2009 Arab Microfinance Analysis & Benchmarking Report

Analyzing the performance of the microfinance sector in the Arab region

Despite a gloomy economic climate and a worldwide financial crisis, the microfinance sector in most Arab countries continued to develop both in terms of infrastructure (opening of new branches and staff hiring) and operations (growth of loan portfolios and development of new products). However, there are striking disparities in the maturity and performance of the microfinance market in the different countries included in our sample. Morocco, in particular, has faced a crisis due to a high deterioration in loan portfolio quality.

The 2009 Arab Microfinance Analysis and Benchmarking Report provides a comprehensive view of the performance of the microfinance sector in the Arab region, beginning with a 2006-2008 study of scale and outreach trends with a sample of 35 MFIs and a special focus on the microfinance sector crisis in Morocco, the only country to register a decrease in outreach in 2008. The report then highlights key regional policy improvements, followed by a study of the funding structure of the microfinance sector, the deep changes that have occurred, and key funding characteristics in terms of volume, lender type, and pricing. The last sections of the report analyze both portfolio quality by country and the profitability of the microfinance sector in the region, which now has the highest return on assets (ROA) in the world.

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