Lending by microfinance institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean grew at a slower pace in 2009, following an economic slowdown triggered by the global financial crisis and changes in the business environment; this is according to the IDB.
The loan portfolio of microfinance institutions in the region rose to 13 percent last year after growing 18 percent in 2008. Lending rose to $12.3 billion last year after reaching $10.9 billion in 2008 and $9.2 billion in 2007, according to a survey by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB).
“The microfinance sector has fared much better than other sectors following the global financial crisis. It is an industry with still a lot of growth potential,” said Paola A. Pedroza, who led the preparation of the report at the MIF. “The institutions are relatively well capitalized and have reacted to the crisis by streamlining their operations and renegotiating with customers that could not pay their loans.”
There are currently more than 700 microfinance institutions operating in Latin America and the Caribbean. These institutions added 1.1 million new customers in 2009, serving a total of 10.5 million clients, according to the survey, released during the 13th Inter-American Microenterprise Forum (Foromic 2010).
Mexico has the biggest market for microfinance, with $2.3 million customers, followed by Peru with 1.9 million and Colombia with 1.4 million clients. In terms of loan portfolio, Peru tops the ranking with $3.2 billion of microloans. Ecuador is in second place, with a portfolio of $1.7 billion, followed by Colombia, which has a total of $1.4 billion in microloans.
The penetration of the microfinance industry in Latin America and the Caribbean remains unequal despite experiencing sustained growth. Estimated levels of penetration for countries such as Nicaragua, Bolivia, El Salvador and Ecuador exceed 30 percent while in countries such as Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil it represents less than 5 percent.
The average loan size in the region was $1,178 in 2009 and the annual average interest on microloans was a 28.6 percent.
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