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Efficiency and Productivity of Microfinance: Incorporating the Role of Subsidies


  • Ahmad Nawaz


The social nature of MFIs is mainly financed by subsidies from donors. Therefore, the role of subsidies cannot be under estimated in MFIs efficiency and productivity analysis. This paper is a first attempt to measure the financial efficiency and productivity of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) worldwide taking into account the subsidies received by MFIs by using the non-parametric Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA). Towards this aim, a three-stage analysis is carried out. Firstly, technical and pure efficiency scores are calculated by splitting subsidies into input and output and entered into the DEA framework specifications depending on whether they are generating benifits (negative subsidies) or cost (positive subsidies) to the society. Secondly DEA-based Malmquist indices are calculated to analyze the intertemporal productivity change. Thirdly, Tobit Regression analysis are carried out to test a series of hypotheses concerning the relationship between financial efficiency and other indicators related to MFIs productivity, organization, outreach, sustainability and social impact. Overall subsidies contribute to financial efficiency of MFIs albeit marginally. Results uphold the tradeoff between outreach to the poor and financial efficiency. Thus MFIs which cater to the poor tend to bemore inefficient than those with clients relatively well off. Also evident is the fact that lending to women is efficient only in the presence of subsidies. MFIs in South Asia and Middle East & North Africa tend to be less efficient than the others.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahmad Nawaz, 2010. "Efficiency and Productivity of Microfinance: Incorporating the Role of Subsidies," Working Papers CEB 10-009.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:10-009

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hudon, Marek & Traca, Daniel, 2011. "On the Efficiency Effects of Subsidies in Microfinance: An Empirical Inquiry," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 966-973, June.
    2. Kalyan Chakraborty & Basudeb Biswas & W. Cris Lewis, 2001. "Measurement of Technical Efficiency in Public Education: A Stochastic and Nonstochastic Production Function Approach," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 889-905, April.
    3. Luo, Xueming, 2003. "Evaluating the profitability and marketability efficiency of large banks: An application of data envelopment analysis," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 627-635, August.
    4. Morduch, Jonathan, 1999. "The role of subsidies in microfinance: evidence from the Grameen Bank," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 229-248, October.
    5. Sherman, H. David & Gold, Franklin, 1985. "Bank branch operating efficiency : Evaluation with Data Envelopment Analysis," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 297-315, June.
    6. 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.
    7. Lawrence M. Seiford & Joe Zhu, 1999. "Profitability and Marketability of the Top 55 U.S. Commercial Banks," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(9), pages 1270-1288, September.
    8. Congo, Youssoufou, 2002. "Performance of Microfinance Institutions in Burkina Faso," WIDER Working Paper Series 001, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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    Cited by:

    1. Brière, Marie & Szafarz, Ariane, 2015. "Does Commercial Microfinance Belong to the Financial Sector? Lessons from the Stock Market," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 110-125.
    2. Muhammad Zubair & Attiya Yasmin Javid, 2015. "The Role of Subsidy Uncertainty in Mission Drift of Microfinance Institutions of Asia," PIDE-Working Papers 2015:123, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
    3. repec:dau:papers:123456789/14039 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:dau:papers:123456789/7858 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Janda, Karel & Zetek, Pavel, 2013. "Opportunities in microfinance risk management," MPRA Paper 43960, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Hartarska, Valentina & Shen, Xuan & Mersland, Roy, 2013. "Scale economies and input price elasticities in microfinance institutions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 118-131.
    7. Marie Briere & Ariane Szafarz, 2011. "Investment in Microfinance Equity: Risk, Return, and Diversification Benefits," Working Papers CEB 11-050, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    8. B. Mak Arvin & Byron Lew (ed.), 2015. "Handbook on the Economics of Foreign Aid," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15762.
    9. Beatriz Armendariz & Bert D'Espallier & Marek Hudon & Ariane Szafarz, 2011. "Subsidy Uncertainty and Microfinance Mission Drift," Working Papers CEB 11-014, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    10. Justin Bem & Pierre Joubert Nguetse Tegoum & Tatiana Morel Samo Tcheeko & Jacksone Essoh, 2013. "Efficience de production du secteur informel non-agricole et réduction de la pauvreté au Cameroun," Working Papers PMMA 2013-06, PEP-PMMA.
    11. Md Aslam Mia & V. G. R. Chandran, 2016. "Measuring Financial and Social Outreach Productivity of Microfinance Institutions in Bangladesh," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 127(2), pages 505-527, June.
    12. Thomas Bolli & Anh Vo Thi, 2012. "On the Estimation Stability of Efficiency and Economies of Scale in Microfinance Institutions," KOF Working papers 12-296, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    13. Hudon, Marek & Périlleux, Anaïs, 2014. "Surplus distribution and characteristics of social enterprises: Evidence from microfinance," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 147-157.
    14. repec:rss:jnljfe:v1i4p5 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Microfinance; Subsidies; Efficiency; Non-paprametric analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General

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