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Financial performance and outreach : a global analysis of leading microbanks

  • Cull, Robert
  • Demirguc-Kunt, Asli
  • Morduch, Jonathan

Microfinance contracts have proven able to secure high rates of loan repayment in the face of limited liability and information asymmetries, but high repayment rates have not translated easily into profits for most microbanks. Profitability, though, is at the heart of the promise that microfinance can deliver poverty reduction while not relying on ongoing subsidy. The authors examine why this promise remains unmet for most institutions. Using a data set with unusually high quality financial information on 124 institutions in 49 countries, they explore the patterns of profitability, loan repayment, and cost reduction. The authors find that institutional design and orientation matter substantially. Lenders that do not use group-based methods to overcome incentive problems experience weaker portfolio quality and lower profit rates when interest rates are raised substantially. For these individual-based lenders, one key to achieving profitability is investing more heavily in staff costs-a finding consistent with the economics of information but contrary to the conventional wisdom that profitability is largely a function of minimizing cost.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3827.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2006
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3827
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  1. Dean Karlan & Xavier Gine & Jonathan Morduch & Pamela Jakiela, 2006. "Microfinance Games," Working Papers 936, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  2. 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.
  3. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1990. "Peer Monitoring and Credit Markets," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 4(3), pages 351-66, September.
  4. Armendariz de Aghion, Beatriz, 1999. "On the design of a credit agreement with peer monitoring," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 79-104, October.
  5. Conning, Jonathan, 1999. "Outreach, sustainability and leverage in monitored and peer-monitored lending," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 51-77, October.
  6. Ashok S. Rai & Tomas Sj–str–m, 2004. "Is Grameen Lending Efficient? Repayment Incentives and Insurance in Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 217-234, 01.
  7. Besley, T., 1993. "Savings, Credit and Insurance," Papers 167, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  8. Dehejia, Rajeev & Montgomery, Heather & Morduch, Jonathan, 2005. "Do interest rates matter? credit demand in the Dhaka Slums," MPRA Paper 33146, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries With a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(6), pages 1993-2008, November.
  10. Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2000. "Screening by the Company You Keep: Joint Liability Lending and the Peer Selection Effect," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(465), pages 601-31, July.
  11. Guinnane, T. & Banerjee, A. & Besley, T., 1993. "Thy Neighbor's Keeper: the Design of a Credit Cooperative with Theory and a Test," Papers 705, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  12. Dean S. Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," Working Papers 911, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  13. Patrick Honohan, 2004. "Financial Sector Policy and the Poor : Selected Findings and Issues," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14874, December.
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