European Microfinance Program


The growing of commercially oriented MFIs has led to competition and to some extent diversified services. However, this profitableness principle has led to increased sustainability and has frequently driven MFIs towards countries of more handiness and economic activities in order to restrict operational costs. Though competition may give positive consequences ( low involvement rates, variegation of merchandises, easy entree, etc ) it may besides hold negative effects ( over-indebtedness, unjust competition and possible mission impetus ) .

Most microfinance establishments ( MFIs ) provide micro recognition as the chief fiscal service to its clients. The nest eggs services are largely designed as collateral to the recognition and non as portion of a fiscal service. Hume ( 2007 ) notes that micro-credit can make chances for borrowers to use ‘lump amount ‘ of money such that they can utilize to smooth their income and exposure. However, non all recognition can be good, because it depends on the use of the recognition and available investing activities with better returns. Hume ( 2007 ) further notes that MFIs ne’er work with the poorest -the mentally and physically challenged, the aged and the destitute. Therefore, the clients of MFIs are largely the economically active with micro endeavors activities. Mohammed Yunus cited by Vanroose ( 2007 ) notes that micro-credit, which is the common merchandise of microfinance provides hapless people with the chance to put in income-generating activities, thereby increasing their fiscal capital.

It has been presumed that the hapless were intentionally excluded from the entree of recognition and the response has been to supply entree to all. The outlook was to enable the hapless to travel out of poorness by puting in micro endeavors which would feed into economic growing ( Dichter 2007 ) . The statement of recognition as a necessary tool for development is further advanced by Hudon ( 2009 ) . He argues that, entree to recognition play a polar function in the economic development and prosperity of economic systems largely in states with high-income. Therefore, MFIs either for net income or non-profit are committed to financing both single and economic development activities which are productive.

In contrary, Dichter ( 2007 ) argues that, the mean hapless are non enterprisers and when they entree recognition, they use it for ingestion or cash-flow smoothing. The hapless prefer to get down with informal recognition or nest eggs instead than formal recognition. He farther argues that economic development and poorness decrease do non depend on micro-credit being made to the hapless but the procedures of development that creates occupations which in bend makes the hapless attractive mark to fiscal services get downing with nest eggs. In most instances, recognition is a lifeline beginning that enables hapless people to cover with the exigencies that occur, assisting them fit guerrilla, unsure and low income against the regular day-to-day demands of life. The load and effect of over-indebtedness can be extended, including loss of life, depression, self-respect, assets and surcease of relationships. Hume ( 2007 ) argues that micro-credit can besides be viewed as micro-debt. If micro-credit is non used for investing undertakings to bring forth income, it will be hard for borrowers to refund the loan. Therefore, liability is progressively going a irritant in microfinance. This is peculiarly true when competition is experienced coupled with irresponsible loaning from some MFIs.

Harmonizing to Rahman ( 2004 ) , MFI ‘s usage group force per unit area to guarantee borrower ‘s timely refund of loans with high loan recovery rates. He notes that such force per unit areas may oblige borrowers to do refunds by recycling loans by paying off old loans with new 1s. Hence, taking to over-indebtedness of families and increased tenseness among family members. Though micro-credit has possible to better the supports of the hapless, it can besides hold negative impact such as increasing their debt burdens. Rosenberg ( 2010 ) argues that, for micro-credit, some borrowers will surely over-indebt themselves and be worse off as a consequence of repeated usage of recognition. If big Numberss of clients take on more debt than they can manage, the more likely that they will eventually default on their recognition, and the MFIs ‘ aggregation rate will drop.

What are the possible causes of over-indebtedness?

Microfinance is frequently viewed as an efficient tool for cut downing the poorness degrees of the vulnerable hapless. However, less focal point as been given to the dangers microfinance can present to the clients which is over-indebtedness. Over-indebtedness is a term used to depict debt which has become hard to refund hence being a load to the borrower. Micro recognition is ever associated with poorness and societal exclusion of the hapless. European Commission ( 2008 ) acknowledges that, there is no individual definition of over-indebtedness as it varies across states. It defined as but non limited to “ the state of affairs where the debt load of an person or family on a long-run footing exceeds the payment capacity ” . Therefore, it is merely a debatable debt which an person is unable to do current recognition refunds and other committednesss.

The European committee considers the undermentioned indexs as over-indebtedness when experienced by an person or families: –

  • High committedness payments which push the borrower below the poverty-threshold.
  • Loan arrears on at least one fiscal committedness.
  • Burden of monthly committedness payments considered to be a heavy load by the family.
  • Repayment capacity considered to be ‘very hard ‘ by the family,
  • And eventually the liquidness jobs – inability to run into an unexpected disbursal in clip.

