Pricing Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance

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Pricing Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
 Pricing Transparency For the Stakeholders of Microfinance Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Pricing Transparency
For the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler
Pricing Transparency
For the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Pricing Transparency for
the Stakeholders of
Microfinance
by Jessica A. Haeussler
is licensed under a
Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial
3.0 United States License.
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank my supervisor, Prof. Dr. Stephan Seiter for his
continued support and assistance. I gratefully acknowledge the support of the ESB Business School at
Reutlingen University.
I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to MFTransparency for their invaluable collaboration and
support beyond my expectations. My sincere appreciation is extended to Chuck Waterfield for his continued
support, inspiration and professional advice that were invaluable throughout my research. I am most grateful
for his revision of my thesis.
I wish to thank and express my great appreciation to all those who shared with me their perspectives and
shaped this piece. I would like to particularly thank the Mexican Microfinance Institutions who provided me
with invaluable insights and first-hand experience throughout my field trips in Mexico. Special thanks go to
Cynthia Ochoa and Jared Salgado from ProMujer, and their inspiring micro-entrepreneurs in Tecámac. I also
wish to thank José Benito Cabello and Hilda Palomares from ADMIC for their time and efforts to make my
field trip in Monterrey truly memorable. I am very thankful to their micro-entrepreneurs who shared their life
stories with me. I wish to extend special thanks to Maricela Gamboa de Alba, Julio Luna and María Hernandez
from GrameenTrust Chiapas who shared their inspiring perspectives with me. I am sincerely grateful to Pilar
Quintanilla and her staff at AlSol Chiapas for providing me with the amazing experience of meeting their microentrepreneurs. I wish to express my deepest appreciation to the women of Zinacantán and thank them for their
warm hospitality. I am very thankful to Amado Sánchez Moreno and Jorge Pérez Ruiz from AMEXTRA for
their kind invitation to Palenque and the opportunity to visit their rural communities of micro-entrepreneurs. I
wish to extend special thanks to Isabel Cruz Hernández, Laure Delalande and Annabelle Sulmont from
AMUCSS for their highly appreciated support and continued dialogue. I would also like to acknowledge the
support of Mauricio Galán from Apoyo Económico Familiar, Jorge Alberto Cantú Morales from Créditos
Pronegocio, José Alberto Aguilar López from Emprendesarial, Antonio Fonte Pons from Fincrecemos, Diego
Filiberto Duque Robledo from Credi-Capital, Héctor Sepúlveda from Solfi, Sergio Arenas Díaz from Vivir
Soluciones Financieras, Pedro Manuel Guajardo Leal from Banco Amigo, Oscar Pfeiffer Schlittler from Te
Creemos, Adeodato Carbajal Orozco from Financiera Independencia and Germán Martínez Blanco from
Fundación Laureles. I wish to thank all the Mexican MFIs who supported me throughout my research, for their
dedication to share and exchange knowledge and experiences in microfinance.
My special thanks are extended to the visionary social entrepreneurs in Mexico, who shared with me their
invaluable insights and experiences. I wish to express my profound appreciation to Carolina Nieto and thank her
for her encouragement. I am incredibly grateful to Antonio Galvan Luna and Ricardo Castañon, as well as to
each of the Bécate participants who contributed to the amazing event in San Luis Potosí in November 2008,
and shared their perspectives and experiences with me. Their impressive support and dedication far exceeded my
expectations. My deep respect and appreciation is extended to Cecilio Solis Librado from RITA. I sincerely
extend my thanks to Cristina Zepeda from SIEMBRA for her inspiring words and support. I am also very
thankful to Laura Sarai Buenrostro Dominguez. I would like to sincerely thank Pablo Romo Cedano from
SeraPaz for his much appreciated advice.
I am greatly indebted to Dr. Gustavo del Àngel Mobarak for his time and support which I truely appreciated
throughout my research. I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to Carlos Labarthe of Compartamos for being
available for a personal interview. I greatly appreciate his time and support. I would also like to sincerely thank
Per Fischer of Commerzbank for his precious time, which I truly appreciate. I am most thankful to Dr. Gabriel
Schor of ProCredit Holding for his greatly valued support. My gratitude is also extended to Dr. Mark Schwiete
from KfW Entwicklungsbank. I very much appreciate the time and support of Niclaus Bergmann from the
Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation. I also wish to thank Irina Ignatieva from Concern
Worldwide. I am very grateful to Alvaro Ramírez for sharing his experience with microenterprise and
microfinance in Latin America with me. I greatly appreciate the financial support from the Oberle Foundation
who made my research trip to Mexico possible.
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I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my wonderful family and to my best friend Anna-Maria
Kemper. I am most grateful for their longstanding and unfailing support, their patience and their tremendous
encouragement. Special thanks also go to all my Latin American friends. Finally, love is what gives you the
courage to get up and keep going. I wish to express my heartfelt appreciation to Mauro for his support and
patience. { Amor, ¡eres mi todo! Gracias por tu apoyo y la felicidad que vamos a compartir toda la vida. ¡Te amo
mucho y estoy muy orgullosa de tí! }
The 21st Century is a century of tremendous challenges.
25.2 % of the world’s population,1.4 billion people, live on US$1.25 or less a day. More than half of our
population (56.6%), 3.1 billion live on US$2.50 or less. Hunger and hunger-related diseases cause 10 million
people to die every year, while rising food prices may plunge 100 million deeper into poverty. We are faced with
a growing complexity of diverse global crises. At the core of all these global crises lie two major root causes:
destitute poverty and widespread social inequalities. An unacceptably high proportion of our population lives a
life of deprivation and misery, stripped of human dignity. The rising gap between rich and poor is the largest
disgrace and challenge of our time.
While our efforts have centred around approaches to “poverty alleviation” throughout the past century, we have
utterly failed to make a lasting impact. Poverty is on the rise. The past century’s experience may induce us to
adopt an empowerment approach and focus our efforts on “wealth creation”. Wealth creation lies at the core of
empowerment and forms an integral part of microfinance. Microfinance can offer a viable solution to unleash
the potential of millions across the globe. It provides a living example that by far the most impact is achieved if
the poor are given the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty in a self-determined way. While not a
panacea, Microfinance addresses the root causes of the aforementioned global challenges in multiple ways. We
can all strengthen the global microfinance movement and enhance the effectiveness of microfinance through
continued innovations and strategic alliances.
The 21st Century is also a century of incredible opportunities.
At the turn of the millennium, the world adopted a global dream. Recognizing that poverty has multiple
dimensions, we began the new millennium with an unprecedented global commitment to achieving the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We all play an active role in shaping this world and every one of us is
capable of accelerating change. This millennium offers nearly unlimited possibilities and an unparalleled
opportunity to exchange ideas, listen and enrich our perspectives, to embrace diversity and re-envision the world.
I’d like to express my deepest admiration for everyone I had the opportunity to meet throughout my research, as
well as all social entrepreneurs around the globe for their inspiring efforts towards shaping a world of dignity
and justice for everyone.
Your actions inspire me, and your courage revives me,
Jessica Haeussler
Hay Estrellas, Sol y Agua Para Todos1
1
Quote: Fair Trade and Zapatista movement Figures: The World Bank (2008). The Developing World Is Poorer Than We Thought, But No Less Successful in the Fight against Poverty. Policy Research Working Paper
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 RECONOCIMIENTOS
Me gustaría tomar esta oportunidad para agradecer sinceramente a mi supervisor, el Prof. Dr. Stephan Seiter
por su apoyo contínuo y asistencia. Reconozco con agradecimiento el soporte de la Escuela de Negocios ESB en
la Universidad de Reutlingen.
Me gustaría extender mi más profunda gratitud a MFTransparency por su invaluable colaboración y soporte
más allá de mis expectativas. Mi sincera apreciación se extiende a Chuck Waterfield por su apoyo contínuo,
inspiración y consejo profesional, los que fueron invaluables a lo largo de mi investigación. Estoy más que
agradecida por su revisión de mí tésis.
Deseo agradecer y expresar mi gran apreciación a todos aquellos quienes compartieron conmigo sus
perspectivas y conformaron esta pieza. Me gustaría agradecer en particular a las Instituciones Méxicanas de
Microfinanzas que me proporcionaron sus visiones y la experiencia de primera mano a lo largo de mis viajes de
campo en México. Agradezco de manera especial a Cynthia Ochoa y Jared Salgado de ProMujer y sus
inspiradoras micro-emprendedoras en Tecámac. Me gustaría agradecer a José Benito Cabello e Hilda Palomares
de ADMIC por su tiempo y esfuerzos para hacer que mi viaje de campo en Monterrey fuera verdaderamente
memorable. Estoy muy agradecida con sus micro-emprendedores, quienes compartieron sus historias de vida
conmigo. Deseo extender agradecimientos especiales a Maricela Gamboa de Alba, Julio Luna y María
Hernandez de GrameenTrust Chiapas, quienes compartieron sus inspiradoras perspectivas conmigo. Estoy
sinceramente agradecida con Pilar Quintanilla y su equipo en AlSol Chiapas por proveerme con la maravillosa
experiencia de conocer a sus micro-empresarias. Deseo expresar mi mas profunda apreciación a las mujeres de
Zinacantán y agradecerles por su cálida hospitalidad. Estoy muy agradecida con Amado Sánchez Moreno y
Jorge Pérez Ruiz de AMEXTRA por su amable invitación a Palenque y la oportunidad de visitar sus
comunidades rurales de micro-emprendedores. Deseo extender gracias especiales a Isabel Cruz Hernández, Laure
Delalande y Annabelle Sulmont de AMUCSS por su enormemente apreciado soporte y diálogo contínuo. Me
gustaría reconocer la ayuda de Maurício Galán de Apoyo Económico Familiar, Jorge Alberto Cantú Morales de
Créditos Pronegocio, José Alberto Aguilar López de Emprendesarial, Antonio Fonte Pons de Fincrecemos, Diego
Filiberto Duque Robledo de Credi-Capital, Héctor Sepúlveda de Solfi, Sergio Arenas Díaz de Vivir Soluciones
Financieras, Pedro Manuel Guajardo Leal de Banco Amigo, Oscar Pfeiffer Schlittler de Te Creemos, Adeodato
Carbajal Orozco de Financiera Independencia y Germán Martínez Blanco de la Fundación Laureles. Deseo
agradecer a todas las IMFs Mexicanas que me ayudaron a lo largo de mi investigación, por su dedicación a
compartir e intercambiar conocimiento y experiencias en microfinanzas.
Mis agradecimientos especiales se extienden a los visionarios emprendedores sociales en México, quienes
compartieron conmigo su invaluable percepción y experiencias. Deseo expresar mi profunda apreciación a
Caronlina Nieto y agradecerle por su aliento. Estoy increiblemente agradecida con Antonio Galvan Luna y
Ricardo Castañon, así como con cada uno de los participantes de Bécate que contribuyeron al asombroso evento
en San Luis Potosí en Noviembre de 2008, y compartieron sus perspectivas y experiencias conmigo. Su
impresionante ayuda y dedicación excedieron por mucho mis expectativas. Mi más profundo respeto y apreciación
se extiende a Cecilio Solis Librado de RITA. Sinceramente extiendo mi agradecimiento a Cristina Zepeda de
SIEMBRA por sus palabras inspiradoras y ayuda. Estoy también muy agradecida con Laura Sarai Buenrostro
Dominguez. Me gustaría agradecer a Pablo Romo Cedano de SeraPaz por su muy apreciado consejo.
Estoy sinceramente agradecida con el Dr. Gustavo del Ángel Mobarak por su tiempo y ayuda, los cuales
verdaderamente aprecié a lo largo de mi investigación. Me gustaría extender mi más sincera gratitud a Carlos
Labarthe de Compartamos por estar disponible para una entrevista personal. Aprecio grandemente su tiempo y
apoyo. Me gustaría también agradecer a Per Fischer de Commerzbank por su preciado tiempo, que
verdaderamente aprecié. Estoy muy agradecida con el Dr. Gabriel Schor de ProCredit Holding por su
grandemente valioso apoyo. Mi gratitud también se extiende al Dr. Mark Schwiete de KfW Entwicklungsbank.
Aprecio mucho el tiempo y apoyo de Niclaus Bergmann de la Savings Banks Foundation for International
Cooperation. También deseo agradecer a Irina Ignatieva de Concern Worldwide. Estoy muy agradecida con
Álvaro Ramírez por compartir su experiencia microempresarial y microfinanciera en Latinoamérica conmigo.
Aprecio grandemente el apoyo financiero de la Fundación Oberle que hizo que mi viaje de investigación a México
fuera posible.
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Me gustaría extender mis más sinceros agradecimientos a mi maravillosa familia y a mi mejor amiga AnnaMaria Kemper. Estoy muy agradecida por su apoyo duradero e indefectible, su paciencia y su tremendo aliento.
Mis agradecimientos especiales también van a todos mis amigos y amigas latinoamericanos que me apoyaron.
Finalmente, el amor es lo que nos da el valor de levantarnos y seguir adelante. Deseo expresar mi más sincera
apreciación a Mauro por su apoyo y paciencia. {Amor, ¡Eres mi todo! Gracias por tu apoyo y la felicidad que
vamos a compartir toda la vida. ¡Te amo mucho y estoy muy orgullosa de tí!}
El Siglo XXI es un siglo de tremendos retos.
El 25.2 % de la población del mundo, 1.4 billones de personas, viven con US$1.25 o menos al día. Más de la
mitad de nuestra población (56.6%), 3.1 billones, viven con US$2.50 o menos. El hambre y las enfermedades
relacionadas con ella son causa de 10 millones de muertes cada año, mientras que las alzas en los precios podrían
hundir aún más a 100 millones de personas en la pobreza. Encaramos la creciente complejidad de las diversas
crísis globales. En el centro de todas estas crísis globales se encuentran dos causas mayores: la pobreza indigente
y la generalización de las inequidades sociales. Una inaceptablemente alta proporción de nuestra población vive
una vida de deprivación y miseria, despojados de dignidad humana. La creciente brecha entre ricos y pobres es la
mayor desgracia y reto de nuestro tiempo.
Mientras nuestros esfuerzos se han centrado alrededor de acercamientos a "aliviar la pobreza" a través del siglo
pasado, hemos fallado absolutamente en lograr un impacto duradero. La pobreza sigue aumentando. La
experiencia del siglo pasado puede inducirnos a adoptar la aproximación por el empoderamiento y enfocar
nuestros esfuerzos en la "creación de riqueza". La creación de riqueza se encuentra en el centro del
empoderamiento y forma una parte integral de las microfinanzas. Las microfinanzas pueden ofrecer una solución
viable para desatar el potencial de millones alrededor del mundo. Aunque no son una panacea, las microfinanzas
se encargan de las causas de raíz de los retos globales mencionados en múltiples formas. Podemos todos reforzar
el movimiento de microfinanzas y potenciar la efectividad de las microfinanzas a través de la innovación
contínua y las alianzas estratégicas.
El Siglo XXI también es un siglo de increíbles oportunidades.
A la vuelta del milenio, el mundo adoptó un sueño global. Reconociendo que la pobreza tiene múltiples
dimensiones, comenzamos el nuevo milenio con un compromiso global sin precedentes para lograr los Objetivos de
Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM). Todos jugamos un rol activo en darle forma al mundo y cada uno de nosotros es
capaz de acelerar el cambio. Este milenio ofrece posibilidades ilimitadas y una oportunidad sin paralelo para el
intercambio de ideas, escuchar y enriquecer nuestras perspectivas, para abrazar la diversidad y re-envisionar el
mundo.
Me gustaría expresar mi más profunda admiración para cada uno y cada una a quienes he tenido la oportunidad
de conocer a lo largo de mi investigación, así también como todos los emprendedores sociales alrededor del mundo
por sus esfuerzos inspiradores hacia darle forma a un mundo de dignidad y justicia para todos.
Sus acciones me inspiran y su valor me devuelve la vida,
Jessica Haeussler
Hay Estrellas, Sol y Agua Para Todos1
1
Quote: Fair Trade and Zapatista movement Figures: The World Bank (2008). The Developing World Is Poorer Than We Thought, But No Less Successful in the Fight against Poverty. Policy Research Working Paper
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 ABSTRACT
Microfinance stands at a crossroad. For a decade, the microfinance industry has strengthened
efforts to provide a business case for microfinance and has achieved a considerable record of
transparency on financial performance to attract investors and access the global capital markets.
Transparent pricing, on the other hand, has not been widely practiced. The microfinance industry
today is an industry where non-transparent pricing is common. The result is a major market
imperfection which institutions can use to their advantage so as to make exceptionally high profits
or to survive in the market despite inefficiencies. Non-transparency in pricing may adversely affect
the decision making of all industry stakeholders, potentially leading to adverse selection, as the
allocation of resources is distorted.
Recently, the commercialization of microfinance and its implications for double-bottom line
objectives have been subject to widespread debate. This thesis argues that irrespective of business
model details – whether a more or less commercial approach to microfinance is taken –
transparency is indispensable for healthy markets. Transparency in pricing promotes efficiency,
healthy competition, innovation and affordable prices for millions of clients, and is thus critical to
well-functioning markets. A lack of transparency creates a serious market imperfection affecting
the microfinance industry globally.
To view the theoretical framework in light of the realities on the ground, I visited microfinance
institutions and communities of micro-entrepreneurs in several Mexican states and interviewed a
variety of industry stakeholders, including practitioners, clients, donors, investors, consultants and
social entrepreneurs. This thesis provides an analysis of the ramifications of non-transparent
pricing, and proposes and evaluates alternative solutions to enhance transparency for the
stakeholders of microfinance. It concludes that transparency is indispensable for the long-term
viability of microfinance sectors worldwide.
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 SUMARIO
La microfinanciación se encuentra en una encrucijada. En la pasada década, la industria de la
microfinanciación ha intensificado esfuerzos para convertirse en un caso de negocio y ha logrado
alcanzar una transparencia record en cuanto a resultados financieros, facilitando así la captación de
inversiones y el acceso a los mercados de capital globales. Por otro lado, la transparencia de
precios no es una práctica común. Hoy en día, la industria de la microfinanciación es una industria
donde la poca transparencia de precios es habitual. El resultado es una notable imperfección del
mercado que las instituciones pueden aprovechar para obtener ganancias excepcionalmente altas o
para sobrevivir a pesar de ineficiencias. La no transparencia de precios puede afectar
negativamente en la toma de decisiones de las partes involucradas en la industria, distorsionando
la asignación de recursos e influyendo así en la selección adversa.
Recientemente, la comercialización de la microfinanciación y sus implicaciones, dado el doble
objetivo que persigue, han sido materia de extensos debates. Esta tesis argumenta que
independientemente de los detalles en los modelos de negocio – mayor o menor enfoque
comercial – la transparencia es indispensable para un mercado viable. La transparencia de precios
promueve eficiencia, sana competencia, innovación y precios accesibles para millones de clientes, y
por tanto es crítica para el buen funcionamiento de los mercados. La falta de transparencia crea
serias imperfecciones de mercado que afectan a la industria global de microfinanciación.
Con el objetivo de contrastar el marco teórico con la realidad visité diversas instituciones
microfinancieras y comunidades de micro-empresarios en varios estados mexicanos y entrevisté a
un gran número de las partes involucradas dentro de la industria, incluyendo profesionales de la
misma, clientes, donantes, inversionistas, consultores y emprendedores sociales. El presente
trabajo provee un análisis de las distintas ramificaciones de la falta de transparencia de precios, y
propone y evalúa soluciones alternativas para aumentar la transparencia. La tesis concluye que la
transparencia es indispensable para la viabilidad a largo plazo de la microfinanciación a nivel
mundial.
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 OVERVIEW OF PRIMARY RESEARCH
Primary Research Person Date of Interview Location ADMIC, General Manager Conversation held on 15.06.2008 Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico Hilda Palomares ADMIC Field trip & Interview held on 15.06.2008 Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico Pilar Quintanilla AlSol, Director of Social Services Field trip & Interview held on.11.11.2008 San Cristóbal de las Casa, Chiapas, Mexico Amado Sánchez Moreno AMEXTRA, Director General Interview via email on 28.11.2008 Estado de México, Mexico Jorge Alberto Pérez Ruiz AMEXTRA, Coordinator of the Savings and Credit Program Field trip & Interview held on 6.11.2008 Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico Annabelle Sulmont AMUCSS, Area of Applied Research Interview held on 31.10.2008 Mexico City, DF, Mexico Dr. Gustavo del Ángel Mobarak CIDE, Professor and Researcher. Independent Consultant on the Board of ProDesarrollo Interview held on 4.11.2008 Mexico City, DF, Mexico Per Fischer Commerzbank, Head of Financial Institutions & Senior Vice President Interview held on 10.09.2009 Frankfurt am Main, Germany Carlos Labarthe Compartamos, Co‐CEO Interview held via telephone on 30.03.2009 Mexico City, DF, Mexico Irina Ignatieva Concern Worldwide, Microfinance Adviser Interview via email on 10.03.2009 Dublin, Ireland Antonio Galvan Luna, Ricardo Castañon, + 30 participants Galika, Co‐Founders and Co‐CEOs Event held on 1.11.2008 San Luís Potosí, Mexico Maricela Gamboa de Alba Grameen Trust, Director of Institutional Relations Interview held on 12.11.2008 San Cristóbal de las Casa, Chiapas, Mexico Julio Luna Grameen Trust, Project Coordinator, The Gender and Microfinance Research Project in Chiapas, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Interview held on 12.11.2008 San Cristóbal de las Casa, Chiapas, Mexico María Hernandez Grameen Trust, Branch Manager Field trip & Interview held on 12.11.2008 Zinacantán, Chiapas, Mexico Alvaro Ramírez Former Chief of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Division, Sustainable Development Department, of the Inter‐American Development Bank (IDB) Interview held via telephone on 9.02.2009 Washington DC, USA Dr. Mark Schwiete KfW Entwicklungsbank, Principal Financial Sector Expert ‐ L III a Europe Interview held on 5.02.2009 Frankfurt am Main, Germany Dr. Gabriel Schor ProCredit Holding Interview held on 11.03.2009 Frankfurt am Main, Germany Cynthia Ochoa ProMujer Interview held on 19.06.2008 Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexico Jared Elisa Salgado González ProMujer, Coordinator von Research and Development Field trip & Conversations held on 19.06.2008 Tecámac, Estado de México, Mexico Member MFIs of ProDesarrollo Apoyo Económico Familiar, Créditos Pronegocio, Emprendesarial, Grupo Consultor para la Microempresa, Credi‐Capital, Solfi, Vivir Soluciones Financieras, Banco Amigo, Te Creemos, Financiera Independencia, Fundación Laureles Interviews/Questionaires February‐May 2009 All over Mexico Cecilio Solis Librado RITA, President Interview held on 4.11.2008 Mexico City, DF, Mexico Pablo Romo Cedano SeraPaz, Director Conversation held on 4.11.2008 Mexico City, DF; Mexico Cristina Zepeda SIEMBRA, CEO Interview held on 30.10.2008 Mexico City, DF, Mexico Laura Sarai Buenrostro Dominguez SIEMBRA, Assistant Conversation held on 30.10.2008 Mexico City, DF, Mexico Niclaus Bergmann Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation, Deputy Director Interview via telephone on 4.02.2009 Bonn, Germany Carolina Nieto Toda Mujer Interview held on 30.10.2008 Mexico City, DF, Mexico José Benito Cabello Organization 8
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Content
1. A Brief Overview of Recent Trends ............................................................................ 16 1.1 Clash of Ethics in Microfinance.............................................................................. 16 1.2 The Commercialization of Microfinance and the Double-Bottom Line .......................... 17 1.2.1 Transformation of MFIs ............................................................................... 18 1.2.2 From the Village to the Capital Markets ......................................................... 19 1.2.3 The IPO that Sparked the Global Debate on Profitability ................................... 22 2. Transparency for Sustainable Microfinance ................................................................. 30 3. Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis ..................................................................... 31 4. Pricing in Microfinance ............................................................................................. 33 4.1 Types of Interest Rates ....................................................................................... 33 4.2 Loan Pricing and Institutional Sustainability ........................................................... 34 4.3 The Relation Between Operating Cost, Loan Size and Interest Rates .......................... 39 4.4 Factors Impacting on the True Cost of a Loan ........................................................ 46 4.5 Non-Transparent Pricing: Explanations and Consequences ....................................... 51 5. Microfinance at a Turning Point ................................................................................. 53 6. The Mexican Microfinance Sector in the Latin American Context .................................... 54 6.1 The Mexican Microfinance Sector .......................................................................... 54 6.2 Mexican Interest Rates Above Global Norms .......................................................... 57 6.3 Profitability, Efficiency, Interest Rates – An Analysis................................................ 60 6.4 Transparency, Competition and Interest Rates ....................................................... 82 6.5 Transparency Regulation and Consumer Protection in Mexico ................................... 88 7. Alternative Approaches to Transparency .................................................................... 97 7.1 Government Level .............................................................................................. 97 7.1.1 The Government’s Role in Microfinance ......................................................... 97 7.1.2 The Risk of Counterproductive Government Intervention .................................. 98 7.1.3 Conclusion: Government Intervention ......................................................... 102 7.2 Industry level .................................................................................................. 102 7.2.1 Branding Microfinance ............................................................................... 103 7.2.2 MFTransparency ....................................................................................... 105 7.3 Client Level ..................................................................................................... 110 8. Calculation Methods to Determine the True Cost of a Loan ......................................... 111 9. Conclusion........................................................................................................... 118 9
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 LIST OF TABLES
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Shareholder Structure of Compartamos ....................................................... 25 Cost and Income of Loans of Different Sizes ................................................. 34 Age of MFIs in Mexico and the Rest of Latin America ...................................... 55 Market Coverage by MFI Outreach in Latin America (%) ................................. 56 Expenses and Efficiency according to Lending Methodology in Mexico ............... 64 Expenses and Efficiency in the Latin American Subregions .............................. 64 Expenses and Efficiency in the three Zones of Mexico..................................... 66 Expenses and Efficiency according to Institutional Size ................................... 66 Profitability and Leverage........................................................................... 70 Debt-to-Equity Ratio of 7 Most Profitable MFIs in Mexico ................................ 71 Profitability, Efficiency and Leverage – LAC Subregions .................................. 72 Market Coverage of Regulated MFIs – LAC Subregions ................................... 74 Profitability Ranking – MFIs in 6 LAC countries .............................................. 77 Profitability, Efficiency & Leverage According to Institutional Age ..................... 78 Profitability, Efficiency & Leverage According to Institutional Size .................... 78 Profitability, Efficiency & Leverage According to Lending Methodology .............. 79 Profitability, Efficiency & Leverage According to Region .................................. 79 Profitability, Efficiency & Leverage According – Principal Statistics for Mexico..... 80 Increase in Number of Branches 2007-2008 ................................................. 83 Concentration and Profitability .................................................................... 84 Classical Declining Balance ....................................................................... 112 Declining Balance with Equal Installments .................................................. 112 Effective Annual Rate (EIR) for different Compounding Periods ...................... 116 Three Cases to Compare the Formulas ....................................................... 117 10
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 LIST OF FIGURES
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1.2:
1.3:
1.4:
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4.2:
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4.4:
4.5:
4.6:
4.7:
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4.9:
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4.11:
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4.15:
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6.15:
6.16:
6.17:
7.1:
7.2:
Financial Services for the Poor, 3000 Years at a Glance............................................... 17 Forecast of Microfinance Investment ........................................................................ 20 Financing Gap....................................................................................................... 21 Compartamos Average Outstanding Loan Balance (1996-2006) ................................... 23 Compartamos Equity Composition ........................................................................... 24 Compartamos IPO Result........................................................................................ 26 Breakeven Points: Loan Size and Interest Rates (1) ................................................... 39 Breakeven Points: Loan Size and Interest Rates (2) ................................................... 40 Correlation of Interest Rate and Loan Size (1) ........................................................... 40 Correlation of Interest Rate and Loan Size (2) ........................................................... 41 Correlation of Cost and Loan Size ............................................................................ 42 Correlation between the Operating Expense Ratio and Loan Size - MFIs Worldwide ......... 42 Correlation between the Operational Expense Ratio and Loan Size – MFIs Latin America .. 43 Correlation between the Operational Expense Ratio and Loan Size – MFIs Peru .............. 43 Correlation between Real Portfolio Yield and Loan Size – MFIs Worldwide ...................... 44 Correlation between Real Portfolio Yield and Loan Size – MFIs Latin America .................. 45 Correlation between Real Portfolio Yield and Loan Size – MFIs Peru .............................. 45 The Nominal Interest Rate is Not a Useful Indicator .................................................... 46 APR and Calculation Method – Declining Balance ........................................................ 47 APR and Calculation Method – Flat ........................................................................... 48 APR and Up-front Fee ............................................................................................ 49 APR and Compulsory Savings .................................................................................. 49 APR and Compulsory Savings with Interest Paid on Saving .......................................... 50 Total Financial Cost to the Client ............................................................................. 51 Large Profit made in Non-Transparent Markets .......................................................... 52 Yields and Changes in Yields Over Time .................................................................... 58 Loan Size and Real Portfolio Yield – Philippines .......................................................... 59 Loan Size and Real Portfolio Yield – Mexico ............................................................... 59 Interest Rates in Different Countries ........................................................................ 60 Average Loan Balance Per Borrower (MXN) ............................................................... 61 Interest Rates and Loan Size: Sustainable MFIs worldwide .......................................... 62 Efficiency According to Institutional Size and Region................................................... 65 Efficiency: Expenses over Assets ............................................................................. 67 Change on Efficiency: Operating Expenses over Gross Loan Portfolio & Cost per Borrower 68 Change on Debt-to-Equity Ratio .............................................................................. 69 Voluntary Deposits to Gross Loan Portfolio – LAC Subregions ....................................... 73 Change on Adjusted ROA – LAC Subregions .............................................................. 75 Adjusted ROA - MFIs in Mexico ................................................................................ 75 ROA Dispersion – LAC Subregions............................................................................ 76 Change on Portfolio at Risk > 30 Days – LAC Subregions ............................................ 81 Portfolio at Risk According to Size and Region – Mexico .............................................. 81 Market Coverage – MFI branches in Mexico ............................................................... 83 The Effect of an Interest Ceiling ............................................................................ 100 Interest Ceiling and Access to Finance .................................................................... 101 11
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 LIST OF ACRONYMS
AFIRMA
Acceso a las Finanzas Rurales para la Microempresa en México
APR
Annual Percentage Rate
AUM
Assets Under Management
BoP
Base of the Pyramid
CAC
Central America and the Caribbean
CAT
Costo Anual Total
CEO
Chief Executive Officer
CFI
Center for Financial Inclusion
CGAP
Consultative Group to Assist the Poor
CIDE
Centro de Investigaciones y Docencia Economicas
CNBV
Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores
CONDUSEF
Comisión Nacional para la Protección y Defensa de los
Usuarios de Servicios Financieros
CSR
Corporate Social Responsibility
EIR
Effective Interest Rate
IDB
Inter-American Development Bank
IFC
International Finance Corporation
IFI
International Financial Institution
IMCP
Instituto Mexicano de Contadores Públicos
IMEF
Instituto Mexicano de Ejecutivos de Finanzas
IPO
Initial Public Offering
KfW
Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau
LAC
Latin America and the Caribbean
MEX
Mexico
MFI
Microfinance Institution
MFT
MicrofinanceTransparency
MIV
Microfinance Investment Vehicles
MIX
Microfinance Information eXchange
NGO
Non-Governmental Organization
RFI
Regulated Financial institution
ROA
Return on Assets
ROE
Return on Equity
SA
South America
SE
Social Enterprise
SME
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
SOFOL
Sociedad Financiera de Objeto Limitado
SOFOM
Sociedad Financiera De Objeto Múltiple
SRI
Socially Responsible Investment
12
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 INTRODUCTION
At the World Economic Forum in Davos 2008, Bill Gates called for a new system, Creative Capitalism,
emphasizing: “When you try to change the world – can you also find ways to put the power of market
forces behind the effort to help the poor?”3 Microfinance4 has done so for decades. The success factor
underlying Social Enterprise5 is the merger of entrepreneurial drive with the commitment to achieve a
social mission6. Microfinance has been recognized for combining public sector interest with private sector
principles in a unique way. Sustainable microfinance has provided a business case for an untapped
market commercial banks traditionally refused to serve7, and offers a viable economic solution where
philanthropic approaches remained pilot projects and were limited in reaching scale.8
At the core of the original concept of microfinance lies the specific purpose of creating self-employment in
regions that lack opportunities in the formal sector. Responsible microfinance can effectively break the
cycle of poverty, as it allows for asset creation9. For the past few decades, the world has been witnessing
how small loans can transform lives, as people in developing countries are given the opportunity to start
their own business. This, coupled with access to a safe place to save, provides them with the means to
stabilize their streams of income, reduce their vulnerability and – in the most successful cases – will
eventually allow them to escape poverty. Economic freedom achieved by individual microfinance clients
can benefit families, communities and society-at-large.10 An important feature of microfinance is that it
represents a bottom-up approach to development. The micro-entrepreneurs themselves manage their
cash flows and decide on the investments they personally regard as a priority. Financial inclusion through
microfinance thus empowers the participants to make their own choices and to move out of poverty in a
sustainable and self-determined way. At the core of microfinance lies its ability to create social impact on
a large scale and in a sustainable way, without permanently depending on donor funds.11 As a bottom-up
approach, microfinance ensures that more of the money spent actually reaches the local level than has
been the case with traditional top-down development approaches. Finally, it is worth appreciating that
the international exchange of principles and best practices regarding microfinance represents a leading
example of South-South-cooperation. Microfinance has gained worldwide recognition as an effective tool
to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (see appendix 2). To mention just two major highlights,
the United Nations designated the year 2005 as the International Year of Microcredit12, and Muhammad
Yunus and the Grameen Bank were awarded the Peace Nobel Prize in 2006. There is also widespread
3
Gates, 2008
Microfinance is the provision of working capital to micro- and small businesses, as well as appropriate savings and
insurance products, and other appropriate financial services to low-income households. Lately, the precise definition
has become blurred and has sometimes been simplified to mean the provision of financial services to the poor. This,
however, does not take into account the purpose or quality of the product, or the transparency in its provision. Global
microfinance rankings (among them the MIX’s Global 100 Rankings) have been criticized for not differentiating
sufficiently between enterprise lending and irresponsible consumer lending to poor households (i.e. misleading terms,
exorbitant interest rates, lacking due diligence and analysis of repayment capacity). Efforts have been undertaken
recently to incorporate social responsibility into such rankings so as to reflect the true meaning of microfinance.
(Zeitinger, 2008)
5
Compare: Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus
(2008); The Peace Nobel Prize Laureate has been promoting a new type of capitalism for decades.
6
The double-bottom line industry comprises institutions that pursue a development mission and operate financially
sustainably. These institutions thus have two balanced (i.e. equally important) bottom lines: financial and social
returns (i.e. financial sustainability and social impact).
7
Most MFI clients lack tangible collateral. Microfinance, based on social collateral, provides a viable solution to address
the issue of asymmetric information and its consequences, i.e. moral risk and adverse selection.
8
Magner, 2007, p. 8-9
9
At the core of wealth creation lies the trade-off between present and future welfare. Asset creation also allows for
smoothing out fluctuations in income and needs, thus reducing vulnerability.
10
Magner, 2007, p. 8-9
11
Littlefield et. al., 2003, p. 1-2
12
United Nations General Assembly (1999). Resolution Adopted By The General Assembly: 53/197. International Year
of Microcredit, 2005.
4
13
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 consensus that microfinance is a vital component in establishing sound financial market structures13 and
can, in some cases, be a first step in launching small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).
The majority of microfinance institutions (MFIs) were founded as non-profit NGOs with the mission to
provide financial services to the “unbanked”, those previously excluded from the formal financial sector.
The past decade has seen several successful transformations of MFIs into regulated financial institutions
(RFIs) pursuing a more commercial approach as well as downscaling approaches from traditional banks,
and the microfinance industry has gained momentum as a business case has been made for microfinance
and the industry has expanded its scope and reach. Despite widely recognized progress and impressive
achievements, the big challenge for microfinance remains that of scalability. To serve the immense
worldwide demand for microfinancial services, the microfinance infrastructure needs to be considerably
expanded, while at the same time increased access to appropriate sources of funds is critical to scale up
outreach.14
The microfinance industry has reached a turning point. Just one year after Muhammad Yunus and
Grameen Bank were awarded the Peace Nobel Prize in 2006, the negative press around microcredit
started. Business Week, among others, reported on commercially-driven providers of microcredit making
considerable profits off the poorest segments of the population, as these get caught up in an ominous
debt trap.15 Meanwhile, concerns have been raised that the public discussion on irresponsible lending and
profitability could effect global opinion and threaten the good reputation and credibility of microfinance.
But even apart from particular press highlights, industry stakeholders worldwide are increasingly
discussing the risk of mission drift16 and a shift away from responsible lending. In the 2008 spring issue
of the MicroBanking Bulletin, the important question was raised:
“Are new business models with divergent double bottom line objectives evolving in the sector?”
Pointing out the difference between Social Enterprise characterized by two balanced objectives and
Corporate Social Responsibility primarily concerned with the profit goal, it continued:
“The sector, once characterized almost uniformly by a Social Enterprise (SE) MFI business model is
now seeing the emergence of the ‘Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’ model, and laissez-faire ‘base
of the pyramid’ businesses.”17
Microfinance is a fast changing industry and many MFIs worldwide are facing considerable challenges at a
time of rapid change. A gradual change in focus towards commercial objectives of the sector and an
evolution from Social Enterprise to Base of the Pyramid (BoP)18 is one concern of microfinance
stakeholders. As pointed out in the MicroBanking Bulletin, this may be a natural development not
unprecedented in the history of Social Enterprise. This is a business model issue. A lack of transparency
that has characterized the industry, on the other hand, is a different type of an issue and constitutes a
serious market imperfection. It considerably contributes to the heated discussion and confusion over the
13
Also compare interview with Mark Schwiete of KfW Entwicklungsbank: “We promote microfinance in terms of
financial system assistance. What is important for us is to promote inclusive financial systems, that means to facilitate
something we take for granted for all people in the country – that 98% of the population have a bank account, and not
just 2%).” (Translated from German, appendix 23)
14
CSFI/New York CSFI, 2008, Microfinance Banana Skins 2008, p. 1-2; also compare interview with Mark Schwiete of
KfW Entwicklungsbank, appendix 23
15
Epstein and Smith, 2007, The Ugly Side of Microlending, BusinessWeek (13.12.2007); Epstein Smith, 2007, WalMart Banks on the ‘Unbanked’, BusinessWeek (13.12.2007)
16
Mission drift describes the phenomenon that MFIs depart from their original mission (often to responsibly serve lowincome households and alleviate poverty) and core values in favor of generating profits for investors, by serving less
risky and higher income clients in locations that are more easily accessible, or by keeping interest rates at high levels.
The result is that the profit motive ranks above social impact. (Frank, 2008, p.5) Whether mission drift occurs also
depends on the original mission of an institution, of course. (also compare interview with Gabriel Schor of ProCredit
Holding (appendix 22) and interview with Mark Schwiete of KfW Entwicklungsbank (appendix 23)).
17
De Sousa Shield, 2008, MicroBanking Bulletin Issue 16, Spring 2008, p. 6-10.
18
Prahalad, 2006; Collier, 2007
14
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 recent developments and forecasts of the future of microfinance. This latter issue will therefore be
examined in more depth throughout this paper.
The existing evidence from microeconomic studies on the impact of microfinance on poverty alleviation
and economic development is not univocal, and given that my focus of research is non-transparency in
microfinance, publicly available information is sometimes scarce or ambivalent. For that reason, I went
on a field trip to Mexico to gather additional information from MFIs on the ground and the communities of
micro-entrepreneurs themselves. For the purpose of this research, I travelled to the states of Chiapas,
Hidalgo, Estado de México, San Luis Potosí, Nuevo León as well as the Distrito Federal. I held various
interviews and conversations, collected and analyzed repayment schedules of different institutions, and
also researched on topic areas beyond the scope of this thesis, to take the cultural, social, economical,
political and historical context into account. To get a more profound understanding of the overall situation
in Mexico, the circumstances poor19 families face in remote rural communities and urban areas, as well as
different perspectives on the transparency issue, I held conversations and interviews with social
entrepreneurs, many of them part of the Ashoka network, as well as local microfinance experts.
Interviews, meetings and conversations with other stakeholders of microfinance, such as development
banks, international commercial banks, equity investors and international microfinance experts completed
the overall picture. I wrote this thesis in collaboration with MFTransparency who provided me with
invaluable insights into the area of research and professional advice. My aim throughout this research
was to consider the perspectives of a great variety of stakeholders and my aspiration is that the final
piece reflects this.
My main thesis is that non-transparency creates a serious market imperfection. For financial markets to
develop sustainably and prosper, transparency is indispensable. Transparency promotes competition,
efficiency and innovation, and is critical to well-functioning markets. A lack of transparency undermines
healthy market developments, competition for clients and fair pricing, potentially leading to exceptionally
high profits of some institutions and inefficient operations of others. The consequence is adverse
selection, as industry stakeholders are unable to make informed decisions and the efficient allocation of
resources is distorted. This thesis statement will be analyzed throughout the paper. In order to provide a
contextual framework and general understanding of the current matters of debate in the industry, a brief
overview shall be given of the latest developments with respect to commercialization and an
unprecedented clash of ethics in microfinance recently. Against this background, a more comprehensive
analysis of why transparency is critical for healthy markets will be provided. Lessons from the global
financial crisis suggest strong evidence for the critical importance of transparency. While at the core of
microfinance have been principles that could serve as a leading example for Wall Street, the
mainstreaming of microfinance at a rapid pace makes the lessons learnt from the collapse of the formal
financial system ever more relevant. Despite an exemplary methodology and performance of the majority
of MFIs worldwide, efforts to enhance pricing transparency have been astonishingly weak. A deeper
analysis of the Mexican market is aimed at providing practical evidence that non-transparency creates a
significant market imperfection, supporting the thesis statement. Finally, this paper will discuss
alternatives of enhancing transparency and give recommendations for further research and evaluation in
this context.
19
Both the word “poor” and “low-income” will be used in this thesis to refer to the same segment of people. While
“low-income” is often considered a more specific, correct and respectful wording, the word “poor” will be used at some
occasion to emphasize that it is referred to people below the poverty line (although “low-income” generally describes
the same segment).
15
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 MAIN PART
1. A Brief Overview of Recent Trends
1.1 Clash of Ethics in Microfinance
“More than a new phenomenon, the IPO represents the culmination of an ongoing strategy within microfinance to enlist the private sector in microfinance: the commercial model of microfinance. The success of the IPO has brought an unprecedented level of excitement about microfinance into the investment banking world. It has sent the message that service to the poor and profits can go hand in hand, a message that will undoubtedly attract more private sector players to microfinance and possibly to other market­led approaches to poverty.” – ACCION International 20 “I am shocked by the news about the Compartamos IPO. Microcredit should be about helping the poor to get out of poverty by protecting them from the moneylenders, not creating new ones. A true microcredit organization must keep its interest rate as close to the cost­of­funds as possible. Compartamos’ business model, and the message it is projecting in the global capital markets, is not consistent with microcredit.” – Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Founder and Managing Director Grameen Bank, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2006 21 In 2007, the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of the Mexican MFI Compartamos sparked a worldwide debate
on the distribution of profits in microfinance as a double-bottom line business and triggered an
unprecedented clash of ethics among the stakeholders of the global microfinance industry. At the core of
the debate have been interest rates of above 80 percent generating an annual return on equity (ROE) of
over 50 percent, effectively resulting in a return-on-investment of 300:1 in a six year period.22
Some celebrated the success of the IPO as a historic milestone for microfinance, demonstrating the
profitability of the industry and the integration of microfinance into the formal financial systems, while
others were outraged at the enormous profits made off of micro-lending to poor rural women. The key
issues that arose from the debate have confronted the industry with some fundamental questions: Are
certain levels of profitability unacceptable in view of the industry’s double-bottom line aspirations? What
responsibility does a double-bottom line sector have towards its clients? And is it defensible to keep loan
prices exceptionally high despite reasonable profitability achieved?23
The mainstreaming of microfinance and its integration into the global capital markets, however, did not
begin with the IPO. The past years have seen significant industry developments at a rapid pace. While
the worldwide recognition of microfinance and increased commercialization provide exciting new
opportunities for scaling up outreach, the risk of MFIs shifting away from their original mission of financial
inclusion and poverty reduction due to increased commercial pressure is perceived around the globe.24
20
21
22
23
24
ACCION International, The Compartamos Initial Public Offering, InSight, No. 23, June 2007, p. 1
Remarks by Muhammad Yunus, Microcredit Summit E-news, Volume 5, Issue 1, July 2007.
Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history
De Sousa Shield, 2008, MicroBanking Bulletin Issue 16, Spring 2008, p. 6.
CSFI/New York CSFI, Microfinance Banana Skins 2008, p. 24-25
16
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 According to Elizabeth Littlefield, CEO of CGAP25, “there is some risk that the mainstreaming of
microfinance will threaten the very essence of microfinance’s core mission: to help poor people lead
better lives”.26
1.2 The Commercialization of Microfinance and the Double-Bottom Line
"You [profit­focused microfinance practitioners] are on the moneylender's side. Because your aim is the moneylender's aim. Your thinking is the moneylender's thinking. So I don't want to associate with you, I want to battle with you and to fight you." – Muhammad Yunus, Founder and Director of Grameen Bank, Peace Nobel Prize Laureate 2006 27 It is generally important to distinguish between the term “commercial” referring to a social enterprise
with commercial principles (efficiency, sustainability, profitability to reach scale, etc.) which has always
been at the core of microfinance, and “commercial” meaning profit-oriented and moving away from the
social cause.
While much of commercialization and the adoption of commercial principles have been directly linked to
the pursuit of the social mission, some of the recent developments have been blurring the lines between
social business and pure profit-oriented business.
Figure 1.1: Financial Services for the Poor, 3000 Years at a Glance
Financial Services for the Poor
3000 years at a glance Social Project Social Business Profit‐Maximizing Business NGO “Projects” 1970’s – 1980’s Credit‐and‐training Very low interest Double‐Bottom Line MFIs 1990‘s – 2000‘s Sustainable Credit‐led Moderate interest Double‐bottom line Single‐Bottom Line The future? Maximize interest Maximize profit Adopted from: Chuck Waterfield, 2008, Why We Need Transparency, Lancaster (PA): MFT, p. 6
25
The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, CGAP, is „an independent policy and research center dedicated to
advancing financial access for the world's poor“ and housed at the World Bank. CGAP is supported by more than 30
development agencies and private foundations, and „provides market intelligence, promotes standards, develops
innovative solutions and offers advisory services to governments, microfinance providers, donors, and investors.“
(www.cgap.org)
26
De Schrevel, 2008, Microfinance Insights Vol. 7, July 2008
27
Harford, 2008, Financial Times
17
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
In the follow, a brief overview over recent trends in the area of
commercialization shall be given to highlight how at the core of
a commercial approach has been the objective to achieve the
social mission, while at the same time, the mainstreaming of
microfinance may have ramification for these social goals that
have been the original purpose of microfinance.
1.2.1 Transformation of MFIs
While microfinance originally emerged as a response to the
inability and unwillingness of the formal finance sector to serve
the demand at the base of the pyramid, the industry today
consists of MFIs operating under a variety of legal structures.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, many MFIs achieved to
successfully reduce the costs of providing financial services to
the previously unbanked segment of the population. The last
decade has seen an increasing number of non-profit NGOs
transforming into for-profit RFIs with the primary objectives of
amplifying
their
product
range
(particularly
deposit
mobilization), achieving financial sustainability and broadening
access to funding.28
While transformation can provide various new opportunities and
is generally desirable for enhanced transparency, it is crucial to
recognize that the formalization process can impact almost
every aspect of the MFI, and the potential cost that come along
with the pursued benefits ought to be thoroughly assessed. It is
important to consider the implications transformation may have
on the mission and long-term ownership of the institution. Some
industry stakeholders have raised serious concerns that the
uncertainty about the future course of transformed MFIs may be
affecting the direction of the microfinance industry29.
Box 1.1
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Reasons for Transformation
Product Diversification Transformation often allows for product diversification. Perhaps most importantly, it enables MFIs to offer savings products. In most countries, only regulated financial institutions are authorized to capture deposits from the public. As deposits can represent a relatively cheap source of capital for on­lending, offering savings products can be very attractive. Moreover, transformation may allow MFIs to offer additional products beyond credit such as insurance and remittances services. Improved Governance Transformation also fosters improved governance, increased efficiency and sustainability of the institution, as the formalized MFI has to comply with the requirements of the local banking authorities, so as to obtain a license. The new ownership structure and board of directors may result in improvements in management and oversight which safeguard the MFI’s long­term viability. Transformation also leads to increased transparency, as RFIs are expected to disclose information more frequently. On the one hand, they must meet the reporting requirements of the regulatory authorities and on the other, the shareholders are likely to expect regular communication from the management. During the actual process of transformation, the MFI is also subject to detailed due diligence. The compliance with the requirements set out by the regulatory authorities coupled with the new shareholder capital can accelerate growth and allow the MFI to scale up outreach and achieve its social mission faster and sustainably. Given the range of requirements that must be met by RFI MFIs, transformation may also lead to the further integration of MFIs into the formal financial system. Access to Funding For many NGO MFIs, limited access to funding represents the largest constraint to growth. RFIs are regarded as more credit­worthy by domestic and international investors, and a greater number of funding sources are accessible for them. The governance and regulatory oversight of RFIs constitute an advantage, as capital market investors become an increasingly important source of funding for MFIs. Other Reasons There may be other motivations, such as the compliance with new legislation that may permit or require transformation, or the desire to enable clients, employees and other stakeholders to become owners of the institution. Some MFIs may also wish to transform to gain legitimacy on the part of investors, commercial financial institutions and policy makers. (Lauer, 2008, CGAP Occasional Paper No. 13, June 2008) 28
29
Frank, 2008, p.1-3
Lauer, 2008, p. 15
18
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Box 1.2
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Transformation: The Implications
Transformation, particularly with regards to the establishment of ownership, can have major implications for an MFI. There are a number of factors that may considerably impact on the transformation process and the objectives pursued by the MFI. Depending on the local legal and regulatory environment, there may be legal restrictions on the NGO’s ownership of the transformed institution, such as restrictions on maximum ownership and foreign ownership, among others. This can have implications for the governance and mission of the new institution. Moreover, the NGO may be legally restricted in its ability to transfer its assets as well as its liabilities to the new institution. Another issue may be related to the treatment of grant funds during transformation. There may be limits with regards to issuing shares to the management and other stakeholders of the NGO. As initial shareholders divest, the mission of the new institution may be affected. Some transformations aim to bring in outside investors in an effort to access additional capital, technical assistance or expertise. In light of the social bottom‐line, however, many MFIs prefer to keep control over the institution. Ownership implies the privilege of owners to exercise rights which are proportional to their share ownership, and a company with ownership is very different from an ownerless NGO. Apart from differences in the organizational structure and corporate governance, ownership also implies that the owners tend to be primarily concerned with the profits generated by the institution as they are interested in receiving dividends or a capital gain on their investments. Socially‐responsible investors may place equal or even higher emphasis on the social bottom‐line of the institution, however this does not necessarily result in the RFI following the mission of the NGO and putting the interests of clients first. It should also be noted that depending on local law, there may be a statutory minority shareholder right that applies inspite of contractual agreements among shareholders. (Lauer, 2008, CGAP Occasional Paper No. 13, June 2008) According to the Banana Skins survey, the risks associated with ownership are perceived in all regions, as potentially destabilizing tensions may arise among the different types of owners of a transformed MFI. (CSFI/New York CSFI, Microfinance Banana Skins 2008) Like‐minded board members and stakeholders with the same vision are critical in order for the institution to maintain the balance of its double‐bottom‐
line objectives after transformation. 1.2.2 From the Village to the Capital Markets
“To connect investors with social businesses, we need to create social stock market where only the shares of social businesses will be traded. An investor will come to this stock­exchange with a clear intention of finding a social business, which has a mission of his liking. Anyone who wants to make money will go to the existing stock­market.” – Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Lecture, Oslo, December 10, 2006 The lines between the social stock market Muhammad Yunus envisioned and the existing stock market
are now being blurred. Microfinance is emerging as a new asset class with an attractive risk-return
profile30, offering a broad range of investors important diversification opportunities.31 Particularly in Latin
America microfinance has proved to be a profitable business, with ROEs often exceeding those of
mainstream banks.32 The news spread across the world:
“The pinstripes are chasing the poor.”33
30
Mark Schwiete of KfW Entwicklungsbank points out: “Investments into microfinance are not only based on ethical
motivation, microfinance also offers important diversification effects.“ (Translated from German, appendix 23)
Particularly in Latin America, MFIs have maintained impressive portfolio quality in times of economic crisis. (Benoit
Calderón, 2006, p. 65-72)
31
Although microfinance has been particularly appealing to investors due to its low correlation with macro-economic
trends, this characteristic might be affected as MFIs become increasingly integrated with mainstream banking and
exposed to forces beyond their immediate control, such as the current worldwide financial crisis. MFIs may therefore
be faced with an increased vulnerability to trends in global markets, thereby potentially losing their advantage of a low
correlation with global markets. (CSFI/New York CSFI, 2008, Microfinance Banana Skins 2008, p. 30)
32
A MicroRate study from 2002 compared the profitability (ROE) of “MicroRate 29” MFIs (including MFIs from Bolivia,
Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Peru) with Citigroup, and concluded a
large proportion of the MFIs exceeded Citigroup’s profitability over several years. Moreover, MFIs were more profitable
than commercial banks in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. (Stauffenberg et. al., 2002, p. 10-12)
33
Kiviat, 2008, Times Magazine
19
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Microfinance is now at the verge of a revolution. The past few years have seen significant changes in the
landscape of cross-border microfinance investments. The volume of global investments has increased
significantly over the past few years. Foreign capital investment of both debt and equity more than
tripled to $US4 billion between 2004 and 2006, a large part of which comes from the private sector and
which is primarily held by specialized microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs)34. Deutsche Bank’s
forecast of institutional and private investors’ investment underscores the increasingly important role
private capital will come to play.
Figure 1.2: Forecast of Microfinance Investment
Forecast: Microfinance Investments of Institutional and Private Investors (Billion USD)
30
25
20
10 x
15
10
5
0
2004
International Finance Institutions
2006
2015
Institutional and Private Investors
Source: Deutsche Bank Research. Dieckmann, 2008, p. 1
Many argue, the only possible way to reach out and satisfy the vast demand of microfinance around the
globe, is through the capital markets. In this regard, the recent microfinance investment boom is a
tremendous opportunity in order to secure the funding required to accelerate outreach and serve the
unmet demand that is estimated to be as high as 2.5 billion35 people.36
34
Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIVs) have come to play an increasingly important role as financial
intermediaries between foreign investors and MFIs around the world. As of December 2007, there are 91 MIVs with
$5.4 billion in assets under management (AUM). MIVs are private investment funds. As public, individual and
institutional investors have become attracted to the microfinance industry, a considerable number of specialized
investment vehicles has been established with sophisticated investment banking techniques in only a few years,
providing investment opportunities that appeal to a wide spectrum of investors. (CGAP, 2008, MIV Survey 2008) (for
more details see appendix 3)
35
who are currently not served or underserved
36
Siller, 2007, p. 6
20
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Deutsche Bank estimates the financing gap to be as high as US$250 billion.
Figure 1.3: Financing Gap
Estimated Financing Gap in Billion USD Credit Volume: 25 Billion
Financing Gap: 250 Billion
Source: Deutsche Bank Research. Dieckmann, 2008, p. 12
While the growing popularity among large financial institutions may catalyze growth in outreach,
concerns have been raised that the surge of private capital into the microfinance industry in recent years
may cause mission drift, thereby diluting the original focus on poverty alleviation in view of an increased
pressure to generate profits.37 As an increasing number of MFIs attract capital from international
investors seeking double-bottom line returns, the social and financial objectives of microfinance may
intertwine as long as investors have a long-term perspective. The pressure to be commercially sound and
profitable, however, may cause MFIs to adapt their business model according to the expectations of
investors and depart from their original mission and the industry’s purpose. The market of socially
responsible investment (SRI), with over US$4 trillion in assets, is characterized by a broad range of
investors with different expectations of returns.38 Yet, new players continuously enter the microfinance
scene and with them, mainstream investors that do not necessarily share the social mission and seek
purely financial returns. CGAP raised the critical question:
“Will purely commercial, return-maximizing investors allow microfinance to uphold the social mission
that has been at the heart of its success?”39
Lately, even pro-development agencies such as ACCION who favor a commercial microfinance model
have been subject to debate, as they appear to be driving MFIs into the direction of placing great
emphasis on profitability, given that funding decisions are primarily based on the profitability of MFIs
rather than actual social impact and responsibility for the well-being of the client.
While the importance of scaling up outreach and providing access to responsible finance to the unbanked
segments around the world may be a persuasive argument when it comes to a commercial model of
microfinance, it is critical to fully consider the implications and potential threats. If reaching scale
involves neglecting the principles of responsible lending and focusing on commercial objectives against
37
38
39
Frank, 2008, p.1-3
Reille and Forster, 2008, p.1
Reille and Forster, 2008, p.1
21
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 the background of a lack of financial literacy of the target market, the result of such industry
developments may be detrimental to the million of (potential) microfinance clients worldwide.
1.2.3 The IPO that Sparked the Global Debate on Profitability
“If we really want to make a difference in the world, and want to serve the millions of people – some people say it is almost 1 billion people that have this lack of financial services, at the end of the day it’s a matter of capital. (…) The only way to build an industry is to have an economic activity and to have higher returns than the average.” – Carlos Labarthe, Co‐CEO of Compartamos 40 “It is hard to avoid serious questions about whether Compartamos’ interest rate policy and funding decisions gave appropriate weight to its clients’ interests when they conflicted with the financial and other interests of the shareholders. It is not clear how much Compartamos’ decisions on those issues differed from what one would expect from a purely and forthrightly profit­maximizing company and its investors.” – Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) 41 “If you see any industry creation in the history of the world, there is always a new commerce, the first one. And this is exactly what happens with Compartamos. (…) you can think of biotechnology, or you can think of the internet or software, the first commerce that did a good job are the ones that have very, very high returns and that’s exactly when an industry is born. We think that’s part of our mission. We know, and to be open, Jessica, we really know, this is a controversial.” – Carlos Labarthe, Co‐CEO of Compartamos 42
In order to follow the debate about interest rates and profitability in microfinance, a general
understanding of the Compartamos IPO and history is essential.
It is important to note that there are several institutions providing microcredit worldwide with a clear
profit motive who have not received as much attention as Compartamos. Compartamos (“let’s share” in
Spanish), an MFI committed to social goals43, provides a unique case. It was founded as an NGO by José
Ignacio Ávalos, a devout catholic, inspired by the visit of Mother Theresa to Mexico in 1982, that soon
attracted a group of volunteering undergraduate students who shared the strong social mission and are
still with Compartamos today. Carlos Danel and Carlos Labarthe have been the Co-CEOs since inception
and Compartamos learnt the methodology of microfinance through a visit of Iván Mancillas (today Head
of Marketing and Business Development) to Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.44 The majority of
Compartamos’ owners have been pro-bono institutions with development objectives at all times. The
management of Compartamos genuinely had (and continues to have) the aspiration to alleviate poverty
in Mexico and they do believe in their approach to microfinance as the appropriate way to fulfill their
social mission, referring to Compartamos as a social enterprise with a triple-bottom line. Yet, the most
40
Personal interview, appendix 19
Rosenberg, 2007, p.12
42
Personal interview, appendix 19
43
Mission: “We are a bank that generates social, economic and human value. We are committed with the individual,
we generate development opportunities in popular sectors; these opportunities are based in innovative and efficient
large scale models and in transcendental values that create both external and internal culture, developing permanent
trust worthy relationships and contributing to the creation of a better world.”
Vision: “Counting with self-accomplished individuals, be the leader bank in popular finances, offering saving, credit and
insurance services, increasing the financial sector borders.” (www.compartamos.com)
44
Chu and García Cuéllar, 2008, p. 1-3
41
22
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 outspoken critic of Compartamos’ business model has been Muhammad Yunus who pioneered the concept
of social enterprise and microfinance.45
The long discussion centering on Compartamos and the IPO was prompted by three major issues:



