Talk:Microfinance

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Review comments[edit]

With an eye towards bringing this to a good article and eventually a featured article, here are some ideas. 1) there is no substitute for great references. Do you have access to more? References will help to establish what is the important material that needs to be fleshed out and what material deserves more space because it is important and what deserves less. Any great article will do that properly as in summary style. In general though the article will need more references or will need to make more thorough use of the ones that are listed. 2) References will also help expand the article in general which it would need in order to be a featured article. 3) The article needs to be really explicit about the amounts of microfinance flows each year of each different type. If microcredit dominates, then the article needs to say so and why. It certainly gets more attention, so that may deserve explanation. There certainly needs to be a good explanation of the broader scope of microfinance in comparison to microcredit. 4) The lead section will need to be expanded, but that is a difficult task and since it should summarize properly all of the material in the article it should be one of the last things done, after the article has been expanded in other sections. 5) Specifically the boundaries section the last two paragraphs need work for POV. Need is subjective and distinguished from charity actually is too. One could say that subsidizing microfinance could be the most efficient use of charity dollars. That argument has been made, but the point is that what the article says currently is too simple. I hope that's good for starters, I can give more specifics in the future though I certainly don't have expertise in the subject. - Taxman Talk 15:57, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the detailed review. I will be working on trying to bring this up a notch to Good Article, and I hope others watching this page will be, too.Brett epic (talk) 16:45, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

It is great that this piece is being kept up to date. However, it should avoid turning into a news article. As such, coverage of Tom Heineman's video and subsequent questions about Mohammad Yunus and Grameen Bank are too long -- out of proportion with the rest of the article. This level of detail would make more sense in entries on Yunus and Grameen Bank.

More importantly, this article is missing a perspective on the history and evolution of microfinance. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.79.135.185 (talk) 22:21, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page). </ref></ref></ref></ref></ref>==Boundaries section: profitability?== The section states "In practice however, [microfinance] is usually only used to refer to institutions and enterprises whose goals include both profitability and reducing the poverty of their clients." This is pretty misleading. For-profit MFIs really only exist in large numbers in Latin America and Eastern Europe, and even in those places they aren't unanimous. 'Sustainability' may be a better term, but even that is a pretty diverse term within the microfinance realm, with many so-called 'sustainable' MFIs still largely dependent on grants for startup. I would suggest the part about profitability simply be removed. 165.91.48.31 (talk) 23:17, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

