Microfinance in SAARC Countries: Overview Report

Increasing outreach of microfinance programs in South Asia
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This report reviews microfinance experiences of SAARC countries and draws lessons for the future. It is largely based on Microfinance Status reports from the eight SAARC countries commissioned by Institute of Microfinance, Bangladesh.

Microfinance started at different points of time in various SAARC countries and experienced different patterns of evolution. MFIs in SAARC countries have evolved over time in terms of coverage, product design, pricing and sources of finance.

India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka have more mature microfinance sectors, while those in Afghanistan, Bhutan and Maldives are relatively young. For the microfinance industry in SAARC countries to progress, the paper recommends:

  • Ensuring MFI sustainability;
  • Scaling up microfinance;
  • Catering better to poor people’s needs;
  • Extending beneficiary targets;
  • Developing new products and services;
  • Linking with the formal financial system;
  • Improving regulatory framework;
  • Increasing use of new technologies;
  • Creating favourable political and social environment for microfinance expansion.

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