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New report details microcredit expansion in Latin America and the Caribbean

Regional portfolio has increased from $5.5 billion in 2005 to over $40 billion in 2013

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador – Microcredit in Latin America and the Caribbean has continued its expansion of the last decade, with an increase in customers, more kinds of institutions, a wider variety of services offered to clients, and a trend toward lower interest rates, according to new data released here today by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group.

According to the report Financial Inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean: Data and Trends, the region’s microcredit portfolio grew to more than $40 billion in 2013, is provided by more than 1,000 institutions, and reaches more than 22 million clients. By contrast, in 2005 the microcredit portfolio was $5.5 billion, was provided by fewer than 400 institutions, and reached only 6 million customers. Today, microcredit is offered by banks, non-bank financial institutions, cooperatives, and nongovernmental organizations.

“The microfinance sector has evolved into a major systemic player in the financial sectors of many economies in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said MIF General Manager Nancy Lee. “It is reaching a quarter of the region’s microenterprises, and providing them with a broader range of financial products, including credit at interest rates that in some countries are among the lowest in the world in this sector. It is an important success story in regional financial market development.”

A conference edition of  the report was released during the Inter-American Microenterprise Forum (Foromic), held this year in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The report includes indicators on financial services, institutions, credit, savings, remittances, and microcredit.

The report notes that microcredit interest rates, which are traditionally high, have started to decline as they converge with lending rates for the financial sector as a whole, which are traditionally lower. Today, the regional average rate is about 28 percent, compared to the average of more than 30 percent in 2004.

This decline in the regional interest rate is driven by countries such as Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia that have achieved a powerful combination of relatively low interest rates, an increasing number of customers, and competitive markets over the last decade.

According to Financial Inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean, the majority of the 1,000 institutions providing microcredit in the region are regulated, representing 79 percent of the portfolio and 65 percent of customers. Also of note is the penetration of microcredit, now reaching one quarter of the region’s microentrepreneurs, with an average loan size of $1,800.

About the Multilateral Investment Fund

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, is funded by 39 donors and supports private sector-led development benefitting low-income populations and the poor - their businesses, their farms, and their households. The aim is to give them the tools to boost their incomes: access to markets and the skills to compete in those markets, access to finance, and access to basic services, including green technology. A core MIF mission is to act as a development laboratory - experimenting, pioneering, and taking risks in order to build and support successful micro and SME business models.

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