The over-indebtedness indexs in microfinance are more coupled to the first two implicit in and common elements as described above. And the important cause of over-indebtedness of borrowers is the multiple adoption by clients in different MFIs ignoring their refund abilities. Rahman ( 2007 ) argued that there exists client convergence in micro-credit and MFIs are contented that every bit long as the clients can do refunds, they have no ground to worry about this. While the clients view that the MFIs do non run into their fiscal demands hence they approach many loaners to run into their recognition demands taking to over-indebtedness. Harmonizing to Rhyne ( 2001 ) in Chen, et Al. ( 2010 ) , recognition can be equated to good nutrient, “ when seated at the tabular array in forepart of a banquet, many people eat excessively much and repent it subsequently ” .

High involvement rates charged by MFIs may lend to over-indebtedness of their clients. This is in concurrency with Hudon ( 2007 ) statement that involvement rate is a controversial subject in microfinance, as it raises some ethical issues when MFIs bring forth super-plus returns at the disbursal of hapless clients. As noted by Vanroose ( 2007 ) , increasing fiscal capital of the hapless through micro-credit extremely depend on the involvement rates MFIs charge. When the involvement rates are really high, the capital accretion accrues to the MFI alternatively of the micro-borrower. In another position, fiscal capital seemingly decrease when micro-credit is used for ingestion intents instead than puting in income generating activities. In drumhead, for micro-credit to better fiscal capital of borrowers depends on the borrowers ‘ degree of income, the intent of the loan, and the involvement rate charged by MFIs.

A study conducted by Lascelles and Mendelson ( 2009 ) found that, one of the major concerns among MFIs clients is the high degree of liability. This is contrary to the most thought position that MF borrowers had a good refund record. The respondents in the study blamed the growing of competition and the eroding of loaning patterns for promoting people to borrow beyond their ability to refund. The study notes a respondent from Bosnia & A ; Herzegovina who reported that “ Loan officers are forced to accomplish certain marks, hence expense is based on the rule of merely take a loan, and you will pay it back in some manner ” . The competition in the microfinance sector and commercialisation has aggravated the jobs of over-indebtedness by promoting irresponsible loaning.

Are the hapless indebted? Signals from microfinance field

The microfinance sector is progressively facing reputational hazard with myriad of jobs confronting several MFIs. For illustration Bolivia and Nicaragua in Latin America, India and Pakistan in Asia and Morocco in Africa to advert a few states largely affected. These are arrows that increasing the volume of credits do n’t needfully take to economic growing of micro-enterprises. The sector can fall in really rapidly if solvency of borrowers is non taken into history during loaning, taking to over liability of the hapless. Over-indebtedness was ab initio experienced in Bolivia which may hold prompted the industry participants to believe about client protection steps. Avoidance of over-indebtedness is the first of the rules that ensures micro-credit will be disbursed by MFIs to borrowers who have demonstrated equal ability to refund and they will non set their clients at hazard of over-indebtedness.

A recent survey conducted by Chen, et Al, ( 2010 ) on four microfinance markets sing loan delinquencies revealed that three major exposures within the microfinance industry are ( one ) concentrated market competition and multiple adoption by client, ( two ) Overstretched MFI system and controls and ( three ) eroding of MFI loaning subject. Apart from the above, it was fuelled by abundant support from debt. Many MFIs relied on debt capital from foreign loaners and commercial Bankss to back up their growing. Entire loan portfolio of MFIs in Morrocco for illustration were financed by 85 per centum of commercial Bankss debt while in Nicaragua there was extra financess from “ societal ” foreign investors.

A practician from the field, Gull ( 2009 ) , pointed out that the menace of hapless enterprisers taking on excessively much debt is increasing. Oikocredit offices in different parts reported narratives of some MFI clients with loans in more than three different MFIs. Oikocredit acknowledges that over-indebtedness of clients through this multiple loaning patterns, sometimes leads to abusive aggregation patterns. With the entryway of net income oriented histrions in microfinance sector, it has lead to increased competition and MFIs making out to the same clients in the same countries. Chowdri ( 2009 ) , ACCION International Country Manager for India reported that, Grameen Financial Services are confronting delinquencies in Karnataka province of India. He summed up the followers as some of the conducive factors:

  • MFI clients are borrowing from up to six 6 MFIs plus informal money loaners
  • Lack of equal systems to track clients taking loans from other MFIs.
  • And some of the clients surpass their capacity to refund ensuing into jobs of refunds.

Recently, the Nicaraguan microfinance industry was under besieging by the over-indebted group of borrowers. They formed a No Payment Movement “ Moviemiento No Pago ” to coerce for their debt forgiveness ( write-down ) . Due to their inability to refund the loans, they have requested the Government to go through a moratorium jurisprudence to give over-indebted MFI clients a 10 twelvemonth amortisation period with involvement rates that do non transcend 8 percent per annum ( Guzman, 2009 ) .

Is micro-debt unethical issue?

