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From a supply gap to a demand gap? The risk and consequences of over-indebting the underbanked

  • Jessica Schicks

In the past, the microfinance industry focused mainly on growth and outreach. Addressing financial exclusion implied a huge supply gap. Recent over-indebtedness crises in several countries have shown that this gap can turn into over-supply. The industry urgently requires research to understand the magnitude and consequences of this shift. This chapter reveals the broad spectrum of consequences over-indebtedness can have on borrowers and other stakeholders, mainly MFIs. It emphasizes that over-indebtedness consequences reach far beyond the risk management concerns that MFIs and investors have on top of their mind. In a second step the chapter reviews the existing empirical research on microfinance over-indebtedness and examines how prevalent over-indebtedness is in microfinance markets today. It highlights the evidence for over-indebtedness in crisis markets and non-crisis markets, especially when markets mature. Only if the extent of the problem is known and its effects are properly understood, can the microfinance industry develop appropriate measures against over-indebtedness and adapt to the challenge of oversupply.

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Paper provided by ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles in its series Working Papers CEB with number 11-046.

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Length: 24 p.
Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published by:
Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/99192
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  1. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2010. "Expanding Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(1), pages 433-464, January.
  2. Richard Disney & Sarah Bridges, . "Debt and depression," Discussion Papers 06/02, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
  3. Nava Ashraf & Dean S. Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2005. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," Working Papers 917, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  4. Marek Hudon, 2009. "Should Access to Credit be a Right?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 84(1), pages 17-28, January.
  5. Marc Labie, 2007. "Réflexions préliminaires pour une approche éthique de la gestion des organisations en microfinance," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/14271, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  6. Beatriz Armendariz & Ariane Szafarz, 2011. "On Mission Drift in Microfinance Institutions," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/97387, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  7. Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2009. "Expanding Microenterprise Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts in Manila," CEPR Discussion Papers 7396, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Copestake, James, 2007. "Mainstreaming Microfinance: Social Performance Management or Mission Drift?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 1721-1738, October.
  9. Jessica Schicks, 2010. "Microfinance Over-Indebtedness: Understanding its drivers and challenging the common myths," Working Papers CEB 10-048, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  10. Gianni Betti & Neil Dourmashkin & Mariacristina Rossi & Ya Ping Yin, 2007. "Consumer over-indebtedness in the EU: measurement and characteristics," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 34(2), pages 136-156, May.
  11. Jonathan Zinman & Dean Karlan, 2009. "Expanding Microenterprise Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts in Manila," Working Papers 976, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  12. Dean Karlan & Nava Ashaf & Wesley Yin, 2004. "Tying odysseus to the mast: Evidence from a commitment savings product in the philippines," Natural Field Experiments 00206, The Field Experiments Website.
  13. Ulrike Vogelgesang, 2001. "Microfinance in Times of Crisis: The Effects of Competition, Rising Indebtedness, and Economic Crisis on Repayment Behavior," GK working paper series 2001-06, Post Graduate Programme "Allocation on Financial Markets", University of Mannheim, revised Nov 2001.
  14. Michael Hamp & Carolina Laureti, 2011. "Balancing flexibility and discipline in microfinance: Innovative financial products that benefit clients and service providers," Working Papers CEB 11-044, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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