whether due consideration was given to balancing clients’ and investors’ interests in light of high
profits made,
whether aid money was used to enrich private investors, and
whether the governance structure after the IPO will allow the MFI to strike a balance between
social and commercial objectives.46
The Road to the IPO
Compartamos, originally funded by grants, began with very small loans made to rural women. As will be
shown in detail in chapter 4, bigger loan sizes allow for lower interest rates to be charged. Compartamos
often points out its small loan sizes as an explanation for its high interest rates despite being very
efficient, however its average outstanding loan balance rapidly grew nine-fold in ten years, between 1996
and 2006.47 At the same time, Compartamos had not lowered interest rates significantly during that
period.
Figure 1.4: Compartamos Average Outstanding Loan Balance (1996-2006)
Average Outstanding Loan Balance (USD)
Compartamos Average Outstanding Loan Balance (USD)
500 $
450 $
400 $
350 $
300 $
250 $
200 $
150 $
100 $
50 $
0 $
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Adopted from: Chuck Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history
Clients have been charged an annual percentage rate (APR) of over 100 percent48, which has resulted in
considerable profits. It should be noted that rates are not high because of significant inefficiencies – on
45
"They're absolutely on the wrong track (...) their priorities are screwed up.", BusinessWeek, Online Extra: Yunus
Blasts Compartamos, 13.12.2007
46
Rosenberg, 2007, p.1
47
Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history
48
At times 120 percent and in 2006 around 105 percent, this figure includes the Mexican VAT rate of 15%.
(Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history)
23
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 the contrary, Compartamos is proud of its strong management, operates professionally and has
experienced very low delinquency.
From its inception in 1990 until 2000, it had received US$4.3 million in grants and soft loans. In 2000,
the non-profit NGO transformed into a for-profit institution (SOFOL) with privately-held shares. Some
fresh capital was brought in. At this time, the investors were the NGO-parent, ACCION49, IFC50 and 21
private individuals who were mainly board members and staff. Also around that time, ACCION received a
US$2 million grant from USAID, of which it provided the Compartamos-NGO US$200,000 in technical
assistance and US$800,000 that the NGO invested in for-profit-Compartamos, as well as US$1 million as
subordinate debt to for-profit-Compartamos. In early 2002, Compartamos issued bonds worth about
US$70 million on the Mexican securities exchange, most of which were partially guaranteed by IFC. In
2006, Compartamos received a full banking license, but did not mobilize deposits until spring 2007.51
Since 2000, a constant ROE of around 50 percent increased the equity base dramatically within only a
few years – from US$11 million in 2001 to US$125 million in 2006. This was generated by constantly
high profits driven by very high interest rates. Figure 1.5 displays Compartamos’ reinvested profits and
share capital from 1997 to 2006. It indicates that Compartamos certainly could have lowered interest
rates and remain reasonably profitable.
Figure 1.5: Compartamos Equity Composition
$ 140
Assets (US$ million)
$ 120
$ 100
$ 80
Profit
$ 60
Share Capital
$ 40
$ 20
$ 0
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Year
Adopted from: Chuck Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history
49
ACCION International is an NGO that was established in 1961. It has a well established network of partner MFIs in
Latin America, Asia and Africa, and has taken leadership in promoting a commercial approach to microfinance. In
Mexico ACCION’s partner MFIs are Compartamos and ADMIC. (www.accion.org)
50
The International Finance Corporation is a member of the World Bank Group and “fosters sustainable economic
growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing capital in the international financial
markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments“. (www.ifc.org)
51
Rosenberg, 2007, p.2
24
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Compartamos defended its high rates on the ground that this would allow rapid expansion so as to reach
out to many more poor women and indeed, it became the largest MFI in the Latin American region.52
Carlos Labarthe explains:
“What we really know is that this is a model that has been successful in Mexico to get scale and this is
one of the main problems in microfinance, because it’s great to have all the numbers now, it’s great to
have millions of clients, but there’s a billion there that needs us and again the only way to go and tap
into that billion is to be connected with the big money.
The main reason behind high profitability of Compartamos is to (…) reinvest to continue growing as
fast as possible, that is the first reason, and the second one is to create an industry. And this is the
only way to create an industry, you need higher returns than the average.”53
The desire to reach out to more
clients. Either way, the result of
second argument – building an
investment as a result of the high
clients may or may not justify high interest rates charged to existing
the IPO seems to suggest that much more weight was given to the
industry – as the shareholders made an enormous return on their
profitability achieved and maintained over the years.
On April 20, 2007, the owners decided to sell about 30 percent of their shares in an IPO54 – a secondary
offering that did not bring in new funding, but allowed the existing shareholders to extract US$450
million. Around 6,000 new shareholders own the sold shares, while the remaining 70 percent continue to
belong to the original shareholders.55 At the time of the IPO, the shareholders were the CompartamosNGO (primarily funded by grants from CGAP and USAID/ACCION) (39.2 percent), ACCION Gateway fund
(18.1 percent), IFC (10.6 percent), directors and managers (23.7 percent) and private Mexican investors
(8.5 percent)56. CGAP adds that „(…) clients have funded a very large part of the current business. Of
course, this source of capital will not get any financial return on its ‘investment’”.57
Table 1.1: Shareholder Structure of Compartamos
% held at the time of becoming a SOFOL % held before IPO % sold in IPO % held after IPO # shared sold in IPO Compartamos AC 40.7 39.2 7.4 31.8 25,159,212 Acción Gateway Fund 20.0 18.1 9.0 9.1 38,613,240 Profund International S.A. 6.0 … … … … IFC … 10.6 2.7 7.9 11,302,644 Individual investors 33.3 32.2 11.0 21.2 36,497,448 New stock investors … … … 30.0 * 100.00 100.00 30.0 100.00 111,572,544 Shareholders Total Source: Credit Suisse, Offering circular. Note: Totals may not add due to rounding * New stock investors hold 128,308,412 shares, acquiring an over‐allotment as per the terms of the offering. Adopted from: Michael Chu and Regina García Cuéllar, 2008, p. 33
52
53
54
55
56
57
Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history
Personal interview, appendix 19
No one else in the industry knew the IPO was going to happen until it had already happened.
Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history
Rosenberg, 2007, p.2
Rosenberg, 2007, p.10
25
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 The following figure illustrates how the initial investment of US$6 million turned into US$125 million over
a period of six years, which was then turned into around US$2 billion overnight through the IPO: A 300:1
return-on-investment in six years.
Figure 1.6: Compartamos IPO Result
$2.500
Value (US$ million)
$2.000
$1.500
Market Value
Profit
$1.000
Share Capital
$500
$0
Before IPO
After IPO
Adopted from: Chuck Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history
The left side displays the US$125 million and the original US$6 million as the hardly visible dark-blue
line, while the right side displays the market value of the shares of US$2 billion, of which $US450 million
was taken out in cash. The US$125 million on the left equals the tall blue right-hand bar in figure 1.5.58
Diverging Opinions over Magnitude & Distribution of Profits
The IPO was 13 times oversubscribed and a spectacular success “by any financial market standard”59. In
the first day of trading the share price surged 22 percent, while the majority of buyers were mainstream
fund managers and purely commercial investors (without any social mission). Some applauded the IPO as
a business case for microfinance, attracting private capital into the microfinance industry and accelerating
the recognition of microfinance as a new asset class in the global capital markets.
Emphasizing the role of mainstream investors when it comes to building a new industry, Carlos Labarthe
explains:
“When we transformed from an NGO to a SOFOL, the first transformation that was in 2000, we were
inviting some investors – I remember a friend of us who is a very rich guy here in Mexico, we were
just starting and we were inviting him to be part of the shareholders and the first question he asked is
“What is the return you are going to give me?”. I don’t remember the figure now but it was something
around the average – that is where we learnt this many, many years ago, very early – he told us
“You’re inviting me to a new industry, to something that is completely new for me, it is like an
adventure, and you’re telling me that you’re going to pay me back like I would invest in Coca Cola? I
would prefer to put my money there”. And that is what he did – he didn’t become a shareholder of
58
59
Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history
Rosenberg, 2007, p.1
26
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Compartamos. So again, when you want to build an industry, you need an economic activity, but you
also need a higher return than the average.”60
At the same time, the landmark IPO raised serious concerns over the magnitude of profits made by a
double-bottom line business as a result of interest rates at constantly, unusually high levels charged to
poor rural women.
As CGAP put it:
“Even people who favor a commercial approach to most microfinance have to scratch their heads
when they see shareholders making annual returns of 100 percent on their investments, compounded
for eight years running.”61
CGAP’s reflection on the IPO and their judgments suggest the returns were even exceptionally high for
mainstream investors. Moreover, the microfinance industry considers itself a double-bottom line industry
with the clear mission of balancing social and financial returns. As such, it might as well attract investors
that share this mission and do not seek to maximize profits as they would in an industry with a singlebottom line, such as for instance, the IT industry.
As mentioned, one third of the proceeds from the sold shares went to private shareholders, the rest to
public-purpose institutions. The controlling majority was held by public institutions “committed to
development objectives, not profits”62. One would certainly not expect public shareholders to require a
return on investment far above average.
A critical question is also whether exceptionally high profits are used to reach out to more poor
households to achieve financial inclusion, or to deliver unusually high returns to shareholders. While
Compartamos expanded rapidly during the first years after commercialization, much of the retained
earnings were distributed to the shareholders in the course of the IPO.
As for the question of whether Compartamos gave appropriate weight to the interest of the clients when
they conflicted with the interests of the investors, Carlos Labarthe argues:
“We spent a lot of time in road shows and in front of investors – and I have not seen one investor that
wants Compartamos to hurt its clients. They know very well that the model is based in good service
and treating our clients well.”63
Alternative Sources of Funding
Moreover, a central aspect is whether alternative sources of funding existed. CGAP points out:
“Compartamos and its shareholders say that unusually high profits were a necessary part of the
equation: “[t]he returns received have become retained earnings and allowed the institution to nearly
double its reach over the last three years, something it could not have done any other way.” We have
not been privy to Compartamos’ financing alternatives and decisions, but that statement is far from
self-evident for us (…).” 64
According to CGAP and other microfinance stakeholder, after commercialization in 2000, Compartamos
clearly had a range of attractive alternatives for financing growth that it did not take advantage of, such
as commercial debt and equity, particularly from MIVs and IFIs, as well as deposit taking since 2006.
CGAP argues:
60
61
62
Personal interview, appendix 19
Rosenberg, 2007, p.4
Rosenberg, 2007, p.12
63
Personal interview, appendix 19
64
Rosenberg, 2007, p.11
27
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 “Many of the IFIs and MIVs have been competing for, and concentrating quite a bit of their investment
in, a relatively small number of top-grade MFIs like Compartamos. We have little doubt that
Compartamos has turned down expressions of interest from a number of these investors since 2000,
and even less doubt that it could have raised more MIV funds if it had actively pursued them.” 65
As to the question of whether he believes there were alternative sources of funding - not involving
subsidies - available during the past years and if capital from MIVs might have been an alternative to
high interest rates when financing growth, Carlos Labarthe argues:
“What we have seen is that these specialized investment vehicles in general are trying to charge a
very similar profit or return on their investment. Sometimes I don’t understand the difference between
them, because the main majority, in my experience, their behaviour is like any other player in the
market, so it is not that different. (…) when you talk about the main majority of the international
ones, when you work with IFC, BlueOrchard or some of the founders or the shareholders are
multilaterals or bilaterals, with many of them the conditions are almost the same as the market, in
many, many cases. So it’s really not the difference.”66
Future Expectations
Finally, as CGAP concluded, the high purchase price implies high expectation about future profitability:
“IPO purchasers paid high prices for Compartamos shares, creating huge returns for the selling
shareholders, because they expected the pattern of past profits to continue and even grow. Those
past profits came directly out of the pockets of Compartamos’ poor borrowers, creating a conflict
between the welfare of those borrowers and the welfare of Compartamos’ investors.”67
It has been argued that this landmark IPO may raise the expectations of investors worldwide to
unrealistic levels.
As a response to the question of how Compartamos will maintain high profitability in the future, while
balancing financial returns with social returns, and whether the governance structure after the IPO will
allow Compartamos to strike a balance between financial goals and the social mission, considering that
the new shareholders are primarily mainstream investors, Carlos Labarthe points out:
“We are a bank that gives social, economic and human value. And we understand quite well that
giving social value is the cause for giving economic value to the investors. And even when we did the
first road show, our investors know very clearly that our profits come as a consequence from giving
social value. (…) with this crisis, the shares of the company have been hit like everything in the
market. So the great numbers or the prices that we saw when we started (…) These huge numbers
are not there. So the high expectations – there is nothing like that now. Because of this crisis.”68
New Shareholder Structure & the Double-Bottom Line
In light of the new shareholder structure and the mainstream investors that came in with the IPO, Carlos
Labarthe explains:
“The market is not that rational guys that just think of profits. For me, it’s like a boat. When they see
a good boat and they like the boat, and it’s a good boat with experience, following a clear path and
with good results, they go on top of that boat. But it’s not that they want to change the course of the
boat. They don’t know anything about the business. It’s like they see something that they like and
they go and buy the shares of that company, (…) I have not seen any investor that wants to decide
what’s happening with the company and be influencing the strategy. They believe in the management
65
66
67
68
Rosenberg, 2007, p. 11
Personal interview, appendix 19
Rosenberg, 2007, p.4
Personal interview, appendix 19
28
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 that is there, even part of what they are buying is the management that has been there for many,
many years.”69
As the debate about the business model of Compartamos, particularly in light of the landmark IPO,
underscores, there are diverging opinions on the details of a commercial approach to microfinance
prevalent in the microfinance community. Moreover, some interesting points were raised throughout the
debate, such as the value to the client as a precondition for profitability, and the effect of competition on
profits. The extent to which these apply in practice, however, depends on the degree of transparency in
the respective market.
Compartamos argues, the financial return is the result of value given to the client: If the client was not
satisfied with the service provided and did not receive value, the institution would not make a return. As
Carlos Labarthe explains it:
“So to be honest, as I already mentioned, the main focus is on our social impact. Because the social
impact is the cause of the economic value. So this is the main thing. Because if we don’t give value to
the client, she will leave (…) It’s a virtuous circle. When you are able to give value to the client, you
will have a return.”70
While at first glance this argument may appear straight-forward and suggest healthy market
developments, this thesis argues that non-transparent markets may undermine informed decision making
of the clients, so that in any given market lacking transparency in the range of offers available to the
client, she might not be able to compare the offers of competing institutions and subsequently base her
decision on the marketing appeal rather than an informed cost-benefit-analysis.
While the Mexican market is still far from being saturated71, it has been argued competition will
eventually eliminate exceptionally high profits and bring down prices. As this thesis will show, however,
where markets lack transparency, prices can remain at high levels despite intensifying competition.
69
70
71
Personal interview, appendix 19
Personal interview, appendix 19
Rosenberg, 2007, p.13
29
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 2. Transparency for Sustainable Microfinance
“In microfinance today, growing numbers of practitioners are relying on practices that would be considered illegal or unethical in mature financial markets—untrue information, unlawful repossession, and usurious interest rates in particular. Lack of adequate customer protection in emerging markets thus easily opens the door to exploitation of poor people.” – The Alliance for Fair Microfinance 72
The commercialization of microfinance and its implications for double-bottom line objectives have been
subject to widespread debate. At the same time, concerns about client protection and lacking
transparency for all stakeholders have been raised. There are many aspects to commercialization and it is
not the objective of this thesis to judge diverse business models. Rather, it will be argued that
irrespective of business model details – whether a more or less commercial approach to microfinance is
taken – transparency is indispensable for healthy markets. A lack of transparency creates a serious
market imperfection affecting the microfinance industry globally.
For a decade, this industry has strengthened efforts to provide a business case for microfinance and has
achieved a considerable record of transparency on financial performance. Transparent pricing, on the
other hand, has not been widely practiced. The result is a major market imperfection which institutions
can use to their advantage, given that product pricing presents an important element of profit.73 The
microfinance industry today is an industry where non-transparent pricing is common. Yet transparency in
pricing promotes efficiency, healthy competition and affordable prices for millions of clients, and is thus
critical to well-functioning markets. The current global financial crisis underscores that product and
pricing transparency is indispensable.74
Many stakeholders of the Mexican microfinance sector believe the coming years will see a consolidation
process. As Carlos Labarthe, Co-CEO of Compartamos points out:
“The [challenge] (…) is to really build an industry in a very intelligent way, because what also happens
when you build an industry is that you have very good players and you have some others that are not
such good players. Some years from now, we’ll have a consolidation process where the good
institutions with more experience will grow and some of the small ones that have not been able to do
things very good will be bought by others or maybe die.”75
While a consolidation process may generally be desirable in terms of efficiency, growth and value to the
client, this thesis argues that in markets lacking transparency, this consolidation process may actually
result in adverse selection whereby the responsible and efficient players lose out and the more reckless
players or inefficient institutions survive.
To understand pricing in microfinance, chapter 4 will be dedicated to the factors affecting pricing
decisions that allow an MFI to achieve sustainability, as well as the relation between interest rates, costs
and loan size. Moreover, it will be explained how the true costs to the borrower are affected by different
product characteristics and interest calculation methods. In the following, the effects of non-transparency
on the development of the microfinance industry will be analyzed in more detail. Chapter 6 will analyze
the Mexican market and highlight the effects and potential threats of non-transparency in pricing.
72
73
74
75
The Alliance For Fair Microfinance, Why The Alliance
Waterfield, 2008, Why We Need Transparency, p. 5
Waterfield, 2008, Why We Need Transparency, p. 7
Personal interview, appendix 19
30
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 3. Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis
“They created non­transparent products that were so complex that not even those who created them fully understood them. This non­transparency is a key part of the credit crisis we have experienced over recent weeks.” – Joseph Stiglitz, October 2008 76 The role of financial markets is to curb the effects of information asymmetries and reduce transaction
costs, assure the efficient allocation of funds and help to diversify and manage risk. A World Bank study77
concluded, when financial markets work well, they accelerate economic growth, enhance income
distribution and contribute to poverty alleviation. When they are deficient, opportunities for growth are
undermined, inequalities persist and crises may occur.78
The recent financial crisis that has caused a whole global financial system to collapse is a prime example
for market failure and dramatically illustrates that non-transparency is a major market imperfection. The
crisis is the result of dishonesty and non-transparency on part of the financial institutions, and failure to
design and implement appropriate regulation on part of the policymakers. Financial markets are built on
trust and at the core of the global crisis has been a collapse in confidence.79
As Joseph Stiglitz concludes:
“Financial markets are not an end in themselves. They are supposed to mobilise savings, allocate
capital and manage risk (…) financial markets have not performed these functions well. (…) The
failures in financial markets have effects that spread out to the entire economy. There are three
related reasons for these failures: poorly designed incentive structures, inadequate competition and
inadequate transparency.”80
As has often been emphasized in microfinance, it is critical to set the right incentives and align the
interests of credit officers with those of the clients.81 In the formal financial sector, the moment of
enlightenment came after the Wall Street crash: “Markets only work well when private rewards are
aligned with social returns. Incentives matter, but when incentives are distorted, we get distorted
behaviour. (….) designed to encourage excessive risk-taking and short-sighted behaviour.”82
The lack of competition has resulted from the resistance of larger institutions to allow healthy competition
to emerge, a phenomenon Adam Smith had long and eloquently addressed in his Wealth of Nations:
“The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in
some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to
narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers.”83
As local microfinance sectors develop, it is critical to focus efforts on the prevention of anti-competitive
practices.
A lack of transparency has been at the core of the financial crisis. As Joseph Stiglitz argues:
“Our financial markets have even worked hard to exacerbate these problems [of information
imperfections and asymmetries], as they created non-transparent products [...]. This nontransparency is a key part of the credit crisis we have experienced over recent weeks.”84
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
Stiglitz, 2008, A crisis of confidence
The World Bank, 2008, p 1-3
See appendix 1: “The Role of Financial Markets”
Stiglitz, 2008, The fruit of hypocrisy
Stiglitz, 2008, A crisis of confidence
Compare interview with Julio Luna from GrameenTrust Chiapas, appendix 26
Stiglitz, 2008, A crisis of confidence
Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations, Books I. Penguin Classics, 1982. p. 358
Stiglitz, 2008, A crisis of confidence
31
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 The credit crunch underscores the limitations of self-regulation. Bad practices can harm clients,
responsible lenders, the entire financial system and the overall economy. Referring to the global collapse,
Joseph Stiglitz points out:
“We need to proscribe predatory lending - many of our problems are a result of lending that was both
exploitive and risky.”85
“Light-touch” policy and a regulatory framework aimed at balancing consumer protection with enhanced
access to finance are essential to prevent abuses and protect legitimate market players.86
It is worth taking a closer look at the factors that led to the subprime crisis87. This crisis underscores the
repercussions of irresponsible lending, as it was the result of inappropriate, wrongly designed and priced
products, an underestimation of risk and overestimation of profitability, adverse incentives, inappropriate
regulation and supervision, and a lack of consumer protection and financial literacy.
The target clients – lower-income households who did not qualify for traditional loans – were offered
higher priced products of lower quality that were complex, non-transparent and often deceptive. The fact
that a prudent analysis of repayment capacity was substituted by credit scores, and that repacked
subprime loans were sold on to investors and with them the responsibility for any consequences (moral
hazard), underscores the unsustainable characteristics of these loan products. The products were
extremely complex, borrowers lacked financial literacy and disclosure requirements were largely
ineffective. The vast majority of borrowers genuinely tried to repay, which underscores the lack of
transparency in the product characteristics and indicates that buyer psychology and cognitive bias play
an additional role that should be considered when interacting with clients. Reckless lending was the result
of weak or adverse incentives. Outsourced loan marketing, loosely supervised brokers and nonbank
lenders contributed to the severity. The search of investors for higher returns coupled with inadequate
due diligence and analysis of the underlying risks drove the innovation in financial products. The collapse
of complex exotic investment vehicles indicates that not all innovation is desirable. At the height of the
global crisis, policymakers are now catching up with regulatory structures, consumer protection and
financial education measures.88
The microfinance sector has been focusing on innovative risk management techniques and close
customer relations, appropriately assessing repayment capacity and monitoring delinquency, as well as
focusing on portfolio quality while striking a balance between volume and quality. In many ways, Wall
Street can learn from MFIs. As ProCredit pointed out:
“Let us hope that if nothing else, the global banking crisis has served as something of a wake-up call
for the banking community regarding what a good banker’s core values should be and microfinance
has long held as core values: understand your risks, be transparent with your customers, and focus on
long-term value rather than short-term profits.”89
Yet there has also been a disturbing lack of pricing transparency in the microfinance sectors worldwide.
The global credit crunch underscores the far-reaching risks associated with non-transparency that should
serve as an occasion for the microfinance community to recognize the importance of pricing transparency
and efforts to ensure clients are fully aware of the product features and know their rights and obligations.
85
Stiglitz, 2008, A crisis of confidence
McKee, 2008
87
C.-P. Zeitinger, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of ProCredit Holding, emphasizes: „The problem with our
industry is that practically everyone has lost sight of the Pole Star that could guide us on our course. I won’t bother to
mention the private banks, whose greed and incompetence have become abundantly apparent in the sub-prime crisis
and have led to USD 200 billion in write-offs thus far. (…) How many destroyed hopes, how many broken dreams, and
how much disillusionment in society is our industry blithely willing to accept as the price for its actions?” (Zeitinger,
2008)
88
McKee, 2008
89
CGAP, 2008, The Global Financial Crisis: What does it mean for microfinance?
86
32
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 The collapse of the global financial system offers an opportunity to reflect upon the principles of
responsible finance and strengthen efforts to build a solid foundation for the sustainable and healthy
development of the microfinance sector.90
4. Pricing in Microfinance
Interest rates are defined as “the charge for the use of money over time”91. A financial institution needs
to charge interest rates that are high enough to cover all the costs involved in order to assure the
financial viability of its operations. While interest rates can be legitimately high in light of financial
sustainability, there are various techniques financial institutions can use to hide the actual costs of a loan.
As a response, governments in many countries have passed legislation on consumer protection, which
requires financial institutions to disclose the costs of their loan products in a basic and consistent fashion,
so as to allow for comparison among different credit offers and enhance transparency. In many countries
where microfinance plays an important role, such legislation is either not in place or does not cover MFIs,
as they operate under various and often special legal structures.92
4.1 Types of Interest Rates
There are several types of interest rates. In active markets with competition, the market rate is usually
relevant. The commercial interest rate is the rate charged by commercial institutions based on cost and
the risks of the lender. The full cost rate or sustainable rate in microfinance is the rate excluding any
subsidies, which covers the full costs of service. The nominal rate is the rate quoted to the borrower,
which is to be paid each period (e.g. 4% per month, 48% per year). It determines the interest due on
each installment payment and generally differs from the periodic rate due to calculation methods and
fees. As will be shown in this chapter, the cost to the borrower and the yield to the lender can be
substantially different from the nominal rate. The periodic rate includes all the financial costs involved,
including the effects of the calculation method, commissions and fees, payment schedules and
compulsory savings. The UNCDF defines the annual percentage rate (APR) as the periodic interest rate
multiplied by the number of periods in a year, and the effective interest rate (EIR) as the periodic rate
compounded by the number of periods in a year. This distinction is drawn out in more detail in chapter 8.
These rates are particularly important, as they allow for the comparison of the total financial costs of
different credit products. The real rate is the interest rate adjusted for inflation and is used to determine
if the interest is high enough to compensate for inflation. The simple formula to calculate an approximate
real rate is: (APR – inflation). When inflation is high, the more precise formula should be used93:
90
91
92
93
1
1
1
McKee, 2008
Waterfield, 2008, Explanation of Compartamos Interest Rates
Waterfield, 2008, Explanation of Compartamos Interest Rates
UNCDF Distant learning course
33
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 4.2 Loan Pricing and Institutional Sustainability
There are an estimated 2.5 billion potential microfinance clients (not served or underserved) worldwide.94
This potential market for microfinance far exceeds the capacity of donor funding. As the goal of MFIs is to
provide viable and long-term financial services to low-income entrepreneurs, the interest rates charged
must take into account all administrative cost, the cost of capital plus inflation, loan loss provisions and a
provision for increasing equity in order to be sustainable and reach a critical scale. Given the importance
of facilitating permanent access to financial services, institution building and the long-term viability of
MFIs are essential. As subsidized interest rates distort markets and can foster a culture of rent-seeking
and weak repayment, while they also tend to serve a limited number of borrowers for a limited period of
time, there is widespread consensus that subsidies on interest rates are an inappropriate use of
government and donor funds. Subsidies have more of a social impact when they are used to cover
operating costs during the start-up phase and support institution building. (See box 4.1)
Higher Interest Rates in Microfinance and Affordability for Clients
The interest rates charged on microcredit are considerably higher than interest rates in the formal
financial sector. This is due to the fact that the costs associated with the provision of a small loan are – in
percentage terms – higher than those of providing a relatively large loan. If assumed that the actual cost
of making a loan is $15, the percentage cost for a $1,000 loan is 1.5 percent, while for a $100 loan it is
15 percent. On top of that, the high-touch approach of microfinance due to the lack of tangible collateral,
credit history, often literacy of the clients as well as the fact that clients often live in remote rural areas,
lead to an even higher percentage cost of providing microcredit.95
The following example illustrates the income received from a smaller and a larger loan, only taking into
account the costs involved. This shows that making microloans is expensive and only viable in large
volumes.
Table 4.1: Cost and Income of Loans of Different Sizes
Loan (MXN) Cost of funds Cost of loan loss ‐ 1,000 100,000 8% 80 8,000 2% 20 2,000 Transaction cost 350
350
350
Total cost (MXN) ‐
450
10,350
Total amount received (MXN) ‐ 1,450 110,350 For a 1,000 peso loan, the transaction cost are 35 percent of loan size, while for a 100,000 peso loan,
transaction costs only make up 0.35 percent of loan size.
According to CGAP, the costs of a microcredit make up a small proportion of the total business costs for a
micro-entrepreneur and “a poor entrepreneur, especially one engaged in trading, can generate greater
benefits from additional units of capital than can a highly capitalized business, because she or he begins
with so little.”96 This phenomenon can be explained by the economists’ law of diminishing returns: There
is a range of different “uses” an economic actor can invest additional units of capital into. Some of these
“uses” generate a higher return than others. As the economic actor will invest the first units of capital
into the area that generates the highest return, the returns tend to diminish with any additional unit of
capital that is provided (all other factors being equal).97
94
Siller, 2007, p. 6
95
Goodwin-Groen, 2002, p. 1
Goodwin-Groen, 2002, p.1
Rosenberg, 2002, p. 10-11
96
97
34
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 In addition, the interest rates of moneylenders – often the only alternative, especially in remote areas are overwhelmingly higher, with effective interest rates above 10 percent per month.98
The high demand for microcredit and the high portfolio quality of the majority of MFIs indicate that the
interest rates charged are affordable for clients. At the same time, it should also be kept in mind that
cultural and social norms in many regions (particularly in rural communities) even cause overindebted
clients to try and do everything they possibly can to repay a loan, even where this affects their
livelihood.99
Provided the microfinance sector and the product pricing of MFIs are reasonably transparent, the client
will make a comparison between the loan costs, their business cash-flow, overall household expenses and
informal lending alternatives, and subsequently make an informed decision. Where transparency in
product pricing is not practiced, however, the comparability of different loan products may no longer be
given which make the sound decision-making of the client impossible. The ramifications of this are
particularly significant where not all industry players make their social bottom line a priority and may use
this market imperfection to their economic advantage.
Though the interest rates of micro loans tend to be legitimately high, inefficient operations or relatively
high profit margins may result in interest rates that are higher than necessary.
98
Goodwin-Groen, 2002, p.1
Conversation with Pablo Romo Cedano of SeraPaz held on November 4, 2008 in Mexico City; Epstein and Smith,
2008, The Ugly Side of Microlending, BusinessWeek (13.12.2007).
99
35
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Box 4.1 Commercial Banks, Development Banks, MFIs The role of MFIs in the financial sector and the aspect of sustainability
The development bank has traditionally provided subsidized credit where commercial banks did not have enough of an incentive to do so, but where the provision of credit could be of social importance. This has been the case with the agricultural sector in Mexico. Commercial banks evaluate a project based on profitability, while the development bank focuses on the strategic importance of a sector. Traditional development institutions providing subsidized credit have generally been highly inefficient and unsustainable, given that their costs considerably exceeded the income from the loan charges. This tends to result in credit rationing and a suboptimal allocation of resources. Since the institution is not even recovering the costs of maintaining its operations, it is making losses, i.e. losing money. As a result, the program will be canceled after a certain amount of time as it continues to require additional funds and as a new program gains priority on the development agenda. Moreover, subsidies are generally financed through taxes paid by society, which means private microenterprises are socially financed. Structure of the financial system in Mexico according to the target population Traditional Bank, Commercial Bank and Development Bank* Social Bank, Microfinance Institutions, Popular Finance Institutions All kinds of enterprises (medium + big) middle‐ to high income households Micro‐SME, medium‐low income households, self‐employed marginalized population * also attending some of the sectors served by the social bank
Adopted from: ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 18
MFIs, on the other hand, use market principles and the professionalism of commercial banks, while they are committed to social goals. Having a long‐term perspective, their primary goal is to achieve operational and financial sustainability, so as to operate independently of continuous donor funds. As detailed in this chapter, they therefore take into account all their costs as well as a margin to expand operations when determining the price of their products. While this results in higher interest rates, the allocation of resources is more efficient than in the case of traditional development institutions and the provision of financial services is sustainable to have a long‐term impact in the life of the target population. The relation between the development bank and the microfinance sector has primarily been the support through credit lines for MFIs who use their own methodology to serve their target market. The development bank thus evaluates the MFI as an institution, not directly the clients it serves (indirectly it does so when evaluating the loan portfolio). Some development institutions continue with the old practice of directly providing microcredit, which is generally characterized by great inefficiencies. (ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008) 36
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Interest Rates for Institutional Sustainability
To determine the interest rates an MFI must charge on its loan products in order to be financially viable,
it is important to consider the institution’s income and expenses. The primary source of income of an MFI
are the interest and fees charged on its loans. The expenses of an MFI comprise administrative expenses,
the loan loss reserve, costs of funds including inflation and the capitalization for growth. In order to
attract capital and continue to operate in the long-run, MFIs need to be sustainable, and to reach
sustainability, MFIs need to charge sustainable interest rates.100
The main factors affecting income are the client load, number of loan officers, average loan size, number
of clients, loan portfolio, interest income and interest rate. The client load is the number of clients served
by a credit officer. Group-based lending methodologies have the advantage of decreasing the time
requirements on a loan officer and the administrative cost for each client. However, this methodology
also involves smaller loan sizes and often higher educational and monitoring costs for groups. It is also
important to keep in mind that new clients and delinquent clients require more of a loan officer’s time
and affect the number of clients an officer is able to handle. A large client load per loan officer is one of
the most important goals, given that the remuneration of loan officers is often the largest expense of an
MFI. Interest is charged as a percentage on the loan amount, so the loan size determines the income of
an MFI. With respect to the average loan size, the initial loan size and the rate at which the loan size
increases for subsequent loans are critical.101 Therefore, also the loan terms, the maturity of the client
base (the ratio of new clients), as well as the client retention rate affect the average loan size. Associated
with these factors are the debt capacity of the clients and the lending methodology. Interest income is
determined by the average portfolio size of a given period and the effective interest rate charged. As a
result, the income increases as the portfolio increases. All these factors mentioned affect an MFI’s
income.102
Expenses, on the other hand, are affected by the salaries (for loan officers in particular), cost of funds,
inflation, depreciation and occupancy, additional administrative costs (proportional to the business
activity, i.e. variable, such as transportation, communication and supplies) and cost of default (loss of
interest and principal). As for the costs of funds, an MFI needs to take into account the interest it has to
pay on loans from commercial banks, the interest it needs to pay on clients’ deposits and the return on
investment its equity investors expect to receive. As inflation affects all direct expenses and decreases
the value of equity, this effect needs to be offset by higher profits adding to equity.
Many MFIs seek to expand operations and the capitalization for growth is part of the expenses an MFI
must take into account when determining loan costs. There are several factors that determine growth. An
expansion generally requires new branches, additional staff, funding obtained from outside sources or the
institution’s retained earnings, while maintaining an efficient cost structure. Among common constraints
to growth are salaries, as skilled staff have certain salary requirements; time, as a credit officer can only
see a certain number of clients a day; debt capacity, as clients can only borrower a certain amount of
money; as well as market size and density, as there is only a certain number of clients that can be
served.
When pricing loans in a way that allows the MFI to achieve sustainability, the MFI determines the amount
of income that is required to cover all costs and it estimates the corresponding yield on its portfolio. The
institution can then determine the interest and fees that will generate the required yield. All costs need to
be included in the calculation after adjustments have been made for subsidies, since costs are estimated
based on projections for mature business operations beyond a start-up period.103
100
101
102
103
UNCDF Microfinance Distance Learning Program
The majority of MFIs use stepped-lending with gradually increasing loan sizes.
UNCDF Microfinance Distance Learning Program
UNCDF Microfinance Distance Learning Program
37
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 The annualized portfolio yield can be estimated with the following pricing formula104:
Where
R
AE
LL
CF
K
II
=
=
=
=
=
=
Required annual percentage rate (APR)
Administrative expenses / average outstanding portfolio
Loan losses / average outstanding portfolio
Cost of funds / average outstanding portfolio
Desired capitalization rate / average outstanding portfolio
Investment income / average outstanding portfolio
105
Each of the five elements is expressed as a percentage of the average outstanding loan portfolio of the
institution. The calculation should include the figures in local currency.
The rate of administrative expenses is made up of all annual recurrent cost (such as salaries and rent, as
well as depreciation), except for the costs of funds and loan losses. If the MFI receives donated services,
such as technical assistance, the true value should be included, as the aim is to be able to operate
independently of donations in the future. Efficient and mature institutions tend to have administrative
expenses at between 10 and 25 percent of average loan portfolio.
The loan loss rate takes into account the annual loss of uncollectible loans, those that the MFI actually
has to write off. The MFI will generally use past experiences to project future loan loss rates. Successful
MFIs tend to have loan loss rates of around 1 to 2 percent, while institutions with a rate of above 5
percent are generally not viable.
The cost of funds rate takes into account the market cost of funds a sustainable institution incurs when
receiving its funding from commercial sources. For the calculation, an estimated balance sheet of the
medium-future is required. Using the simple method, financial assets are either multiplied by a) the
effective rate medium-quality (commercial) borrowers are charged by local banks, or b) the projected
inflation rate of a credible source106, depending on which is higher (the higher one should be chosen).
This number is then to be divided by the projected loan portfolio of the MFI. Applying the more precise
method, the weighted average cost of capital is projected, taking into account the different classes of
funding, i.e. deposits, debt in the form of loans, and equity. Thus, the absolute annual cost are
estimated. Concerning deposits, the average local rate on equivalent deposits should be chosen, and the
administrative costs the MFI incurs to capture the deposits should be added. In this calculation, equity is
defined as the difference between financial assets and liabilities (i.e., equity minus fixed assets). The
projected inflation rate should be included as the cost factor. The sum of the costs of all three classes of
funding is divided by the loan portfolio, and generates the costs of funds (CF) which is needed for the
pricing formula.
The capitalization rate can be regarded as the net (real) profit expressed as a percentage of the average
loan portfolio. Since borrowing from commercial sources is limited depending on the MFI’s equity base,
the net profit is relevant with regards to increasing the institution’s equity base. A capitalization rate of 5
104
For more precise model to calculate the APR, the model published by CGAP - CGAP Technical Tool No. 2 - is based
on Microfin 3.0: A Handbook for Operational Planning and Financial Modeling
105
UNCDF Microfinance Distance Learning Program
106
According to CGAP this tends to be a non-governmental source. (Rosenberg, 2002, p. 3)
38
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 to 15 percent of the average outstanding loan portfolio supports long-term growth.107 The investment
income rate refers to the expected income from financial assets apart from the loan portfolio (e.g. cash,
certificates of deposit, etc.). Since this amount is not earned from the loan portfolio, it is deducted.108
4.3 The Relation Between Operating Cost, Loan Size and Interest Rates
It is important to bear in mind that interest rates vary significantly relative to loan size. This is one aspect
that makes transparency in the microfinance industry difficult.
Figure 4.1: Breakeven Points: Loan Size and Interest Rates (1)
$
Income (30%)
Profit
Cost
Financial
Loss
Break
Even
Loan Size
Source: adopted from Chuck Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history
As previously explained, the cost are rather flat relative to loan size, while income is correlated to loan
size given that interest is charged as a percentage of the loan amount. The breakeven point is the point
where the income from a single loan equals the cost of the loan. Loans above the breakeven size
generate a profit, while smaller loans generate a financial loss.
107
If applicable, an allowance for tax should be included where the institution plans to operate under a taxable legal
structure. (Rosenberg, 2002, p. 4)
108
Rosenberg, 2002, p. 4
39
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Figure 4.2: Breakeven Points: Loan Size and Interest Rates (2)
Income (40%)
$
Income (30%)
Cost
Break
Even
Loan Size
Source: adopted from Chuck Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history
If an institution wants to deliver smaller loans, it has to raise the interest rate if these smaller loans are
to be financially sustainable. As the loan size decreases, the interest rate needs to increase in order for
the credit product to be viable. The following graph shows the correlation of loan size and financially
sustainable interest rates. The exact curve would slightly differ across regions and countries, but the
shape of the curve is basically the same.
Figure 4.3: Correlation of Interest Rate and Loan Size (1)
Interest Rate & Loan Size
140%
120%
Interest Rate
100%
80%
60%
40%
20%
0%
$0
$2.000
$4.000
$6.000
$8.000
$10.000
Loan Size
Source: adopted from Chuck Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history
40
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 This clearly shows that smaller loans, due to their higher cost of delivery, require significantly higher
interest rates in order to be sustainable.
The following graphic displays the range of loan sizes relevant in microfinance:
Figure 4.4: Correlation of Interest Rate and Loan Size (2)
Interest Rate & Loan Size
140%
Interest Rate
120%
100%
80%
60%
40%
20%
0%
$0
$200
$400
$600
$800
$1.000
Loan Size
Source: adopted from Chuck Waterfield, 2008, Understanding the IPO history
The appropriate interest rate that should be charged in microfinance thus depends on the loan size.
It is worth taking a closer look at the cost structure of an MFI and how it varies according to loan size. As
has been explained, the three main cost components are financial cost, loan loss provision and operating
costs. Financial cost and loan loss provision tend to be relatively flat or the same percentage irrespective
of the size of the loan. Operating costs, on the other hand, expressed as a percentage of the average
outstanding loan balance do vary with the loan amount and increase significantly as the loan amount
decreases.
41
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Figure 4.5: Correlation of Cost and Loan Size
Cost Structure Relative to Initial Loan Amount
(Broad range)
Annual % per Cost Component
180%
160%
140%
120%
100%
80%
60%
40%
20%
0%
$0
$5.000
$10.000
Initial Loan Amount
Financial Cost
Provision
$15.000
$20.000
Op Costs
Source: MFTransparency, Understanding Interest Rates, Excel Tool
An analysis of industry data from the MIX Market for MFIs worldwide, in Latin America and in Peru shows
the correlation between operating expenses and loan size.
Figure 4.6: Correlation between the Operating Expense Ratio and Loan Size - MFIs Worldwide
Source: Data (2006) taken from The MIX Market
42
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 The analysis with global data does not suggest much correlation, as compared to the theoretical curve,
which is due to significant macroeconomic differences among the respective countries.
Figure 4.7: Correlation between the Operational Expense Ratio and Loan Size
– MFIs Latin America
Source: Data (2006) taken from The MIX Market
Regional data suggests a curve closer to the theoretical curve, although the differences between
countries are still apparent.
Figure 4.8: Correlation between the Operational Expense Ratio and Loan Size – MFIs Peru
Source: Data (2006) taken from The MIX Market
43
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 An analysis of data from just one country, in this case Peru, suggests a curve very similar to the
theoretical curve.109
It has been shown that an MFI must take into account all costs that need to be covered by income, when
estimating the required yield on its portfolio and developing its pricing strategy. As evident from the
above analysis, operating costs vary significantly with increases or decreases in the loan size. In fact, the
shape of the curve of portfolio yield related to loan size closely follows the curve of the operating expense
ratio related to loan size in the microfinance industry, as the following analysis of industry data for MFIs
worldwide, in Latin America and in Peru illustrates:
Figure 4.9: Correlation between Real Portfolio Yield and Loan Size – MFIs Worldwide
Source: Data (2006) taken from The MIX Market
109
Waterfield, 2008, Why We Need Transparency
44
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Figure 4.10: Correlation between Real Portfolio Yield and Loan Size – MFIs Latin America
Source: Data (2006) taken from The MIX Market
Figure 4.11: Correlation between Real Portfolio Yield and Loan Size – MFIs Peru
Source: Data (2006) taken from The MIX Market
The analysis so far has evidenced that interest rates in microfinance need to be considerably higher than
in traditional finance, and in most cases this is justifiable on the basis of high operating costs associated
with relatively small loans (even for efficient institutions).
45
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 However, this analysis also suggests interest rates much higher than those advertised in microfinance.
Many industry players do not practice transparent pricing. With this opacity, consumers can barely
understand and compare the prices of different product offers.
4.4 Factors Impacting on the True Cost of a Loan
There are several factors that affect the cost of borrowing, which will be highlighted in this section.
MFIs generally communicate the nominal rate to microfinance clients. The nominal interest rate,
however, is not a useful indicator of the loan charges.
Figure 4.12: The Nominal Interest Rate is Not a Useful Indicator
