New IFC Report Examines Challenges to Microfinance in the Arab World
A new study from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has found that external risks, security concerns, and over-indebtedness are perceived as the most serious challenges facing the microfinance sector in the Arab World.
The survey, conducted in conjunction with Sanabel, the Microfinance Network of Arab Countries, said tackling those problems will be key to spurring the development of the industry. Microfinance, long considered an important tool in the fight against poverty, has grown at a much slower rate in MENA over the last six to seven years, than it has in other parts of the developing world.
“Microfinance can be powerful catalyst for boosting economic growth and improving the lives of people in developing countries,” says Sahar Tieby, Sanabel’s Executive Director. “This study documents the key risks facing the sector as perceived by stakeholders in the hopes that they can work together to address them.”
The study, Voices: An assessment of the perceived risks facing the microfinance sector in the Arab World, surveyed industry players, including financial service providers, donors, and regulators, in 10 Arab countries. External risks, such as security challenges and macroeconomic downturns, were cited as the most serious issues facing the industry. There were also concerns about the over-indebtedness of borrowers, staffing, widespread competition, and political interference.