Please look at the text again. It refers to the 'goals' of the institution or the enterprise, not necessarily to its current status vis. profitability. Most MFIs are dependent on grants for start-up; that does not exclude them from this description as written. More broadly, as long as the organization has not abandoned the goal of future profitability and is committed to taking the kinds of steps needed to achieving that goal, it is practicing microfinance in this common sense use of the term. Note a simple example. For many years Grameen Bank was not profitable, covering about 80-90% of its operating costs and receiving subsidies to balance off the rest. But its senior managers knew that they had to be in position to rapidly and painless hit profitability, in case the subsidies dried up. And they were. Had they lost access to their subsidies for any reason, they could have raised interest rates by 2-3% above their existing practices, and erased their deficit, with virtually no changes in their operating practices or governance structure, and minimal disruption to their clients. In other words, they made a strategic decision to lever their brand to keep interest rates as low as possible for their clients, but did not fall into the kind of dependency relationship that would have left them vulnerable to bankruptcy or major disruption if donor interest in the sector suddenly evaporated.
Any organization that seeks (financial) 'sustainability' is seeking to make at least enough profit to keep afloat from year to year and maintain a reserve for the bad years. They may in addition be seeking enough profit to expand their services to more clients -- formally the main goal of microfinance 'sustainability'. 'Profitability' is the common sense word for 'sustainability' and I think most Wikipedia readers would be baffled by the use of the environmental word 'sustainability' in this context. The Western corporate model ('profit maximization', to the explicit exclusion of other goals) is not the same thing, and that term is not used here either. I am aware that some people in the non-profit sector are allergic to the word 'profit'. But it those who seek to avoid the word even when -- correctly speaking -- it is applicable, who are being misleading. In fact, no one should be embarrassed about making a reasonable profit.
Removing the word 'profitability' as you suggest would also make the text highly misleading. The essence of microfinance as the term is commonly used refers to a revolution that began in the developing world with Grameen Bank in the 1970s, and in the West with the Raiffeisen credit unions in the 1860s. In between these movements, and around them, many poor people have received all kinds of financial support in the form of grants, loans that were subsequently waived, zero-interest financing and so on. Because such support is doomed to be perpetually dependent on the whims and fancies of rich people (who haven't had the will to solve the problem of poverty in the past, in spite of having the resources to do it, and so can't realistically be expected to suddenly find that will in the future) it offers very little hope for a solution to the fundamental microfinance problem: that poor people have no practical access to the kind of basic financial services we can take for granted in the developed world. Only profitability within the sector can offer that kind of hope.
In my view, the construction as written is precise and is not misleading at all. There are MFIs all over the developing world that fit this definition. More in fact in Asia (where I do most of my work) than perhaps anywhere else. There are also a very large number that fit this category in Africa, and the sector on both continents is rapidly growing.Brett epic (talk) 05:42, 14 June 2008 (UTC)
Seeing as there are two types of microfinance firms - those who actively seek profit and those who actively seek a poverty focus with sustainability as a later goal (See ProBanco, BancoSol, Procredit, etc. in the former category and WWF, Grameen, etc. in the latter), changing this line would lend more accuracy to the article. Basically, the fact that you were able to write as much as you did on the subject shows that the issue is sticky enough that it should probably be covered within the article. I've worked in microfinance in India, and it's very common to hear industry people there refer to the 'Latin American model' when talking about for-profit microfinance institutions. There's also a lot of controversy over such institutions in India. The fact is that profitability isn't a goal for many MFIs, including Grameen, and saying that it is misleads the reader as to one of the important discourses within the field. 74.192.38.212 (talk) 05:45, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
I agree with you that the matter represents an important debate. I also agree that the matter could stand further elaboration within the section. I don't agree that the word 'profitability' is misleading, and I take issue with removing that word. I also wonder whether we're discussing microfinance here, or semantics? To me, profitability and 'financial sustainability' are synonymous, and of the two, the first is far clearer to the average reader. If you disagree, let's try to draft something up we can both agree on here on the talk page. I would also take issue with the two types of microfinance you propose (but this issue may be resolved if we can sort out the first). Microfinance is 'always' about managing a double bottom line. One of those lines is profit (even if it is only enough to avoid a debilitating dependency on other people's agendas). Another is serving poor people. It stretches common sense to suggest that the leaders of an organization like BancoSol are driven solely by profit maximization. If that is their only goal, there are far easier ways to accomplish it.
Let's sort out the semantics here on the talk page first, then see if we can revise the text of the article to clarify the paragraph in question for the ordinary reader. Sound like a plan?Brett epic (talk) 08:00, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
I agree for the most part that this is mostly a semantic issue. Some MFIs pursue profit as a means to support their poverty initiatives, and while BancoSol or ProCredit aren't purely profit driven, they function much more like a traditional business, and have shareholders to appease. Honestly, I see where you're coming from with all your points and am unsure how to really explain the issue without going into a long section on global characteristics of microfinance. I'll think about it and post back later. I'd also like to write up a section that discusses some of the microeconomic theory behind microfinance/credit, so I'll work that up and post it in the talk page too. Mpolansky (talk) 21:07, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
Sounds great. Deeper exploration of the microeconomic theory would be most useful here. An excellent recent summary is that of de Aghion and Morduch, which I've just added to the bibliography at the bottom of the article (some of that material is already in the complementary article on solidarity lending). Your unease has also got me thinking. I may try to draft up a tighter boundaries section if I can figure out how. Feel free to jump in.Brett epic (talk) 23:42, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
Tell me what you think of the rework I just posted? Feel free to jump in.Brett epic (talk) 02:02, 18 June 2008 (UTC)
I like it. I think it now does a better job at specifying the differences between microfinance and other activities. As far as the theory section, I planned on using mostly the Aghion and Morduch textbook, as well as some other articles I have , but I should be able to get a start on it in the next few weeks.
It also seems like this page should somehow tie in to all of the other issues associated with microfinance in some way. Right now microcredit, solidarity lending, self-help groups, etc. all feel kind of scattered. Using this as a central page for a web of articles on different aspects of microfinance and microcredit would, in my opinion, give all of them a little more weight. 74.192.38.212 (talk) 22:39, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, the observation about the 'scattered feel' is useful -- if it can be sorted out it might help us get this up to GA. There are several more articles that need to take shape around this one, as well. Still lots to do! I'm looking forward to your contribution!Brett epic (talk) 11:31, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

