Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Microcredit borrowers drop globally but poor families availing microfinance services in Nepal increase

Though a global report has claimed that clients of microcredit are declining, the number of domestic microcredit borrowers has increased.
In 2011, some 13 million fewer of the world’s poorest families received access to microcredit and other financial services than in 2010, according to a report 'Vulnerability: The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report, 2013', released today by the Microcredit Summit Campaign.
Key markets like India and Bangladesh saw a drop in the number of poor families getting microcredit, pulling the global total down, said chief executive of Rural Microfinance Development Centre Shankar Man Shrestha, releasing the report here today.
The Bangladesh market has matured, whereas India had its own problems that have reduced the number of borrowers from microcredit institutions, he said, adding that Nepal has, however, been witnessing an increase in the number of microcredit borrowers.
In July 2010, the number of domestic poor families availing the services of microfinance institutions stood at 13,93,000, whereas the number has increased by 26 per cent to 17,60,000 in 2012, Shrestha added. "Of the total number of poor families receiving microcredit, some might be taking loans from various microfinance institutions overindebting themselves, which has become a key problem, besides mission drift of some of the microfinance institutions that have been overconcentrating in the Tarai districts to save cost of operation in recent years."
However, microfinance institutions have been instrumental in poverty reduction in the country, despite market distortation and mission drift of some institutions, he opined.
Loan supply has also increased by 46 per cent in the last three years. In July 2010, loan supply stood at Rs 16.65 billion, which increased to Rs 24.30 billion in 2012, according to figures.
The savings of poor families have also increased in the last three years by 70 per cent. "Microfinance institutions had deposits of Rs 11.61 billion in July 2012, which was Rs 6.82 billion in July 2010," said Shrestha, who opined that microfinance institutions must reach some 500,000 poor families — who are still out of the reach of microcredit — in the 19 hilly districts of the country.
Globally, the total number of clients was reported to have fallen from 205 million to 195 million and the sub-set of families living in extreme poverty, defined as less than $1.25-a-day, from 137 million to 124 million, according to the report.
"The landmark report shows us that clients need education for their children, healthcare for their family, decent housing, and regular, nutritious meals," said Prof Muhammad Yunus, adding that it should be the focus of our work at the upcoming summit to be held in Manila on October 9-11, and in the years ahead.
Domestic microfinance institutions are also on correction mode, Shrestha claimed, adding that the recent 'Revisiting Nepal Microfinance Vision 2015' has revised the target down to 2.5 million families from the earlier 3.5 million, which was a bit ambitious. "For quality service and professional growth of both institutions and clients without mission drift, microfinance institutions have promised to reach 2.5 million poor families by 2015," he said, adding that they also have to help poor families graduate from poor to non-poor with micro enterprises, apart from increasing the number of borrowers only.
Current hurdles for growth of microfinance in Nepal
* Mission drift from social business to commercial for lust of quick profit
* Unhealthy competition among rising number of microfinance institutions
* Over concentration in urban and semi urban areas
* Microfinance institutions distancing themselves from targeted clientèle
* Deviation from working culture of microcredit
* Microfinance institutions growing fast instead of qualitative growth
* Lack of monitoring of social performance indicators
* Rising unionism in recent days

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