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Microfinance

With the new emphasis now given to microenterprises, self employment activities and household enterprises, now all considered as essential actors for achieving social and economic development in developed and developing countries, microfinance has become very fashionable and is attracting increased attention. This Microfinance gateway page provides a guide to the best sites on microfinance in general and microcredit in particular.

FrançaisLast updated March 3rd 2012

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Sites are reviewed individually and rated mostly according to content depth and value added, while also considering design, ease of navigation and speed of loading. For each category best resources are listed first.

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Microfinance Gateway
The Microfinance Gateway is provided as a service of CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor). Its objective is to be a one stop microfinance information hub, providing a forum for practitioners, NGOs, Donors, and others to learn about microfinance topics and to share their knowledge.The site has been redesigned again and now includes six parts: About the gateway, Microfinance voices, News and opinions, Announcements, Hot topics , and"The Library" which includes more than 2,000 reviewed documents. Clear and outstanding site, very well designed with an emphasis on interactivity and user friendliness.

CGAP
CGAP, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, is a multi donor effort to address poverty through the support and promotion of microfinance programs. This website is part of CGAP's effort to disseminate lessons learned on best practice in the field of microfinance. The site has been recently revamped and redesigned with a much clearer and richer content. A truly outstanding site. I particularly liked the very extensive Publications section, but in fact all sections are extremely interesting.

Rural Finance Learning Centre
Developed and managed by the rural finance specialists of the FAO, the Rural Financial Training Center aims to assist organisations in developing countries to build their capacity to deliver improved financial services which meet the needs of rural households and businesses. The site has two main sections : the Library which includes referenced material such as books, papers, case studies, guidelines, training manuals; and a Training section which includes a selection of training, study materials. Excellent site. Do not miss the self study guides and the online lessons on microfinance.

IFAD Rural Finance
IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) is a specialised agency of the United Nations which is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. Their site on Rural Finance reflects both the existing potential to improve the livelihoods of rural people by increasing their access to a wide range of financial services and sound institutions, and the 30 years experience they have as a microfinance provider. The site includes two key documents which can be downloaded : «IFAD Rural Finance Policy» and «IFAD Decision Tools for Rural Finance». Excellent site. I particularly liked their approach combining the micro, meso and macro levels. Do not miss the publications section and also the evaluation section.

In addition to going directly to the topic of your choice, or exploring the site on a geographical basis, you can also click on the What's New image on the left. This will lead you to a list of the recently added sites. On average 15/20 new sites are reviewed each month. Do not forget to send us your suggestions.
The Virtual Library on Microcredit
Defined as being a repositery of information on alternative, non conventional financial systems and the informal credit markets, the Virtual Library on Microcredit (ex-Informal Credit Homepage) is a "Must" with regards to microcredit and microenterprises. An extremely well designed and organised web site with lots of documents and case studies. Without any doubt one of the best sites on microcredit.

microLINKS
microLINKS is a dynamic knowledge sharing web site, allowing to share cutting edge research on microenterprise development, while also serving as a meeting place through which visitors can share their own experiences and knowledge. Excellent site, very impressive in the way it masters and utilize the new web technologies. It also reflects the new change in approaches from Business Support Services to the new Value Chain approach.

Microcredit Summit CampaignThe goals of the Microcredit Summit Campaign are to ensure that 175 million of the world's poorest families, especially the women of those families, are receiving credit for self-employment and other financial and business services by the end of 2015, and to ensure that 100 million families rise above US$1.25 a day . The site includes the very interesting 2012 State of The Campaign Report ( which exposes some of the most contentious debates that are raging in microfinance following the Andhra Pradesh crisis in India) as well as previous reports. Excellent site. Do not miss the links to the 2010 and 2011 Microcredit Summits and more particularly the section on commissionned papers.

ILO's Social Finance
The Social Finance section of the ILO deals with financial sector issues that have implications for poverty alleviation, employment and social integration Social Finance is about credit, savings, insurance and other products that help the poor to cope better with risk, take advantage of income-generating opportunities, organize and have a voice. Excellent site which includes an extensive list of publications. Do not miss the very interesting sections on «Microinsurance Innovation Facility» and «Microfinance for Decent Work Action Research».