Women and Microfinance[edit]

"One of the most commonly held beliefs is that microfinance works best when it is targeted at women. Women are claimed to be better at repaying loans and more likely to spend their income on their children than men. Recent evidence suggests that this assertion is less than factual. At the 2008 Innovations for Poverty Action/Financial Access Initiative Microfinance Research Conference, David McKenzie of the World Bank presented evidence from a 3 year study of 600 microenterprises in Sri Lanka. He found that the return on capital for male-owned businesses (half of the sample) averaged 11% while the the return for women-owned businesses was 0% or slightly negative. Additionally the women in the study were no more likely to have increased spending on food, clothing or education than their male counterparts. [1]" I removed this today after it was posted for a second time. Legitimate critiques are fine, but the person who posted (who has yet to identify his/herself on Wikipedia) has not offered adequate evidence of a relevant argument. The link is to a blog, not to the paper by David McKenzie. And logic of the blogger is flawed for the following reasons. 1. The belief in microfinance is not some vague argument that it works best when targeted to women. It is that women are more likely to pay back their loans than men, and that women are more likely to invest in their children and homes than men, if they have marginal increases in their income. This creates a win/win situation -- poor families win, and the institutions that need to make a profit serving them win. The key point is repayment, and there is overwhelming evidence in thousands of MFIs that women do repay better than men, starting with 30 years of evidence at Grameen Bank, and replicating in most other MFIs. The blogger does nothing to raise questions about this, except to argue that in one study where grants instead of loans were used, women achieve a lower return on their invested capital in their microenterprises than men did. Leaving aside the dubiousness of assuming people will use grants the same way they will use loans, the argument is any case irrelevant: it does not address the issue of the relative willingness or lack of willingness of women and men to repay their loans. 2. The blogger also references idea that women are not investing more than men in their children and households, but the blogger offers no evidence in her/his blog for this claim. It is a simple assertion. There may be evidence in McKenzie's paper. If there is, I suggest our new Wikipedian friend find it and rewrite her/his post to address the substance of the issue. Otherwise, there is nothing here.Brett epic (talk) 15:01, 22 October 2008 (UTC) Brett -- appreciate your outstanding efforts to bring this article up to the highest standards. I'm the previously unidentified person who originally put up the David McKenzie results and the person who made some additional changes this weekend that you have reverted. Would like to discuss all of this with you but here are some summary points: 1) When I originally cited the McKenzie comments (I was at the conference, the blog was the only public place those comments were published), his paper had not yet been published. It is now available here: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTFR/Resources/McKenzieReturnstoCapital.pdf 2) In general the evidence on the benefits of bias toward women is highly suspect. While there is lots of anecdote masquerading as data, as I mentioned in the edit I made this weekend, that data is nearly worthless because it's not comparing like groups. It boils down to this: on one hand you have well-run programs like Grameen lending exclusively to women and in the other group you have potentially poorly run programs in completely different contexts lending to men. Comparing those two groups repayment rates doesn't tell you anything useful. Keep in mind that there is no explanation of why gender repayment rates in the developing world would be vastly different than gender repayments rates, historical and contemporary, in the developed world. 3) The other two edits I made, I think, are noncontroversial, specifically noting that there are a couple of highly reputable organizations doing high quality research of the impact of microfinance; and a pointer to a book that makes the claim that microfinance can singlehandedly deal with global poverty. (I agree that very few people make this claim, I just thought I would respond to the tag that was there). Looking forward to working with you to further improve this article. --Tcnjo (talk) 16:29, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

