First Microfinance Institution Syria: Building Resilience Through a Client-Centric Model
The civil war in Syria has devastated the country's economy. Unemployment is estimated to have increased from 15% to 58% between 2011 and 2014 with 3 million Syrians losing their jobs. In particular, the tourism sector has been hit hard with dramatic drops in revenue and sizable job loss. As of 2011, only 23.3% of the population had an account at a financial institution and financial inclusion has only worsened over the past five years.
First Micro-Finance Syria (FMFI-S) has continued to operate within this environment. Since conflict began in 2011, many FMFI-S clients have lost family members, homes and businesses as a direct result of the protracted conflict in Syria. While FMFI-S has developed a range of tools to help clients withstand the crisis, over the past five years the institution has faced substantial challenges in its day-to-day operations, including inflation, local currency devaluation, staff security and safety, and funding.
This case study outlines policies and interventions that have allowed FMFI-S to strike a difficult balance between ensuring continuous delivery of client-centric financial products and services and promoting long-term institutional resilience.