Declining balance
Term: 2 months APR: 36% Flat rate Term: 3 months Compulsory Savings: 15% APR: 88.2% Declining balance Term: 3 months Compulsory Savings: 15% APR: 49.5% Flat rate Term: 2 months APR: 63.1% Loan Amount: $ 200 Nominal Rate: 3% monthly Declining balance
Term: 3 months VAT: 15% APR: 41.4% Flat rate Term: 3 months APR: 65 % Declining balance
Term: 3 months Fee: 5% APR: 78.9% Flat rate Term: 3 months Fee: 5% APR: 108% The APR can vary considerably, depending on whether interest is charged on the declining balance or on
the original face amount of the loan, whether an additional commission or fee is charged and whether a
portion of the loan amount is to be deposited as compulsory savings (liquid guarantee). It should also be
noted that the APR will be higher when the MFI advertises a monthly interest rate, but principal and
interest payments are to be made every 28 days (e.g. “every forth Friday”) which translates into “four
weeks in a month”. (Note: a month is 4.3 weeks and if this is rounded to 4 weeks, there are actually 13
months in a year.)110 It is important to note that the loan amount and the number of installments are not
relevant when determining interest rates. Relevant is the periodic interest rate and the number of such
periods in a year.111
110
111
Waterfield, 2008, Explanation of Compartamos Interest Rates; Tucker, 2008, p. 1
Tucker, 2008, p. 1
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Interest Calculation Methods
Interest can be calculated on the original loan balance (flat), or the outstanding loan balance (declining
balance). Interest charged on a declining balance reflects the definition of interest as “the charge for
the use of money over time”. The nominal interest rate is paid on the current outstanding loan principal
and the interest paid decreases as the remaining balance of the loan principal becomes less. The APR is
equal to the annualized nominal interest rate when there are no other fees involved.
Figure 4.13: APR and Calculation Method – Declining Balance
Source: MFTransparency, Understanding Interest Rates, Excel Tool
Both the APR and the EIR (effective interest rate) are displayed here. The difference is explained in more
detail in chapter 8. At this moment, only the APR will be considered.
With flat interest, the nominal interest rate is calculated on the original loan amount. The interest and
principal paid each period remain the same. As a result, the cost are nearly twice as high as the cost of
47
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 declining balance interest, given that the rectangle area below the green line is nearly twice the area
under the stair-step balance.112
Figure 4.14: APR and Calculation Method – Flat
Source: MFTransparency, Understanding Interest Rates, Excel Tool
In this case, the annualized nominal rate is 36%, whereas the APR equals 64.7%.
112
Waterfield, 2008, Explanation of Compartamos Interest Rates, p.6
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Up-front Fee
Many financial institutions charge an initial fee for the loan. The net amount loaned to the client is
effectively less. An up-front fee of 2%, for example, adds 12.8% to the APR, due to the short loan term.
Figure 4.15: APR and Up-front Fee
Source: MFTransparency, Understanding Interest Rates, Excel Tool
The loan that was originally advertised as 36% interest charged, now equals 77,4% in APR terms.
Compulsory Savings
Compulsory savings, which many MFIs require as a liquid guarantee, add to the loan cost. The
percentage of compulsory savings generally ranges from 10% to 20% of the original loan amount. This
constitutes a high opportunity cost for the client and raises the effective interest rate, as these savings
are not at her disposal until she has completed her loan cycle.
Figure 4.16: APR and Compulsory Savings
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Source: MFTransparency, Understanding Interest Rates, Excel Tool
The interest is charged on the original loan amount, despite the fact that the client never actually
receives the whole amount. In the example, compulsory savings at a rate of 15% increases the APR to
107%.
If the MFI does not itself hold these savings, its yield is the same as without savings, while the APR is still
higher for the borrower.113
In some cases, interest is paid on compulsory savings. Yet, this interest is significantly lower than the
interest charged on the loan. An interest of 5% earned on the savings results in a decrease of the APR
from 107% to 103,9%.
Figure 4.17: APR and Compulsory Savings with Interest Paid on Saving
Source: MFTransparency, Understanding Interest Rates, Excel Tool
This example shows that the client ends up paying a total cost of $126 for the $1,000 loan for a period of
16 weeks. If she consistently renewed the loan for a whole year, she would pay a total of $425 for that
year. Yet, the client never actually had the total amount of $1,000, as she only receives $850 due to the
compulsory savings, and she then pays back a portion of the loan each week. She thus pays $425 in a
year and has an average loan balance of $359 for that year, resulting in an APR of over 100%.
113
UNCDF Microfinance Distance Learning Program
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Due to the compulsory savings, in the last weeks the client has a negative net loan balance (compare
figure 4.16). She has more money held by the MFI in compulsory savings than she has invested in her
business.
Figure 4.18: Total Financial Cost to the Client
Source: MFTransparency, Understanding Interest Rates, Excel Tool
The analysis so far has shown that an MFI can use the pricing formula that takes into account the actual
cash flows to determine the interest rate that will sustain the institution. (The expected interest yield on
loans can be calculated and then be compared with the actual yield.) The pricing structures of the MFI
must be such that will generate the required yield on portfolio and the MFI has several options to arrive
at this yield114. Depending on the amortization and loan conditions, the actual interest rates can vary
significantly. There may be costs involved that are not obvious to the client at first glance.
So while the calculated yield indicates what MFIs must charge to be sustainable, the APR-analysis showed
that the APR can substantially differ from the advertised nominal rate and that the actual loan costs may
not always be transparent. Even where high interest rates are justified in light of costs that need to be
covered, clients may be misled by seemingly low interest rates and may not actually understand the true
loan costs. The true costs are often not only non-transparent for the clients but also for other
stakeholders of the microfinance community.
4.5 Non-Transparent Pricing: Explanations and Consequences
Reasons
One reason for non-transparent pricing in microfinance has been the difficulty of making the public
understand why different institutions with seemingly similar loan products charge different interest rates.
As institutions compete for clients, donors and investors, and seek to be treated favorably by the
government, this presents a real disincentive for institutions to make their pricing transparent,
particularly where other institutions include hidden costs in their pricing and make their prices appear
relatively low. Section 4.2 explained the relation between interest rates, costs and loan sizes, and
concluded that interest rates in microfinance are relatively high due to the high-touch business model
and small loan sizes, and can vary across products with different characteristics. It is important to
appreciate that there is no single interest rate for micro-financial products. MFIs often offer very different
products, which have to be priced differently.115 However, as Chuck Waterfield, CEO of MFTransparency
explains, it is
“difficult to communicate and educate the public about these issues (…) This is the major reason for
non-transparent pricing in microfinance.”116
114
e.g. through interest, additional charges and fees, and different calculation methods.
Complicating matters, it should be noted that the portfolio yield of an MFI is not always the best indicator when
trying to understand the interest rates it charges, as an MFI may have several products with different APRs, so that
the average yield does not give meaningful product-price data. (Waterfield, 2008, Why We Need Transparency, p. 4041)
116
Waterfield, 2008, Why We Need Transparency, p.42
115
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Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Consequences
An analysis of the interest rates in the Mexican market shows that considerable profits can be made in
markets that lack transparency in pricing.
Figure 4.19: Large Profit made in Non-Transparent Markets
Loan Size and Real Portfolio Yield (22 MFIs in Mexico)
120%
Real Portfolio Yield (%)
100%
80%
60%
40%
20%
0%
‐
500 1.000 1.500 2.000 2.500 3.000 3.500 4.000 Initial Loan Size (US$)
Source: Data (2006) taken from The MIX Market
The above figure indicates that some MFIs in Mexico charge interest rates on their loan products that are
not within the normal range. There is a considerably wide range of yield within a similar loan-sizecategory, suggesting unusual profits. This phenomenon will be examined in more detail in chapter 6.
Many MFIs and banks point out, the best indication for the appropriateness of their interest rates and the
value they give to their clients is the enormous demand and their high retention rate. Carlos Labarthe of
Compartamos argues:
“92 percent of our clients come back for another service that, as you know, in microfinance is very,
very high. So the retention rate is very, very high, the satisfaction of the clients is very, very high and
also how we treat the clients is very, very high. So we will not expect to change our strategy.”117
This is what economic theory teaches us and in transparent markets where all market actors have access
to relevant information and the possibility to use this information in practice, this logic may indeed apply.
In a market that lacks transparency and where the target market is characterized by a lack of financial
literacy however, customer decisions and loyalty may not actually be based on informed decision making.
This can result in adverse selection, as the different institutions’ success of attracting clients is not based
on a rational cost-benefit-analysis of the clients.
Gabriel Schor of ProCredit Holding highlights the meaning of responsibility:
“Transparency belongs to responsibility as a matter of course: Two parties that take each other
seriously, recognize and appreciate the other person as equal – that means they need to have the
same level of information, otherwise this is not possible.” 118
117
Personal interview, appendix 19
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 As this chapter has explained, clients do not currently have this same level of information. Nontransparent pricing constitutes a major issue and adds to the problem of financial literacy. Section 6.5
will deal with these issues in more detail.
As pricing is non-transparent for all stakeholders and not only clients have trouble understanding the true
costs of different products, adverse selection may be the result of the uninformed decision-making of all
stakeholders involved. The following chapters will provide further evidence for this thesis.
5. Microfinance at a Turning Point
“We have laid the groundwork attracting a new contingent of actors to enter the industry, but we have neglected to build any serious checks­and­balances necessary to protect the poor.” – Chuck Waterfield, CEO, MFTransparency119 The microfinance industry has reached a watershed. After decades of innovation and experimenting, the
industry has achieved impressive successes. The microfinance community has joined efforts to achieve a
worldwide public recognition of microfinance as an effective and sustainable bottom-up approach to
alleviating poverty. The past years have seen equally strong efforts to provide a business case for
microfinance, attract investors and access the global capital markets. Yet the efforts regarding consumer
protection policies and pricing transparency have been astonishingly weak.120 As Dr. C.-P. Zeitinger
points out:
“MFIs are deemed to be transparent based mainly on their reporting of financial statements to the
MIX, with little consideration for the transparency with which they communicate to clients”.121
The high profits made by some institutions as a result of interest rates at particularly high levels have
attracted the attention of the global community, governments, donors and investors. In some cases, this
has led to the hasty conclusion that interest rates in microfinance are high because of high profits. As a
result, counterproductive government intervention in some markets has been observable, with lasting
ramifications for the development of the microfinance sector. The negative public sentiment with regards
to high interest rates and profitability122, coupled with a considerably low level of transparency which
does not allow for a distinction between MFIs charging legitimately high rates and those charging
excessive rates, has provoked interference that can considerably harm the industry as a whole. The risk
of potentially damaging government intervention was widely echoed in the Banana Skins study 2008.123
As the Microscope on Microfinance for Latin America conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit pointed
out, there is currently certain risk of counterproductive government intervention in the region. In Mexico,
caps on interest rates are being discussed, which could significantly harm the development of the
microfinance sector and undermine improved access to financial services for large segments of the
population.
118
Personal interview, appendix 22; translated from German
Waterfield, 2008, Why We Need Transparency, p. 46
120
Waterfield, 2008, Why We Need Transparency, p. 46
121
Zeitinger, 2008
122
In the course of the Compartamos IPO, CGAP had already warned that: “A number of countries are seeing a strong
backlash against high microcredit rates from populist politicians, media, and social activists. This populist critique
usually ignores the fact that microcredit rates have to be higher—sometimes much higher—than normal bank rates
even when MFIs are efficient and profits are modest. But the public example of Compartamos, where the interest rates
and profits that fed into the IPO look surprisingly high even to a fair-minded observer, could add fuel to the flames.”
(Rosenberg, 2007, p. 12-13)
123
In some countries, like the Dominican Republic, populist politicians have condemned MFIs for charging excessive
interest rates and even encouraged clients not to repay their loans. (CSFI/New York CSFI, 2008, Microfinance Banana
Skins 2008, p. 20)
119
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Strong efforts to improve transparency on the part of the industry are indispensable in order to achieve
the kind of government intervention providing an enabling environment, gain the confidence of investors
and demonstrate the industry’s commitment to social goals and client protection. The negative publicity
and adverse government intervention underscore that the good reputation of the industry is currently at
risk, which may have serious ramification for the future of microfinance. To restore the integrity and
credibility of the microfinance sector, the industry should implement self-imposed truth-in-lending.
MFTransparency is an initiative that is absolutely essential to demonstrate the industry’s commitment to
transparency and consumer protection. Chapter 7 will examine how transparency will be achieved
through this initiative coming directly from the industry. Moreover, alternatives for improving
transparency will be addressed, such as government intervention, certification from an independent
institution, and a consumer movement initiating pricing transparency.
6. The Mexican Microfinance Sector in the Latin American Context
6.1 The Mexican Microfinance Sector
The Mexican financial system in general has lacked both depth and coverage. In 70 percent of all
municipalities there is no type of financial institution at all.124 Achieving financial inclusion in Mexico is of
significant importance in light of the economic and financial fragmentation that has characterized the
country and in order to share the benefits of economic growth with the poorer segments of the
population.125 The penetration of financial services is still very low, particularly in rural areas. Despite
various efforts of the state, most of these initiatives focused almost exclusively on credit and lacked
efficiency and continuity to have a sustainable impact on the lives of rural communities.126 In this regard,
MFIs play an important role in contributing to deepening the financial system. While the amounts in
microfinance tend to be small, when taken together they are significant, given that the majority of
Mexicans are currently excluded from the financial system.
Microfinance is considered a viable solution in Mexico, against the background of widespread poverty and
social inequality. The current poverty level is just below the levels before the crisis of 1994-1995.127
Strategies aimed at alleviating poverty need to direct efforts at creating opportunities for the low-income
people that will allow them to escape their situation of high marginalization and build sustainable
livelihoods, for transfer payments can never be enough when there are no productive opportunities.
Microfinance can effectively break the vicious cycle of poverty: It provides the opportunity to obtain the
working capital to initiate or extend a small business in the absence of tangible collateral. The
microenterprise sector in Latin America is of great economic and social importance, and accounts for a
substantial share of employment and GDP.128 As a large percentage of MFI clients are part of the informal
economic sector129, they don’t qualify for a traditional bank loan.130
124
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p.12
See appendix 4 for economic indicators
126
Alpízar and González-Vega, 2006, p. 6
127
See appendix 7 on poverty in Mexico
128
According to Álvaro Ramírez, former Chief of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Division of the IDB, this
sector accounts for 20% of GDP, and if taken together with small enterprises the share increases to 40% of GDP.
Moreover, microenterprises account for as much as half of all employment in Latin America. Yet they are faced with
limited access to capital. Microfinance could therefore stimulate growth rates and create employment that is significant
in macroeconomic terms. He argues 70% of the poor earners are either employees (35%) or owners (35%) of a
microenterprise, and concludes: “If we want to do something about poverty, it clearly behoves us to think about
microenterprises.” (Ramírez, 2004, p. 15)
129
Appendix 10 highlights the significant role the informal sector plays in Mexico
130
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 11
125
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 The microfinance sector in Mexico presents an important backwardness compared to the sectors of other
Latin American countries, – although surprising, given the size of the Mexican population and economy,
high levels of inequality and unequal distribution of wealth, the level of poverty in various regions,
expansion of the informal sector and the large number of micro-enterprises. When compared to the
microfinance industry in countries like Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, El Salvador and Nicaragua, the Mexican
industry is at least 10 years behind.131 Needless to mention, this has been a tremendous opportunity cost
in that it has excluded a significant proportion of the population from the benefits of economic growth,
and impeded institution building and sustainable rural development. However, the Mexican microfinance
sector is experiencing a period of transition and rapid change. A more entrepreneurial approach based on
market principles has replaced the originally philanthropic motivation.132
Mexico is the region’s emerging sector and currently one of the most dynamic worldwide, experiencing
rapid growth and a considerable number of new players entering the market. A recent boom has
accelerated the growth of both well-established and relatively new organizations. This has driven
competition and led to the gradual saturation of some areas.133 As evident from the ProDesarrollo134 and
MIX 2007 benchmarking displayed below, a large number of MFIs were identified as being “new”, which is
defined as up to four years since establishment:
Table 6.1: Age of MFIs in Mexico and the Rest of Latin America
2007 (all figures are medians) AGE MEXICO
New REST OF LATIN AMERICA Young
Mature
New
Young INSTITUTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS Number of MFIs Age Total Assets Offices Personnel 15 11
2 6
63,257,212 42,841,606
9 5
84 67
Mature
18
13
115,488,357
17
144
11
3
53,879,181
6
46
41 7 78,346,946 9 65 New: 0 to 4 years, Young: 5 to 8 years, Mature: > 8 years
187
16
110,193,312
9
103
135
For several years, Compartamos has been the market leader with considerable market share and has
been facing increased competition by other growing MFIs and new market entrants in recent years.
Compartamos is among the largest and most profitable MFIs in Latin America and has been experiencing
impressive growth rates. Compartamos has generated beneficial externalities with regards to the
expansion of the sector, which is worth noting, especially since the international exchange of experiences
and best practices has been less intense in Mexico.
Relatively small MFIs and new entrants made up more than 80 percent of all market players, yet large
MFIs with over 100,000 loans served more than 85 percent of the entire market in 2007. When compared
to the other Latin American subregions, Mexico has the highest degree of stratification in terms of market
coverage between a small number of large MFIs and a large number of small, but growing MFIs. Central
and South America, as well as the Caribbean, have a more balanced market coverage by MFIs of different
sizes.136
131
Alpízar and González-Vega, 2006, p. 53
132
Also see appendix 12 “Mexico – from the old paradigm to a new one”
133
Alpízar and González-Vega, 2006, p. 14-23
134
ProDesarrollo is the national network of MFIs and other microfinance stakeholders in Mexico.
(www.prodesarrollo.org)
135
ProDesarrollo and MIX América Latina, 2007, p. 3
136
MIX, 2008, p. 3
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Table 6.2: Market Coverage by MFI Outreach in Latin America (%)
Indicators Number of MFIs MFIs Borrowers Gross Loan Portfolio MFI Outreach (number of loans) MEX CAC SA < 25k [ 25k – 100k ] > 100k < 25k [ 25k – 100k ] > 100k < 25k [ 25k – 100k ] > 100k 44 81.8% 6.8% 11.4% 9.8% 4.7% 85.6% 7.0% 2.7% 90.3% 86 70.9% 29.1% 0.0% 46.1% 53.9% 0.0% 38.6% 61.4% 0.0% 153 64.7% 22.9% 12.4% 11.3% 25.2% 63.6% 8.6% 25.0% 66.4% k = thousands
* Range defined by number of loans on each indicator.
Adopted from: MIX, 2008, p. 4
An estimated 15 million people are served by the popular finance sector, while the MFIs focusing on
microenterprises are estimated to serve 1.6 million137 of which 80 percent are female and 62 percent live
in rural areas. In 2007, Mexican MFIs138 grew by 32 percent in terms of loan portfolio and 37 percent in
terms of loans. They manage a total of 28,700 million pesos in nearly 3.4 million loans.139 There is a wide
range of legal structures140 under which MFIs are operating in Mexico.141
As the Mexican microfinance sector is still relatively young and has yet to go through several stages other
Latin American countries have already passed, there remains much to be done for the Mexican sector to
catch up and while the knowledge available today and the experiences with regards to trial-and-error
experimentation made in other countries of the region may be valuable for Mexico, it is important to
consider the different challenges Mexico faces due to the specific initial conditions (path dependency).
Moreover, the macroeconomic and political environment in Mexico today is quite different from that of
other Latin American countries at the time microfinance emerged in the region. Given the idiosyncratic
characteristics of the different regions in Mexico, the best practices based on the experiences on a global
level need to be adapted to the local circumstances in an efficient and sustainable way, taking into
account the social and cultural context, geographic characteristics, the historical situation and
consequently the specific demands of the target market.142
137
This number is the result when consumer finance clients are excluded. The number of clients served by multiple
institutions cannot be determined.
138
Those 44 MFIs included in the benchmarking report.
139
ProDesarrollo and MIX, p. 27
140
NGOs, private assistance institutions, credit unions, affiliates of international organizations and financial
institutions, among others. (see appendix 15) The new legal structure SOFOM has encouraged transformation and a
rapid creation of new institutions, as it allows for improved access to commercial funds and recognizes these
institutions as part of the national financial system.
141
The transformation into SOFOM may also serve as the first step towards regulation. Two years after the new legal
structure was created, 682 SOFOMS were operating, about 250 of which are associated with microcredit.
(ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p.13)
142
Carlos A. Alpízar, Claudio González-Vega, El Sector de Las Microfinanzas en México, Proyecto AFIRMA, 2006
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Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 6.2 Mexican Interest Rates Above Global Norms
There has been much debate globally on possible explanations for the exceptionally high interest rates in
the Mexican market as compared to other markets in Latin America and around the world. One prominent
explanation has been the lagged development of the microfinance sector in Mexico, high operating costs,
structural differences related to operations, a lower average loan size and low levels of competition until
recently. These reasons, however do not satisfactorily explain why interest rates in Mexico remain at
exceptionally high levels, while they do fall in other markets. Moreover, the past few years have seen a
significant increase in competition in the Mexican market, and a considerable concentration of MFIs in
certain areas where microfinance is booming. A large number of MFIs report relatively fierce competition.
Yet, interest rates have remained at strikingly high levels and have barely fallen despite the rapid
increase in competition. CGAP points out:
“Despite the large number of microfinance borrowers in Mexico (the latest MIX Global Figures […]
report 2.6 million borrowers), competition seems not to have put palpable pressure on MFIs.
Anecdotal evidence from Mexico indicates, though, that recently prices have fallen in certain regions
where institutions compete for market share.”143
Perhaps most importantly, it is left to explain why a number of MFIs continue to make considerable
profits while competition is intensifying.
Regarding the question of when interest rates are too high, Richard Rosenberg argues:
“Let's say that rates are ‘unreasonable’ if MFI managers could be charging clients substantially less,
even after taking into account the small sizes of the loans and the inevitable learning curve of
institutions and national microfinance industries. We don't have enough data to provide a conclusive
answer to that question.”144
While it may be difficult to judge whether managers could be charging less after taking into account the
specific circumstances of their service and their environment, it is possible (at least to some extent) to
examine whether interest rates are high because of country-specific expenses, or because of high profits,
which will be analyzed in more depth in the following.
The MicroBanking Bulletin of spring 2008 observed, while it was quite striking that several large markets
had average portfolio yields145 below the global yield and experienced a negative change in yield (falling
rates), “a few large markets, like the Philippines and Mexico, still produced higher absolute yields than
global norms, with little evident decline.” The report adds to that finding the explanation that “with many
operators in these markets offering credit in remote areas with high operating costs, prices have been
slow to come down relative to other markets”.146
143
CGAP, 2008, Brief, July 2008: Variations in Microcredit Interest Rates, p. 3
CGAP, 2008, Are Microcredit Interest Rates Exploitative? An interview with CGAP expert Rich Rosenberg, (June 17,
2008)
145
As has already been mentioned, portfolio yields offer a proxy for interest rates, although they are not equivalent to
interest rates and do not take into account differences in pricing across different products.
146
Stephens, 2008, p. 21-22
144
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Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Figure 6.1: Yields and Changes in Yields Over Time
Source: MicroBanking Bulletin, Spring 2006, Issue No. 16, p. 22
It is worth taking a closer look at these two markets. When comparing the relation of portfolio yield and
loan size in both the Philippine market and the Mexican market, the analysis suggests a shape of the
“normal” graph and most MFIs appear to be in the normal range. In the analysis for the Mexican market,
however, some MFIs appear to be considerably off the graph which suggests very different yield levels
even within the same loan size category.
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Figure 6.2: Loan Size and Real Portfolio Yield – Philippines
Source: Data (2006) taken from The Mix Market
Figure 6.2 suggests, the curve for MFIs in the Philippine market follows the shape of the “theoretical”
curve rather closely. The following graph display the situation in Mexico.
Figure 6.3: Loan Size and Real Portfolio Yield – Mexico
Source: Data (2006) taken from The Mix Market
59
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 The curve for the Mexican market follows the “theoretical” curve, although some single MFIs are
apparently off the graph and seem to charge a wide range of interest rates on similarly sized loans. This
means some MFIs charge interest rates outside the normal range. These price differentials lead to
exceptionally high profits. So while in markets with high operating costs, prices may be slow to come
down, as pointed out by the MicroBanking Bulletin, the country-specific analysis on portfolio yield in
relation to loan size showed that several Mexican MFIs appear to be charging interest rates outside of the
normal range, thereby making much higher profits.
6.3. Profitability, Efficiency, Interest Rates – An Analysis
Interest Rates
With respect to the recent trends worldwide, CGAP microfinance expert Richard Rosenberg pointed out,
while referring to the interest rates of Compartamos, “which were above 100 percent a year for a while”:
“Some people got the mistaken impression that such rates were typical for microcredit. In fact, the
median interest rate for the 700 MFIs in the Mix Market database for 2006 was 30 percent (22 percent
net of inflation).”
Referring to the worldwide situation, he added:
“Actually, it's surprising how fast microcredit rates have been dropping—3.3 percentage points per
year from 2000 to 2005.” 147
As has already been mentioned, interest rates have remained at surprisingly high levels in Mexico, and
not only those of Compartamos. This section aims at examining the factors impacting on interest rates in
more depth.
The average interest rates vary considerably across countries:
Figure 6.4: Interest Rates in Different Countries
Source: CGAP, 2008, Brief, July 2008: Variations in Microcredit Interest Rates, p. 1
As evident from the graphic above, Mexico exhibits the second highest average interest rates worldwide.
When measured as the nominal yield on gross loan portfolio, interest rates in the Central American and
Caribbean, and the South American subregions were very similar in 2007, ranging from 30 to 35 percent.
147
CGAP, 2008, Are Microcredit Interest Rates Exploitative? An interview with CGAP expert Rich Rosenberg, (June 17,
2008)
60
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 This is very close to the worldwide median pointed out by Richard Rosenberg, and the average in figure
6.4. As the 2008 Benchmarking Report for Latin America points out,
“Mexico, on the other hand, presented the highest interest rates in the region, nearly doubling those
found in the other subregions. However, Mexican rates began to fall in 2007 for the first time as
competitive forces strengthened and MFIs improved efficiency, allowing for price reductions”148.
South America (SA) is the subregion in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) with the most mature
microfinance markets, followed by the Central American and Caribbean region (CAC), while Mexico is the
most dynamic, emerging market. As has been shown in chapter 4, interest rates vary according to loan
size. In 2007, the largest loan sizes were found in the South American subregion, where well-established
institutions increasingly met the demand for individual loans to existing clients. While the average loan
balances were lower in Central America and the Caribbean, they were growing at a rate of 14.5 percent,
the highest rate in the region. In Mexico, most institutions continued to have relatively small loan
balances, as they continue to serve new clients with small initial loan sizes and mainly use group lending
methodologies (85 percent of MFIs).149
Figure 6.5: Average Loan Balance Per Borrower (MXN)
Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 29
The average loan size decreased during the period, due to the many new MFIs serving the demand of
new clients using group lending, while in the rest of the region the average loan size grew by almost 25
percent.150
148
149
150
MIX, 2008, p. 9
MIX, 2008, p. 5
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 29
61
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 While interest rates undoubtedly vary with loan size, the average loan balance is not the only factor
explaining the difference between the interest rates charged:
Figure 6.6: Interest Rates and Loan Size: Sustainable MFIs worldwide
Source: Data (2006) taken from The Mix Market
There are also several other dynamics affecting interest rates, as has already been mentioned chapter 4
focusing on what influences expenses, income and growth of an MFI.
Operating cost can vary considerably across countries. As the analysis in chapter 4 has shown, operating
expenses have a significant impact on interest rates, because, expressed as a percentage of the average
outstanding loan balance, they change dramatically with changes in the loan size. Moreover, the objectives of the management can differ across countries. In Bangladesh, for instance,
MFIs have had a strong focus on the social mission and have made relatively low profits, while in the LAC
region, MFIs have focused on financial sustainability and growth funded through commercial sources, in
order to pursue their social goals. In some markets, new players who are purely driven by profit have
emerged.
The level of competition also plays an important role. In transparent markets, competition provides the
client with choices and consequently puts downward pressure on prices.
Closely related to transparency, accountability to funders and clients may provide positive incentives for
institutions to focus on efficiency and strengthen efforts to reduce interest rates. Both funders and clients
can generally be in the position to demand accountability: Donors can choose to allocate their funds
according to the social performance and sustainability of MFIs, while clients can use their consumer
power to demand institutional soundness and appropriate pricing. With respect to the latter, financial
literacy is crucial, while the bargaining power of both donors and clients, as well as other stakeholders,
heavily depends on transparency in the industry.
Management capacity may also play a role, since management must possess the knowledge of how to
reduce cost in order to implement a strategy of lowering interest rates.
62
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Many MFIs face high cost of funds. According to Richard Rosenberg, data on the MIX Market confirmed
that the cost of funds are a substantial component of interest rates. The weighted average interest yield
for 564 sustainable MFIs in 2006 was 27.6 percent of loan portfolio, while the weighted average costs of
funds made up 8.3 percent of loan portfolio. Thus, nearly one third of all the interest paid was used to
cover the MFI’s funding costs (i.e. its own borrowings).151
In Mexico, operating expenses are particularly high due to relatively high salaries, as well as structural
differences related to operations, such as larger travel distances, higher telecommunication and
transportation costs, and relatively high costs of basic services. Small MFIs also tend to have insufficient
economies of scale, while the high profit margins of many MFIs are aimed at achieving self-sufficiency
and raising capital for growth. Related to the latter point, the cost of expansion are relatively high due to
the rapid growth. Moreover, there is still less competition and product diversification than in other
markets.152
CGAP explains:
“In Mexico, where there is a longer track record of microfinance [than in Uzbekistan], high operating
costs also can be observed; […] This is probably driven by very low average loan sizes […] and the
comparatively high costs of qualified labor in Mexico. […] much of Mexican microfinance serves rural
areas with low population density, which may raise transport expenses. Another driver of Mexican
interest rates is the high profits of the MFIs.”153
To consider how these factors affect interest rates in Mexico, compared to the rest of the LAC region, the
next section will highlight the levels of efficiency in the subregions.
Efficiency
It is important to consider that the average loan size varies considerably among the LAC subregions. As
has been mentioned, the average loan size in Mexico is much smaller which results in higher operating
cost. The factors affecting operations mentioned above add to these costs. According to Gustavo del
Ángel, microfinance in Mexico has also been characterized by relatively low levels of productivity, while
the risk premium was still relatively high and may decrease in the near future as there is more
confidence in the industry.154 These aspects also affect the costs of MFIs.
Referring to microfinance worldwide, Richard Rosenberg, pointed out:
“Costs are always higher in immature industries. Those industries get more efficient over time, based
on their own internal learning curve as well as the pressure of competition.” 155
The Mexican microfinance industry is relatively immature, yet recent developments did not notably
change the situation for quite some time. In 2007, improvements were observable for the first time in
years. With regards to economies of scale in microfinance, it is worth noting that “reductions in operating
costs taper off at relatively low thresholds of just 2,000 clients, with additional gains in efficiency
diminishing significantly thereafter”, as explained in the MicroBanking Bulletin of spring 2008.156 In
microfinance, efficiency depends more on the average loan size than the entire loan portfolio.
The table below displays the expense and efficiency ratios for Mexico and the other LAC subregions, as
published by MIX and ProDesarrollo in the National Benchmarks 2007.
Rosenberg, 2008 ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 36; Interview with Gustavo del Angel, appendix 20
153
CGAP, 2008, Brief, July 2008: Variations in Microcredit Interest Rates, p. 2
154
Interview with Gustavo del Angel, appendix 20
155
CGAP, 2008, Are Microcredit Interest Rates Exploitative? An interview with CGAP expert Rich Rosenberg, (June 17,
2008)
156
The MicroBanking Bulletin, Spring 2008, Issue No. 16, p. 31
151
152
63
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Table 6.3: Expenses and Efficiency in the Latin American Subregions
2007 LATIN AMERICA Currency: MXN Mexico Central America South America Caribbean Latin America EXPENSES 44.0%
7.0%
1.8%
31.3%
175%
11.8%
0.7%
26.8%
7.8%
1.6%
16.9%
8.7%
7.1%
2.2%
21.3%
5.7%
1.6%
12.6%
6.8%
6.0%
0.5%
46.2% 7.7% 4.2% 32.0% 17.1% 11.6% 0.7% 25.9%
6.4%
1.6%
15.9%
8.5%
7.2%
0.9%
43.0%
25.6%
143.1%
1,760
1,760
20.6%
11.1%
440.3%
1,434
1,423
16.1%
8.6%
395.4%
1,739
1,597
42.7% 27.7% 753.7% 1,293 1,293 19.5%
10.5%
383.8%
1,652
1,586
Total Expense/ Assets Financial Expense/ Assets Provision for Loan Impairment/ Assets Operating Expense/ Assets Personnel Expense/ Assets Administrative Expense/ Assets Adjustment Expense / Assets EFFICIENCY Operating Expense/ Loan Portfolio Personnel Expense/ Loan Portfolio Average Salary / GNI per Capita Cost per Borrower Cost per Loan Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX América Latina, 2007; all figures are medians
Highlighting the data on the basis of the different regions in Latin America, the comparison shows that
the expense ratios in Mexico and the Caribbean tend to be very high, while in Central America and South
America, as well as Latin America as a whole they are significantly lower. Particularly operating,
personnel and administrative expenses over assets are much higher in Mexico than in the overall region.
Operating efficiency is significantly lower in Mexico.
It is worth taking a closer look at the expenses and efficiency of MFIs with different methodologies.
Table 6.4: Expenses and Efficiency according to Lending Methodology in Mexico
2007 Currency: MXN EXPENSES Total Expense/ Assets Financial Expense/ Assets Provision for Loan Impairment/ Assets Operating Expense/ Assets Personnel Expense/ Assets Administrative Expense/ Assets Adjustment Expense / Assets EFFICIENCY Operating Expense/ Loan Portfolio Personnel Expense/ Loan Portfolio Average Salary / GNI per Capita Cost per Borrower Cost per Loan METHODOLOGY Village Bank Solidarity Individual 50.5%
7.9%
2.2%
43.7%
24.6%
21.4%
0.9%
32.9%
6.8%
1.0%
25.1%
14.4%
11.0%
0.7%
42.3%
6.0%
3.4%
31.8%
18.9%
11.7%
0.4%
54.7%
29.9%
146.8%
1,706
1,668
38.2%
20.4%
131.5%
1,684
1,684
46.8%
25.8%
176.2%
3,401
3,401
Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX América Latina, 2007
64
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 According to the data above, operating, personnel and administrative expenses are particularly high for
the village bank methodology, and lowest for solidarity groups. The provision for loan impairment is
highest for the individual lending methodology. Solidarity appears to be most efficient methodology.
MFIs of all sizes have been relatively inefficient in Mexico, while there are also regional differences. The
graphic below displays efficiency data from 2007. In the North, the cost per borrower were particularly
high, while MFIs in the center region were relatively inefficient in terms of operating expenses which
affected their profitability. MFIs in the South were the most efficient157 which positively affected their
returns.158
Figure 6.7: Efficiency According to Institutional Size and Region
Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 39 ; Translated from Spanish
157
158
Three MFIs in Chiapas exhibited particularly high operational efficiency in 2007: AlSol, CAFASA and COCDEP.
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 39
65
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
The table below exhibits the expense and efficiency data for the three regions of Mexico, published in the
National Benchmarks 2007:
Table 6.5: Expenses and Efficiency in the three Zones of Mexico
2007 ZONES Currency: MXN North Center South EXPENSES 42.3%
7.9%
2.6%
30.7%
17.9%
11.1%
1.4%
50.5%
7.4%
2.2%
41.2%
23.9%
15.4%
0.4%
31.3%
6.3%
0.7%
23.1%
12.1%
11.0%
0.7%
39.7%
25.3%
142.1%
3,401
3,401
58.5%
33.4%
176.4%
1,760
1,760
32.7%
16.8%
112.5%
1,510
1,510
Total Expense/ Assets Financial Expense/ Assets Provision for Loan Impairment/ Assets Operating Expense/ Assets Personnel Expense/ Assets Administrative Expense/ Assets Adjustment Expense / Assets EFFICIENCY Operating Expense/ Loan Portfolio Personnel Expense/ Loan Portfolio Average Salary / GNI per Capita Cost per Borrower Cost per Loan Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX América Latina, 2007 The Southern region has the lowest expense ratios and the highest efficiency. Operating, personnel and
administrative expenses are particularly high in the Center, where operating and personnel efficiency is
also considerably lower.
Small MFIs exhibit lower total expense ratios than medium and large MFIs in Mexico, while in the rest of
the LAC region it is vice versa:
Table 6.6: Expenses and Efficiency according to Institutional Size
2007 Currency: MXN EXPENSES Total Expense/ Assets Financial Expense/ Assets Provision for Loan Impairment/ Assets Operating Expense/ Assets Personnel Expense/ Assets Administrative Expense/ Assets Adjustment Expense / Assets EFFICIENCY Operating Expense/ Loan Portfolio Personnel Expense/ Loan Portfolio Average Salary / GNI per Capita Cost per Borrower Cost per Loan MEXICO REST OF LATIN AMERICA Small Medium Large Small Medium Large 40.0% 6.0% 1.6% 30.6% 15.8% 12.5% 0.8% 46.4%
7.9%
2.1%
31.3%
19.8%
11.8%
0.9%
45.8%
5.7%
2.0%
34.7%
17.0%
13.1%
0.0%
28.1%
5.8%
1.3%
20.7%
12.7%
7.6%
1.9%
27.7% 6.3% 1.8% 17.1% 9.1% 7.8% 1.2% 21.0%
6.7%
1.6%
11.1%
5.6%
5.2%
0.3%
46.6% 21.3% 113.5% 1,358 1,358 41.0%
27.6%
146.9%
2,684
2,684
40.6%
21.7%
193.2%
2,113
2,113
26.7%
14.7%
300.0%
1,380
1,369
21.0% 11.0% 451.9% 1,434 1,429 13.9%
7.0%
518.6%
2,075
1,836
Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX América Latina, 2007
66
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 All expenses appear to be considerably higher in Mexico159, while efficiency is much lower.
As for the current trends, from 2005 to 2007, MFIs in all LAC subregions experienced increased efficiency
that allowed them to reduce cost relative to gross loan portfolio. Some of the efficiency gains in the SA
and CAC regions were due to an increase in loan balances.160 MFIs in Mexico have lowered their costs
considerably in the past three years, even as they also reduced the average loan balance at the same
time. Mexican MFIs aligned their financial cost and loan loss provision with those in the overall region,
which shows that investors established a risk price in Mexico similar to that in the rest of the region.161
While the cost per borrower of Mexican MFIs was comparable to the overall region, operational efficiency
was considerably lower. Mexican MFIs continue to face much higher operating expenses compared to the
rest of the region.162 This reflects a lower operational efficiency. In 2007, operating expenses were above
40 percent of the gross loan portfolios in Mexico, compared to less than 20 percent in the rest of the
region.163
Figure 6.8: Efficiency: Expenses over Assets
Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 38; Translated from Spanish
159
Except for financial expenses over assets for large institutions, in table 6.6
MIX, 2008, p. 9
161
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 38
162
Credit methodologies need to continue to develop and improve in order to reduce transaction costs as well as issues
related to asymmetric information to reduce the uncertainty margin. Dr. Horacio Esquivel Martínez from the Mexican
Universidad Anáhuac (UAS) has called this “la doble eficiencia”, the double efficiency. (ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p.
20)
163
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 38
160
67
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Figure 6.9: Change on Efficiency: Operating Expenses over Gross Loan Portfolio & Cost per
Borrower
Source: MIX, 2008, p. 10
The analysis so far has shown that interest rates are very high in Mexico, which to a great extent can be
explained by high expenses and low efficiency levels.
Sources of Financing Growth
The Mexican sector has been among those in the LAC region experiencing the highest growth rates in the
last three years. The sources to finance growth, however, are very different in Mexico as compared to the
rest of the region. While MFIs in the LAC region tend to finance their growth through commercial debt,
Mexican MFIs tend to favor equity capital.164
MFIs in South America, with a median age of 14 years, finance their growth to a large extent through
commercial funding – debt and deposits – and exhibit a considerable market coverage by regulated
institutions, as compared to the other subregions. South American MFIs also tend to charge the lowest
interest rates in the region. MFIs in the Central American and Caribbean region, with a median age of
close to 14 years, are on track to follow the example of the South American MFIs. Commercial funds play
an increasingly important role in financing growth, while the market coverage by regulated institutions is
still relatively low, albeit expected to grow. In 2007, the market coverage by regulated institutions in
Mexico, where MFIs have a median age of 7 years in business, was much lower than in the rest of the
region.165
It is important to note that MFIs in the Caribbean, Central and South America levered up during the
period from 2005 to 2007, while Mexican MFIs reduced their debt-to-equity from 2.0 to 1.5.166
164
As for debt, the principal sources of funding for Mexican MFIs continue to be national government funds, such as
FINAFIM and FOMMUR, while other funds of the national and state governments as well as commercial funds and the
capital markets are increasingly becoming alternative sources. (ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p.13)
165
MIX, 2008, p. 2
166
MIX, 2008, p. 4
68
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Figure 6.10: Change on Debt-to-Equity Ratio
Source: MIX, 2008, p. 10
As mature MFIs in South America have been funding their rapid growth through debt and deposits, they
have increased leverage to the highest levels of the region. In Central America and the Caribbean, MFIs
increasingly attract debt investors and new regulation in some countries has enabled institutions to offer
saving products. As a result, MFIs in this subregion have also increased leverage. Over the same period,
Mexican MFIs have reduced leverage and many fund their growth through retained earnings, as they
continue to make considerable profits.167 Non-distributed profits made up 38.5 percent of the own funds
of the MFIs at the end of 2007.168
This strategy impacts on the interest rates charged. Referring to the growing number of MFIs in Mexico,
the 2008 Benchmarking report for Mexico points out:
“Many [new MFIs] took advantage of the established growth and pricing strategies of the large MFIs
for their own growth. By establishing relatively high interest rates, large MFIs, such as Compartamos
and Financiera Independencia, built growth capital with high profitability for many years.”169 170
Interestingly, as there is no significant pressure on prices, new institutions pursue the same strategy of
using profits for growth:
“The new institutions also used this precedent to grow by implementing the same strategy without
significant pressures on prices on the part of the large institutions that maintained their high prices
despite their size.”171
This suggests intensifying competition does not put sufficient pressure on prices, as large established
institutions keep their interest rates high and new MFIs follow their strategy. (The relation between
competition and interest rates will be analyzed in more detail at the end of this chapter.)
167
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 4
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 32
169
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 30; Translated from Spanish
170
The report adds to this, that microfinance services are still cheaper and more accessible for the clients in terms of
costs as compared to alternatives. (ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 30) However, it could be argued, the costs to the
clients could still be lower if Mexican MFIs followed a growth strategy that is not primarily based on retained earnings,
as for instance the strategy of other MFIs in the LAC region.
171
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 30; Translated from Spanish
168
69
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 The below table displays the data for ROA, gearing and ROE from the 2008 Benchmarking Report for
Latin America172.
Table 6.7: Profitability and Leverage
2007 ROA Debt‐to‐Equity
ROE
Mexico 2.3% 2.0
12%
Latin America Central America South America Caribbean 1.7% 1.6% 1.7% 0.6% 2.7
2.0 3.4 1.6 7.2%
6.1% 7.2% 4.8% Source: Mix, 2008
In terms of ROA, Mexican MFIs are significantly more profitable than their LAC counterparts. Moreover,
the Mexican institutions exhibit a significantly higher ROE than institutions in the rest of the region. This
attracts a large number of equity investors. As growth is financed through retained earnings and equity
investors are attracted by a relatively high ROE, this strategy also increases the cost to the clients, as
continued and relatively high profits are required. It could be argued, if the MFIs instead pursued a
strategy similar to that of most MFIs in the region and levered up to finance their growth through
commercial debt, they could reduce the costs to the clients, while maintaining a relatively high ROE ratio.
The latter could be regarded as a more professional strategy, also pursued by traditional banks, and the
strategy currently pursued by many Mexican MFIs as a rather easy way of financing operations and not
necessarily the best from the perspective of the clients.173 Decisions on leverage, however, are rather
complex. Increasing leverage inherently increases the risk of an institution. The current financial crisis
and failures of traditional banks serve as a cautionary tale.174 Against this background, MFIs may
naturally be even more reluctant to assume debt.
If debt is increased beyond a certain point, the risk ratings are likely to go down, affecting the ROE
investors require. So beyond a certain level of leverage, the institution faces a trade-off. Assuming debt
to finance growth may result in lower ratings and raise the cost of funds. Depending on the leverage level
and the specific characteristics of the institution, an MFI might be faced with a trade-off between paying
172
Note: these may differ from the numbers above.
173
To illustrate this point further, it is useful to break down both the ROA and ROE into their components. Applying the
Du Pont formula, ROA can be expressed as:
ROA is determined by the operating profit margin (incorporating net income) and asset turnover, an element of
efficiency. An extended version of the Du Pont formula breaks down the ROE into four parts:
This is equal to Leverage Ratio (= 1+ Debt/Equity) times ROA times Debt Burden (measures the proportion by which
profits are reduced by interest). (Brealey et. al., 2009)
At first glance this suggests: If the MFI lowers interest rates on its loan products, its operating profit margin will
decrease, so ROA will decrease and subsequently ROE decreases as well. If, however, leverage is increased (the first
element in the ROE formula), the MFI can increase ROE significantly, despite lower costs to its clients. As a result, both
the investors and the clients would be happy. However, this argumentation is not so straight forward, as higher
leverage directly affects the riskiness of a company and the ROE investors require. As will be argued, in some
circumstances this might actually be counterproductive to both the institution and its clients.
174
The trouble of traditional banks’ high leverage was also observable in Mexico, as Citigroup and several cajas
populares increased debt to be able to lend more and failed.
70
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 more on its borrowings on the one hand, and reducing the loan cost charged to its clients on the other. A
social business might go for the latter.175 Yet, this argument is not so straight forward and depends on
the specific circumstances of each institution. There is some kind of an optimal middle which must be
calculated for each institution according to its characteristics. This is a complex process, requiring
extensive analysis. It is also important to remember that besides the amount of debt, there are many
factors affecting an institution’s risk rate, the risk of equity is also influenced by the risk of assets, and