Dear Tcnjo: Welcome to Wikipedia! It is very good to see you here. I'm happy to work with you to improve Wikipedia's coverage of this important topic! You make a number of statements above which do address the points I raised earlier, but there are generalizations (that matter!) that aren't defended, as well.
For example you say that Grameen lending is exclusively to women. I have spent time at Grameen and reviewed their financial statements over many years. There have always been men's groups, and while men have typically been 5% or less of total clients, given the numbers at Grameen, this has still always been enough to populate a fair-sized town. Their loan amounts have always been higher than women, they have always entered riskier businesses, and their repayment rates have always been lower. Indeed, having a service delivery structure that splits men from women and serves both is very common in microfinance. (You'll be glad to know that an organization I'm now working with -- the CDF financial cooperatives in Andhra Pradesh -- supports your case. The 85,000 women in 'women's thrift cooperatives' are experiencing a 2.4% a delinquency rate, compared to 1.0% for the 47,000 men in the 'men's thrift cooperatives'.) But I have never seen a study that systematically compares a large sample size from MFIs around the world, and attempts to come to a clear generalization. Have you? (It would be extremely difficult as there are so many variables that could impact the result.)
You also imply that comparative repayment rates by poor women and men in the developed world are somehow different than in the developing world. Again, do you have any evidence for this claim?
Sorry about the revert to some of your constructive edits. I am aware that some of your edits were adequately argued and cited. But they were packaged with arbitrary removals of large amounts of other adequately researched and cited text. If you want to add back some of your constructive edits you're welcome to do so.Brett epic (talk) 00:27, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

Contradiction[edit]

From this article:

Statement #1: Banks incur substantial costs to manage a client account, regardless of how small the sums of money involved.

Statement #2: For example, the total profit for a bank from delivering 100 loans worth $1,000 each will not differ greatly from the revenue that results from delivering one loan of $100,000.

These statements seem contradictory. Shouldn't the second statement suggest that the banks will generate less revenue by lending equivalent amounts to more borrowers? I'm not qualified in finance but someone who IS should fix this.

>Thanks. Someone changed this a while back, conflating profit and revenue. I've restored the original, which should clarify matters.Brett epic (talk) 11:54, 3 May 2010 (UTC)


  • I also had to do a double-take when I read it. I have changed the wording to read:
"For example, although the total gross revenue from delivering one hundred loans worth $1,000 each will not differ greatly from the revenue that results from delivering one loan of $100,000, it takes nearly a hundred times as much work and cost to manage a hundred loans as it does to manage one."
Hopefully this removes the ambiguity. Wikipeterproject (talk) 16:59, 12 June 2010 (UTC)

More introductory material would be helpful[edit]

I came to this article knowing nothing about microfinance and hoping to get a basic introduction to how it works, where it's used, how it's used, etc. Some of that is skimmed over initially, but it moved so quickly to a discussion of all the issues and points of view surrounding microfinance that I felt lost. The descriptions of the different points of view and issues themselves seem very interesting, but it is hard for me to absorb them fully without a richer basic understanding of microfinance itself.

Conflation of microcredit with microfinance[edit]

I would respectfully ask contributors to this article to respect the conceptual boundaries differentiating microcredit from microfinance. In spite of widespread conflation of these two terms by microcredit promoters with agendas, as well as by sloppy journalists, the two terms are not identical. In fact, they bear exactly the same relationship to each other as 'credit' and 'finance' do, with the proviso that because the prefix 'micro-' has been added, they involved delivery to poor people in amounts and formats that poor people find useful. Obviously, there are more dimensions to finance than simply credit. And in spite of the language of many promoters, the past four decades have not witnessed a 'microfinance revolution'. They have witnessed a 'microcredit revolution'.