Do not miss the opportunity to explore the other sections of ENTERWeb by clicking on the Menu on the left. You will then be able to visit the most popular sections such as Entrepreneurship, Business Ethics, Knowledge Economy, Globalization, Women and also the new sections on Social Media and Culture and Business.
Women's World Banking
Women's World Banking is the only microfinance network with an explicit focus on women. Their network of 39 microfinance institutions provide small loans, sometimes as modest as $100, to people to start their businesses. Women's World Banking is focused on ensuring women have access to these microloans. Excellent site with a very good publications section. I particularly liked the document «What if it Had Been Lehman Brothers & Sisters?». Do not miss either the Center for Microfinance Leadership and its Resources Library.

ADB's Microfinance Development Strategy
The Asian Development Bank has developed a development strategy for institutional microfinance covering the services provided by both formal and semi-formal sources. The strategy focuses on enabling policy environment; development of financial infrastructure; building of viable institutions; and improvement of the Bank's own capacity in microfinance assistance. A key document which reflects the wide experience of the ADB in this sector. The strategy has been finalized after extensive consultations and reflects lessons learned and current thinking . An excellent document and a model to follow despite the fact that it was issued in June 2000.

MicroSave
MicroSave aims at strengthening the capacity of financial service providers through offering comprehensive, customised strategic advice, the dissemination of information, the development of toolkits and practice-focused trainings, and advocates a market-led approach, keeping a client-centric perspective in the context of competitive environments. Excellent and very rich site. Do not miss the online library and its numerous toolkits, technical briefs, and research papers.

Cerise
The Comité d'Échange, de Réflexion et d'Information sur les Systèmes d'Épargne Crédit (CERISE) is a knowledge exchange network for microfinance practicioners. Its work focuses on four themes : impact and social performance, agriculture and rural finance, governance and social viability, intervention methods. Excellent site with very rich sections on tools and publications. Do not miss the list of links.

Epargne Sans Frontière
Epargne sans Frontière is one of the oldest and best known francophone NGOs with respect to analytical thinking and information dissemination on decentralized financial systems. Very good and interesting site worth exploring in depth. Do not miss their magazine : «Techniques financières et Développement» and its archives, and also the Toolbox section which includes very interesting technical guides. Unfortunately the previous plan to have an English version of the site seems to have been abandoned.

SEEP Network
The Small Enterprise Education and Promotion (SEEP) Network is an association of more than 120 international private and voluntary organizations which support micro and small enterprise programs in the developing world. Although focusing mostly on microenterprise development the site includes resources of interest to microfinance practitioners. Do not miss the section on resources which includes very interesting studies which can be downloaded or viewed directly on-line. A very good site.

Find here all sites related to Europe but not included in the main site
Europe
Find here all sites related to Africa but not included in the main site
Africa
Do not miss the geographical sections where you can find extremely interesting sites with a country or regional focus not included in the thematic sections
Find here all sites related to Asia but not included in the main site
Asia
Find here all sites related to Latin America but not included in the main site
Latin Am.
Microfinance Focus
Microfinance Focus is an online knowledge platform about microfinance and sustainable development. Their articles consist of original analysis and reports on microfinance all over the world, through daily news and editorials written by experts practicing in the field, as well as exclusive interviews with prominent sector leaders. A very interesting site. I particularly liked the section on microfinance crisis.

Appui au Développement Autonome
Appui au Développement Autonome (ADA) is a non-profit organisation based in Luxembourg which works with Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) by offering them a combination of financial support and customised technical services. Very good gateway on microfinance. Do not miss the section on publications.

World Bank Microfinance
To have a World Bank webpage specifically devoted to microfinance is a tribute to the growing recognition of the importance of the subject. However microfinance is mostly perceived in the context of Social Funds and Community driven development projects «because the poor must have continuous and permanent access to strong, stable financial systems in order to build their family's economic security». Very good site.