there are also external risks, including the country risk.176
Due to the inherent risk of debt, MFIs may not choose to be as leveraged as commercial banks, but there
is certainly some room to increase debt-to-equity for several MFIs, as the table below ranking Mexican
MFIs according to their ROA suggests:
Table 6.8: Debt-to-Equity Ratio of 7 Most Profitable MFIs in Mexico
Institution (31/12/2007) Type ROA ROE Debt‐to‐Equity CONSERVA Non‐Profit (NGO) 27.53% 49.41% 83.81% CompartamosBanco Bank 20.02% 45.66% 123.33% ALSOL Non‐Profit (NGO) 18.82% 47.36% 143.26% COCDEP Non‐Profit (NGO) 17.85% 33.45% 92.58% Financiera Independencia Non‐bank FI 15.18% 29.54% 72.50% GCM Non‐bank FI 12.43% 37.81% 96.94% Creamos Microfinanciera Non‐bank FI 11.86% 86.40% 532.55% Source: The MIX Market, 18.02.2009
Compartamos has a low debt-to-equity ratio, while it also captured savings worth US$91,684 in 2007
(deposits-to-loans: 0.02%). This suggests commercial debt in the form of bank loans is considerably low.
All other MFIs in the table do not capture deposits and (apart from Creamos Microfinanciera) also have a
low debt-to-equity ratio. The above table suggests, the most profitable MFIs could still lever up.
As confirmed in the Banana Skins study 2008, there is presently no shortage of funding, particularly in
the LAC region, and too much funding may even be more of a problem, so access to debt capital should
not be an issue. With regards to the cost of commercial debt in Mexico, the interest rates are usually
between TIIE28 + 0.75 and TIIE28 + 5.0. TIIE is the InterBank Equilibrium Interest Rate published by
the central bank.177 Moreover, lower interest rates can be obtained through special programs, such as
FIFOMI178 that charges TIIE28 + 0.5.179
While a comprehensive analysis of the optimal capital structure for the specific risk characteristics of the
MFI’s assets is beyond the scope of this work, the evidence so far suggests many Mexican MFIs could still
lever up and lower interest rates, but only up to a certain point. Beyond that point, increasing debt
results in higher risks, that at some stage may be so high risk that the institution might actually need to
increase interest rates to compensate for the higher expected return to its investors.
175
Rosenberg, 2007, p. 11-12
Mexico is a recipient of considerable foreign investment which requires public companies to remain relatively safe.
This might be another factor convincing MFIs to keep leverage relatively low and, accordingly, interest rates relatively
high.
177
As a reference TIIE 28 days is usually taken.
178
Fideicomiso de Fondo Minero
179
Information obtained via email from Jorge Alberto Cantú Morales, Director of Management Control (Gerente de
Control de Gestión), Créditos Pronegocio, subsidiary of Banorte
176
71
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 In the following, profitability will be compared with efficiency.
As evident from the table below, Mexican MFIs have the highest ROA, while they are also the most
inefficient when compared to MFIs in other subregions. The nominal and real yield on gross portfolio is
significantly higher for Mexican MFIs than for institutions in the rest of the LAC region. This suggests, the
high ROA of Mexican institutions is the result of a very high portfolio yield, while the institutions are
considerably less efficient than their counterparts in other LAC subregions.
This observation was also confirmed in the 2008 Benchmarking Report for Latin America:
“Microlenders in Mexico continued charging higher interest rates and were more profitable despite
higher operating costs and lower efficiency. However, these figures began to moderate in 2007.”180
Table 6.9: Profitability, Efficiency and Leverage – LAC Subregions
2007 Mexico Central America South America Caribbean Number of MFIs 44 75
153
11 283 Age 7 14
14
10 12 OVERALL FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE Latin America Return on Assets (ROA) 2.30% 1.60% 1.70% 0.60% 1.70% Return on Equity (ROE) 12.0% 6.1% 7.2% 4.8% 7.2% Yield on Gross Portfolio (nominal) 61.6% 33.2% 28.3% 45.5% 31.7% Yield on Gross Portfolio (real) 55.40% 24.60% 23.10% 37.00% 26.20% Efficiency (Op. exp. / GLP) 43.0% 20.6% 16.1% 42.7% 19.5% 2.0 2.0
3.4
1.6 2.7 Debt‐to‐Equity Source: Mix, 2008
In the following, these observations shall be further examined. First, the recent trends in equity
investments shall be highlighted, followed by an analysis of further explanations for the low debt-toequity ratio of Mexican MFIs, particularly with regards to deposit mobilization. Afterwards, the level of
profitability in Mexico will be examined in the Latin American context. A deeper understanding of these
aspects will allow for a brief analysis of the relation between leverage, profitability, efficiency and interest
rates for Mexican MFIs. As will be shown, all these aspects vary among different institutions. Finally,
additional factors influencing loan costs shall be highlighted briefly, such as trends in the area of portfolio
risk and globally rising commodity prices.
Trends in Equity Investments
Referring to the situation worldwide, Richard Rosenberg concluded that
“few MFIs make really high profits: the median inflation-adjusted return on loan portfolio for MFIs
worldwide was 1.1 percent in 2006. MFI profits are much lower than what one would typically see in
an emerging industry, before competition sets in − so much so that very few MFIs are attractive
investment targets for commercial, profit-maximizing investors.”181
Against this background, Mexico presents a special case, given that the high profitability of several MFIs
has drawn investors, attracted by very competitive returns, to the industry. The Mexican microfinance
sector has attracted considerable attention from equity investors, due its high profitability and, in part,
the two successful IPOs in 2007. The 2008 Benchmarking Report for Latin America points out:
180
MIX, 2008, p. 3
CGAP, 2008, Are Microcredit Interest Rates Exploitative? An interview with CGAP expert Rich Rosenberg, (June 17,
2008)
181
72
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 “Mexican microfinance was a hot investment during the period as many investors preferred to share in
MFIs profits through equity stakes rather than finance their growth.”182
Considerable equity investments into MFIs were made by international investors during the period from
2005 to 2007. The private equity subsidiary of JP Morgan, Brysam Global Partners, made a large
investment in Apoyo Económico Familiar, while Grupo ACP from Peru, the owners of MiBanco, now hold a
controlling share in Forjadores de Negocios.183
Deposits
Apart from the growing number of equity investors attracted to the Mexican market, there may also be
additional reasons explaining why Mexican institutions use relatively little debt capital. An important
aspect is the mobilization of deposits. When comparing the proportion of institutions funding their gross
loan portfolios with deposits from the public, at first glance, Mexican MFIs captured more savings relative
to loan portfolios than MFIs in the other subregions in 2007. When institutions with more than 100,000
loans, i.e. large deposit taking cooperatives like Caja Popular Mexicana and Caja Libertad, are excluded
from the analysis, however, the results are very different. In the latter case, South American MFIs were
far above their Mexican counterparts in terms of loan portfolio covered by deposits. Thus, the loan
portfolio coverage of Mexican MFIs differs significantly when the largest institutions are excluded (less
than 25 percent) as compared to the result when all MFIs are included in the analysis (more than 75
percent).184
Figure 6.11: Voluntary Deposits to Gross Loan Portfolio – LAC Subregions
Source: MIX, 2008, p. 7
In the rest of the LAC region, particularly in more mature markets, MFIs tend to capture deposits which
provides additional capital for making new loans. In Mexico, however, there have been little incentives for
MFIs to mobilize deposits, given the regulatory environment and sufficient funds available from other
sources. As MFIs have been funding their growth through equity and high profits, while there is no
significant pressure on prices, and as there are also established governmental entities with the objective
of providing funds to financial intermediaries, MFIs may not yet have an incentive to intermediate
deposits. Moreover, the new unregulated legal structure SOFOM which many MFIs have adopted, is less
182
183
184
MIX, 2008, p. 4-5
MIX, 2008, p. 8
MIX, 2008, p. 6-7
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 strict on supervisory and reporting requirements and does therefore not allow institutions under this legal
structure to capture deposits from the public. The number of regulated MFIs that would be authorized to
mobilize deposits is relatively small in Mexico.185 Some smaller institutions have also felt their clients
were more likely to deposit their money with larger established banks and are therefore less prepared to
enter the market of savings products.186
With respect to regulation, the highest proportion of regulated MFIs can be found in the South American
market. This is mainly due to favorable regulatory regimes, particularly in the Andean countries. New
regulatory regimes have contributed to increased regulation in the CAC subregion. The market coverage
by regulated MFIs is still very low in Mexico. It is also interesting to note, that in other Latin American
countries, commercial banks began to enter the microfinance market in the late 1990s, while in Mexico
this interest of the formal financial sector became apparent several years later. When the few largest
institutions are excluded from the analysis, only 12.4 percent of all borrowers were served by regulated
institutions in 2007.187
Table 6.10: Market Coverage of Regulated MFIs – LAC Subregions
Indicators Number of MFIs Borrowers GLP Depositors Voluntary Deposits MEX (44) All MFIs (283) CAC (86)* SA (153) MFIs with less than 100,000 loans (259) MEX (39) CAC (86)* SA (134) 11.4% 19.8% 41.8% 7.7% 19.8% 30.8% 49.6% 59.1% 65.2% 37.5% 59.8% 92.4% 74.1% 87.0% 96.4% 12.4% 20.3% 74.5% 37.5% 59.8% 92.4% 70.3% 89.3% 96.3% 69.8% 97.4% 96.2% 47.5% 97.3% 98.4% * There are no MFIs with more than 100k loans in the CAC subregions
Source: MIX, 2008, p.6
Transformation into regulated institutions is expected to increase in all subregions in the coming years.188
Several Mexican MFIs consider transforming from SOFOM into a regulated SOFIPO in the medium term,
which will allow them to capture deposits and provide remittances services. In 2008, several
cooperatives, among them Caja Libertad and Caja Popular Mexicana, became regulated.189 Credi-Capital
became regulated recently and began to capture deposits from the public in April 2008. Both AlSol and
Forjadored de Negocios have plans to transform into a SOFIPO in the long term to be able to accept
deposits and remittances.190
Profitability
With regards to sector performance, the highly profitable Mexican sector, in terms of ROA, has recently
experienced a performance more in line with the rest of the region. According to the 2008 Benchmarking
Report for Latin America, “increasing competition and the desire to grow rapidly to capture market share
put pressure on the margins of Mexican institutions on both the income and expense sides.”191
Even established MFIs like Compartamos experienced a decline in ROA for the first time in years, facing
185
MIX, 2008, p. 6-7
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p.34
187
MIX, 2008, p. 6
188
A number of NGOs in Bolivia became regulated in 2008 under the new classification Instituciones Financieras de
Desarrollo and began to mobilize deposits. Some Central American countries are considering a new regulatory
framework for MFIs, like the one recently implemented in Honduras. (MIX, 2008, p. 6)
189
MIX, 2008, p. 6
190
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 34
191
MIX, 2008, p. 8
186
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 new competition from institutions like Conserva and large consumer lenders like Banco Azteca and Banco
Wal-Mart.192
Figure 6.12: Change on Adjusted ROA – LAC Subregions
193
Source: MIX, 2008, p.9
Profitability in Mexico also varies across the geographic regions. Large institutions and those located in
the South were more profitable than those in the Center and North.
Figure 6.13: Adjusted ROA - MFIs in Mexico
Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 36
192
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 35
The increasing profitability of MFIs in the CAC subregion, as evident from the graphic below, can be explained by
the fact that many institutions in Costa Rica and Guatemala achieved financial self-sufficiency around that time. (MIX,
2008, p. 8)
193
75
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 The low profitability in the Center is in part due to the fact that many MFIs in this region forwent profits
in order to grow and invested in new offices, technology and personnel. The central region, including
Mexico City, has become one of the most competitive in the country.194
It is interesting to note that Mexico has both, some of the region’s most profitable and some of the least
profitable MFIs, as displayed in the graphic below. As Mexico is the emerging market of the region, some
of its MFIs are faced with considerable inefficiencies, while other MFIs invest in growth and forgo profits
in the short-term. In the other subregions, particularly in South America, the variation in profitability is
much lower.195
Figure 6.14: ROA Dispersion – LAC Subregions
Source: MIX, 2008, p. 9
Despite these differences and a recent decrease in profitability, some Mexican MFIs remain exceptionally
profitable.
194
195
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 36
MIX, 2008, p. 9
76
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Ranking the MFIs in Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina listed on the MIX Market
according to their ROA as of 2007, gives the following result:
Table 6.11: Profitability Ranking – MFIs in 6 LAC countries
Country ROA
ROE (31/12/2007) (31/12/2007) Institution Type CONSERVA Non‐Profit (NGO) Mexico
27.53%
49.41%
CompartamosBanco Bank
Mexico
20.02%
45.66%
ALSOL Non‐Profit (NGO) Mexico
18.82%
47.36%
COCDEP Non‐Profit (NGO) Mexico
17.85%
33.45%
Financiera Independencia Non‐bank FI Mexico
15.18%
29.54%
GCM Non‐bank FI Mexico
12.43%
37.81%
Creamos Microfinanciera Non‐bank FI Mexico
11.86%
86.40%
Diaconia Non‐Profit (NGO) Bolivia
11.63%
13.36%
FUBODE Non‐Profit (NGO) Bolivia
10.28%
20.43%
Emprender Non‐Profit (NGO) Bolivia
9.97%
41.29%
CONTACTAR Non‐Profit (NGO) Colombia
9.59%
18.64%
FMM Popayán Non‐Profit (NGO) Colombia
7.14%
28.75%
FRAC Non‐Profit (NGO) Mexico
8.21%
18.26%
Credi‐Capital Non‐bank FI 7.84%
28.52%
CRECER Non‐Profit (NGO) Bolivia
7.57%
20.00%
Mexico
AMEXTRA Non‐Profit (NGO) Mexico
7.56%
17.52%
FINCA – MEX Non‐Profit (NGO) Mexico
7.39%
24.05%
FMM Bucaramanga Non‐Profit (NGO) Colombia
7.14%
41.90%
WWB Cali Non‐Profit (NGO) Colombia
6.17%
26.51%
IMPRO Non‐Profit (NGO) Bolivia
6.03%
10.99%
ATEMEXPA Non‐Profit (NGO) Mexico
5.60%
20.97%
FINCOMUN Non‐bank FI Mexico
5.02%
19.47%
CAFASA Non‐bank FI Mexico
5.01%
33.48%
IDEPRO Non‐Profit (NGO) Bolivia
5.01%
12.78%
FONCRESOL Non‐Profit (NGO) Bolivia
4.53%
5.58%
Source: Data taken from The Mix Market, as of 14 February 2009
According to this analysis, 14 of the 25 most profitable MFIs in the LAC region are located in Mexico.
How Profitability, Efficiency, Leverage and Interest Rates Impact Each Other
As has been shown above, Mexican MFIs tend to be underleveraged as compared to MFIs in the rest of
the region. There are, however, differences among the Mexican MFIs with regards to leverage, which is
worth noting.
New MFIs raised their debt-to-equity ratio to 3.0 in order to achieve rapid growth. As can be seen from
the table below, in 2007, new MFIs with a median age of 2 years had larger loan portfolios than young
MFIs with a median age of 6 years and about half the size of the portfolio of MFIs with a median age of
13 years. To grow rapidly, new institutions forwent profits. While charging high interest rates, they
77
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
invested heavily in staff and infrastructure.196 As one would expect, new MFIs are also considerably less
efficient than young and mature institutions.
Table 6.12: Profitability, Efficiency & Leverage According to Institutional Age
2007 Mexico AGE Rest of Latin America New Young Mature New Young Mature Number of MFIs 15 11 18 11 41 187 Age 2 6 13 3 7 16 Return on Assets 0.0% 4.9% 3.2% 0.8% 0.8% 1.8% Return on Equity ‐0.1% 14.1% 20.3% 2.3% 6.0% 7.2% Yield on Gross Portfolio (nominal) 78.5% 56.5% 56.6% 30.4% 31.6% 30.1% Yield on Gross Portfolio (real) 71.7% 50.5% 50.6% 28.1% 25.4% 23.5% Efficiency (Op. Exp. / GLP) 63.9% 32.1% 41.0% 47.4% 19.5% 16.9% 3.0 1.5 2.3 1.7 3.4 2.6 OVERALL FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE Debt‐to‐Equity Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX América Latina, 2007
When comparing Mexican MFIs according to size, medium-sized MFIs in Mexico and large MFIs in LAC had
the highest debt-to-equity ratio, while the ratio was significantly lower for small MFIs. In Mexico, large
institutions charge higher interest rates and are also more profitable than smaller MFIs. Small MFIs,
however, also charge high interest rates to cover low economies of scale and finance growth.
Interestingly, large MFIs in the rest of the LAC region are also more profitable than small and medium
institutions, but they charge lower interest rates measured in terms of portfolio yield, are more efficient
and they also use significantly more debt in relation to equity.
Table 6.13: Profitability, Efficiency & Leverage According to Institutional Size
2007 SIZE MEXICO REST OF LATIN AMERICA Small Medium Large Small Medium Large Number of MFIs 20 14 10 85 66 88 Age 6 6 14 12 12 16 Return on Assets 2.5% 1.4% 3.2% 0.5% 1.6% 2.1% Return on Equity 14.2% 4.6% 20.3% 1.8% 6.1% 13.3% Yield on Gross Portfolio (nominal) 62.6% 56.8% 77.4% 32.9% 33.4% 27.2% Yield on Gross Portfolio (real) 56.4% 50.8% 70.7% 29.3% 23.8% 20.4% Efficiency (Op. Exp. / GLP) 46.6% 41.0% 40.6% 26.7% 21.0% 13.9% 1.4 3.4 2.9 1.2 1.9 5.4 OVERALL FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE Debt‐to‐Equity Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008; All figures are medians
196
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 30
78
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 With regards to the lending methodology, MFIs focusing on village banking (often in rural areas) were
considerably more profitable in terms of ROA and ROE, while they were also less efficient and charged
higher interest rates measured in terms of yield. MFIs making individual loans have a higher debt-toequity-ratio (4.6) than those with a solidarity (1.9) and village bank (1.4) methodology. An explanation
might be that regulated institutions with more access to debt capital tend to make individual loans.
Table 6.14: Profitability, Efficiency & Leverage According to Lending Methodology
2007 Mexico METHODOLOGY Village Bank Solidarity Individual Number of MFIs 10 21 13 Age 6 7 11 Return on Assets 4.8% 2.6% 0.3% Return on Equity 17.6% 14.3% 2.4% Yield on Gross Portfolio (nominal) 78.7% 59.5% 53.6% Yield on Gross Portfolio (real) 71.9% 53.4% 47.7% Efficiency (Op. Exp. / GLP) 54.7% 38.2% 46.8% 1.4 1.9 4.6 OVERALL FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE Debt‐to‐Equity Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX América Latina, 2007
MFIs in the North of Mexico have the highest debt-to-equity ratio (3.9), followed by those in the South
(2.7) and those in the Center (1.7). As has been mentioned, competition is particularly fierce in the
Center and many MFIs in this region have made significant investments into infrastructure and staff while
forgoing profits in the short-term. On the other hand, they also have the highest yield and are less
efficient than MFIs in the North and South. This might be an indication that MFIs in the Center continue
to charge high interest rates, despite competition, so as to cover their elevated expenses and fund their
growth. Given the low gearing ratio, high interest rates may be the result of funding expansion to a large
extent through retained earnings.
Table 6.15: Profitability, Efficiency & Leverage According to Region
2007 ZONE Mexico North Center South Number of MFIs 5 24 15 Age 11 6 7 Return on Assets ‐0.7% 0.3% 5.7% Return on Equity ‐4.6% 2.1% 30.9% Yield on Gross Portfolio (nominal) 49.3% 78.7% 59.5% Yield on Gross Portfolio (real) 43.6% 71.9% 53.4% Efficiency (Op. Exp. / GLP) 39.7% 58.5% 32.7% 3.9 1.7 2.7 OVERALL FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE Debt‐to‐Equity Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX América Latina, 2007
79
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 In the North, interest rates are lower, but MFIs did not achieve profitability in 2007 due to the presence
of established banks in the region. In the Center, MFIs charged higher interest rates, but didn’t reach the
break-even point. In the South MFIs exhibit a combination of comparatively moderate interest rates and
a strong profitability. They benefitted from more moderate cost structures compared to the other regions
of the country. 197
Considering the principal statistics for Mexico, the debt-to-equity ratios of MFIs ranged from -3.3 to 10.7.
Real portfolio yield ranged from a minimum of -13.5 percent to a maximum of 113 percent. While the
minimum ROA was -44.2 percent, the highest ROA made up 26,1 percent. Similarly, the ROE ranged
from -369.7 to 112,9 percent. This huge range reveals that a number of MFIs are making significant
returns on their equity (as high as over 100 percent), while the median MFI lies at 12 percent, and some
MFIs have a large, negative ROE. This, once more, shows that there are considerable differences among
the MFIs in Mexico. While benchmarking reports highlight these wide ranges, a lack of public,
unambiguous information on an institutional level and non-transparent pricing make it difficult for all
stakeholders to differentiate among MFIs and determine the ones with the best practices.
Table 6.16: Profitability, Efficiency & Leverage According – Principal Statistics for Mexico
2007 Mexico Minimum 1st Quartile Median 3rd Quartile Maximum Average Number of MFIs 44 44
44
44
44 44
Age 1 3
7
11
47 9
OVERALL FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE Return on Assets ‐44.2% ‐2.7%
2.3%
6.6%
26.1% ‐0.3%
Return on Equity ‐369.7% ‐5.0%
12.0%
26.8%
112.9% 2.2%
Yield on Gross Portfolio (nominal) 18.0% 46.0%
61.6%
81.7%
121.5% 63.4%
Yield on Gross Portfolio (real) 13.5% 40.5%
55.4%
74.8%
113.0% 57.2%
Efficiency (Op. Exp. / GLP) 10.8% 30.9%
43.0%
63.5%
176.5% 52.9%
‐3.3 1.2
2.0
4.1
10.7 2.8
Debt‐to‐Equity Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX América Latina, 2007
Other Factors Potentially Impacting Interest Rates
Portfolio risk was gradually falling in the LAC region between 2005 and 2007. Repayment problems as a
result of over-indebtedness did not seem to be an issue in Mexico in 2007, which may be explained by
the unmet demand for financial services that still exists. Given the growing supply of micro-loans, the
lack of strong credit bureaus and issues such as inflation and rising commodity prices globally, repayment
issues may become more serious in the coming years.198
197
198
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 37
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 39
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Figure 6.15: Change on Portfolio at Risk > 30 Days – LAC Subregions
Source: MIX, 2008, p. 10
Portfolio at risk was relatively high in the North and Center, and relatively low in the South, in 2007.
Accoring to the 2008 Mix and ProDesarrollo Benchmarking report for Mexico,
“Nonetheless, the high risk wasn’t sufficient to diminish the returns of the large MFIs, as they could
compensate the increase in portfolio-at-risk with higher interest rates”.199
This suggests MFIs may choose to temporarily neglect risk management strategies and improvements in
the lending methodology to control delinquency, as they can easily pass on the risk premium to their
clients by charging higher interest rates.
Figure 6.16: Portfolio at Risk According to Size and Region – Mexico
Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 39
199
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 39; Translated from Spanish
81
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 In 2008, portfolio risk was on the rise in Mexico.200
Rising world food prices may impact MFIs, and while demand for larger loans is likely to increase in the
short-run, rising input costs may affect efficiency and prospects for lower interest rates.201
6.4 Transparency, Competition and Interest Rates
The beginning of this chapter highlighted that several MFIs in Mexico seem to be charging interest rates
outside of the normal range, thereby making much higher profits. In the previous section, it was pointed
out that prices do not fall significantly despite competition, as the vast majority of MFIs pursue the same
strategy of financing operations through profits, without any one institution putting pressure on prices. It
also suggested that rising cost of operations can easily be passed on to the clients. At the same time, the
principal statistics for Mexico exhibited a significantly wide range with respect to profitability, efficiency
and portfolio yield (interest rates) of the various MFIs.
The Mexican microfinance market is one that utterly lacks transparency, particularly with regards to
product pricing. The analysis so far indicates that in non-transparent markets, prices remain high despite
competition, inefficient institutions can compensate their higher costs by raising prices, and some
institutions make exceptionally high profits, while the stakeholder can barely differentiate among the
industry players.
This section seeks to provide additional evidence, and the relation between competition, profitability and
interest rates shall be examined in more detail.
Concentration
The geographic concentration of MFIs in Mexico has fueled an increase in direct competition among MFIs
in recent years. Considering the data of 69 MFIs of ProDesarrollo, which account for about 80 percent of
all MFI branches in Mexico, the following market coverage can be determined202:
200
201
202
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 40
MIX, 2008, p. 10
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 24
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Figure 6.17: Market Coverage – MFI branches in Mexico
Source: MIX & ProDesarrollo, 2008, p. 26
The highest concentration of MFIs can be found in the Center-South. Those states with the largest
number of MFIs and the highest competition are Chiapas (34), Veracruz (26), Estado de México (22) and
Distrito Federal (21). Apart from Chiapas, these states also have a large population. Those states with
the smallest number of MFIs (4 on average) are Baja California Sur, Colima, Durango and Quintana Roo.
There are states with a larger number of MFIs, but which are mainly located in the capital cities, while in
other states there is a smaller number MFIs, but the institutions are located in various municipalities.
While Veracruz, Chiapas, Estado de México and Puebla are the states with the highest number of
branches, in Chiapas and Estado de México the branches cover 35 percent of all municipalities, while in
Veracruz it is 21 percent and in Puebla only 12 percent. In Tabasco and Distrito Federal all municipalities
are covered, and in Sinaloa 13 of 18 have a branch. 14 states have branches in less than 20 percent of
municipalities, 11 states in between 20 and 50 percent, and 7 states have branches in 50 percent of all
municipalities. Some branches serve multiple municipalities, however. In 23 municipalities, there are
more than 10 branches, which means, 24 percent of all branches are concentrated in these
municipalities. 211 municipalities have only one branch.203
The following table shows the increase in the number of branches from 2007 to 2008 in the four states
with the largest number of branches and indicates the rapid expansion and intensifying competition.
Table 6.17: Increase in Number of Branches 2007-2008
State Branches 2007 Branches 2008
Veracruz 94 158
Chiapas 132 156
Estado de México 100 133
Puebla 54 72
Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008
203
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 25
83
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 A comparison of the number and age of MFIs in each of the three regions and their financial performance
and profitability, as published in the 2007 Benchmarking, suggests the following:
Table 6.18: Concentration and Profitability
2007 ZONES North Center South Number of MFIs 5 24
15
Age 11 6
7
30,207,958
INSTITUTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS Total Assets 109,000,769 71,688,783
Offices 13 19
5
Personnel 116 144
41
OVERALL FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE Return on Assets (ROA) Return on Equity (ROE) ‐0.7% 0.3%
5.7%
‐4.6% 2.1%
30.9%
Operational Self‐Sufficiency 101.0% 105.2%
119.6%
Financial Self‐Sufficiency 96.6% 103.5%
116.7%
Yield on Gross Portfolio (nominal) 49.3% 78.7% 59.5% Yield on Gross Portfolio (real) 43.6% 71.9%
53.4%
REVENUES Source: ProDesarrollo and MIX América Latina, 2007
The largest number of MFIs is located in the Center, followed by the Southern region. This confirms the
findings of geographic concentration of MFIs in Mexico mentioned above. The Center is also the region
with the highest portfolio yield204. The South is the region with the highest profitability in terms of ROA
(5.7 percent) and ROE (30.9 percent), as well as the highest level of operational and financial selfsufficiency. As already pointed out in the previous section, MFIs in the Center are heavily investing in
their growth and temporarily forgo profits as a result. They also have a low gearing ratio and tend to
finance growth through retained earnings. This explains the high interest rates despite competition. Cost
structures are relatively lower in the South, which explains the profitability and efficiency of MFIs in this
region.
Competition
The above mentioned concentration of MFIs in certain regions was confirmed in the direct responses from
MFIs of ProDesarrollo.205 As the responses indicate, MFIs are aware of their strongest competitors in their
locations of operation. While they have no or only very rough estimates as to how many of their clients
have previously been with another institution (an indicator of whether MFIs are actively competing for
clients), most respond that such switches exist and that many of their clients have been with some MFI in
the past. Many also cannot tell whether they share clients with other institutions, i.e. whether clients also
use the services of competitors at the same time. Moreover, MFIs tend to charge the same interest rates
in different locations. They explain that expenses are very similar and result in similar loan costs. As a
result, prices are said to be the same in each location, as the competition also charges the same prices in
204
205
both nominal and real; 78.7 percent and 71.9 percent respectively
Appendix 36
84
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 each location (due to the cost aspect). Thus, MFIs don’t appear to have differentiated pricing according to
location. One MFI also mentioned the prices can sometimes vary with the degree of competition. Some
said the interest rates depend on the behavior of the market. Generally, however, it was emphasized that
pricing is based on the characteristics of each product and is the same for the same type of product
irrespective of the location.
Box 6.1
Competition and value to the client
While institutions do not seem to be competing over price, they do appear to compete in the sense that they seek to improve their service and enhance value to the client in this regard. Competition has encouraged the optimization of existing methodologies by identifying aspects of the product design which could be made more attractive from the perspective of the client. While this is generally desirable in light of innovations, it is quite delicate in that it may unintentionally destruct carefully designed incentive mechanisms that are critical to the model’s success, such as social capital, a critical component of the village banking model, that may lose strength as group meeting rules are being relaxed. Enhancing value to the client is an objective that should be continuously pursued, particularly with regards to minimizing transaction costs (e.g. cost of attending meetings, costs of travel and obtaining legal documents).206 However, when changing aspects of existing methodology, the critical success factors of the methodology in order for microfinance to function well, must be kept in mind. Unethical Conduct vs. Market Principles
The history of the ProDesarrollo Code of Ethics and its expected impact may also shed some light on the
competition and transparency issue.
The research carried out by Alpízar and González-Vega for AFIRMA207 in 2005 identified the rapid growth
in competition as a major uncertainty for many MFIs, particularly the emergence of “disloyal” (desleal)
competition. These reported unfair practices of some MFIs have included the “stealing” of loan officers of
competitor MFIs in order to obtain relevant client information and dismissing them once the required
information on the competitor has been obtained; offering a loan to the clients of competitors which
would allow them to cancel their loan obligation with that institution if they took out a loan with the new
institution; damage the image of a competing MFI by making its announcements of meetings
“disappear”; and assisting at promotional meetings of competing MFIs to collect information and attract
potential clients. As a result, ProDesarrollo excluded an MFI from their network and designed a Code of
Ethics which would prevent such unfair practices among their network members.
The Code of Ethics for client protection and fair competition has generally been judged as a desirable
initiative. At the same time, it should be emphasized that there is a clear distinction between unethical
practices and market principles related to healthy competition. The destruction of property or the image
of a competing institution are clearly illegitimate, as is the misleading of clients, credit officers and other
members of staff. Offering services which better meet the demand of the market, or attracting
experienced staff by offering more attractive benefits (head hunting), are market practices. Though they
may be aggressive market practices, they are generally acceptable and should not be surprising in a
young market characterized by rapid expansion. It may be difficult to distinguish between aggressive
market practices and unethical practices, particularly in a market that has only recently experienced
206
UNCDF Distant learning course
Project on the access to rural microfinance, funded by USAID/México and implemented by Development
Alternatives Inc. (DAI)
207
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 active competition.208 Given this background, MFIs might perhaps find it challenging to strike the right
balance and maintain fair but active competition.
Expected Impact of Voluntary Standards
According to the MFI respondents from ProDesarrollo209, the Code of Ethics enhances transparency
towards the clients with regards to the loan conditions, which will allow for comparability among different
MFIs’ products. Moreover, it is expected to result in higher quality service and lower prices, due to
improved competition and efficiency. MFIs also referred to the importance of the Code with respect to
preventing over-indebtedness, upholding healthy competition, maintaining good practices, and
strengthening the performance of MFIs and the sector. As one respondent explained:
“I believe the code of ethics is a beginning for the solidity of the MFIs, the transparency with the
clients regarding the loan conditions, not to over-indebt the clients and to maintain a healthy
competition, this will allow to benefit the clients so that they can compare between the MFIs.”210
Another respondent summarized the positive impact on collaboration between MFIs as follows:
“The communication through this code of ethics has made transparent the information and the
complaints between the MFIs about the whole area of human resources, and a better communication
has been achieved for better practices which at the end benefit the client. For example the stealing of
employees together with the theft of the loan portfolio, the theft of information, the comparison of
interest rates and loan conditions, the overdue indices, etc.”211
The respondents also mentioned that this will further allow them to promote an enabling regulatory
environment and necessary legislation by the government. On the other hand, some MFIs pointed out it
was still a long way for transparency to be improved, while some also tend to regard the Code as selfprotectionism without much impact.
208
209
210
211
Alpízar and González-Vega, 2006, p. 64-66
See appendix 36
appendix 36; translated from Spanish
appendix 36; translated from Spanish
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Box 6.2 Is a “Loan-Shark” Approach Really More Profitable?
Short-term vs. Long-term Profitability
There has been a general perception that some institutions charge interest rates that are higher than necessary and by doing so, make a considerable profit. High interest rates, however, are not necessarily and not always the best strategy to profitability. To consider this, it is useful to examine the strategy of a traditional moneylender. Example: Even if we assume an interest rate of 90 percent, which is likely to be far below the rate a traditional money lender would charge, and compare this interest rate with one of 45 percent, the long‐term benefit of both the lender and the debtor are apparent. Assume the loan size is 50 percent of the borrower’s wealth. Moneylenders make very small loans on which they charge very high interest rates. As a result, the borrower who invests the loan in his business will have a fairly small profit margin. Due to this, his assets that could possibly serve as collateral will not considerably increase over time and the next loan he is going to take out with the moneylender will not be significantly larger than during the first loan cycle. In this example, the effect of the lower interest rate (45 percent) on profitability becomes apparent after the 7th cycle, where the lender’s wealth is already larger than it would be in the case of an interest rate of 90 percent charged. Charging the higher interest rate can only be rational where the lender has a short‐term horizon which lies below the 7th cycle. As the moneylender is a monopolist, he has the bargaining power and decides upon the terms. The interest rate he chooses will be set at the highest possible level – at a level that will just allow the borrower to make enough to live and will force him to return for another loan cycle. It is interesting to note, that this phenomenon of dependency might be an explanation for “client loyalty” that is not actually based on customer satisfaction. Paradoxically, this strategy of maximum return means that the moneylender himself will not be able to significantly increase his profits over time, as he continues to loan out very small amounts on which the very high interest is charged as a percentage. So what might appear to be rational from a monopolist’s perspective, may in the end be counterproductive to the profit‐
motive. If he instead pursued a loan policy that allowed the borrowers to graduate to higher loan cycles and gradually take out higher loans, he would actually increase his profits over time. One reason why the moneylender does pursue the first strategy is that this allows him to stay in power and uphold the mentioned dependency. Yet, this means he himself remains poor, along with the communities he serves. This can only be considered “rational” where the monopolist has a very short‐term horizon, for he takes as much as he can today instead of making a much greater return tomorrow. Instead, a strategy of long‐term profitability would make himself better off, along with his clients. (Durham, 2007)
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 6.5 Transparency Regulation and Consumer Protection in Mexico
Transparency
“The information – on prices and conditions – provided by the MFIs in Mexico is not clear, neither for the clients, the investors, the practitioners, nor the researchers.” – Alpízar et. al., The Ohio State University, Project AFIRMA212 The Mexican microfinance sector lacks transparency in several ways. It is relatively complex to analyze
the sector, given that available information is scarce and there is no institution that collects all
information about the different MFIs.213
Alpízar et. al. argue, there has long been a considerable reluctance among MFIs to share accounting
information and information on strategy. The majority of MFIs have the capacity and do prepare financial
statements, but are reluctant to share that information for a variety of reasons, many related to
competition. The multiple juridical figures coexistent in the Mexican market until recently and the lack of
distinctiveness among them, has also fostered the fragmentation of information.214
The ProDesarrollo and MIX National Benchmarking Report 2008 highlights the importance of transparency
and points out, the absence of transparency presents a major challenge for the development of the
industry, given that MFIs and second-tier institutions seek to establish strategies for sustainable growth
without relying on consistent, systematic and objective information to analyze risks and make solid
decisions.215
ProDesarrollo in collaboration with the MIX Market has made efforts to improve transparency in the
sector and publishes benchmarking reports of its member MFIs. AFIRMA also seeks to make transparent
and publish information, and develop indicators that allow for comparison. The past years have seen
significant improvements in the area of financial and operational transparency. Downward transparency
towards clients, however, has been widely neglected.216 According to Alpízar et. al., “the information – on
prices and conditions – provided by the MFIs in Mexico is not clear, neither for the clients, the investors,
the practitioners, nor the researchers.”217
212
213
214
215
216
217
Alpízar and González-Vega, 2006, p. 53; translated from Spanish
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 15
Alpízar and González-Vega, 2006, p. 52
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 13; also compare interview with Gustavo del Angel, appendix 20
Compare interview with Gustavo del Angel, appendix 20
Alpízar and González-Vega, 2006, p. 53; translated from Spanish
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Consumer Protection and Financial Literacy
“It is an illusion to believe transparency creates a competent consumer, without education. If you provide transparency without the possibility to apply this information, you do not live up to your claim of transparency, and it doesn’t change anything.” ‐ Dr. Gabriel Schor, Management Board, ProCredit Holding 218 According to the executive summary of the report on client protection in Mexico of the Center for
Financial Inclusion (CFI)219, “the status of client protection in Mexico appears to be strong because it has
the backing of important political and economic sectors and action is being taken by influential players.”
The report concludes: “In paper, the Mexican consumer protection regime is strong and shows great
concern with issues of transparency, overindebtedness, competition and fairness.”220
However, in Mexico it has been widely echoed that in practice, transparency and consumer protection
constitute major challenges, particularly with regards to the target clients of microfinance.
Transparency Law and Disclosure Requirements
In its report, the CFI refers to the Transparency and Financial Order Law of 2007 and the Total Annual
Cost (CAT) banks must present to their customers. There are a number of significant issues with this
regulation, however:
 The majority of MFIs are not regulated:
CAT disclosure requirements do not apply for most MFIs, as they are not regulated. The vast majority
does not disclose effective rates.
The annual report of the financial system published by Banco de México, the central bank of Mexico,
did not make any reference to microfinance, because of the issues with the CAT law, which
underscores the issue of transparency.221
 Legal exemption:
It is fairly easy for financial institution to get a legal exemption, so as to not comply with the law. The
controversial consumer lender Banco Azteca, for instance, is not obliged to disclose its CAT due to a
legal exemption and does not publish it. Regulation is ineffective if it is not consistently applied in
practice. Dr. Mark Schwiete of KfW Entwicklungsbank points out:
“Politicians need to take enough interest to enforce minimum standards, also against the special
interests of individuals.“222
 Disincentive of disclosure:
The CAT is based on the EIR formula which results in extremely high effective rates for micro-loans
(exponential time value of money, chapter 8), so small-credit institutions (whether consumer lenders
or responsible enterprise lenders like MFIs) have an incentive not to display rates in CAT-terms.
218
219
220
221
222
Sersonal interview, appendix 22; translated from German
The CFI is housed at ACCION and is financed by ACCION with the returns from the Compartamos IPO.
Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International, 2009
Interview with Gustavo del Angel, appendix 20
Personal interview, appendix 23; translated from German
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 It is essential to take into account the widespread issue of financial literacy, as well as behavioral
phenomena that go beyond the mere understanding of basic financial products:
 Financial literacy:
Financial literacy constitutes a major challenge. Even where the disclosure of effective Interest rates is
achieved, the figures may not be meaningful to the target clients as long as they lack financial
literacy. Gabriel Schor of the ProCredit Holding board points out:
“We have learnt that disclosure as such is not sufficient. That’s why we regard financial literacy as
an extremely important part.”223
Dr. Gustavo del Angel of CIDE and the ProDesarrollo Board regards the CAT as a very complex
formula, he argues it lacks transparency as only products with the same characteristics can be
compared when using the CAT. For the clients of microfinance, it is largely meaningless:
“As I see it, the CAT really is a complicated formula, and imagine a lady who makes [and sells]
food and wants to buy a mixer [and she goes to a consumer financier] and they show her the CAT
– what is it telling me? Obviously what people in Chiapas and Oaxaca want to know is ‘how much
will you lend me and how much will I pay back?’”224
A more simple and transparent formula, coupled with educational schemes that ensure the target
market genuinely understands how it can be applied and used as a means of comparison, might result
in better informed decision making.
 Behavioral phenomena:
Moreover, even if a more easily understandable formula than the CAT was chosen that would allow
clients to compare the true costs of different offers, financial education schemes may have to go
beyond the basics of financial literacy and take into account behavioral phenomena as well. Social
Entrepreneur Antonio Galvan Luna explains:
“We have the problem of financial education in Mexico. There is evidence that people do not take
financial decisions based on the discounted cash flows of their liabilities, even if they are presented
with straightforward comparison tools (…), but on other behavioral phenomena like their ability to
comply with the weekly payments or the marketing appeal.”225
Adeodato Carbajal Orozco, Subdirector of Finance at Financiera Independencia adds:
“Mostly they (clients) decide to take a credit with the first MFI that offers it to them. Given the
level of clients we target (low-income segment), our clients don’t make a benchmarking of the
different options of credit, they just take the first one that they are being offered.”226
 Idiosyncratic characteristics:
This behavioral aspect may be related to another phenomenon entrenched in society. In the course of
a discussion on the idiosyncratic characteristics of Mexico, Antonio Galvan Luna reflected upon what
he has come to call the static society:
“Mexicans tend to believe that the overall situation and social status is a static state and not a
dynamic one. Like the aggregate states, liquid, solid, gas, in Mexico we have the rich, poor,
politicians, entrepreneurs, employees, etc. And even though a liquid can become a gas, it is
common to think of an object in its natural state. A stone will always be a stone, except for the
unlikely event that someone would transform it into something else (like building material, etc.)
The same seems to be happening in Mexican society, every person tends to act and develop
223
Personal interview, appendix 22; translated from German
224
Personal interview, appendix 20; translated from Spanish
225
Personal interview, appendix 18
226
Personal interview via email, appendix 36
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 according to their natural social state, and will stay there, unless a very unlikely event occurs. The
rich tends to develop and act like a rich, the poor like a poor.”227
According to his experience as a social entrepreneur in Mexico, this phenomenon has a direct impact
on the consumer behavior, which may also explain why financial institutions that charge comparably
high interest rates and make considerable profits attract a significant number of clients, even though
there are alternative offers that may better meet the demand of the clients:
“This is exactly why the marketing of businesses targeting the low-income segment works to
perfection. It seems like the poor are attracted by the mere fact that an institution positions itself
as ‘for the poor’, such as a ‘bank for the poor’, even after so many frauds of cajas populares that
left many people without their savings. I could open a caja popular and people would come to me
and give me their money or ask me for a loan, even if they have no clue who I am or who is
supporting me; but the fact that I am called ‘caja popular’ or ‘bank for the poor’ attracts people.
And coming back to the marketing, doesn't it sound creepy when a caja popular offers you a loan
of $4,000.00 if you deposit just $1,000.00?”228
He adds to this:
“For the same reason the supermarket Chalita had so much success by positioning itself as a
supermarket for the poor. It was always packed even though its prices were not lower, they were
even higher than those of conventional supermarkets like Comercial Mexicana or Wal-Mart. If we
could read the mind of a Chalita client, they would probably think: ‘If this shop is for the poor, and
I am poor, I should go there.’”229
This suggests, the sound decision making of clients requires more than basic financial literacy. The
target market of microfinance would need to be fully aware that understanding the concept of
effective interest rates and using them as a means of comparison would make them more
economically stable and improve their bargaining power. Efforts would need to go beyond basic
financial literacy and include strengthening consumer awareness, education and confidence in their
competence as consumers and citizens.
The Consumer Protection Agency CONDUSEF
The CFI report correctly points out the responsibilities of the consumer protection agency CONDUSEF230
and mentions the Law of Protection and Defense of the Financial Consumer, however it fails to mention
the implications for microfinance.
CONDUSEF’s schemes on consumer protection and education are focused on clients of mainstream banks
and financiers offering insurance, in urban areas – not on the broad microfinance and popular finance
segment, even less in rural areas. Gustavo del Angel points out:
“It [CONDUSEF] doesn’t think about the 4 or 5 million consumers of the rural sector.”231
As financial literacy is a major issue, it has implications for protection schemes. Clients do often not know
their rights are violated as they are unaware of what their rights are; moreover, they often have trouble
describing their problem, so in most cases they would not report abuse even if there was a way to report
it. As Gustavo del Angel explains:
“Moreover, the problem is that these people have a low level of education and it’s difficult to explain to
an employee of CONDUCEF what problem they have. Maybe they don’t even know what their problem
is. In the first place, it’s necessary to identify the problem, sometimes they say it’s possible and
maybe it’s not possible, because sometimes the employee doesn’t even know about it and they say
227
228
229
230
231
Based on conversations and blog
Based on conversations and blog
Based on conversations and blog: www.negociosgalika.blogspot.com
The National Commission for the Protection and Defense of the Users of Financial Services
Personal interview, appendix 20; translated from Spanish
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 that this isn’t a problem, that the bank is fine, maybe not even they know. Yes, really, there is a
serious problem with financial literacy.”232
Expected Improvements
The majority of stakeholders in Mexico seem to be aware of the transparency and financial literacy issue
and affirm it.233 Gustavo del Angel points out:
“I hope there will be a change and there has to be a change, because this whole sector it’s something
that has a future, but it’s necessary to have a financial literacy scheme.”234
The CFI refers to a speech delivered by Dr. Carstens of Mexico’s Ministry of Finance and Public Credit in
July 2008, where the Minister raised concerns about over-indebtedness and announced several actions,
such as a media campaign to prevent over-indebtedness, as well as actions primarily to be carried out by
CONDUSEF such as a permanent exhibit in the Interactive Museum of Economics of the Bank of Mexico
on credit, savings and insurance, and the organization of the First National Week of Financial Culture, as
well as a “unique strategy of financial education”. The report also refers to the closing words of the
deputy, who – in his tentative working agenda - pointed out the need for more and better mechanisms of
transparency and the benefits of increased competition. The CFI refers to the “explicit commitment on
behalf of the financial authorities to take consumer protection seriously”235, and the intention to take
action and address the issue of over-indebtedness is indeed desirable. Yet consumer protection requires a
consistent commitment on the part of the state, and a re-orientation of CONDUSEF to include the millions
of (potential) microfinance clients into its schemes, and to consider their specific needs. It is also worth
noting that the limited budget of CONDUSEF presents a constraint to its capacity to extend its financial
literacy schemes and include the target market of microfinance, as its current budget is already curtailing
its capacity to provide households in rural area with information they require to make informed
decisions.236
Niclaus Bergmann, Deputy Director of the Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation
(SBFIC) argues, the importance of financial literacy has been recognized in Mexico lately, and a number
of institutions, among them CONDUSEF, BANSEFI and Freedom from Hunger, are taking action.237
Freedom from Hunger/Alcance México has developed informational material which it offers to interested
MFIs in Mexico. A number of MFIs, among them ProMujer, have incorporated financial literacy into their
operations. According to the SBFIC, international sponsors and donors can play an important role in the
initial stage and provide funding for the purpose of developing materials and implementing trainings for
the trainers of financial literacy. Freedom from Hunger pursues this strategy in Southeast Asia. SBFIC
also points out that with regards to long-term financing, financial institutions themselves hold a stake in
well-performing clients and therefore have implemented financial education initiatives themselves in
many countries238 around the world.239
ProCredit Holding has also developed extensive didactic material on financial education for adults.
ProCredit banks in countries around the world, including Mexico, have made financial education an