Those who want to criticize microcredit should do it on the appropriate page, which is microcredit.

Thanks!Brett epic (talk) 18:49, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Debates at the boundaries, Fungibility[edit]

The word fungible, means that each unit has the same value i.e. is interchangeable. However just because something is fungible
doesn't mean it is liquid. If money is fungible, each unit of money may have the same value in donkeys, but that does not mean
that money can be traded for something other than donkeys. I think what they're trying to say in this paragraph is that money
can be exchanged for anything rather than just what the micro-financiers wanted the person to exchange the money for, which is
a different issue to fungibility.

what should an enterprise do[edit]

wahat should an enterprise do when an enterprise when the small business houses who has borrowed the money and because of some reason has failed,and now they are demanding back their money, —Preceding unsigned comment added by 218.248.80.61 (talk) 14:50, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

Copyright violation?[edit]

Virtually the entire text reporting the misdirection of Norway's aid in the "Criticisms" section is lifted word-for-word (including at least one spelling error) from the India Microfinance Business News article (which is at least cited). I'd expect "fair use" to require a substantial paraphrase and summarization rather than a direct copy. It's a very long section, though, an will require knowledgeable editing.

dnkidd (talk) 20:49, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

Bibliography vandalism[edit]

I have just noticed that there is an instance of vandalism in the articles Bibliography: at the end of the bibliography, it says "micro finance is a not suceses in all country such like india poor farmers die due to non payment of the loan taken from such micro finance compony,from his fear poor farmers choos the way of death." — Preceding unsigned comment added by 178.254.69.79 (talk) 09:58, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

Good find. I went ahead and removed that content. Cheers, John Shandy`talk 17:11, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

History of Microfinance[edit]

I've deleted the link of Microfinance to the Marshall Plan, since I can neither find nor imagine any connection between these two.. If anybody is more successful, please undo. --Creihag (talk) 21:07, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

Suggestion to merge impact of microfinance and impact of microcredit[edit]

I suggest to merge the sections on impact of the articles Microfinance and Microcredit. While microfinance, which also includes savings and insurance, is a broader topic than microcredit, the literature on the impact of microfinance is almost exclusively focused on microcredit. Having two separate, but very similar sections, leads to a situation where edits are being done on both pages and it makes it more difficult to ensure that improvements to one article are included in the other. Therefore I suggest to merge the two sections in a new article and to include "For more details" redirects in the respective sections of the two articles.--Mschiffler (talk) 07:01, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

Add portuguese interwiki[edit]

http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microfinan%C3%A7as

--Jml3 (talk) 00:13, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

Done.--Mschiffler (talk) 18:57, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

When Microfinance Struggles to help Others[edit]

Believe it or not Micro lending can be very harmful for the poor, and not matter how many success stories you hear, there are going to be a few that fail. Those that fail seem to fall in what the New York Times calls a spiral of debt. These women who don’ t succeed fall behind and have absolutely no money to pay back these organizations. Some banks such as Banco del Exito in Nicaragua where forced to close with their “No pay policy” since farmers couldn’t pay the debt. This is what microlenders are currently facing, and it is making it harder for women who want to succeed. Not only the banks are falling victims but the people are being sucked of the money in India. It is said that micro lenders are being accused of taking advantage of costumers and are charging them more money. If these accusations are true it is extremely hard for women to escape “The Culture of Poverty” that is hunting their lives http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/business/global/06micro.html?pagewanted=all — Preceding unsigned comment added by 149.68.54.80 (talk) 06:54, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Interest Rates May Be Inaccurate[edit]

The article states that the average interest rate on a microcredit loan is 37%. The source links to a NYT article with the same 37% figure. However, the article doesn't provide a meaningful source for the figure.