Micro-credit can be seen on two positions ; as a poorness relief tool and as debt. Borrowing means being in debt and this fact have been by and large neglected. Almost everyplace in the universe, debt has been seen as bad for the society, single, faith and household. Debt like chancing and intoxicant can be habit-forming ; one time you begin it ‘s had to halt ( Dichter 2007 ) .

The MFI ‘s involvement rate is frequently high compared to the commercial rates charged by Bankss. Therefore, unless the financess borrowed are invested in productive and profitable undertakings, there will be no benefits to the borrower, alternatively liability will increase. However, most MFI clients do n’t needfully utilize the financess for the intended intents they applied for as they spent in run intoing family demands and refunding past debts. In most MFIs for illustration in Kenya, they discourage early refunds of loans. If a client takes a loan and after erstwhile offers to refund the loan in full before the adulthood period, the entire loan plus the whole involvement for the adulthood period has to be repaid. This is a debt load inflicted by the MFIs unnecessarily and it hinges on ethical issues.

Rahman ( 2007 ) notes that, the usage of level involvement rate in loaning by most MFIs with the premise that it is easy for the clients to understand is misdirecting and non-transparent. A level involvement rate of 15 per centum is tantamount to about 30 per centum charged by Bankss in worsening balance method. This raises the inquiry of transparence and ethical pattern as the level rate gives clients an feeling of a lower involvement rate than what is really the world. Thus the truth in loaning patterns of MFIs emerges in the visible radiation. As pointed out by Ashta ( 2009 ) , MFIs may repeatedly prefer to unwrap level rates because they are easy to explicate and look much lower than the existent rates of worsening balance methodological analysis.

How MFIs can forestall Over-indebtedness

Some of the executable steps MFIs can make to forestall over-indebtedness are in four wide countries: responsible loaning, arrears and debt recovery direction, Credit mention agency and transparence. First, responsible loaning can be achieved when MFIs guarantee that borrowers have equal ability to refund the loan disbursed before publishing recognition. This will supply the most antiphonal recognition processing and has a lower degree of fiscal exclusion. Besides, though setting involvement rate ceilings tends to be a controversial issue, there is a strong ethical statement to screen borrowers against inordinate involvement rates burden. In economic position, it can be seen that involvement rate ceilings distort the market basicss and can fuel to fiscal exclusion of the hapless. Second, MFIs are to take an active function in the early direction of arrears to avoid accretion of arrears that can take to over-indebtedness. Changeless contact with borrowers to understand their troubles in refund will ease the early recovery of lost payments. Therefore, MFIs need to hold equal processs and systems in topographic point that are flexible for covering with defaulting borrowers. When arrears accumulate, it is of import for MFIs to prosecute with borrowers about their ability to refund by negociating without torment or violent aggregation practises.

Third, as demand for micro-credit additions, MFIs must guarantee that default rates are low and usage dependable beginning of information for borrower ‘s recognition histories. To trust on the information of the borrower to reimburse the loan entirely is non a sufficient warrant. It is of import to cognize the recognition histories of borrowers and to specify their creditworthiness. Credit agency are of import in describing positive every bit good as negative information by MFIs. This will assist understate pay outing recognition to already over-burdened borrowers. Though this is capable to debate, the function of increased recognition informations sharing and coverage will forestall over-indebtedness. Finally, on the involvement rate transparence, full revelation of the rates charged should be made to the borrowers. Sometimes, MFI borrowers run in to debt jobs because they may non be knowing on the involvement rates to be repaid which may non be supported by their cash-flows.


Microfinance has proved that high refund rates and fiscal returns can be achieved every bit good as offering valued services to the hapless. The growing of microfinance brings indispensable benefits the underserved hapless ( Chen, et al. , 2010 ) . On the other dark side of microfinance is a chilling state of affairs for the industry with its root causes emanating from unequal systems employed by MFIs for tracking client liability, coupled with competition, rapid growing outlooks, and less attending to testing procedure in order to understand the client ‘s ability to refund. The load and effect of over-indebtedness chiefly autumn on the borrowers and the loaners – in this instance the MFIs, but all will profit when things go good in footings of good investing returns and refunds. The MFIs are in a better place than the regulators to place when things start to travel incorrect and it is their first duty ( both concern and ethical values ) to take appropriate action to turn to the jobs before it runs out of control.

In chase of market portion and profitableness, MFIs should non lose sight of the fact that they have moral duty towards their clients, the microfinance industry repute, and the state ‘s fiscal sector as a whole. The development of micro-credit should non take to increased instances of default and over-indebtedness, which could contradict the initial consequences and ends of fiscal inclusion of the hapless. On the other manus, the givers and the so called “ societal ” investors should concentrate on sustainable growing and avoid imparting their investings ( both private and public financess ) merely to few selected states where there ‘s high returns at the disbursal of over-indebted clients.


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