Over the past three decades microfinance has grown strong roots in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, it has not spread evenly across the region, or even within some countries. There are still tens of millions of microentrepreneurs and low-income households lacking access to basic financial services.
In order to address this challenge, the MIF is targeting countries where microfinance is least developed (as measured by the Microscope index developed with The Economist Intelligence Unit) and where financial institutions are reaching less than 20 percent of the potential market for microfinance services. Among the “frontier markets” are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Guyana, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela, and English-speaking Caribbean countries.
The MIF strategy for pushing into these “frontier markets” calls for investing in new and existing microfinance institutions, enlisting local and international partners, involving experienced actors (such as established microfinance networks) and attracting additional capital from other investors. A key goal is to establish or strengthen at least 20 microlenders within a 7-year timeframe.