I've looked to try and find this 37% figure elsewhere, and can't find whatever research it came from. Other quality sources seem to suggest a figure about 10% points lower. Can anyone shed some light here? — Preceding unsigned comment added by ChrisSmith1494 (talkcontribs) 02:56, 12 May 2015 (UTC)


Addition of references and citations[edit]

As part of a class project I will be working on this article. I will be using books and newspaper articles in an attempt to improve this page and make it easier for a laic to understand some of the concepts related to microfinance. As my first contribution, I have used the following passage: "Critics say that microcredit has not increased incomes, but has driven poor households into a debt trap, in some cases even leading to suicide. They add that the money from loans is often used for durable consumer goods or consumption instead of being used for productive investments, that it fails to empower women, and that it has not improved health or education. Moreover, as the access to micro-loans is widespread, borrowers tend to acquire several loans from different companies, making it nearly impossible to pay the debt back." [53]

Note: I have added the citation regarding the suicide cases in India. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-11997571 I will keep working on ways to improve this passage and the article as a whole.

Yes, please! But please sign with the four tildes and add your things to the talk page at the bottom of the talk page. Take a look here where we recently discussed microfinance for sanitation: http://forum.susana.org/forum/categories/191-theme-2-microfinance/13939-kicking-off-the-discussion-on-microfinance-for-sanitation Would be great if you could take some content and references from there. EvM-Susana (talk) 21:39, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

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Dr. Guha's comment on this article[edit]

Dr. Guha has reviewed this Wikipedia page, and provided us with the following comments to improve its quality:


1.Rather, the main reason for the high cost of microfinance loans is the high transaction cost of traditional microfinance operations relative to loan size.[9]

Add: "A small loan size implies that the fixed costs of providing microfinance are not spread out, entailing very high unit costs of providing a micro loan."

2. Those from the private-sector side respond that, because money is fungible, such a restriction is impossible to enforce, and that in any case it should not be up to rich people to determine how poor people use their money[citation needed]. Please cite Guha and Roy Chowdhury (2013): Guha, Brishti, and Roy Chowdhury, Prabal (2013): "Microfinance Competition: Motivated Microlenders, Double Dipping and Default", Journal of Development Economics,105:86-102.

3. Although it is generally agreed that microfinance practitioners should seek to balance these goals to some extent, there are a wide variety of strategies, ranging from the minimalist profit-orientation of BancoSol in Bolivia to the highly integrated not-for-profit orientation of BRAC in Bangladesh. This is true not only for individual institutions, but also for governments engaged in developing national microfinance systems. Add "Guha and Roy Chowdhury (2014) show that even when microfinance institutions are focused on borrower welfare rather than profits, they may not always target the poorest borrowers. Whether they do so is a function of intra-borrower inequality, the technology available to borrowers (assuming borrowing for investment rather than consumption), and the extent of competition for donor funds among different microfinance lenders." Please cite Guha, Brishti and Roy Chowdhury, Prabal (2014): "Borrower Targeting under Microfinance Competition with Motivated MFIs", Developing Economies, 52: 211-240.

4.Moreover, as the access to micro-loans is widespread, borrowers tend to acquire several loans from different companies, making it nearly impossible to pay the debt back.[54] Please add Guha and Roy Chowdhury (2013) (cited in comment 2) as a reference.


We hope Wikipedians on this talk page can take advantage of these comments and improve the quality of the article accordingly.

Dr. Guha has published scholarly research which seems to be relevant to this Wikipedia article:


  • Reference : Brishti Guha & Prabal Roy Chowdhury, 2013. "Micro-finance Competition: Motivated Micro-lenders, Double-dipping and Default," Working Papers 01-2013, Singapore Management University, School of Economics.

ExpertIdeasBot (talk) 16:34, 19 May 2016 (UTC)

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External links modified (January 2018)[edit]

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I have just modified one external link on Microfinance. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

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Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 08:35, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

  1. ^ McKenzie, David (2008-10-17). "Comments Made at IPA/FAI Microfinance Conference Oct. 17 2008". Philanthropy Action. Retrieved 2008-10-17.  Check date values in: |date= (help)