There are some key principles of microfinance as follow:
Key Principles of Microfinance
1. The poor need a variety of financial services, not just loans
Just like everyone else, poor people need a wide range of financial services that are convenient, flexible, and reasonably priced. Depending on their circumstances, poor people need not only credit, but also savings, cash transfers, and
2. Microfinance is a powerful instrument against poverty
Access to sustainable financial services enables the poor to increase incomes, build assets, and reduce their vulnerability to external shocks. Microfinance allows poor households to move from everyday survival to planning for the future, investing in better nutrition, improved living conditions, and children’s health and education.
3. Microfinance means building financial systems that serve the poor
Poor people constitute the vast majority of the population in most developing countries. Yet, an overwhelming number of the poor continue to lack access to basic financial services. In many countries, microfinance continues to be seen as a marginal sector and primarily a development concern for donors, governments, and socially-responsible investors. In order to achieve its full potential of reaching a large number of the poor, microfinance should become an integral part of the financial
4. Financial sustainability is necessary to reach significant numbers of poor people
Most poor people are not able to access financial services because of the lack of strong retail financial intermediaries. Building financially sustainable institutions is not an end in itself. It is the only way to reach significant scale and impact far beyond what donor agencies can fund. Sustainability is the ability of a microfinance provider to cover all of its costs. It allows the continued operation of the microfinance provider and the ongoing provision of financial services to the poor. Achieving financial sustainability means reducing transaction costs, offering better products and services that meet client needs, and finding new ways to reach the unbanked
5. Microfinance is about building permanent local financial institutions
Building financial systems for the poor means building sound domestic financial intermediaries that can provide financial services to poor people on a permanent basis. Such institutions should be able to mobilize and recycle domestic savings, extend credit, and provide a range of services. Dependence on funding from donors and governments—including government-financed development banks—will gradually diminish as local financial institutions and private capital markets
6. Microcredit is not always the answer
Microcredit is not appropriate for everyone or every situation. The destitute and hungry who have no income or means of repayment need other forms of support before they can make use of loans. In many cases, small grants, infrastructure improvements, employment and training programs, and other non-financial services may be more appropriate tools for poverty alleviation. Wherever possible, such non-financial services should be coupled with building savings.
7. Interest rate ceilings can damage poor people’s access to financial services
It costs much more to make many small loans than a few large loans. Unless microlenders can charge interest rates that are well above average bank loan rates, they cannot cover their costs, and their growth and sustainability will be limited by the scarce and uncertain supply of subsidized funding. When governments regulate interest rates, they usually set them at levels too low to permit sustainable microcredit. At the same time, microlenders should not pass on operational inefficiencies to clients in the form of prices (interest rates and other fees) that are far higher than they need to
8. The government’s role is as an enabler, not as a direct provider of financial services
National governments play an important role in setting a supportive policy environment that stimulates the development of financial services while protecting poor people’s savings. The key things that a government can do for microfinance are to maintain macroeconomic stability, avoid interest-rate caps, and refrain from distorting the market with unsustainable subsidized, high-delinquency loan programs. Governments can also support financial services for the poor by improving the business environment for entrepreneurs, clamping down on corruption, and improving access to markets and infrastructure. In special situations, government funding for sound and independent microfinance institutions may be warranted when other funds are lacking.
9. Donor subsidies should complement, not compete with private sector capital
Donors should use appropriate grant, loan, and equity instruments on a temporary basis to build the institutional capacity of financial providers, develop supporting infrastructure (like rating agencies, credit bureaus, audit capacity, etc.), and support experimental services and products. In some cases, longer-term donor subsidies may be required to reach sparsely populated and otherwise difficult-to-reach populations. To be effective, donor funding must seek to integrate financial services for the poor into local financial markets; apply specialist expertise to the design and implementation of projects; require that financial institutions and other partners meet minimum performance standards as a condition for continued support; and plan for exit from the
10. The lack of institutional and human capacity is the key constraint
Microfinance is a specialized field that combines banking with social goals, and capacity needs to be built at all levels, from financial institutions through the regulatory and supervisory bodies and information systems, to government development entities and donor agencies. Most investments in the sector, both public and private, should focus on this capacity
11. The importance of financial and outreach transparency
Accurate, standardized, and comparable information on the financial and social performance of financial institutions providing services to the poor is imperative. Bank supervisors and regulators, donors, investors, and more importantly, the poor who are clients of microfinance need this information to adequately assess risk and