integral part of their products. Gabriel Schor emphasizes:
232
Personal interview, appendix 20; translated from Spanish
compare personal interviews and questionaire to ProDesarrollo member MFIs affirming the issue, appendices
234
Personal interview, appendix 20; translated from Spanish
235
Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International, 2009
236
SBFIC, 2007
237
Personal interview, appendix 24
238
In some southern African countries, financial institutions are required to invest a certain percentage of their profit
into consumer protection, which the SBFIC regards a successful approach to achieve long-term funding.
239
SBFIC, 2007
233
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 “Financial literacy is part of the product, just like the bankbook. (…) Financial education is the policy of
the entire group and a substantial part of our mission.”240
However, he also points out: “We certainly contribute to this, but we cannot change the whole society.“
While MFIs can contribute to the financial literacy of their clients, most stakeholders believe large-scale
impact requires the state to make financial literacy a priority of education.241 In its study on financial
literacy, SBFIC argues:
“Given that Mexico has a population of more than 100 million, of whom around 30 million are under
14 years of age, mainstreaming financial literacy in school curricula is of particular importance
here.”242
The Ministry of Education has undertaken efforts, lately, to integrate the basics of financial literacy into
the curricula of secondary school.243
Aligning Incentives
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it” – Upton Sinclair While appropriate consumer protection schemes are critical, responsible lending also requires an active
commitment on the part of the institutions themselves and their adherence to the standards set out. It
should be borne in mind that a huge problem associated with over-indebtedness are adverse incentive
schemes encouraging predatory lending. This has been particularly observable for consumer lenders, in
cases where institutions are driving demand as a consequence of the incentive schemes they designed for
their staff.244 Incentive schemes like rewarding credit officers for the number of contracts they score,
leading to an erosion of business standards and inadequate repayment capacity analysis, is clearly
counterproductive to long-term viability, both for the client and the institution. This can only be a
strategy where short-term profitability ranks above long-term profitability, as it can plunge people into
poverty and jeopardize financial sector development.245
Designing the right incentives for credit officers is a key challenge, even for MFIs with a strong social
mission. As Julio Luna of Grameen Trust Chiapas points out, credit officers of MFIs are poor themselves
and need to earn enough to feed their family. One large loan will generally be more convenient for them
than several small loans. They will also have an interest in serving clients in easily accessible areas.
However, what is in the interest of the credit officer may not necessarily be in the interest of the clients.
Thus, the key challenge for an MFI is to design incentive schemes that align the interests of the clients
with the interests of the credit officers.246
It is the central bank that decides on the types of institutions authorized to provide financial services, and
it is its responsibility to set out standards, monitor these standards and ensure they are consistently
applied in practice. Both the regulatory authority and the financial institutions themselves play a critical
part in designing appropriate incentives schemes.
240
Personal interview, appendix 22; translated from German
See personal interviews in the appendices
242
BFIC, 2007, p. 50
243
Personal interview with Niclaus Bergmann, appendix 24
244
Adverse incentive schemes have been one of the key issues in the case of Banco Azteca leading to client
overindebtedness. (see box 6.4)
245
Zeitinger, 2008
246
Compare interview with Julio Luna from GrameenTrust Chiapas, appendix 26
241
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 This underscores what have also been the lessons of the global financial crisis: The state has a role to
play in setting the rules of the game to avoid reckless market behavior, while market-based incentives
are also critical, as will be discussed in detail in chapter 7.
Box 6.3 Transparency on Client Information
Analyzing Debt Capacity: Over- vs. Under-Indebtedness
According to Alpízar and González‐Vega, most MFIs in Mexico, particularly those with a group lending methodology, lack the capacity to measure the actual payment capacity of their clients. A great deal of that information remains at the group level. As a result, the loan sizes are relatively low and do not take the legitimate demand for larger loans of some clients with higher repayment capacity into account. The dissatisfaction of these clients with the limited options available to them can motivate them to take out loans from various MFIs at the same time. In this regard, it is often difficult to tell if there is a situation of over‐indebtedness or if it is in fact under‐indebtedness. Particularly due to the limited capacity of the MFI to estimate the clients’ repayment capacity, they may misjudge such a situation. While it is prudent for the MFI to rather make a loan which is actually lower than the repayment capacity of the client than vice versa, this may encourage efforts of the clients to seek complementary loans with other institutions. To avert this uncertainty regarding the repayment capacity of individual group members, some MFIs using the group lending methodology also conduct an individual analysis of each group member, although this is more costly. Risk of Over-indebtedness
However, there is also a real issue of over‐indebtedness, as experience from Latin America reveals. The increased competition for capital and clients may lead to credit institutions driving demand, as they seek to increase their market share. In Bolivia, for example, there was a period of over‐indebtedness of micro‐entrepreneurs during 1996 and 1998, which was driven by the entrance of consumer lending institutions that used the credit scoring methodology247 which was not appropriate for the market of self‐employed Bolivian workers. These institutions clearly lacked the capacity (personnel‐ and methodology‐wise) to meaningfully estimate the payment capacity of the micro‐entrepreneurs they began to serve. In Bolivia, the MFIs eventually managed to cope with this challenge, but it is worth noting that these MFIs were more mature and experienced than the Mexican MFIs currently are. As consumer lending institutions with a clear profit motive are also rather strong in the Mexican popular finance market, they may be increasingly competing for the same target clients as the MFIs, as was the case in Bolivia. (Alpízar and González‐Vega, 2006) 247
Some Latin American MFIs have been exploring the credit scoring methodology, which is one that was developed
and primarily used for consumer lending, in particular, to evaluate salaried people applying for credit cards in
developed countries. The application of this technique in the microfinance context is highly controversial, as it has
considerable limitations. This method seeks to quantify the risk of non-payment, which directly links the probability of
payment to the characteristics of the borrower, the loan and the lender. It is important to recall that microfinance
revolutionized the financial sector because the methodology is based on intangible information that cannot be
quantified. Group members base their decisions on their knowledge of the payment capacity and effort of each
individual member. It should be appreciated that the quantifiable characteristics of micro-entrepreneurs and selfemployed are little related to their actual payment capacity. For institutions using the group lending method, the use
of credit scoring may not even reveal much new information. The cost of implementing this methodology is very likely
to exceed the potential benefits for MFIs.
(Alpízar and González-Vega, 2006)
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Box 6.4 Predatory Lending: Consumer Credit
Consumer lenders are increasingly targeting the same or a similar market segment as MFIs. Consumer loans, however, are very different from the principles of micro‐credit, as they are not providing capital to aspiring entrepreneurs. This can be particularly problematic in countries with weak consumer‐
protection laws, like Mexico. In countries like Mexico, where a significant proportion of the population lives below the poverty line, a consumer lending mentality can constitute a serious problem and severely damage the local microfinance sector, driving poor families into over‐indebtedness, and can undermine their chances of ever qualifying for a micro‐loan again, if their default of the loan is reported to a credit risk bureau. As Pilar Ramirez reported from Bolivia, in the context of the Banana Skins study, “microfinance is now seen as a highly profitable area in which to invest, (…) attracting many new profit‐seeking players with access to funding and technological advances that genuine microcredit players will find very hard to compete with.”248 These players offer short term consumption loans on which they charge very high interest rates, instead of focusing on productive activities which are at the core of the microfinance concept and seriously emphasizing repayment capacity and reasonable interest rates.
248
249
The most influential consumer lending institution in Mexico is Banco Azteca together with the Elektra stores. It is part of the Grupo Elektra. The Famsa stores are considered an imitation of this business model. Both Banco Azteca and Famsa offer a range of services besides credit, such as deposits, money transfer, payment services, life and car insurance, credit and debit cards and have established a network of ATMs. As MFIs increasingly seek to offer additional products and services, these consumer lending institutions have become more direct competitors.249 The altering reports from BusinessWeek with regards to adverse incentives and predatory lending practices of loan officers of Banco Azteca, suggest a worrying trend with respect to aggressive consumer finance. Coupled with non‐
transparency and the lack of financial literacy that characterizes the target market, this may have serious consequences for the clients who may fall back into poverty as a result. In a country like Mexico that is characterized by significant economic inequalities, large profits at the expense of low‐income households that are to a large extent made possible because of market imperfections and are further undermining transparency, financial literacy and the sustainable development of healthy markets, are clearly counterproductive and not a viable solution to economic advance.
CSFI/New York CSFI, 2008, Microfinance Banana Skins 2008, p. 28
Carlos A. Alpízar, Claudio González-Vega, El Sector de Las Microfinanzas en México, Proyecto AFIRMA, 2006
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Box 6.5
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Credit Bureaus as a Solution for Enhanced Transparency
Credit Bureaus
A constant effort at an international level to reduce the costs and risks of providing microfinance, has lead to a discussion on possible ways to improve the availability of client information through credit bureaus. Institutions like credit bureaus seek to reduce the cost of analyzing loan applications by making available information on the credit history of persons or enterprises via credit reports. This information is obtained from institutions offering credit that provide their databases to the credit bureau. The credit bureau thus acts as an intermediary, taking advantage of economies of scale with respect to information management. Ideally, credit bureaus use a universal policy, in the sense that they manage the information of regulated as well as unregulated financial institutions. In some cases, regulatory barriers, a lack of trust and fear of competition may limit the information made available. The perceived advantages of credit bureaus include the reduction of transaction cost, particularly the cost of evaluating credit applications of applicants with a credit history, a reduction in the risk of adverse selection, increased transparency in the information on borrowers, as well as the increased capacity to predict potential payment arrears. Moreover, the improved access to information will stimulate competition among institutions and it will increase the incentive of clients to pay punctually as the information on their payment behavior is now publicly available. For well‐performing clients, the good payment history represents an intangible asset that may help them qualify for larger loan amounts. These clients may also encourage competition as their bargaining power may increase. The transparency in this information may also prevent opportunistic behavior that sometimes increases as the sector becomes more competitive. It may also prevent a crisis like the one that took place in Bolivia, as information on the indebtedness of potential clients is more readily available. (Alpízar and González‐Vega, 2006) Potential risks: With regards to the point related to making the client’s history publicly accessible, in my view ‐ although providing repayment incentives is very valuable ‐ this solution might be culturally problematic in some regions, like for instance in rural areas in Mexico. Various cases of over‐indebted clients in rural and semi‐urban communities have shown that due to social norms deeply entrenched in these communities, indebted families are prepared to sell all their belongings in a strong effort to safe “face” and not lose their reputation in their community. As Pablo from SeraPaz has explained250, reputation in many communities is far more important than tangible assets and having a reputation as somebody not fulfilling his loan obligation can be detrimental in these societies. As a result, indebted families have gone as far as selling their house and returning to local loan sharks in an effort to fulfill their obligations with the financial institution. This is particularly worrying, as not all of these clients may be held accountable for their default on a loan, particularly when they were offered a loan by a profit‐driven and irresponsible lender that does not sufficiently assess the repayment capacity and does not responsibly explain the loan obligations to clients that generally lack financial literacy. If these clients default on their loan, they will not only lose face in their community, but they may also never qualify for a loan again once their information is captured by a credit bureau. How much of a threat this is needs to be further examined. But as more (short‐term‐) profit‐oriented players like consumer lenders enter the market, it is worth considering this aspect. In Mexico
In Mexico, there used to exist only one private credit bureau, Buró de Crédito, which was not very relevant for MFIs, as the fees were high due to its monopoly position and the fact that there was not much information related to the target market of MFIs. In early 2005, a second credit bureau, Círculo de Crédito, was opened which is part of the Grupo Salinas. The information was mainly based on the loan transactions of the Elektra stores and Banco Azteca which are also part of this group. Given that the market segment served by these two institutions is relatively close to that served by MFIs, the information is consequently more relevant to microfinance. With the entrance of Círculo de Crédito, the fees for the services offered by both of the credit bureaus fell. Círculo de Crédito and ProDesarrollo, AFIRMA and the Ministry of Economy (Secretaría de Economia) joined forces to develop specific products for the microfinance sector in this context.251 Potential risks: While these developments are generally desirable, I feel it is important to keep in mind that this credit bureau is part of the same group as Banco Azteca and the Elektra stores and obtains client information from them. If one is to take the BusinessWeek reports seriously − with regards to predatory lending of loan agents of Banco Azteca (due to reverse incentive schemes) −, I find it questionable if this shared information about bad payment history may not have an adverse effect, as it may be possible that these clients would have indeed paid well had their capacity been analyzed properly and their loan obligations made transparent to them. Gustavo del Angel highlights that “(a few years ago) Banco Azteca had (…) 14 million clients in its overdue accounts receivable (…) and it has continued to do so since then by overheating the market. They are giving out loans stupidly when the people could have borrowed from a caja in an orderly way”.252
250
Conversation with Pablo Romo Cedano of SeraPaz held on November 4, 2008 in Mexico City
251
Carlos A. Alpízar, Claudio González-Vega, El Sector de Las Microfinanzas en México, Proyecto AFIRMA, 2006
252
Personal interview, appendix 20; translated from Spanish
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 7. Alternative Approaches to Transparency
There are market-based approaches to enhance transparency and government intervention into the
market. Some argue that only the state can enforce rules. On the other hand, imposing regulation
without providing market-based incentives may result in market players only meeting the minimum
standards set out by legislation or even incentivize them to circumvent the rules imposed.
7.1 Government Level
7.1.1 The Government’s Role in Microfinance
There is widespread consensus on the key determinants of the regulatory framework in microfinance. The
main role of the government is to create an enabling environment and to promote the sustainable
development of local markets as well as institution building. As ACCION points out,
“for microfinance institutions to operate and grow, several financial sector policies must be in place.
Without these, experience shows that microfinance, regardless of how effectively it is being delivered,
will stagnate.”253
Supportive political interference can be highly desirable if it is directed at shaping an enabling
environment or results in more appropriate regulation. It is critical for the government to provide the
right incentives and prudential regulation. According to the World Bank,
“competition that helps foster access can also result in reckless or improper expansion if not
accompanied by the proper regulatory and supervisory framework.”254
Governments also play a critical role in developing financial infrastructure that promotes technological
advances. This will allow financial institutions to reduce transaction costs and will produce positive results
even before the long-term process of institution building is completed. Moreover, Public-PrivatePartnerships can be a solution to first-mover disincentives and provide for risk sharing.255 Addressing a
critical aspect of governmental support, ACCION argues,
“it is only when top-level officials, including the president of the countries, play an active role in
making microfinance a priority that other policymakers, such as central banks and relevant ministries,
begin to take microfinance institutions seriously, and move to address regulatory issues”.256
It is important to consider that before constructing a regulatory framework, a number of well-managed
and sustainable MFIs should already be established to avoid unintended consequences such as attracting
other types of institutions, like commercial consumer lenders.257
253
254
255
256
257
Marulanda and Otero, 2005, p. 36
The World Bank, 2008, p. 15
The World Bank, 2008, p. 16
Marulanda and Otero, 2005, p. 36
Marulanda and Otero, 2005, p. 37
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 7.1.2 The Risk of Counterproductive Government Intervention
While the government can play a critical role in strengthening the market and establishing certain rules
within a market, some interventions can also be highly counterproductive.
Despite considerable consensus on the government’s role in microfinance, in practice, political
interference constitutes a serious problem in several microfinance sectors. It includes subsidizing
government-sponsored institutions, directed lending and caps on interest rates. Governmental MFIs with
subsidized interest rates have the negative effect of distorting the market, creating a poor culture of
repayment, operating without a long-term vision and tend to reach the more powerful clients. This can
have long-term ramifications for the healthy development of local markets and institution building. It
should be noted, however, that there are also public institutions with sound management and commercial
principles that have emerged as important microfinance providers, such as Banco do Nordeste in Brazil
and Banco Agrario in Colombia. While governments should not create new public banks, the revival of
established banks may successfully convert them into public MFIs of high quality.258
MFIs in several regions have experienced undesirable government intervention. A lack of appropriate
regulatory structures and adverse incentives have been cited by respondents of the Banana Skins survey.
An inappropriate regulatory framework can constitute a serious threat to the successful development and
the viability of MFIs, create legal uncertainty and impede efforts of MFIs to formalize, or even force MFIs
to change their legal structure. Bureaucratic obstacles in some countries have also restricted the
operations of MFIs. In other cases, political interference has even corrupted the market as populist
politicians spoke out against MFIs and encouraged their clients not to repay their loans, which constitutes
a serious problem with long-term consequences for the healthy development of the local microfinance
sectors.259 As ACCION points out,
“one has to differentiate between genuine interest in creating thriving microfinance institutions, which
is reflected in regulations and norms, and a passing, political interest, which may set in motion
precisely the regulatory environment that will harm microfinance in the long term.”260
Even in countries where positive change on the political sphere has been observable in recent years, a
certain political risk often continues to exist and may not be apparent at first glance, but constitutes a
critical aspect to be able to understand the sector developments and political decision-making. Gustavo
del Angel explains:
“(...) people come here, specialists of the World Bank, the colleagues from Ohio, and then they don’t
quite understand that here in Mexico, there is a problem of political risk, and a political risk is that the
government wants to use this sector politically, injecting resources through the sector (…)”261
258
Marulanda and Otero, 2005, p. 37
259
CSFI/New York CSFI, 2008, Microfinance Banana Skins 2008, p. 16-17
260
Marulanda and Otero, 2005, p. 36
261
Personal interview, appendix 20; translated from Spanish
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 The Ramifications of Caps on Interest Rates
Box 7.1
News Flash From Mexico
Senators from the President’s party PAN are currently (early 2009) discussing legislation to lower interest rates charged on loans, among the proposed solutions are maximum interest rates. Interestingly, until the end of 2008, the president of the Senate, Gustavo Madero, was reported to be against interest rate ceilings: “I don’t believe in arbitrary and artificial caps, but in reforms to rely on a more efficient and less expensive credit and financial market”262. Instead, he pointed out, improved transparency was required. Deputies of the opposition party PRI, on the other hand, lobbied for caps on interest charged on consumer loans by commercial banks, calling their high rates an “asalto a los ciudadanos” (assault on the citizens) that would eventually affect the loan portfolio at risk of the entire country due to repayment difficulties of borrowers. The discussion was sparked by the fact that commercial foreign banks charge much higher interest rates in Mexico than in their country of origin (e.g. Scotiabank 76% in Mexico and 18% in Canada, BBVA Bancomer up to 80% in Mexico and 25% in Spain, Banamex (Citigroup) 80% in Mexico and 12% in USA). (El Economista, 9.12.2008) Entrepreneur Carlos Slim ‐ who has been announced (in 2008) to launch an initiative with Muhammad Yunus to “take Grameen Bank to Mexico” (Earth Times, 29.09.2008), has also been lobbying for interest caps. Perhaps surprising – at least where this also includes microfinance – , given that economists are well aware of the adverse effects interest caps have on access to finance for the poorer segments of the population and considering that Slim is one of the world’s richest business men (richest in 2007, third richest in 2009263) controlling 200 companies. The commission for consumer protection in financial services CONDUCEF, on the other hand, is opposed to interest caps, pointing out this would restrict access to credit for low‐income households and has never shown the desired results in any part of the world. It argued competition, information and a stable macroeconomic environment would bring down prices: “To place a cap on interest rates of credit cards that the banks charge is like the death penalty which doesn’t show any results”264. (El Mañana, 10.12.2008) Similarly, the banking association ABM expressed concerns that this strategy would affect the unbanked sector, particularly in rural areas, and result in a shortage. Lately, the debate has shifted from credit cards to include microfinance. In the same discussions, reference has been made to Muhammad Yunus criticizing some Mexican MFIs, ahead of all Compartamos, for charging particularly high interest rates. The economic recession and decline in remittances in the wake of the global financial crisis have been cited as affecting the repayment capacity of poor borrowers, so there is a perceived urgency to intervene. Some populist accusations have come up during the debate, often ignoring the context and refusing to differentiate between consumer lenders, retail stores and MFIs. Legislation to curb very high credit card interest rates was approved by the Senate in April 2009 and is supported by the anti‐trust commission. Reuters points out: “While critics say Mexico's banks do not compete between themselves, studies also show that the country's consumers fail to shop between different banks.” (Reuters UK, 21.04.2009) Banks have raised concerns that this could result in less lending and cause consumers to turn to loan sharks. It is not clear whether further legislation on interest caps can be expected and whether these might affect microfinance. The apparent sudden change of opinion of the President of the Senate (PAN) has come at a surprise and might be a result of the considerable pressure from the public, the opposition party and other influential parties. This might potentially be reinforced by the fact that some elections are scheduled for 2009. The Chamber of Deputies will be elected on July 5, 2009, while in six states new governors are to be elected. PAN won presidential elections for the first time in 2000, after PRI had been ruling the country since its inception in 1929. PAN does not have a majority in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate (the two chambers of the Mexican Congress). There seems to be some kind of a political risk as well when it comes to financial services to low‐income households in Mexico. This aspect of political risk has in the past become apparent in a number of political moves, for instance when one of the previous governments engaged in direct lending to provide “credit for everyone” without doing so in a responsible manner, which had several negative consequences. 262
Translated from Spanish; original quotation: “no creo en los topes arbitrarios o artificiales, sino en reformas para
contar con un mercado de crédito y financiero más eficiente y a menores costos .”
263
Forbes, 2009
264
Translated from Spanish; original quote: “El poner un tope a las tasas de interés de tarjetas de crédito que cobran
los bancos es como ‘la pena de muerte’ que no da resultados.”
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 When the government intervenes in the market, demand and supply cannot freely determine the
equilibrium price and quantity. In the case where artificial ceilings are below the equilibrium price, the
allocation of resources is distorted.
The consequence is that people who demand small loans remain without access to finance, as the
interest ceiling makes it uneconomical to serve them. As they are no longer served by the formal
economy, they have to turn to the informal economy in order to have access to finance. This intervention
thus encourages illegal lending. Interest ceilings ignore the fact that the main reason for high interest
rates in microfinance is that it is uneconomical and therefore unsustainable to make small loans at lower
interest rates. Imposing a ceiling on interest rates without providing an alternative solution to access to
finance, results in the government effectively denying access to those people it seeks to protect.265
In the example below, the ceiling is set to 40 percent. Any loan sizes below $500 are no longer
economical and will no longer be offered.
Figure 7.1: The Effect of an Interest Ceiling
Interest Rate & Loan Size
140%
120%
Interest Rate
100%
80%
60%
Ceiling
40%
20%
0%
$0
$200
$400
$600
$800
$1.000
Loan Size
265
Mohane, 2002, p. 4-8
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 As illustrated in Figure 7.2, the interest ceiling creates a shortage.
Figure 7.2: Interest Ceiling and Access to Finance
Price
Price
S‘
S
D
S
D
PE
PE
PC
PC
shortage
shortage
Quantity
QC
QE
Q*
Quantity
QC’
QC
QE
Q*
Source: adopted from Happy Mohane et. al., 2002, p. 5
As interest rates cannot rise above PC, there is no incentive for the suppliers to increase the quantity of
loans beyond QC. At the same time, the demand for loans is actually higher at price PC (point Q*) than in
the equilibrium point (QE). The resulting shortage is the difference between Q* and QC.
Some suppliers may even choose to leave the market, which causes the supply curve to shift inwards and
increases the shortage. Quantity QC’ will be supplied in this case.266
As has been shown, interest caps have the adverse effect of limiting access to credit. MFIs may leave the
market, be hindered in their growth and market outreach, and adapt their products in a way that results
in limited access, such as increasing the average loan size. Caps also lead to a concentration in
geographic areas where costs are lowest. In effect, this may actually lead to reduced pricing
transparency, as MFIs may try to hide the costs by adding hidden and confusing charges. As a result, this
kind of government intervention will not only limit access to low-income people, but also undermine
efforts to enhance transparency.267
Placing a ceiling on the interest rate is like price controls to reduce inflation, which lead to shortages, a
suboptimal allocation of resources and the emergence of a black market – in this case, loan sharks. If
market principles, like covering the costs involved, are not respected there won’t be any provision of
credit in the long term, as an unsustainable business inevitably has to close down in the long-run.268
As the World Bank points out:
“Interest ceilings fail to provide adequate consumer protection against abusive lending. Increased
transparency and formalization and enforced lender responsibility are more coherent approaches,
along with support for the overborrowed (such as assistance in finding a viable workout plan or
formalized personal bankruptcy schemes).”269
266
267
268
269
Mohane, 2002, p. 5
Rosenberg, 2006, p. 13
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 19
The World Bank, 2008, p. 16
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Outlawing Flat Interest
It is intuitive that interest is charged on the declining outstanding loan balance, since this is the amount
the borrower actually holds at a certain point in time. According to William Tucker, CEO of the SEEP
Network,
“’flat interest rates’ are not interest rates per se but rather a simple percentage used often within NGO
marketing strategies to disguise the true (i.e. higher) interest rates of a microenterprise loan”.270
In many countries, such as Mexico, it is not only NGOs, but also other types of MFIs using flat interest. As
flat interest may be deceiving and effectively results in a much higher APR and EIR, governments might
choose to outlaw this interest calculation method.271 As a result, all financial institutions would be
required to charge interest on the declining balance, which might make prices more transparent.
However, this might also encourage MFIs to come up with a new marketing strategy to hide the true loan
costs, so disclosure requirements, upward and downward transparency and financial literacy are still
indispensable in order to ensure transparent pricing. Thus, outlawing flat interest as such is not
necessarily counterproductive, depending on complementary measures taken to ensure this kind of
regulation does not create incentives to come up with new techniques of hiding the true loan costs.
7.1.3 Conclusion: Government Intervention
Competition determines the price of loan products, not legislation. Rather than regulating interest rates,
governments should stimulate competition, promote transparency and provide adequate consumer
protection. This will foster efficiency and innovation, so that prices come down, while it prevents abusive
lending and collection, and ensures truth-in-lending (i.e. borrowers are not deceived). Competition
results in lower rates if lenders have the incentive and ability to lower prices272.273
The government plays a critical role in shaping the regulatory framework to enable market entry, a
favorable operating environment and the coexistence of a variety of institutions. Moreover, its task is to
create a stable macroeconomic environment and ensure transparency about performance, prices and
customer base. With respect to consumer protection, governments should establish disclosure
requirements to allow for transparency and comparability, promote consumer education and financial
literacy, so borrowers can make informed decisions based on the disclosed information, and define
certain rules for lender behavior to prevent abusive lending and coercive collection techniques.274 In the
long-run, effective truth-in-lending legislation is indispensable for healthy financial markets, transparency
and consumer protection.
7.2 Industry level
The experience of the formal financial sectors in countries worldwide has shown, where truth-in-lending is
effective, it was generally implemented by the government through legislation. In most countries were
MFIs operate, however, it may take a long time for truth-in-lending legislation covering the microfinance
sector to be effectively implemented. Therefore, an immediate initiative coming from the industry-level is
highly desirable until legislation is in place. There are a number of market-based approaches providing
incentives for the desired behaviour of market players.
270
Tucker, 2000, p. 7
Charging interest on the original loan amount is not consistent with the definition of interest as ‘the charge for the
use of money over time’.
272
As an example from Bolivia: In 1992 BancoSol had an APR of 64%, today it is at 22%. (Rosenberg, 2006, p. 18)
273
Rosenberg, 2006, p. 18
274
Rosenberg, 2006, p. 22
271
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Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 7.2.1 Branding Microfinance
Self-regulation has generally been judged as illusionary. And it is often argued voluntary codes of ethics
are simply that - voluntary. In most cases, they are subject to wide interpretation and there is no
accountability. Market approval and brand value, on the other hand, might provide a powerful incentive.
Transparency (and socially responsible behavior) can be driven by market forces through branding or
certification. For this purpose, an MFI certification logo could be created, similar to the Fair Trade logo or
the EU “ISO” quality logo, so the market evaluates the integrity of an MFI. The certification could possibly
be under the aegis of the United Nations (UN), any other supranational organization or any independent
and credible organization. The certifying organization could be initially funded by microfinance donors or
intermediaries that have the relevant expertise and standing. In the medium to long term, the required
funding should be raised through the due diligence and certification process, as well as advisory and
seminars for MFIs to prepare for the implementation of the required standards. Regional and international
MFI networks or other intermediaries, such as the Grameen Foundation, FINCA, ACCION and ProMujer
could play a vital role in promoting the benefits of the certification logo and raise awareness on the set of
standards required in order to be certified. Social investors like Oikocredit and IFIs like KfW could play a
crucial role by encouraging the MFIs they are funding to get certified.275
To draw a parallel to the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement, companies increase efforts to
achieve competitive advantage by developing their CSR or sustainability brand value. Many people doubt
the actual social and environmental impact of CSR, because of the difficulty associated with controlling,
evaluating and certifying CSR. Both CSR and Fair Trade branding have been accused of hypocrisy due to
a lack of control and regulation, accountability, and transparency in the due diligence process. However,
the very fact that firms compete for CSR brand value suggests that branding can be a strong incentive. It
is also important to keep in mind that traditional businesses have a single-bottom line that is profit, so
people are naturally suspicious about their CSR proclamations. Microfinance, on the other hand, emerged
as a double-bottom line industry, so MFIs may be more interested in proving their social impact and
transparency to their stakeholders, while they might also be more interested in actually meeting the
standards in order to remain loyal to their mission. Yet, despite double-bottom line aspirations, social
impact and pricing transparency are neither guaranteed nor necessarily consistent among MFIs. Branding
microfinance in a reliable and consistent fashion could provide a critical incentive for institutions to get
certified and establish brand value in order to attract donors, investors and clients, and enhance their
reputation in the global industry. In the coming years, the certification logo may become so important for
competitive advantage that the majority of MFIs in the industry will strengthen efforts to comply with the
standards set out. In the long-term, certification might even be required by the regulatory authorities.276
One of the main concerns raised in relation to branding has been the question of who monitors the
monitor. Therefore, the critical success factors for the credibility of certification is the credibility and
integrity of the certifying organization as well as the due diligence process and techniques of measuring
the set of standards. Thus, when it comes to the question of the certifying institution, the key issue is
that of data integrity. There are a number of organizations in the industry that could be considered for
providing the transparency certification:
 Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) at ACCION
The CFI has announced a Campaign for Client Protection in Microfinance to be launched in spring
2009. The Campaign emerged partially as a result of the Pocantico Declaration, a statement
expressing principles and concerns, issued by 25 leaders in microfinance that came together in
275
For the positive influence the donor community can have on desired standards, compare interview with Mark
Schwiete of KfW Entwicklungsbank (appendix 23)
276
based on discussion “Social Mission” on the MicrofinancePractice (MFP) list server, January 2009,
(http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/MicrofinancePractice/)
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 New York at the initiative of Deutsche Bank in April 2008. Among the foundation partners of the
Campaign are CGAP, Compartamos, Deutsche Bank, Grameen Foundation, ProMujer, Women’s
World Banking, Freedom from Hunger, Opportunity International and Al Amana. The Campaign is
about awareness raising and the development of norms, knowledge and tools, rather than
oversight and self-regulation. The consensus of these industry players is based on six principles
for client protection, which have also been discussed in the context of codes of conducts
worldwide:
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
Avoidance of over-indebtedness,
Transparent pricing,
Appropriate collection practices,
Ethical staff behavior,
Mechanisms for redress of grievance, and
Privacy of client data.
The objective is to unite microfinance providers around the world to develop and implement client
protection standards based on the above principles. The Campaign also works towards
certification standards to distinguish those institutions that have implemented these standards,
and aims to “work with the microfinance industry to create independent programs for institutional
certification”277. It has already established a “Microbanker’s Oath” articulating the six principles
that can be endorsed on their website even before the launch of the actual Campaign. The
objective is to engage at least half of the 500 largest MFIs reporting to the MIX Market within
three years.
Given the Campaign’s commitment to client protection, its ambition to engage a large part of the
industry and have organizations worldwide endorse the core principles, as well as its objective to
establish certification standards, and transparent pricing being one of the six core principles, it
could be considered as the venue for the development of standards and the certification process
in the area of transparency. There are, however, some major shortcomings. The CFI serves as
the “interim host”278 for the Campaign, and is itself housed at ACCION which is a network of MFIs
that naturally has certain interests in the reputation of its MFIs. Moreover, the CFI is fully
financed with the money from the Compartamos IPO. As such, it might lack objectivity and
credibility as an institution in charge of certification. If their commitment, on the other hand, was
limited to the development and promotion of standards and the creation of an independent
program for certification, much would depend on the concrete details and circumstances. There
might still be some bias with regards to what institution is chosen to be in charge of certification
and if that institution is in any way related to the CFI or other interest groups. Moreover, the CFI
has signalized strong commitment to the 500 largest MFIs. Yet, there are more than 3,000 MFIs
worldwide that should not be excluded from such an important initiative merely because of their
size.
 The SEEP Network
As part of the SEEP Network, there is currently a Financial Services Working Group with a special
committee working to promote microfinance reporting standards, a Consumer Protection Working
Group and a Social Performance Group, among others. These are composed of SEEP’s members.
SEEP has a total of 67 members that are international non-profit organizations operating in more
than 140 countries, among them ACCION, ProMujer, ProDesarrollo and Women’s World
Banking.279 The weakness to SEEP’s ability to be in charge of certification is that it is a network of
277
Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International, The Campaign for Client Protection in Microfinance
278
Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International, The Campaign for Client Protection in Microfinance
279
Official Website: www.seepnetwork.org
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 networks, and they have an interest in keeping their members satisfied. The key shortcoming is
that they would be reporting on themselves, so there would be less objectivity in the certification
process. Moreover, some members might also not want to participate, which could potentially
divide the network.
 The MIX
The MIX would have both the credibility and resources. However, the MIX has not expressed
interest in launching such an initiative in-house.
 CGAP
CGAP would also have the standing, credibility and resources to be in charge of certification.
CGAP does fund research, but doesn’t undertake own projects, so they would not internalize this
initiative. They do support transparency by funding the new organization MFTransparency.
 MFTransparency
MFT is an independent organization that was created to enhance transparency in the global
industry. MFT has received significant industry-wide support. It is thus an objective body with the
credibility to certify MFIs. The following section will therefore look in more detail at MFT as the
venue for the industry to demonstrate its commitment to transparency, and evaluate the
possibility of MFT being the organization in charge of MFI certification.
7.2.2 MFTransparency “We have made major investments in improving the quality and clarity of information on microfinance institutions. But we have not yet invested as much as we should in making sure costs of financial services for poor clients are clear and fair. MFTransparency’s initiative is a bold one that promises to fill an important gap”.280 – Elizabeth Littlefield, Director and CEO, CGAP “MFIs will find the service of MFTransparency very helpful. Investors, donors, policy makers, researchers, and practitioners will immensely benefit from their service.”281 – Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director, Grameen Bank, Peace Nobel Prize Laureat 2006
MFT’s Approach to Transparency
MFTransparency is the venue for the microfinance industry to implement self-imposed truth-in-lending in
the absence of government regulation. Through MFT, APR-equivalent interest rates are published for all
products of all MFIs in a given market, which allows for pricing transparency and comparability. MFT will
thus facilitate transparent communication about loan products and pricing in a clear and consistent
manner for all stakeholders of microfinance.
Moreover, MFT will address the issue of transparency by educating the public on why interest rates vary
significantly according to loan size and why different MFIs may justifiably charge different loan prices
depending on their product characteristics. As has been explained in chapter 4, a lack of communication
280
281
Why We Need Transparent Pricing in Microfinance, Chuck Waterfield, 28.09.2008
Why We Need Transparent Pricing in Microfinance, Chuck Waterfield, 28.09.2008
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 for the public to understand these aspects of interest rates has been a major reason why the industry has
practiced non-transparent pricing for so long.
The management of a significant number of MFIs; Apex Banks and bulk funders; financing, rating and
industry policy organizations; MFI networks; as well as academics and consultants have endorsed MFT282,
among them the most prominent industry leaders. The MFIs currently endorsing MFT cover 26,870,500
clients, 20 percent of the total world clients as determined by the Microcredit Summit. The Apex Banks
who have signed the endorsement cover another 49,800,000 clients, that account for 37 percent of the
total world clients. When taken together, the MFIs and Apex Banks endorsing MFT reach out to
76,670,500 clients, 58 percent of the total clients worldwide, as of February 2009. These impressive
numbers, despite the fact that MFT was only established in mid-2008, underscore the importance of
transparency for the microfinance industry and the worldwide recognition that pricing transparency is
urgently needed.283
Success Factors
“MF Transparency aims at giving MFIs information to offer better value to customers. And it will give investors and others the information they need to put pressure on those institutions that may be charging unreasonably high fees or hiding the full cost of their services. We applaud the effort.”284 – Elizabeth Littlefield, CEO, CGAP
Where non-transparent pricing has been practiced industry-wide for decades, there is no incentive for
any one MFI to take the first step in changing its behavior, even if the majority of MFIs would like to
enhance pricing transparency. To overcome this first-mover-problem, MFT provides the opportunity for all
MFTs to publish the details of their pricing in such a way that the prices of all MFIs of a given country are
published at the same time. As a result, there is no disadvantage for any one MFI making its prices
transparent, as its competitors do so as well. While MFT depends on the cooperation of MFIs and the MFIs
themselves report their pricing details to MFT, peer pressure will incentivize lagging MFIs to follow suit.
Once a certain number of microfinance stakeholders have endorsed MFT, the process accelerates of its
own volition. Hesitating MFIs will realize that most of their competitors, their donors and other network
members have endorsed MFT. If their competitors collaborate with MFT, their donors might choose to
reallocate their resources to fund those MFIs dedicated to improved transparency, so there is a real
incentive for the remaining MFIs to endorse MFT as well. Moreover, transparent MFIs that come off well
on the MFT website will obviously use the value of this reputation for their corporate communications. As
a result, transparent MFIs themselves will educate the clients of microfinance about which institution is
dedicated to pricing transparency, has its pricing policy published on MFT and focuses efforts on fair
pricing. Their advertising efforts will center around attracting new clients and strengthening the loyalty of
existing clients by using their new competitive advantage of being committed to transparent pricing, as
demonstrated through their endorsement of MFT. Competitors will thus have an incentive to be
transparent as well and strengthen efforts to be more efficient in order to optimize their pricing strategy.
At the same time, adverse behavior – such as introducing hidden costs, lowering loan sizes or focusing on
areas cheaper to serve – will be prevented, as MFT educates the public on how a variety of factors impact
on the loan costs and why it is reasonable for different institutions to charge different interest rates.
282
MFTransparency Endorser Statement: ”I endorse the dual mission of MFTransparency to:
- Facilitate the collection and dissemination of transparent microcredit product pricing information
- Educate stakeholders and enhance their understanding of microcredit product pricing.
I encourage all to support these principles.” (www.mftransparency.org)
283
MFTransparency, Endorsements List: www.mftransparency.org/endorsements/ [last retrieved on 20.03.2009]
284
Why We Need Transparent Pricing in Microfinance, Chuck Waterfield, 28.09.2008
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 With regards to self-reporting, while MFIs themselves provide MFT with the details on their pricing,
insincere reporting is not worth the effort, as it is easily exposed and there is a considerable risk of losing
credibility and reputation. Given that MFT is known around the world and the website is open to
everyone, journalists, advocacy groups and clients on the ground are likely to detect and report any
suspicion. Basically, they only need to collect a number of repayment schedules from clients to provide
evidence for a divergence. MFT might also consider encouraging verification from clients, as will be
suggested at the end of this section.
MFT and Certification
MFT could additionally provide two types of certification, a relatively simple one where the transparency
audit is for free and a more complex one that comes at a cost. The relatively superficial certification
would focus on a few criteria (e.g. 3 criteria) to assess transparency upward. This would primarily be
about providing their pricing details to MFT as described above. The more complex transparency audit
would additionally assess transparency downward (i.e. towards the clients) and evaluate the MFIs based
on several additional criteria (e.g. additional 5 criteria), grade the MFIs according to the result of the
audit and identify areas of improvement. As downward transparency is more challenging to assess, this
would require an MFT team to travel to the country and be on-site, and would therefore involve a cost. As
donors and social investors funding MFIs have an interest in knowing which of their MFIs comply with
transparency standards, they are likely to encourage the MFIs they fund to become certified or even
couple this as a condition to their provision of funding.285 As a result, they may well be prepared to fund
the transparency audit for their MFIs. Similarly, national and international MFI networks can play a vital
role in promoting and possibly financing certification. Certified MFIs will use their transparency audit to
their advantage and communicate their brand value to clients and other stakeholders. Once a certain
number of MFIs are certified and use their brand value to their competitive advantage, all other MFIs will
have a strong incentive of becoming certified as well, in order to attract funds and clients.286
 Collaborating with Local Partners
One important question is whether the national microfinance networks could play a significant role in
collaborating with MFT in the process of an in-country audit. In the case of Mexico, for instance,
ProDesarrollo could possibly take on the responsibility for MFT in Mexico in the long-run. This might
reduce cost and increase efficiency, however there might be some limitations with respect to objectivity.
The Board of Directors (Consejo Directivo) of ProDesarrollo is made up of representatives from member
institutions, which are currently Credicapital, Conserva, Despacho Alfonso Amador, AMEXTRA, FINAMIGO,
FINCA, CAME, Compartamos, Crediavance and Uniones de Crédito. Gustavo del Ángel Mobarak, professor
and researcher of CIDE, is the only member of the Board of Directors who is not from an MFI. The
Membership Committee (Comité de Membresía) is currently made up of representatives from the MFIs
Forjadores de Negocios, Fundación Realidad and Te Creemos. If ProDesarrollo was to collaborate with
MFT in conducting the transparency audit, the MFIs would effectively evaluate and certify themselves.
Given the shortcomings of self-reporting, a body would be required to monitor ProDesarrollo which
complicates the process. The feasibility and shortcomings of this options would require more extensive
analysis.
There might also be other entities within a country that combine the skills and autonomy required to take
on the responsibility of auditing MFIs on the ground. Academic institutions might be such an entity.
The University Partnership to Build Rural Microfinance Capacity in Mexico is an alliance of the
Mexican research center Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, A.C. (CIDE) and the Ohio State
285
For evaluation of feasibility, compare interview with Mark Schwiete of KfW Entwicklungsbank on the role the donor
community can play (appendix 23)
286
Brainstorming with Chuck Waterfield, conversation in Paris on 23 January 2009
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 University (OSU) that aims to enhance the knowledge of the rural microfinance system in Mexico through
primary research, training of experts, the establishment of a network of academics and practitioners
aimed at exchanging information and expertise, as well as the organization of conferences to bring
together academics, practitioners and politicians. This Partnership is linked with the project AFIRMA
(Proyecto de Acceso a las Finanzas Rurales para la Microempresa) which is financed by USAID/México and
was implemented by Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI). Its objectives are strengthening MFIs, the
microfinance industry and financial sustainability, supporting innovation, facilitating exchange of
international experiences in the area of regulation and supporting a favorable environment. In order to
foster education and capacity building related to the microfinance sector and promote an academic
exchange, a Network of Universities for the development of the microfinance sector287 was formed
during the first trimester of 2008, of which the following academic institutions form part:









CIDE
PRECESAM / Colegio de México
Colegio de Posgraduados
Escuela de Graduados de Administración Pública
Universidad Iberoamericana
UAM / Azcapotzalco
Anahuac Sur / COLCAMI
Dirección de Estudios de Posgrados / Facultad Economía UNAM
Unidad Politécnica de Competitividad Empresarial del IPN
The current focus areas of research are financial inclusion, the impact of financial services on poverty and
inequality, and public policies to promote access to finance.
As for the University Partnership mentioned first, the project coordinator who is from CIDE also serves as
an independent consultant288 on the Board of Directors of ProDesarrollo. However, he is not directly
associated with any particular MFI, so that his objectivity would still be preserved. With respect to
AFIRMA, it has 14 members289, the rural MFIs and ProDesarrollo, that it monitors for the purpose of its
publications of financial indicators for rural microfinance in Mexico and also provides advisory services to.
There might potentially be some bias.
Regarding the recently created Network of Universities, this network of academics from various
universities might present an advantage for a collaboration with MFT. Academic institutions are generally
known to be unbiased and as a number of different universities form part of the network, a conflict of
interests is less likely to be an issue. The main objective of the network is currently to enhance
microfinance-related knowledge among academic institutions, i.e. identifying the key challenges for the
sector and opportunities for universities and academics to strengthen the sector. MFT might provide
additional capacity building training related to pricing transparency to the academics involved and carry
out the transparency audit together with the academics during the first few years, while the long term
goal would be for the Network of Universities to take on responsibility for conducting the audit of Mexican
MFIs on behalf of MFT.
As for other potential institution, the IMEF (Instituto Mexicano de Ejecutivos de Finanzas A.C.)290 is a
collegiate board that regulates and promotes the best practice of finance, makes comparisons among
countries as well as judgments about regulations. One of its national technical committees is on the
287
Red de Universidades para el desarrollo del Sector de Finanzas Populares y Microfinanzas en México
Consejero Independiente de ProDesarrollo
289
AlSol, AMUCCS, Fin Crecemos (CADEMI), Caja Libertad, CAME, Compartamos, Credi-Avance (Despeno), FinAmigo
(FIMEDER), Financiera Sumate (F5M), FINCA, FinComún, ProMujer, ProNegocio, ProDesarrollo
290
Its affiliates are those responsible for the financial administration in important and diverse companies and
institutions of the private and public sector, as well as a group of experts, consultants and researchers in the area of
finance. IMEF has been recognized nationally and internationally as an organization with specialized knowledge of the
national financial system. [www.imef.org.mx]
288
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 development of new businesses and microfinance291. The IMEF is independent and professional, but many
of its members work in commercial banks and institutions, so it would require further evaluation as to
what extend this might affect the objectivity of the IMEF as a potential partner for MFT. There might
potentially be some bias towards MFIs with a more commercial approach. It might also be necessary to
further evaluate whether they would adequately judge the MFIs’ transparency downwards.
The IMCP (Instituto Mexicano de Contadores Públicos), the institute of public accountants, might be an
alternative. As its board is made up of members of the IMCP as well as public accountants of auditing
firms like KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers, they would have the required objectivity and credibility.
The key question is whether they could become sufficiently familiar with microfinance to be able to carry
out a (pricing) transparency audit.
Another alternative might be the CNBV (Comision Nacional Bancaria y de Valores), the national financial
regulation authority, that would most likely have the authority to certify institutions. It would require
further evaluation whether the CNBV would be capable and willing to collaborate with MFT in the
certification process, given that no effective legislation aimed at pricing transparency covering the
microfinance sector has been implemented so far.
One potential issue that could arise with respect to the IMEF, IMCP and CNBV is the question as to what
extent they have the required expertise in microfinance and would be willing to assist.
 Encouraging Feedback and Verification from Clients
The initiative of MFT might even go one step further and encourage the confirmation of its evaluation of
MFIs, by giving the steps on how to compare real repayment schedules of clients to the data published on
the MFT website and facilitate a feedback mechanism. Market groups, university students and journalists
could play an important role in this context, as they might have the connection and interest to support
microfinance clients in carrying out this comparison. (Their incentive would primarily be their discontent
with non-transparent pricing.) This could further contribute to the financial literacy and empowerment of
the clients, and ensure that the certification provided by MFT is verified by the clients and observers on
the ground. MFT and Legislation
MFT is not the only, but a very viable solution to transparency. In the long-run, truth-in-lending
legislation will be critical, however, as long as legislation is absent it is an auspicious effort coming from
the industry to promote transparent pricing. MFT will also play a critical role beyond legislation, as it
provides a platform for all industry participants worldwide to recognize those MFIs with the best
performance related to improved transparency, and – in the case of certification – those with the highest
transparency score. This provides an additional market-driven incentive. A major advantage of MFT is
that the performance of MFIs worldwide in the area of pricing transparency can be monitored over time,
while MFT also publishes relevant information and APR values in a consistent fashion. Legislation on APR
may differ across countries (different calculation methods, etc.), but the APR published by MFT is based
on the same calculation method for all countries and therefore allows for enhanced comparability.
291
Comité Técnico Nacional de Desarrollo de Nuevos Negocios y Microfinanzas
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 7.3 Client Level
It could be argued, that a solution directly coming from the industry is suspicious, given that there could
potentially be some disguised special interests deceiving the public. Some may argue, consumer
protection should come from the consumer level, rather than the industry level, and unions of consumers
should be the initiators of transparency in pricing.
Given that financial literacy constitutes a major challenge in many microfinance markets around the
world, a consumer movement would probably require the support from other stakeholders. These
stakeholders could be academics, students or social entrepreneurs dedicated to contributing to client
protection and transparent markets. Their main incentive would be their discontent with nontransparency and their call for fairer prices.
One scenario could be a consumer movement emerging on a small-scale at different regional locations,
gradually becoming organized and spreading across the country. Basically, all that would be required is
an initiative for clients to work together and collect their repayment schedules. With the assistance of
their supporting party (e.g. students or social entrepreneurs) they then analyze their amortization
schedules, calculate the true loan costs (i.e. APR) and compare the prices of different institutions. The
results would be documented and then exchanged with other groups of consumers, so the information
eventually spreads all over the country.
With regards to the limitations, clients initiating their own consumer movement might encounter a
number of obstacles in their effort to organize and coordinate a large-scale movement and exchange
information with a large number of clients in different locations (lack of access to information,
infrastructure, communication channels, etc.). However, it might also be more effective to organize such
movements on a state-level, given that clients choose between offers in their regional proximity. Even if
there was a separate consumer organization in each city or municipality, clients of the same local area
could join together and evaluate the costs in relation to the service of the products offered by each
institution in that respective area and make informed purchasing decisions.
It might be a challenge to take into account the specific characteristics of each loan product that may
justifiably result in higher costs. This is another aspect where the supporting party plays a critical role.
Another major issue in this regard is the question of how such a movement is initiated in the first place,
given that clients are often not aware that something is not going the way it should. They tend to have a
considerable trust in the MFI and rely on what they are told. In desperate, overindebted communities,
the initiative may be more likely to arise, but even in those cases, indebted families tend to believe the
behavior of the lender is justified or at least feel powerless.292 As a result, they might not even be aware
that pricing is not transparent or know that it is possible to express interest rates in a way that allows for
better comparability. They might consequently not take the initiative to form a union, demand
transparency and find out the true costs in order to make informed decisions as customers. This suggests
that the initiative would probably need to come from those clients recognizing the transparency issue and
possible solutions to it, or another stakeholder (e.g. students organizations) making the clients aware of
the problem and suggesting the solution of organizing a consumer movement. As section 6.5 has
explained, in the case of Mexico the target clients of microfinance may also lack confidence in their
competence as consumers and may not believe in the success of a consumer movement, unless they are
encouraged and supported by a third party.
Mexican Social Entrepreneur Antonio Galvan Luna judges the feasibility of a consumer movement in
Mexico as follows:
292
Compare section 6.5
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 “An initiative involving consumers themselves is certainly feasible, given the current freedom of
information laws and movements in Mexico, but it would definitively require the support and, above
all, the encouragement of a third party”.
Yet, the problem of financial education constitutes a real challenge:
“There is evidence that people do not take financial decisions based on the discounted cash flows of
their liabilities, even if they are presented with straightforward comparison tools like the CAT, but on
other behavioral phenomena like their ability to comply with the weekly payments (…) or the
marketing appeal. If people understood that financial intelligence would make them more
economically stable and less at risk, a consumer movement would be a great way to regulate the
industry, but that is the real challenge.”293
8. Calculation Methods to Determine the True Cost of a Loan
Once commitment to transparency has been achieved and a disclosure mechanism is to be implemented,
the next question that arises is which calculation method should be used to compare the loan costs of
different offers. As has been mentioned, the APR and the EIR are the most common calculation methods,
but are not always fully understood by various stakeholders. This chapter seeks to provide an
understanding of both formulas.
As chapter 4 has explained, there are several techniques that affect the amount of money the borrower
actually has and the amount of time she can use it. The APR and EIR are used to take these multiple
factors into account and to express the true cost as a standard measure that allows for the comparison of
credit charges among different credit products.
The Time Value of Money
The time at which the repayments of a loan and the loan charges are made is crucial, as it affects the
cost to the borrower.
The principle of the time value of money assumes it is preferable to receive a given amount of money
today rather than at some point in the future, everything else being equal. The time value of money
represents the interest earned if the money is deposited today, so its future value increases. As a dollar
received today is more valuable than a dollar received at some point in the future, the time value of
money reflects the ability to earn a return on investment. Not having the opportunity to invest or deposit
the money and earn a return or interest is considered an opportunity cost.
As interest is the charge for the use of money over time, it incorporates the time value of money. Thus,
not only the amount the borrower pays, but also the timing of those payments affect the overall cost to
the borrower.294
Against this background, the MFI will be interested in receiving the interest payments rather sooner than
later, while for the borrower it will be more advantageous to pay the interest at a later point in time. The
MFI will prefer monthly or weekly rather than accrued interest payments, because once it receives the
interest paid, it can use the money to make additional loans on which it would earn interest. The client,
on the other hand, would prefer to pay all the interest in one single payment at the end of the loan cycle,
because she could then use that money in her business for a longer period of time.
293
294
Full interview see appendix 18
Brealey/ Myers/ Marcus, 2009
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 To illustrate the effect of time value of money in another example, the first table below assumes a
classical declining balance calculation. In the second table, interest is calculated on the outstanding
balance as well, but the MFI determines equal installments to be paid by the client:
The periodic interest rate is 1% monthly. As interest is paid on the declining outstanding balance, the
value of each total installment declines.
Table 8.1: Classical Declining Balance
Total Installment Principal Interest Outstanding Balance 1,000.00
260.00 250.00 10.00 750.00
257.50 250.00 7.50 500.00
255.00 250.00 5.00 250.00
252.50 250.00 2.50 0.00
1,000.00 25.00 Source: William R. Tucker, 2000, p. 2-3
Table 8.2: Declining Balance with Equal Installments
Total Installment Principal Interest Outstanding Balance 1,000.00
256.28 246.28 10.00 753.72
256.28 248.74 7.54 504.98
256.28 251.23 5.05 253.75
256.28 253.75 2.53 0.00
1,000.00 25.12 Source: William R. Tucker, 2000, p. 2-3
The period interest rate remains the same, but the amount of total interest paid increases. An
explanation for this is the extra liquidity the borrower enjoys by making lower payments in the first half
of the schedule (e.g. $256.28 instead of $260 for the first installment). The outstanding balance, on
which interest is charged, is therefore slightly higher. The total interest increases due to the borrower’s
privilege of extra liquidity.295
The Future and Present Value of Money
As interest is paid for the use of money, money is considered to have different values at different points
in time. The value of a loan is thus changing over time. The loan amount has a present value and a
future value. The future value represents what the present value will be worth if interest is earned on it
for a specific period of time. Taking into account the effect of compound interest, the future value A of an
amount PV at an interest rate i for t time intervals is296:
295
296
Tucker, 2000
Brealey/ Myers/ Marcus, 2009
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 To take into account the frequency of compounding, all time intervals t must be of equal length, such as
a week, a month or a year. The interest rate i needs to reflect the same time duration. In APR formulas,
the time interval is defined as the shortest period of time where a transaction (typically a repayment)
takes place, e.g. a week, even where a transaction does not take place every week.
Example 1: A savings deposit of $ 100 (PV) earns interest at a rate of 12 % annually,
compounded monthly, for 1 year
i = 12% /12 = 1% per month
t = 12 months
A = 100 * (1+0.01)^12 = 112.68
The amount worth $ 100 today has a future value of $ 112.68. Given the effect of compounding
interest, the savings will not only be worth $ 112, but $ 112.68 after 12 months.
Example 2: A savings deposit of $ 100 (PV) earns interest at a rate of 12 % annually,
compounded quarterly, for 1 year
i = 12% / 4 = 3 % per quarter
t = 4 quarters
A = 100 * (1+0.03)^4 = 112.55
This gives a future value of $ 112.55, which is slightly smaller than the amount in the previous
example, given that interest is compounded quarterly, not monthly.
Rearranging the formula, the present value can be determined:
The present value of a given amount is equal to the future value t periods away, discounted at the
interest rate i. The calculation is known as the discounted cash-flow (DCF) calculation and the interest
rate i is termed the discount rate.297
Example 3: In 12 months, the client has to pay $ 126.82. At an interest rate of 2 % per month,
the present value of that $ 126.82 is:
PV = 126.82 / (1+0.02)^12 = $ 100
The present value of what the client ends up paying equals the original loan amount of $ 100, the
amount the client receives today.
The previous formulas serve to calculate the future and present value for a single monetary transaction.
When there are multiple transactions, the formula needs to be adapted in order to reflect these multiple
future cash flows298.
297
298
Brealey/ Myers/ Marcus, 2009
E.g. when a certain amount of money is saved every year over a period of several years.
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 The present value of each cash flow is determined and these present values are then added together.299
The following formula calculates the cumulative present value of multiple future cash flows:
Assuming a period of 12 monthly transactions, the formula is equivalent to:
The above formulas incorporate compound interest. While simple interest is calculated on the principal,
compound interest assumes interest is not only earned on the principal amount but also on the
accumulated interest.
Two Legislated Approaches using the Discount Rate Method
The APR is the interest rate that solves for the equation where the present value of the loan amount the
client receives is equal to the present value of all the installments the client pays. Thus, it reflects that
the discounted value of disbursements equals the discounted value of repayments.
Where a loan contract includes additional charges or different interest calculation methods, the Discount
Rate Method can be used to determine the equivalent to an interest rate calculated on a declining
balance.
The formula below is the statutory formula to calculate APR in the United States. In the US, the Truth in
Lending Act that requires financial institutions to disclose the APR of their credit products was passed in
1968. In this formula, APR is the nominal annual percentage rate, calculated as the periodic interest rate
multiplied by the number of periods in a year. Additional charges and fees are included.
Where
Ak:
qk:
m:
Pj :
tj :
n:
i :
299
300
amount of the kth advance
number of full unit-periods from the beginning of the term of the transaction to the kth advance
number of advances
amount of the jth payment
number of full unit-periods from the beginning of the term of the transaction to the jth payment
number of payments
percentage rate of finance charge per unit-period, expressed as a decimal equivalent300
Brealey/ Myers/ Marcus, 2009
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, “FDIC Law, Regulations, Related Acts”, “6500 – Consumer Protection”,
114
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 Regarding the right side of the equation, if the disbursement is made in period 0, it already has the
present value, so there is no discounting. In case disbursements are made in a future period, those
amounts are discounted back to the present value by the k factor, since the present value of the amount
is smaller than the future value. The left side of the equation represents the repayments made
throughout the future periods, so it does include the discounting component. The discount factor is the
unit-period301 interest rate raised to the power of the number of unit-periods from the beginning of the
term to the jth payment.
In the European Union, the formula to calculate the APR was introduced in directive 98/7/EC302. In the
United Kingdom, truth-in-lending was introduced under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Like in the US,
the annual percentage rate (APR) is used to express the total cost of credit as a standard measure that
allows for comparison.
The EU and UK formula for calculating the APR is essentially the same as the US formula, the difference
lies in the definition of t:
Where
K:
K’:
Ak:
A’k’:
m:
m’:
tK:
tK’:
i:
the number identifying a particular advance of credit
the number identifying a particular installment
amount of advance K
amount of installment K’
number of advances of credit
total number of installments
interval, expressed in years, between the relevant date and the date of advance K
interval, expressed in years, between the relevant date and the date of installment K’
APR, expressed as a decimal303
The Mexican CAT formula that has been mentioned is essentially the same.
The left side of the equation represents the present value of the advances, while the right side represents
the present value of the repayments made by the borrower, both times considering the frequency with
which they are made throughout a year. As in the US formula, the sum of the present values of the
lender’s advances equals the sum of the present values of borrower’s installments.
In this formula, on the right side of the equation, the interest rate is raised to the power of t, where t is
the interval, expressed in years, between the relevant date (the earliest date the borrower can require
the provision of anything under the agreement) and the date of the last payment.304 The advances of
301
The unit-period is defined as the common period occurring most frequently in the transaction, not exceeding one
year. A common period is a period which occurs more than once in a given transaction, while a period is the interval of
time between the payments made (in the case where one advance is made at the beginning and several payments are
made throughout the life of the loan). For example, if the unit-period is a month, the number of full unit-periods
between two given dates is determined by the number of months measured from the later to the earlier date. (At this
stage, fractions of unit-periods shall not be considered.) (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, “FDIC Law,
Regulations, Related Acts”, “6500 – Consumer Protection”)
302
The European Parliament and The Council of the European Union (1998). Directive 98/7/EC of the European
Parliament and The Council.
303
Office of Fair Trading, 2007
304
Office of Fair Trading2007
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 credit, represented on the left side of the equation, are only discounted to the present value where there
are advances made in any point beyond the relevant date (“point 0 in time”).
The term APR in the EU and UK is confusing, as it does not actually meet the definition of APR. Rather,
the formula calculates the effective annual interest rate (EIR). The difference between APR and EIR has
already been mentioned in section 4.1 and will be explained in more detail in the following.
Comparing the Two Formulas for the Discount Rate Method
As has been mentioned above, the two formulas are basically the same, the difference lies in the
definition of t, i.e. how the periodic interest rate figure is converted into an annual figure.
The main difference between the APR (“US APR”) and the EIR (“EU APR”) is that the former calculation
does not take into account the compounding of interest within a year. The method of calculating the EIR
will generally give a higher result than the APR method, since the EIR formula incorporates this
compounding effect.
The US method calculates a nominal annual rate, while the UK and EU method determines an effective
annual rate.
Example: 1% per month:
Nominal rate (APR): 0.01 * 12 = 12.00 %
Effective rate (EIR): (1.01)12-1 = 12.68 %
For the nominal annual rate, an interest rate of 1% calculated monthly on a declining balance
translates into an APR of 12.0%. The effective annual rate, on the other hand, equals 12.68%, as
it takes compounding factors into account.
The EIR equals (1 + APR/m)m -1, where there are m compounding periods in a year.305
The results will differ more significantly as the number of compounding periods in a year increase. Where
interest is calculated semi-annually or quarterly, loans will have similar result for both formulas. When
interest is calculated weekly or even daily, however, the resulting figures can differ considerably. Since
interest is compounded at shorter intervals, less time passes before interest is charged on interest, so the
effective annually compounded interest rate increases.
Table 8.3: Effective Annual Rate (EIR) for different Compounding Periods
Compounding Period Periods per Year (m) Per‐Period Interest Rate Growth Factor of Invested Funds Effective Annual Rate Annually 1 36%
1.36
36.000000% Semi‐annually 2 18%
1.182
39.240000% 4
41.158161% Quarterly 4 9%
1.09
Monthly 12 3%
1.0312
42.576089% 52
Weekly 52 0.692398
1.00692398
43.161933% Daily 365 0.098630
1.00098630365
43.307442% Continuous e
0.36
43.332942% Source: based on Brealey/ Myers/ Marcus, 2009
In the above example, the APR is 36 percent. The EIR, however, can vary considerably, depending on the
compounding period.
305
Brealey/ Myers/ Marcus, 2009
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Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 The following table displays the APR and EIR for three cases with different loan characteristics.
Table 8.4: Three Cases to Compare the Formulas
Assumptions Case 1 Case 2 Case 3 Total Periods 16 16 16 Loan Amount 1.000 1.000 1.000 Amortization Schedule Upfront fee equal principal payments (linear) equal principal payments (linear) equal principal payments (linear) 0 0.5% 2% Annual interest rate 36% 36% 36% Interest calculation method Flat Flat Flat Savings schedule N/A N/A N/A Initial savings 0 10% 15% N/A N/A N/A Weekly Weekly Weekly End period cash flow N/A 100 150 Savings repaid to client N/A Yes Yes APR (“US formula”) 65.7% 83.7% 107.0% EIR (“EU formula”, Mexican “CAT”) 92.1% 129.3% 188.5% Interest on savings Frequency 117
Transparency for the Stakeholders of Microfinance
Jessica A. Haeussler April 2009 9. Conclusion
According to classic economic theory, the price of a good or service is determined by a willing buyer and
a willing seller. But a situation where the buyer has no chance to access and understand the information
necessary to make a sound decision constitutes a market imperfection. Competition is generally beneficial
for the clients. But this is where a “market price” is determined by the dynamics of demand and supply.
Markets in which non-transparent pricing is common, clearly lack this market price. Non-transparency in
pricing undermines efficiency and competition for clients. As a result, prices remain at high levels.
Inefficient institutions survive in non-transparent markets, while non-transparent pricing allows some
institutions to make exceptionally high profits. Non-transparency in pricing may adversely affect the
decision making of all industry stakeholders: Clients cannot compare among credit offers and make
sound decisions. As pricing is non-transparent, institutions have no incentive to make adequate efforts to
provide better and efficient service to clients in order to attract and retain them, as institutions are
effectively not competing over price. Donors and investors cannot allocate resources optimally. A lack of
information means they cannot make informed decisions. Policymakers may intervene in ways that harm
responsible lenders, as they are unable to differentiate between responsible and less responsible lenders.
It consequently leads to adverse selection: Responsible lenders are threatened to fall out of business,
while more reckless players as well as inefficient institutions may stay in the market.
The last decade has seen impressive achievements of transparency on financial performance of MFIs
worldwide. Microfinance is increasingly recognized as an asset class in the global capital markets,
achieving both social and financial returns. Yet despite its commitment to a strong social mission and
double-bottom line aspirations, pricing transparency has not been widely practiced. Overall transparency,
both upward and downward, is essential for healthy markets. If borrowers are unable to fully understand
the loan costs and conditions, over-indebtedness driven by non-transparency might be the result,
harming both the target market and long-term viability of the institutions and the sector. Nontransparency can provoke counterproductive government intervention. This is particularly worrying where
governments react on negative public sentiment and intervene without understanding the implications for
the development of the microfinance industry, which is reinforced by non-transparency making it
impossible to draw the line between responsible and irresponsible lending. Moreover, from the
perspective of investors, non-transparency is a key risk, particularly given the lack of standardised
reporting and tools for measurement of financial and social performance. The Banana Skins study
highlights: “The risks associated with poor transparency in MFIs are high because it drives away investors
and customers, and attracts unwelcome political attention”.306
Transparency is crucial for the microfinance sector as it significantly improves the performance of
institutions, attracts funds and most importantly, protects the clients. The comparability among different
players in the sector allows an MFI to identify its strengths and weaknesses, as well as the areas in which
it requires improvement. Transparency enhances sound decision-making of an MFI and attracts donors,
investors and depositors. Transparent pricing allows clients to compare the loan costs and conditions of
different institutions and make an informed decision.
Since its inception, microfinance has had a strong social mission. The challenge is to have good practices
and ethical principles that are shared among the diverse institutions serving this market segment and
applied in practice. Another key challenge is to strengthen mechanisms promoting transparency in order
to ensure reliable and accessible information on a market and institutional level. Transparency will be
indispensable in order to attract capital, measure financial performance, establish strategic alliances with
reliable institutions, and achieve growth and increased professionalization of the sector. Once
transparency is established, mechanisms to measure social performance are required. This will allow for
the exchange of best practices and the allocation of funds based on sustainable social performance.307
306
307
CSFI/New York CSFI, 2008, Microfinance Banana Skins 2008, p. 22
ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008, p. 22-23
118
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APPENDICES
Appendix 1
Table A1: The Role of Financial Markets
The Role of Financial Markets
Key Role
Financial institutions curb the effects of information asymmetries and reduce transaction costs,
assure the efficient allocation of funds and help to diversify and manage risk. When financial
markets work well, they accelerate economic growth, enhance income distribution and contribute
to poverty alleviation. When they are deficient, opportunities for growth are undermined,
inequalities persist and crises may occur. In countries that lack inclusive financial systems, poor
households depend on their personal resources to invest in health and education, and to take
advantage of promising business opportunities. Inequality can adversely affect a country’s
prospects for growth and impede development; inclusive financial systems promote equal
opportunities and provide positive incentives. According to the World Bank, “modern development
theories increasingly emphasize the key role of access to finance: lack of finance is often the
critical element underlying persistent income inequality, as well as slower growth”, therefore
“financial sector reforms that promote broader access to financial services need to be at the core
of the development agenda”. (The World Bank, 2008, p. 1-2)
Barriers to Financial Inclusion and Microfinance as a Solution
The main barriers that prevent poor households and small enterprises from accessing financial
services are geographic factors, lack of required documents, fees and requirements such as a
minimum-account balance that potential users cannot fulfill. Two key issues the poor face is that
they generally lack collateral and cannot obtain credit against future income, as they often do not
have steady jobs and predictable cash flow streams, and that their transactions tend to be
relatively small and consequently more costly for the financial institution.
Microfinance institutions (MFIs) have developed innovative solutions to address these issues that
have previously excluded broad segments of the population from financial services. By creating
innovative incentive schemes, building a support network, focusing on social collateral and taking
into account the idiosyncratic characteristics of the target market, MFIs have succeeded to reach
out to millions of clients and achieved impressive repayment rates. Perhaps the greatest promise
of microfinance is that it could contribute to alleviating poverty on a sustainable basis, without the
continuous provision of subsidies.
(The World Bank, 2008)
Existing evidence
In its 2005 report on “Microfinance and the Millennium Development Goals”, the UNCDF points
out: “Neither the Bank (World Bank) nor the International Monetary Fund, nor any other major
financial sector statistics holding house such as the Bank for International Settlements, monitors
the quality and quantity of access to financial services for the bottom income segments of the
world in an on-going, systematic and crosscomparable way.” (UNCDF, 2005)
Access to financial services in developing countries is not easy to measure and empirical evidence
on the relation between access to finance and concrete development outcomes has been rather
limited due to a lack of relevant data. The evidence that is available suggests the causal relations
between financial development, growth and poverty. Yet, existing evidence is often based on
aggregated indicators, which may not always be sufficient to assess financial inclusion, as for
instance an individual may have multiple bank accounts. The most effective way to gather
relevant data would be via census or survey, however, these are rare on the level of households
and may not be compatible between countries. Data available on the access to finance of firms
may not always be representative, given that in many countries the informal sector is larger than
the formal sector. Further research in this area has yet to be undertaken.
(The World Bank, 2008)
Appendix 2: Microfinance and the Millennium Development Goals
Microfinance and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
The impact of microfinance has gone far beyond the support for micro-businesses and has positively
affected the focus areas of the United Nations’ MDGs1, particularly with regards to eradicating poverty,
promoting children’s education, improving the health of women and children, and empowering women.
Financial inclusion can thus lead to a virtuous cycle and affect various important areas of development.
Goal 1 – Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger
“Microfinance is one of the practical development strategies and approaches that should be
implemented and supported to attain the bold ambition of reducing world poverty by half.”2
- Investing in Development, UN Millennium Project
A microcredit can be a first step to break the cycle of poverty, as it allows an individual of a region with
little employment opportunities to pursue a business opportunity as a self-employed entrepreneur.
Given the worldwide demand of poor households for a safe place to save, micro-savings products can
have a positive impact on reducing the vulnerability of low-income families, as it allows them to
accumulate cash for an emergency cushion or to self-finance investments such as the education of
children. Microfinance products such as credit, savings, remittances, pensions and insurance, protect
and increase the income of poor households and diversify their sources of income. They allow lowincome households to smooth out any fluctuations in income and provide for unexpected events and
emergencies. Several studies evidence the increase in income and decrease in vulnerability of
microfinance participants.3 A World Bank study carried out in early 1990 also showed spillover effects in
the overall village economy. (Littlefield et. al., 2003)
Goal 2 – Achieve Universal Primary Education
The children’s education is among the first things micro-entrepreneurs around the world invest the
income generated from their micro-business in. MFIs often promote education and particularly
children’s education among their clients. Several MFIs also provide additional non-financial services,
such as alphabetization and financial literacy training. Some MFIs around the world have also designed
innovative credit products that specifically serve the purpose of providing capital for education. Several
studies have shown that the children of microfinance participants are more likely to attend school and
less likely to drop-out of school.4 (Littlefield et. al., 2003)
1
The General Assembly of the United Nations designated 2005 as the Year of Microcredit. Other development
agendas emphasizing the importance of microfinance include the G8 Declaration of 2004, the Commission on Private
Sector Development, the Brussels Programme of Action, and the Africa Commission Report. (UNCDF, 2005)
2
UNCDF, 2005
3
According to the UNCDF’s 2005 report “Microfinance and the Millennium Development Goals”, half of the nearly 3.4
million borrowers Grameen Bank had served then, had crossed over the poverty line. (UNCDF, 2005) According to
CGAP, half of the SHARE clients in India escaped poverty, the weekly income of FINCA clients increased by 145% on
average in El Salvador, and in Vietnam clients of a Save the Children partner organization achieved to reduce food
deficits from three months to one month. (CGAP, donor brief No. 9, 2002) A study of Freedom from Hunger clients
in Ghana found that clients had significantly diversified their sources of income, 80% of clients versus 50% of nonclients had secondary sources of income. Clients had also increased their income by $36 compared to $18 for nonclients. A study on borrowers of Bank Rakyat Indonesia on the island of Lombok reported that the average income of
clients increased by 112% and 90% of households graduated out of poverty. Various other studies have been
carried out in countries around the world and show similar results. (CGAP, FocusNote No. 24, 2003)
4
According to CGAP, Foccas clients in Uganda spent one third more on their children’s education than non-clients.
Almost all girls in households of Grameen Bank clients received schooling in Bangladesh, as compared to 60% of
non-client households. Basic education – reading, writing, arithmetic – competency among children aged 11-14 in
households of BRAC clients doubled in 3 years (from 12% in 1992 to 24% in 1995) (CGAP, donor brief No. 9, 2002)
Goal 4 – Reduce Child Mortality,
Goal 5 – Improve Maternal Health
Goal 6 – Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
Savings, loan and insurance products can be critical to upgrading health services. As microfinance helps
to stabilize incomes, it can make health services more affordable and may contribute to financing
health care initiatives. Improved health results in higher productivity and also reduces credit risk.
Illness and death can be devastating for poor families, due to the decrease in income as a result of
illness or death of a family member and expenses related to health care, which in turn may force poor
families to sell their assets or become deeply indebted. It is also important to note that illness and
death are the main reasons for a borrower to default on a loan. Evidence suggests that the households
of microfinance participants tend to be characterized by improved nutrition, better health care practices
and health outcomes.5 Recognizing the importance of health care, a few pioneering MFIs have begun to
provide specific loans for the purpose of improved water supply, sanitation and housing – areas which
are related to the well-being and health of community members. Some MFIs around the world also
provide health care services and advice women on reproductive health issues.
In an effort to contribute in the most effective way possible to reaching the MDGs, pioneer MFIs have
extended their business models by taking into account the multiple factors of poverty and pursue an
integrated microfinance approach.
Goal 3 – Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
Traditional Focus on Women:
It has been widely recognized that women play a central role in the social mission to alleviate poverty.
Women tend to place a priority on savings and asset building over consumption. They often contribute
a larger proportion of their earnings to the household than men and tend to prioritize the education,
health and general well-being of their children. As a result, the provision of financial services and
business training to women can catalyze considerable intergenerational benefits. Despite these positive
effects of focusing on the financial inclusion of women, the traditionally large proportion of women
clients in the portfolio of an MFI emerged from the economic principle that underlies microfinance,
whereby the most reliable clients graduate to the next loan cycle. Thus, the composition of clients with
a large proportion of women clients was originally the result of economic common sense. Given the
positive intergenerational benefits of providing financial services to women, many MFIs with a strong
social mission have also decided to focus on women clients due to development aspects coupled with
the good credit risk associated with the provision of credit to women.
Empowerment Impact:
Microfinance programs have been strikingly successful at empowering women to become more
confident and participate more actively in family decision-making, thereby successfully addressing
gender inequities. Existing evidence from around the globe suggests that women participating in
microfinance programs often experience considerable economic empowerment as a result. As they earn
their own income and gradually become economically independent, they tend to gain increased
autonomy and decision-making power in the household as well as the local community. Nevertheless,
gender issues are very complex and microfinance does not automatically lead to empowerment. An
appropriately designed microfinance model is indispensable to achieving a positive impact of women’s
participation in a program on their empowerment. Where microfinance programs were successful, an
increase in the decision-making roles of women was observed in view of decisions traditionally taken by
their male partners. Moreover, impact studies have evidenced women’s improved status within society,
as women often assume more active roles in their local community. In countries like Bangladesh and
Bolivia, women clients of some MFIs even became actively involved in local governments. Some studies
have suggested an increase in domestic violence during a certain period of time after women had
joined microfinance programs. However, an eventual decrease in domestic violence was witnessed,
which suggests a “transition period” of initial insecurity on behalf of their male counterparts who
5
According to CGAP, CRECER clients in Bolivia had better breast-feeding practices than non-clients, had higher rates
of DPT3 immunization among children and responded better with rehydration therapy for their children with
diarrhea. Fewer BRAC clients in Bangladesh suffered from severe malnutrition than non-clients. (CGAP, donor brief
No. 9, 2002)
eventually came to accept and respect the new responsibilities the women assumed. (Littlefield et. al.,
2003) According to the Task Force on Education and Gender Equality of the UN Millennium Project in
their 2005 report, “in order to have greater impact, however, microfinance programs need to be
coupled with other types of products and services, including training, technology transfer, business
development services, and marketing assistance, among others”.
Empowerment Impact in Mexico:
Given the feminization of poverty and gender inequity in Mexico, micro-enterprise programs focusing
on women can have a positive effect on poverty alleviation and economic empowerment. This was
confirmed by the perception of the member MFIs of ProDesarrollo I interviewed in early 2009:
Do you believe microfinance can achieve the empowerment of women even in traditionally patriarchal
societies?6
¿Cree que las microfinanzas pueden lograr el empoderamiento (empowerment) de la mujer, incluso en
sociedades tradicionalmente patriarcales?
“Yes of course, every day society is allowing gender equality to exist. In our case, the loans offered to women have
a better payment rate and there is a clear internal policy to hire women within the company.”
“Por supuesto que sí, cada día la sociedad está permitiendo la igualdad de género. En nuestro caso, los créditos
otorgados a mujeres tienen una mejor tasa de pago y existe una clara política interna de contratar mujeres dentro
de la empresa.”
− Mauricio Galán, Director General, Apoyo Económico Familiar
“Yes, sure. Part of why they are patriarchal is because the woman is 100% depended on the men. If they (women)
become financially independent, this will weaken patriarchy.”
“Claro que sí. Parte de que sean patriarcales es porque la mujer depende al 100% de los hombres. Si ellas se
independizan financieramente, se debilitará el patriarcado.“
− Jorge Alberto Cantú Morales, Gerente de Control de Gestión, Créditos Pronegocio
“Yes, because the woman acquires the role of the income generator of the family and society, which gives her
independence, self-sufficiency, respect and power.”
“Sí porque la mujer adquiere el rol de la generadora de ingresos de la familia y la sociedad, lo que le da
independencia, autosuficiencia, respeto y poder.”
− José Alberto Aguilar López, Director, Emprendesarial
“In fact, today, of our client base 48% are women and as I imagine you have heard, Mexico is a pretty macho
country.”
“Efectivamente, hoy en día, de nuestra base de clientes el 48% son mujeres y como me imagino escuchas, México
es un país bastante machista”
− Sergio Arenas Díaz, Director General, Vivir Soluciones Financieras, BanRegio Grupo Financiero
“ ‘Patriarchy’ is a very complex, paradoxical and extensive topic. In countries like Mexico, it is usually said that you
live in a patriarchy, but it’s enough to look at the statistics of the population to know that it’s the women who
‘sustain’ those ‘patriarchies’. And they sustain them as much economically, as physically, emotionally and socially.
Because of this, I believe microfinance reinforces an already existing, but silent power.”
“El ‘patriarcado’ es un tema muy complejo, paradójico y extenso. En países como México, se suele decir que se vive
en un patriarcado, pero basta mirar las estadísticas de población para saber que son las mujeres las que
“sostienen” esos ‘patriarcados’. Y los sostienen tanto económica, como física, emocional y socialmente. Es por ello
que creo que las microfinanzas refuerzan un poder ya existente, pero silente.”
− Germán Martínez Blanco, Foundation Laureles
“No doubt, this is a very fascinating topic, the great change that is taking place in Mexico on the issue of gender
equality and we see how, despite patriarchal societies as you call them, the woman is the heart and brain of the
man because of her very nature as mother, even though the social model may think and say something else, in the
heart and mind of a man his mother comes first because of descendancy.”
“Sin duda este es un tema muy fascinante del gran cambio que se esta gestando en Mexico sobre el tema de
equidad de genero y vemos como a pesar de sociedades patriacarles como le llamas la mujer es el corazon y
cerebro del hombre por su misma condicion de madre, aunque el modelo social piense y diga otra cosa, en el
corazon y mente de un hombre primero esta el de su madre por descendencia”
− Diego Filiberto Duque Robledo, Director General, Credi-Capital
6
The original responses were in Spanish
“Yes, close to 97% of our clients are women and they have more and more weight in the income generation of the
family, this is a clear example of the cultural change we are living concerning the ‘mexican macho’.”
“Si, cerca del 97% de nuestros clientes son mujeres y ellas cada ves tiene mayor peso en la generación de ingresos
de la familia, esto es un claro ejemplo del cambio cultural que estamos viviendo sobre el ‘Macho Mexicano’.”
− Pedro Manuel Guajardo Leal, Banco Amigo “Definitely yes, because handling money as such already gives power, and given that it’s them (women) who
handle it, they already have more responsibility, power and security, they turn into the head of the family, and
their family depends on them, which generates respect and therefore that they (others) have to ask them (women)
for money, favors, etc.”
“Definitivamente sí, porque el manejo del dinero por si mismo ya da poder, y al ser ellas las que lo manejan ya
tienen más responsabilidad, poder y seguridad, ellas se vuelven la cabeza de la familia, y su familia depende de
ellas, lo que genera respeto y por ende que le tienen que pedir a ellas dinero, favores, etc.”
− Oscar Pfeiffer Schlittler, Director of Administration and Finance, Te Creemos
“I think women are an essential part on the personal level as much as on the professional level and that of
business. 52% of our clients are women, and as for the tendency I could tell you that they are very punctual with
their commitments. Currently, the woman occupies a very important role in the economic development of the
country."
“Creo que las mujeres son una parte esencial tanto en el ámbito personal como en el ámbito profesional y de
negocios. El 52% de nuestros clientes son mujeres, y por tendencia te podría decir que son muy cumplidas con sus
compromisos. Actualmente la mujer ocupa un papel muy importante en el desarrollo económico del país.”
− Adeodato Carbajal Orozco, Subdirector of Finance, Financiera Independencia
“Yes, it contributes so that the woman has greater economic independence which allows her to raise her selfesteem and in some cases sustain her family economically.”
“Sí, pues contribuye a que la mujer tenga una mayor independencia económica que le permite elevar su autoestima
y en algunos casos sostener económicamente a su familia.”
− Héctor Sepúlveda Rodríguez, Director of Strategic Development, Solfi
Goal 7 – Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Green Microfinance has emerged throughout the past years. A number of MFIs have established a
“triple-bottom-line”, adding the environmental component to their social and financial objectives. Other
pioneering MFIs have begun to offer loan products for investments aimed at fostering environmental
sustainability. Creative initiatives of social entrepreneurs combining environmental protection with
community development and microfinance have also emerged. New innovations in this area are
expected to gain momentum in the years to come.
Goal 8 - Develop a global partnership for development
Target 8a: Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and
financial system
Target 8a comprises the goal to develop inclusive financial systems around the world. Microfinance has
gained international recognition as a tool to successfully build and actively foster inclusive financial
systems worldwide. (Compare interview with KfW Entwicklungsbank, appendix 23)
Monitoring the MDGs through Microfinance Indicators
Goal 1 – Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Indicator:





