How many microfinance institutions (MFIs) exist in the developing world? What are their current performances? In 1999, an International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) team on microfinance conducted a survey on MFIs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America in order to offer a new in-depth analysis on the distribution and performances of MFIs at the international level. A systematic sampling has been adopted through the contacting of international NGOs and networks supporting various MFIs. The information has been complemented by a review of publications and technical manuals on microfinance. The database of MFIs from 85 developing countries shows 1,500 institutions (790 institutions worldwide plus 688 in Indonesia) supported by international organizations. They reach 54 million members, 44 million savers (voluntary and compulsory savings), and 23 million borrowers. The total volume of outstanding credit is $18 billion. The total savings volume is $12 billion, or 72 percent of the volume of the outstanding loans. MFIs have developed at least 46,000 branches and employ around 175,000 staff. The IFPRI database underlines the presence of a multitude of MFIs that, except in unstable countries, are widespread, with no forgotten regions. MFIs are very diverse in terms of lending technologies and legal status, which allows room for innovation, but they remain highly concentrated. The data are analyzed by type of MFIs and by geographic regions. The results presented give an overview of the current development of MFIs and offer a benchmark for comparisons.


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