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Microfinance / by Jiao Meng, February 17, 2012 Adjust font size:

Microfinance is the provision of a broad range of financial services such as deposits, loans, payment services, money transfers, and insurance to poor and low-income households and, their microenterprises. Microfinance services are provided by three types of sources:

  • formal institutions, such as rural banks and cooperatives;
  • semiformal institutions, such as nongovernment organizations;
  • informal sources such as money lenders and shopkeepers.

Institutional microfinance is defined to include microfinance services provided by both formal and semiformal institutions. Microfinance institutions are defined as institutions whose major business is the provision of microfinance services.

The interest in microfinance has burgeoned during the last two decades: multilateral lending agencies, bilateral donor agencies, developing and developed country governments, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) all support the development of microfinance. A variety of private banking institutions has also joined this group in recent years. As a result, microfinance services have grown rapidly during the last decade, although from an initial low level, and have come to the forefront of development discussions concerning poverty reduction.


(Reference to Asian Development Bank)

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