Percentage of the households of all all countries with access to quality financial services (including credit,
savings, insurance and transfer and other services)
Percentage of households with life, health, motor vehicle or household insurance
Percentage of enterprises reporting credit refusal in last year
Percentage of country households able to access appropriate, secure, wealth-growing pension products
Percentage of country households with a residential mortgage
Goal 2 – Achieve universal primary education
Indicator:





Percentage of students able to access appropriate financial services for
education needs
Percentage of financial institutions offering secure and reasonable education savings services to poor and
low income people
Availability of education savings incentive programs
Percentage of the children of microfinance clients attending school
Percentage of women reporting refusal of credit for education purposes in last year
Goal 3 – Promote gender equality and empower women
Indicator:






Percentage of women able to access appropriate financial services for business, consumption and wealth
creation needs
Percentage of financial institutions that permit poor women sole title on savings accounts
Percentage of financial institutions that permit poor women to take out loans in their own name
Percentage of financial institutions that tailor their products specifically to meet the needs of women
Percentage of female children of microfinance clients attending school
Percentage of women reporting credit refusal in the last year
Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality
Goal 5 – Improve maternal health
Goal 6 – Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Indicator:






Percentage of poor people able to access appropriate, affordable and quality health insurance
Percentage of poor people able to access appropriate, affordable and quality credit in times of medical
crisis
Percentage of households with secure and quality savings services to use in health emergencies
Percentage of microfinance clients with loan insurance in the event of medical emergency
Percentage of financial institutions providing credit to private doctors and medical clinic start ups that
intend to serve poor and low income client groups
Percentage of households with poor credit history resulting from family health issues
Goal 7 – Ensure environmental sustainability
Indicator:


Percentage of financial institutions offering microfinance and other financial services that promote
environmentally sustainable businesses and alternatives
Percentage of slum dwellers, and other poor and low income people who can access microfinance for home
improvements
Goal 8 – Develop a global partnership for development



Percentage of Least Developed Countries receiving adequate support to develop inclusive financial sector
infrastructure
Percentage of countries with statistics on access to financial services by households
Percentage of foreign owned financial institutions serving the bottom income population segments with
financial services.
Source: UNCDF, 2005, p. 16-17
Appendix 3
CGAP, CGAP 2008 MIV Survey Main Findings, September 2008
Appendix 4: Table A4: Mexico – Economic Indicators
Mexico is a very complex country in terms of territorial, economic and demographical characteristics.