MicroCapital
MicroCapital publishes the MicroCapital Monitor a monthly digest of microfinance news and events, providing objective news with a business orientation and with the goal of encouraging rational growth of the industry. Very good site. Of particular interest are the section on the free editions of the MicroCapital Monitor itself and the section on the white papers.

Développement international Desjardins (DID)
Développement international Desjardins is an ONG whose mission is "to empower the citizens of developing and transition countries by encouraging the creation of collectively owned and operated businesses". In concrete terms this means that DID is involved in setting up savings and credit cooperatives in those countries. Do not miss the sections on projects and publications.

MicroInsurance Centre
The MicroInsurance Centre is the only independent institution that is focused full time on actively promoting the Partner-Agent model of microinsurance. In this model, MFIs are linked with regulated insurance companies to provide professional insurance products to the low-income market, while maintaining the risk where it belongs - with a regulated insurer. This method has proven to provide important risk management tools to low-income people, provide an important addition to the product line of MFIs (as well as profits through commissions), and allow insurers to enter this market efficiently and profitably. Very Interesting site on a topic of wide interest among microfinance institutions and donors. Do not miss the documents section and particularly the «Insurance Design for Developing Countries» and the «Lessons Learned and Recommendations for Donors Supporting Microinsurance».

Microfinance Information Exchange
The Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX) is a non-profit organization which collects and validates financial, operational, and social performance data from MFIs in all regions of the developing world, standardizing the data for comparability. This information is made available on MIX Market a global, web-based, microfinance information platform, which features financial and social performance information for approximately 2000 MFIs. MIX also produces analysis to provide the microfinance industry with a context to view the performance data that MIX collects from MFIs. This analysis is featured in the MicroBanking Bulletin. Interesting site particularly for microfinance institutions and funders.

MicroRate
MicroRate is the first rating agency specializing in the evaluation of microfinance institutions (MFIs). Its objective is to link MFIs with funding sources and in particular with international capital markets. Very good and interesting site. Do not miss the excellent section on Industry Articles and more particularly the reports : «Can "Bad" microfinance Practices be the Consequence of too much funding chasing too few microfinance institutions?» and «Microfinance Banana Skins 2011: Losing its Fairy Dust ».

International Year of Microcredit 2005
The United Nations International Year of Microcredit 2005 provides an occasion to raise awareness of the importance of microcredit and microfinance in the eradication of poverty, to share good practices and to further enhance financial sector development that supports sustainable pro-poor services in all countries. Very good site, still useful despite its age as it helps put things into perspective and appreciate progress made. Do not miss the information kit and the section on resources.

Imp-Act
The Imp-Act Consortium unites 12 organisations at the forefront of the global Social Performance Management agenda. Their objective is to influence practice through advocacy, training, and knowledge management in order to improve the quality of microfinance services and their impact on poverty. Very Interesting site. Do not miss the SPM Resource Centre and the section on Publications.

MYRADA
MYRADA is a non governmental organization assisting in the promotion of sustainable development and micro-credit initiatives in southern India.This beautifully designed and interesting site presents MYRADA's experience with "Alternate Management Systems for Savings and Credit of the Rural Poor".

Grameen Bank
It is difficult to know these days which site is the genuine "Grameen Bank Website" with all the recent hype on microcredit and the Grameen Bank model, but this site appears to be the real one, being located in Bangladesh and hosted by "GrameenCyber" one of the latest creations of the Grameen Group of companies.

FINCA International Village Banking
FINCA stands for the Foundation for International Community Assistance. A nonprofit agency launched in 1985, FINCA's purpose is to provide small loans of working capital to low-income families to help alleviate poverty. FINCA creates "village banks" peer groups of 20 to 50 members, predominantly women.

MicroFinance Network
The MicroFinance Network is a global association of leading microfinance practitioners. The members of the MFN are committed to improving the lives of low-income people through the provision of credit, savings and other financial services.

ACCION International
Since 1961, ACCION International have been a pioneer in microcredit and microenterprise development, particularly in Latin America. Of particular interest is the information on the microfinance network, the list of publications and the US and Latin America statistics.

