Efficiency and Productivity of Microfinance: Incorporating the Role of Subsidies
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.
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