group lending and the role of the group leader," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 299-321, April.


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