Solidarity Finance
Since 2001, the Solidarity Finance workshop of the Workgroup on Solidarity Socio-Economy has focused its interest on the issues of financial tools, used in the North as well as in the South. Its objectives is to make basic financial services accessible to the poorest populations (mainly on saving and credit). The proceedings were focused on an underestimated topic: the relations between solidarity finance and social ties. Very interesting site which covers subjects much broader than just microfinance.

Calmeadow
Calmeadow has long been known as a direct provider of microfinance which has since 2000 shifted emphasis to direct investment in Microfinance Institutions. Their current website, however is not clear as to what their present mission and objectives are. This does not prevent the site to be extremely interesting particularly the section on Research. Do not miss the reports «Failures in Microfinance: Lessons Learned from Failed Experiences in Latin America» and «Role Reversal: Are Public Development Institutions Crowding Out Private Investment in Microfinance?».

Banking With The Poor
The BWTP Network regroups some 35 national policy institutions, commercial banks and NGOs from nine countries in Asia. Its objective is to link microfinance with the financial system. It pursues this objective through research, advocacy, policy dialogue, information sharing and capacity building. Very good site with interesting publications in the Asia Microfinance Resource Center.

European Microfinance Network
The European Microfinance Network (EMN) mission is to promote microfinance as a tool to fight social and economic exclusion and to promote micro entrepreneurship and self-employment. This will be achieved by supporting the development of microfinance organisations through the dissemination of good practices and by improving the regulatory frameworks for microfinance, self-employment and microentreprises at the European Union and Member State levels. Very good site with an interesting virtual library. Do not miss the section on the EMN workgroup.

Microfinance and Rural Finance
This personal site by Mark Schreiner from Washington University in St Louis presents full text versions of publications and working papers on microfinance. Very interesting but unfortunately the working papers are now a bit outdated.

OSU Rural Finance Program
The Ohio State University Rural Finance Program has always been recognized as a world leader in the analysis of rural financial markets and microfinance in general. The website provides access to their research publications and working papers. Unfortunately the site does not show any new activities since 2006.

Post-conflict Microfinance Project
A British (DFID) funded project to enhance the awareness, skills and knowledge available for the implementation of successful, pro-poor post-conflict microfinance projects, which are increasingly seen by emergency relief and development agencies as an appropriate intervention during and after armed conflict. Interesting site although somewhat limited at this stage. Do not miss the report on the four country case studies.

CIDA's Microfinance
Even though this attempt by the Canadian International Development Agency of putting some sectoral content available on line should be applauded, the overall result is limited to the CIDA's Microfinance Guidelines which can be downloaded. A real disappointment when one knows the rich history of CIDA's involvement in the sector in particular with respect to savings and credit cooperatives.

Microfinance in Nepal
The Centre for Micro-Finance (CMF) is a USAID Funded project of the Canadian Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI-Nepal). Its goal is to promote awareness of and commitment to micro-finance (MF) best practices in Nepal within the community of donors, government and MF practitioners. Interesting and promising site especially in the way it uses a web presence as a means to disseminate lessons learned and best practices at the project level.

Microfin
Microfin is a software which has been designed to assist Micro Finance Institutions in developing detailed financial projections to accompany their business plans. The Microfin technical support website provides support services to users of CGAP's Business Planning and Financial Modeling Handbook, including the Microfin projection model.

University of Cologne's working papers
Although apparently not hosted anymore at the University of Cologne's website, their working paper series is quite interesting despite the fact that they date from before 2008. They cover extremely relevant issues such as outreach, viability, sustainability, prudential regulation, etc. and even strategies for establishing microfinance institutions.

Planet Finance
Planet Finance is the first international institution created directly on the Internet to foster fair development by supporting microfinance. It aims to become a network institution which will use information technology and the Internet to develop microfinance. Its very ambitious objectives include the creation of an online university, a virtual library and a ratings agency. Besides the detailed list of projects, the site does not offer presently much value added in terms of methodology, documents, studies, etc.

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