According to the World Bank, Mexico has the second largest population in Latin America (after Brazil), with
105,281,000 citizens, and ranks eleventh when compared to all countries of the world (2007).7

Mexico has the second largest economy in Latin America (after Brazil) and ranks number fourteen worldwide in terms
of GDP.8 The economic growth rate accounted for 3,2 percent in 2007 (4,8 percent in 2006). The per capita income
(US$8,340) is the highest in Latin America.

This, however, does not reflect the huge inequalities that exist in Mexico. The elevated level of poverty among Mexico’s
population and the recent evolution of poverty constitute one of the most complex challenges the country is facing.
According to the World Bank, 40 percent of Mexico’s population is living in poverty, 18 percent in extreme poverty.9
Figure A4.1: Size of Population, LAC Countries
Figure A4.2: GDP, Mexico
Size of Population
GDP (current US$ billion)
1000
200.000.000
800
150.000.000
600
100.000.000
Population
50.000.000
400
GDP (Mexico)
200
Figure A4.3: GDP per capita, Mexico
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
Figure A4.4: GDP annual growth, Mexico
GDP per capita (current $US)
GDP growth (annual %)
10.000
8.000
6.000
4.000
2000
0
1999
Peru
Venezuela
Chile
Mexico
Brazil
Bolivia
Argentina
0
GDP per capita
2.000
GDP growth
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
0
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
Source: Inter-American Development Bank
* figure for 2001 not available
Table A4.1: Household income or consumption by percentage share (%)
Mexico
2004
Gini
Index
46.1
Percentage share of income or consumption
Lowest
10%
1.6
Lowest
20%
4.3
Second
20%
8.3
Source: World Bank10
7
The World Bank (2008). World Development Indicators database.
The World Bank (2008). World Development Indicators database.
9
The World Bank (2008). Mexico Country Brief.
10
The World Bank (2007) 8
Third
20%
12.6
Fourth
20%
19.7
Highest
20%
55.1
Highest
10%
39.4
Appendix 5
Table A5: Economic Opportunities in Mexico
Economic Opportunities in Mexico
Economic Opportunities
Due to the considerable contrasts and the complexity of the country, Mexico can be divided into
three regions, the North, the Centre and the South. One could almost speak of these regions as
three different countries, as they are fundamentally different from each other and even within one
region there are considerable differences. This, of course, has an impact on the different threats and
opportunities people face in each region, as well as the predominant economic activities. The depth
and outreach of the financial system also considerably varies between the different regions.
North
The North is the region that has developed the most and has benefited to some extent from being
more integrated into the economy of the United States of America. Most of the agricultural sector is
relatively commercial and competitive on a national and international level. It consists of mediumsized and big producers, as well as associations of small producers. Due to the proximity to the
United States, new opportunities have emerged for families to diversify their economic activity with
employment in other sectors, and to take on a factory job in one of the maquiladoras. As a result,
there is a demand for more sophisticated and specialized financial services.
Center
The Center region is characterized by a rural economy in rapid transition. The agricultural production
in this region supplies big markets in urban agglomerations. Against the background of the process
of structural adjustment, agricultural households are diversifying their sources of income, shifting
from traditional agriculture to commercial agriculture and occupations in other sectors.
Consequently, there are demands for various types of financial services. Given the high
concentration of people living in this central region and the size of the market, there is demand for a
great variety of products and services, and thus several opportunities for small and micro
enterprises.
South
The Southern region of Mexico is still haunted by poverty and traditional subsistence agriculture −
characterized by the cultivation of basic grains for auto-consumption, low yields on land and a low
productivity of labor − is still significant. Income-generating opportunities are accordingly limited.
Access to markets, including financial markets, has been particularly weak in this area.
Moreover, there are major differences between rural and urban areas in Mexico, also within each of
the three regions. The availability of productive activities in some regions attracts workers to urban
conglomerates and represents a pull-factor with regards to migration, while the lack of productive
opportunities in other regions constitutes a push-factor. Mexico has been experiencing high
urbanization rates for decades. Almost three quarters of the Mexican population are living in urban
areas today. (Alpízar et. al., 2006) While poverty is lower in urban areas than in rural areas, half of
the population living in moderate poverty and one third of the extremely poor live in urban areas
today. The trend of the urbanization of poverty is likely to continue in the future. (The World Bank,
Income Generation and Social Protection for the Poor, 2005)
Appendix 6
Map A6: Socioeconomic Regions of Mexico
Source: Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, Mexico
Appendix 7: Poverty in Mexico
Poverty in Mexico
Poverty Lines
According to the Comité Técnico para la Medición de la Pobreza, in 2004, there were still an
estimated total of 3.5 million poor households living below the alimentary poverty line (extreme
poverty), 2.1 million of which lived in rural areas and 1.4 million in urban areas. While in urban
areas 8.7 percent of all households are below the alimentary poverty line, in rural areas it is 22.3
percent of households. So in 2004, 18 million people were still living in extreme poverty.
(Medición de la pobreza, SEDESOL 2000-2004) Households below the alimentary poverty line are
those whose income per person is less than would be necessary to cover alimentary necessities.
Capability poverty refers to the income per person that is lower than would be necessary to cover
basic alimentation, health and education. Below the patrimonial poverty line are those households
with an income per person less than would be necessary to cover basic alimentation, clothing,
shoes, housing, health, public transport and education. As the living costs in urban areas are
higher than in rural areas, the poverty lines are also higher. (Alpízar et. al., 2006) With respect to
patrimonial poverty (relative poverty), there were 49 million people - 47 percent of the total
population - below the patrimonial poverty line in Mexico in 2004.
Poverty Lines in Mexico:
Monthly income per person in pesos, at prices from August of every year
2000-2004
Urban Alimentary Capability Patrimonial Rural Alimentary Capability Patrimonial 2000 $ 652.6 $ 802.7 $ 1,312.3 2000 $ 485.7 $ 577.5 $ 886.4 2002 $ 672.3 $ 826.9 $ 1,351.9 2002 $ 494.8 $ 588.3 $ 903.0 2004 $ 739.6 $ 909.7 $ 1,487.3 2004 $ 548.2 $ 651.8 $ 1,000.4 Source: Comité Técnico para la Medición de la Pobreza (2004) Alimentary Poverty Line (2000-2004)
Total numbers Mexico Total of poor households Urban Percentages Rural Mexico Urban Rural 2000 4,370,075 1,464,305 2,905,770 18.6 9.8 34.1 2002 3,899,371 1,337,724 2,561,647 15.8 8.5 28.5 2004 3,535,053 1,416,092 2,118,961 13.7 8.7 22.3 Total of poor persons 2000 23,665,635 7,478,137 16,187,498 24.2 12.6 42.4 2002 20,575,000 7,210,489 13,364,511 20.3 11.4 34.8 2004 18,034,166 7,094,479 19,939,687 17.3 11.0 27.6 Source: Medición de la pobreza 2000‐2004, Secretaría de Desarrollo Social (SEDESOL), Mexico Number of households below the patrimonial poverty line and above the alimentary poverty line
2000-2004
National Urban Rural Percentage of households (%) 2000 27 28 27 2002 27 26 29 Number of households 2004 26 26 27 2000 6,399,429 4,124,864 2,274,565 2002 6,698,334 4,122,839 2,575,495 2004 6,687,346 4,169,854 2,517,492 Source: La pobreza en México: una evaluación de las condiciones, las tendencias y la estrategia del Gobierno. Banco Mundial (2004) Appendix 8
Table A8: Access to Financial Services in Mexico
Access to Financial Services in Mexico
The expansion of financial services in Mexico has traditionally been left behind, particularly in rural
areas. The scarce supply of financial services has long been little efficient, reliable and sustainable,
with a very limited quality and variety of services. The outreach has been very dispersed and the
depth in outreach low. Marginalized communities have been excluded from access to institutional
financial services, either due to geographical remoteness or the level of poverty. An understanding
of the reasons for these characteristics is critical to designing strategies that address these
challenges and limitations. Although the development of the financial sector is still far behind,
some significant changes have been taking place in the past years which may have a positive
impact on the depth and outreach of financial services in Mexico in the future.
There are formal, semiformal and informal sources of finance. The relative importance of each
varies according to the circumstances of the different regions (North, Center, South). While only
12 percent of all rural localities have banking entities, there are banks in 29 percent of all urban
areas. In rural areas, only 35 percent of all households have some type of a loan, in urban areas
53.2 percent report to have one. On a national level, 14.2 percent of all households have at least
one loan with an institution of the formal sector. According to the Encuestra Nacional sobre
Niveles de Vida de los Hogares (The National Survey on the Standards of Living of the
Households), ENNViH-2002, that was designed by CIDE and the Ibero-American University,
however, almost 12 percent of these households report to have credit cards, so that those using
other credit services of a banking institution make up less than 1 percent of the households.
(Those using cajas de ahorro y crédito and other types of cooperatives make up less than 3
percent, which is also a very low proportion when compared internationally.) Given the per capita
income of Mexico, this proportion is extremely small. In urban areas, 17 percent of households
have a loan with a formal institution, while in rural areas it is only 4.8 percent of all households.
Only 13 percent of rural households report to have access to savings or credit products. 2.5
percent report to have access to credit, which is mostly (99 percent) provided by some other
person rather than by a financial institution (bank or non-bank). With regards to sources of
formal, semiformal and informal finance, the ENNViH-2002 survey estimated that on a national
level, more than 48 percent of households had at least one loan from any of the three sources.
The proportion of households with at least one credit is significantly higher in the North (57
percent) than in the regions of the Centre and the South (47 percent). The differences between
rural (36 percent) and urban (52 percent) areas are also significant. (Alpízar et. al., 2006)
The lack of access to credit increases the vulnerability of rural families given the higher volatility
of their scarce income. Rural families have little physical capital, which limits their access to credit
and results in low levels of investments and income, and also reduces investments into human
capital. As a result, social capital is generally the only capital readily available. (Gómez Soto and
González-Vega, 2006) It is a real challenge to reach the poorest and most marginalized
households with financial services. The majority of MFIs focus on those that have sufficient income
to cover basic alimentary necessities, but cannot afford other necessities such as clothing,
housing, health or education.
Appendix 9
Table A9: Characteristics of households
Characteristics of households
Given the diverse circumstances prevalent in Mexico, there are diverse types of households, facing
different types of risks, even within the same geographical region. There is also a considerable
difference between rural and urban households. In general, Mexican households vary little in size
and composition, although rural households tend to have a larger number of members (on average
4.5 persons in rural households, 4.0 in urban households). Those households with the largest
number of people are found in the rural areas of Southern Mexico (approximately 5 people per
household as compared to 4.1 as the national average). The poverty and lack of productive
opportunities in the rural areas in the South are highly correlated with the higher fertility rates and
natural growth of the population in this region. There are also considerable differences with regards
to the education and the gender of the head of the household in Mexico. The different levels of
education between rural and urban areas are significant. In urban areas, the heads of the
household have on average two years more of education. The highest proportion of households
headed by a woman can be found in the Centre (25 percent of households), followed by the South
(22 percent) and the North (20 percent). (Alpízar et al., 2006)
Appendix 10
Table A10: Self-Employment in the Informal Sector
Self-Employment in the Informal Sector
According to the Consejo Nacional de Población 48 million Mexicans are economically active, 81
percent of those work in the informal sector as micro- or small-entrepreneurs. (ProCredit Holding,
2008) On a national level, 40 percent of all households have at least one type of self-employment.
This dimension is important in light of the outreach of the financial system and the potential target
market for microfinance. The formality of employment is much lower in rural areas than in urban
areas. The participation of households in formal labor markets is directly related to the degree of
development of each region. There is an inverse relation between modernization (i.e. urbanization
and development) and the relative importance of self-employment. Moreover, the poorer the region,
the higher the probability that the self-employment is related to a low productivity (particularly in
agriculture) and low levels of income, given the lack of productive opportunities. This combination of
informality and low productivity constitutes a challenge when trying to estimate the actual payment
capacity of households. (Alpízar et. al., 2006)
Appendix 11
Figure A11.1: Remittances in Latin America (US$ million), 2001 to 2007
Source: IDB, 2007
Figure A11.2: Remittances in Mexico (US$ million), 2001 to 2007
Remittances in Mexico (US$ million)
30.000
25.000
20.000
15.000
Remittances (Mexico)
10.000
5.000
0
2001
Source: IDB, 2007
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
Table A11: Migration and Remittances in Mexico
Migration and Remittances
“National and international remittances and payment systems as important financial
tools for those living in poverty are highlighted as key drivers to achieve the Millennium
Development Goals.” (UNCDF, 2005)
The issue of inequality and the issue of migration are strongly connected. As a result of
globalization, inequality has increased and the disparities of income between the richer regions
and the poorer regions cause both a push and a pull. (Stiglitz, 2006) The income disparity across
the Mexican border to the United States is among the largest worldwide. (Stiglitz, 2004) Despite
the dimension of migration to the United States and other countries, it is interesting to note that
the migration within Mexico makes up an even higher percentage. Around 70 percent of
households report that at least one member has emigrated within Mexico. (Alpízar et. al., 2006)
The high levels of migration create a demand for financial services like money transfer and
remittances services. (Gómez Soto and González-Vega, 2006) Remittances represent a major
source of income for the migrant’s home country and in Latin America remittances actually
exceed foreign direct investment. As remittances make up such a large portion of income of
developing and emerging countries, the facilitation of remittances transfers can have a
significant impact on the economic situation of transnational families.
An important factor that undermines the investment of remittances is the limited access to
adequate financial services in the originating countries. Moreover, the lack of know-how of
migrants and the remittances recipients with regards to the establishment of a micro-business
coupled with bureaucratic hurdles, further undermine the effective investment of remittances. To
strengthen the positive effects of remittances in the countries of origin, investments in education
and health are important as well as the development of the financial system and improved
access to adequate financial services for the low-income population. Apart from the
interconnection of financial systems that facilitates cheaper and safer money transfers, the
development of financial services that take into account the circumstances migrants and
transnational families face are essential. (Zoch, 2007)
Given the lack of access to credit, a large number of households need to self-finance their
enterprises which keeps the level of investments and productivity low, and the levels of poverty
high. This is especially true for rural areas and the Southern region of Mexico. The lack of access
to sources of finance undermines the emergence of new businesses and the expansion of those
already existent. This reinforces the cycle of poverty and makes it even more difficult to break it.
(Alpízar et. al., 2006)
The enormous migration pressure has been a key challenge for Mexico and the creation of
productive opportunities within the country, and particularly at a local level have to lie at the
core of a solution. As migrants put their lives at risk to leave the country for a lack of
opportunities, economic solutions and productive opportunities within their regions of origin are
of great significance.
Some MFIs, like AlSol Chiapas, have plans to get regulated in order to offer remittances
services. Others, like AMUCSS, have already begun to offer such services in rural areas. Some
pioneer MFIs have the vision to create new local economic opportunities that will allow the
people to stay within their region. These MFIs envision to create alternative economies in
changing times. AMUCSS has taken a leading role in this regard.
Appendix 12
Table A12: Mexico – From The Old Paradigm To A New One
Mexico: From The Old Paradigm To A New One
The last decade has seen a considerable shift in focus in Mexico, as international experiences
and practices in the provision of rural finance have increasingly challenged the efficacy of
traditional agricultural credit products which were typically directed and subsidized. As a result,
a new paradigm regarding rural finance gradually emerged since the 1970s. The old paradigm
assumed that households with limited economic resources were neither capable of saving nor of
repaying a loan based on market conditions, therefore credit was provided by state-owned
banks, highly subsidized and strictly directed at certain activities, while deposit services were
widely neglected. On an international level, a number of conclusions were drawn with respect to
this new paradigm:

recognizing the risks associated with direct lending of state agencies;

emphasizing the importance of productivity, cost-efficiency and appropriate pricing of
services to achieve sustainability;

broadening the range of financial services beyond the provision of short-term
loan products;

reducing the transaction cost for the clients and adapting the services according to
their demands;

emphasizing the importance of innovation and technology to scale up outreach.
Yet, the implementation of these principles still constitutes an immense challenge in many
countries around the globe.
In Mexico, there have been reform approaches in this regard, which are a necessary step
towards expanding rural financial services, albeit they are not sufficient to achieve this goal. The
development of the physical, institutional, regulatory and informational infrastructure is critical.
In an effort to strengthen the principles of the new paradigm, BANSEFI and FINRURAL were
established to replace the traditional state entities. Also PRONAFIM has incorporated better
microfinance practices as opposed to programs like Crédito a la Palabra and cajas solidarias that
were shaped by interventions of the state into the market. However, the old principles still have
a strong impact on the development of the popular financial markets, particularly in the rural
context.
On a global level, a number of developments have been taking place which had a positive impact
on the effort to integrate the popular finance sector, particularly in the rural context, into the
national financial systems, such as:

prudential regulation and supervision taking into account the new credit technologies

establishing links and strategic alliances between unregulated MFIs and regulated financial
intermediaries

diversification of loan products aimed at productive activities beyond agriculture

using subsidies to strengthen the institutional capacity instead of artificially lowering
interest rate
(Alpízar and González-Vega, 2006)
Appendix 13: Rural Challenges in Mexico
Rural Challenges
Achieving the financial inclusion of the rural population in Mexico is of significant importance in light of
the economic and financial fragmentation that has characterized Mexico and in order to share the
benefits of economic growth with the poorer segments of the population. The penetration of financial
services in Mexico is still very low, particularly in rural areas. Despite various efforts of the state, most
of these initiatives focused almost exclusively on credit (directed lending) and lacked efficiency and
continuity to have a sustainable impact on the lives of rural communities. At the same time, the
considerable number of cooperatives in this area have, for many years, not succeeded to achieve selfsufficiency. As a result, institution-building has lagged behind.
Rural areas are very heterogeneous and therefore complex. Providing low-income families in rural areas
with financial services represents higher costs and higher risks than offering such services in urban or
semi-urban areas. The Consejo Nacional de Población (CONAPO) considers those locations with a
population of less than 2,500 inhabitants rural.
The rural areas in Mexico are characterized by
(1) Major distances and low population density
The rural population is widely dispersed and characterized by fragmentation and high levels of poverty,
while a large percentage is indigenous. The distance between the rural population and urban locations
may be significant. The low population density constitutes high fixed costs associated with the provision
of financial services. There are 9 big metropolitan areas with more than 1 million inhabitants in which
50 percent of the urban population are located (35 percent of the total population); 81 cities with
between 100,000 and 1 million inhabitants in which almost 28 million inhabitants live; and 273 small
cities where almost 9 million inhabitants live. 30 percent of the population live in rural areas. According
to data from 2000, 6.5 million people live in 45,000 locations with less than 2,500 inhabitants close to
the cities. More than 13.2 million people live in almost 87,000 communities in dispersed areas far away
from the mainroads (carreteras). The greatest challenge constitute the almost 64,000 communities in
isolation, in which close to 5 million people live, mostly in poverty and extreme poverty. The conditions
of isolation are directly related to the level of poverty of the population. (ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008)
(2) Marginalization
A key characteristic of many rural areas is a high level of marginalization that is interrelated with a
variety of factors, such as analphabetism, “level of overcrowding” , the proportion of those earning two
minimum wages or less, and access to electric energy and running water. This marginalization is to
some extent a result of the lack of access to financial services. There are 23,000 rural communities with
30 percent or more of the population being indigenous. In 18,000 of these locations, 70 percent or
more of the population is indigenous. These communities are primarily located in Chiapas, Oaxaca and
Veracruz. The poverty levels in indigenous communities considerably exceed the Mexican average. The
indigenous population is faced with higher risks related to health, a lower life expectancy as well as
limited opportunities of education and in the labor market. Another factor that limits their participation
in markets, including financial markets, is that many are monolinguistic. A large variety of indigenous
languages is spoken all over Mexico. (Gómez Soto and González-Vega, 2006) The effects of
marginalization have left indigenous communities deeply impoverished. Despite the indigenous
movement that has been taking place for decades on the political sphere, and some advances made,
these efforts have had little impact on the economic improvement of indigenous communities. The
attempts of the government and aid organizations to promote economic development in indigenous
communities have often been neither culturally appropriate nor have they empowered these
communities to escape poverty. (Ashoka, 2006) There are several promising integrated microfinance
initiatives of MFIs in indigenous communities, recently. The majority focuses on a culturally appropriate
approach. Their loan officers and social services trainers, for instance, are from the same community
and speak the indigenous language of the community.
(3) Lower levels of education
According to the Human Development Index 2005 for Mexico, the adult literacy rate (% ages 15 and
older) is 91.6 percent. However, it should be noted that according to a study by the Ohio State
University (Project AFIRMA), more than 40 percent of those over 15 years in rural areas are
analphabets. Women are mostly affected. This limits the opportunities of accessing markets. One major
component of this issue is child labor. Although 99 percent of households in rural areas potentially have
access to a primary school located at a distance of less than 5 kilometers, only about 8 percent of
children go to school. While 80 percent of rural households have access to secondary school within a
distance of 5 kilometers, only 40 percent of those children that complete primary school continue to the
secondary school. Given the concerns related to consumption fluctuations, child labor is a strategy to
mitigate these risks, as there are no alternatives like financial and insurance services available. As
children play a more active role with regards to productive activities as they grow up, the value of
education decreases. The low importance of education in many cases is also due to the limited
opportunities of productive activities in these areas. The low education levels, again, reduce the ability
to compete in the labor market and limit the chances of accessing credit products. (Gómez Soto and
González-Vega, 2006) (compare interview with Carolina Nieto from Toda Mujer, appendix 31, on the
impact of transportation cost on school attendance)
(4) A relatively little developed physical, technological and institutional infrastructure
The availability of means of communication and transportation is limited, which impacts on the
transaction costs the local population faces and limits the productive opportunities they can possibly
take advantage of. This consequently also presents obstacles to the successful establishment of
sustainable MFIs in those areas.
(5) Less access to information and markets as compared to the urban population
Access to information and markets is generally lacking in rural areas, making it more difficult to engage
in business activities. Basic necessities like food, water and medicine can be more expensive in rural
areas than in urban areas, given the high transportation costs that result from the deficient
infrastructure, the lack of competition in the local markets and the low sales volumes.
(6) Limited diversification with regards to income generating activities
A lack of economic opportunities in remote areas results in limited diversification of income generating
activities. The local market for products microenterprises might produce is also often very limited. This
may also present obstacles to the operations of MFIs in those areas.
(7) Agriculture and activities related to natural resources are relatively important
economic activities
According to the national household survey ENNViH-200211, 16 percent of all Mexican households work
the land – 44 percent in rural areas, particularly in the South where 58 percent of all households work
the land. The large proportion of households engaged in subsistence agriculture reflects low levels of
labor productivity. 17 percent of the households in the country have at least one non-agricultural family
business; 19 percent of urban and 11 percent of rural households. In the Southern rural regions, only
7.8 percent of all households have a non-agricultural business. On a national level, these businesses are
mainly financed through informal sources, especially through savings and the support of a member of
the extended family. This is also due to the lack of adequate alternative sources of finance. The
proportion of households using a business partner (socio) who is not part of the household is very low,
particularly in rural areas, which may be explained by agent-principal issues or limitations with regards
to the enforceability of legal contracts. (Alpízar et. al., 2006)
11
Encuesta Nacional sobre Niveles de Vida de los Hogares, mentioned before (8) Problems related to defining property rights and other restrictions to assets
serving as collateral
In order to have access to financial services, it has traditionally been important for households to
possess land and to be able to prove the ownership of the property. Due to imperfect information
limiting financial transactions, households were required to possess assets that could serve as a
guarantee to prove their capacity and willingness to pay. In rural areas, 46 percent of all households
work the land, but only 37 percent are the owners of a piece of land. This gap between the ownership
and the use of land is particularly evident in the poorest regions of the country, especially in the rural
South. 51 percent of households owning a piece of land have an ejidal certificate that has historically
been related to the legal limitations of corresponding rights. In the Southern region, almost half of the
households (46 percent) reporting to own a piece of land do not have any type of document that would
prove their right over this land. Decisions over their land are accordingly limited. (Alpízar et. al., 2006)
(9) Structural changes in the rural economy
Given the profound structural transformation of rural areas in Mexico − such as the decline in
competitiveness in the traditional agricultural sector against the background of globalization, subsidized
competition from abroad, the impact of climate change, and the patterns of migration −, it will be
crucial for MFIs to take into account the changing environment and new circumstances, and to identify
and successfully respond to changes in demand for different types of financial services. Another
important characteristic of rural areas is the increasingly important economic role of women. Against
the background of the high migration levels of men, the women campesinas play an increasingly
important role in the rural economy and approximately 20 percent of rural households are headed by a
woman. The income disparity between men and women is still considerable in rural areas, which is also
related to the lower levels of education and working experience of women. In light of this inequality,
microfinance can play a significant role by allowing women to enhance their streams of income,
promoting their decision-making power in the household and generally having a positive impact on the
education and skills-set of the whole family. (Gómez Soto and González-Vega, 2006)
(10) Cultural particularities
Not all technological advances and innovations can necessarily be as successful in Mexico as in other
countries, and need to be adapted to the local circumstances while taking into account the cultural
particularities. Dr. Gustavo del Angel of the ProDesarrollo board, for instance, emphasizes that while
technology plays an important role, it is also important to keep in mind that not everything that worked
in countries like Pakistan or the Philippines also works for Mexico:
“Sometimes people come here and there are many who don’t know, and they say ‘no problem, with
technology this can be solved’ – well yes and no. Because yes, well you can solve that with cell phones
and palms, etc. Well with cell phones, very good. The peasants already have cell phones, it’s not like
they don’t know that there are cell phones and that’s why they don’t use them. It’s not like that. People
use cell phones. The problem is to go tell them ‘put your money here’. Well with that it no longer works,
they won’t like that and they’ll say ‘What’s a palm?’”.12
As a result of many of the aforementioned factors characterizing rural areas, transaction costs are
particularly high. The costs of all parties involved have in fact been higher not only than those in urban
areas, but also than in rural financial markets in similar countries.
One of the primary concerns for rural households is the smoothing of consumption, which generates
certain demands for financial services. Virtually all rural households (92 percent) are within the first two
quartiles of the income distribution (the two highest levels of poverty), while 74 percent of rural
households are in the first quartile of income distribution (the poorest). More than 47 percent of those
working in agriculture receive less than one minimum wage. The capacity to save and pay loans is
accordingly limited and the transaction amounts fairly small.
12
Personal interview, appendix 20 Households in rural areas demand a variety of financial services in order to smooth out fluctuations in
consumption. The key challenges associated with serving rural communities stem from the level of
poverty and informality of the target population as well as the transactions characterized by small
amounts and the greater risks prevalent in rural areas, which are difficult to fully estimate. In this
regard, innovations play a major part in designing products which adequately respond to the demands
of this target market and allow the institution to provide these services in a cost-effective and
sustainable manner.
Appendix 14
Figure A14: Market Segments
Adopted from ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008
The natural market of MFIs are those who lack access to traditional financial services and engage in
some kind of a productive activity. For the destitute poor, social programs and direct help tend to be
more effective.
Appendix 15
Figure A15.1: Distribution of MFIs according to Legal Status
Sociedades Financieras Populares; 5%
Legal Structure IAP; 4%
S.A. de C.V. ; 27%
Asociaciones Civiles; 24%
Sociedades Civiles; 13%
SOFOM; 25%
Bank; 2%
Regulation
Profit Status
11%
26%
Regulated
For‐Profit
Not regulated
89%
Non‐Profit
74%
Adopted from: ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008
Figure A15.2: Distribution of MFIs according to Lending Methodology
Adopted from: ProDesarrollo and MIX, 2008
* Latin America & The Caribbean, without Mexico
Appendix 16: Definition of Indicators
Source: The MIX, 2008 Appendix 17: MFIs and Micro-Entrepreneurs in Mexico
1
17.1: Location of Chiapas
2
17.2: Map of Chiapas, San Cristóbal de las Casas
17.3, 17.4: Tzotzil Mayan women entrepreneurs at Solidarity Group Meeting of AlSol; Payment session, alphabetization and health training;
Location: Zinacantán ("land of bats", 31061 inhabitants/30610 indigenous) in the highlands of Chiapas, 10 km from San Cristóbal de las Casas.
Economic activities: Artesanía
1
2
Source: http://www.chiapasmexico.info/
Source: http://www.embassyworld.com/maps/Maps_Of_Mexico/Chiapas/ 17.5: Successful micro-entrepreneur of Grameen Trust in Zinacantán.
She began with an individual credit from the branch in San Cristóbal de
las Casas for her artesanía shop. Today, she has expanded her shop
and employs several salaried women of her village. She also opened a
shop in San Cristóbal de las Casas. “Solo falta la exportación” (“The
only thing that’s still missing is exportation”), she says.
17.6: Grameen Trust branch in Zinacantán
with Director María Hernandez (middle)
17.7: Grameen Trust branch in Zinacantán
Economic activities of clients:
Artesanía, vegetable and flower farming
3
17.8: Market in the neighbor village San Juan Chamula
3
Source: http://www.embassyworld.com/maps/Maps_Of_Mexico/Chiapas/
17.9: Map of Chiapas: Palenque
17.10: Map of Palenque and its rural municipalities
17.11, 17.12, 17.13: Solidarity group meeting of AMEXTRA; Payment session; Location: Rio Chancala (1931 inhabitants/ 826 of indigenous origin)
17.14: Solidarity group meeting of AMEXTRA; Payment session;
Location: La Cascada (883 inhabitants/ 800 of indigenous origin)
17.15: Solidarity group meeting of AMEXTRA; Payment session;
Location: La Reforma de Ocampo, 555 inhabitants/ 70 of indigenous
origin)
17.16: AMEXTRA office in the center of Palenque
4
17.17: Map of Mexico: Monterrey
17.18: Micro-entrepreneur of ADMIC with one of
her students; She gives painting classes and
sells painted handicraft;
Location: Suburb of Monterrey
17.19, 17.20: Micro-entrepreneur of ADMIC; He repairs used wheels and sells them. He has also created his own product – a spray for polishing
wheels and car furniture; Location: Suburb of Monterrey
4
Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mx.html
5
17.21: Map of Mexico: Estado de México
6
17.22: Extract of the map of Estado de México,
highlighting the offices of ProMujer in this state
17.23: ProMujer office in Tecámac.
17.24, 17.25, 17.26: Solidarity group meeting in the neighborhood center at ProMujer’s office; Payment session; Location: Tecámac, Estado de México
5
6
Source: http://www.losmejoresdestinos.com/mapa_mexico.gif
Source: http://bibliotecadigital.ilce.edu.mx/sites/estados/libros/edomex/imgs/gra_4.gif 17.27: Micro-entrepreneur of ProMujer;
She has a vegetable and fruit stall in the local market and
has been with ProMujer for about 2 years. She requires
larger sums of working capital for her business than some
other women entrepreneurs of her group and says it takes
very long for her to get through the first loan cycles until
she qualifies for large enough loans. For the loan amount
she requires for her business she needs to continue her
loan cycles for about another year.
Location: Tecámac, Estado de México
17.28,17.29, 17.30: Entrepreneur family, clients of ProMujer, produce ceramic religious statutes which are also exported to Guadalajara and San Luis Potosí.
(Entrepreneur daughter in the middle, ProMujer staff on the right)
Location: Tecámac, Estado de México
Appendix 18:
Opinion on Client Movement for Transparency: Antonio Galvan Luna
OPINION:
Antonio Galvan Luna, Social Entrepreneur & Co-Founder of Galika,
A Client Movement for Transparency?
Galika provides consulting and training to micro, small and medium-sized, and some big enterprises.The main focus
lies on training for SME with the basic business skills to make them grow.7 Galika has been working on a variety of
creative projects in collaboration with other organizations, including in the area of microfinance.8 Given his academic and professional background, as well as his extensive experience9 with micro-entrepreneurs and in the area of
Social Entrepreneurship in Mexico, I am particularly grateful to have his opinion on the feasibility of a client movement in microfinance.
IN MY OPINION, an initiative involving consumers themselves is certainly feasible, given the current freedom
of information laws and movements in Mexico, but it would definitively require the support and, above all,
the encouragement of a third party, which would educate the consumers. Since the promulgation of the Federal Law of Transparency and Access to Governmental Information in June of 2002, an information revolution
was started in Mexico, resulting in a bigger awareness of the need of information, not only about the government, but of other entities, like businesses, as well. This has produced important results, like the law
passed by the Congress that requires all financial institutions to display the Annual Total Cost (CAT – Costo
Anual Total; which is the real interest rate) for each of their products. There is also the Federal Consumer
Agency, PROFECO, which oversees and protects the rights of the consumers, which has gained importance in
the last years.
This, on one hand, makes it feasible that people would require knowing exactly the cost of the MF services
they are signing up for. But, on the other hand, we have the problem of financial education in Mexico. There
is evidence that people do not take financial decisions based on the discounted cash flows of their liabilities,
even if they are presented with straightforward comparison tools like the CAT, but on other behavioral phenomena like their ability to comply with the weekly payments (this also can be observed with appliances –
most people do not buy more expensive, but far more energy-efficient, home appliances even when they can
recuperate the difference with a cheaper model in less than one year) or the marketing appeal. If people
understood that financial intelligence would make them more economically stable and less at risk, a consumer movement would be a great way to regulate the industry, but that is the real challenge.
7
Antonio Galvan Luna: “More than 90% of this country's economy is driven by SMEs, yet more than 60% of SMEs do not
survive their first year of operations, and a great proportion of the 40% left does not go longer than 5 years. That's quite
alarming. So we now try to train these companies in a wide variety of topics, from finance, legal issues, business administration, to inventories, quality, productivity, and we also try to develop the human potential with courses on negotiation, leadership, communication, teamwork, etc (the so-called "soft-skills").”
8
SIFIDE, a microfinance dependency from the government of San Luis, invited Galika to participate in the program
"miércoles empresarial" and provide free business-development courses to the micro-entrepreneurs once a week. This was
followed by a collaboration with the CNDI who offered them to run similar courses with the indigenous groups participating in
the development programs of the federal government. Galika also works with some academic institutions that have business
incubators by evaluating business plans, forecasts, etc.
9
graduated in Finance and Accounting in Queretaro, Mexico, and got nominated by AIESEC for an internship at the headquarters of the Deutsche Post in Bonn. While there he decided to do his masters in Business Economics at Konstanz University.
Back in Mexico, he started teaching at Tec de Monterrey in San Luis Potosí , incorporated to the family business his grandfather started (custom-designed wooden furniture, setting an example of environmental sustainability) and, started Galika, a
consulting and training company, with two former classmates. The diverse work of Galika has given him a unique chance to
see the economic reality of Mexico. He also serves as the Chair for the Mid-South region of the Association for Experiential
Education which includes the US states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mississippi, as well as the whole of
Mexico, and he is the President of Política Ciudadana, a politics discussion group in San Luis Potosí which aims at making
people conscious about their responsibility in political life.
Appendix 19:
Interview with Carlos Labarthe, Co-CEO of Compartamos
30 March 2009 JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Compartamos has achieved to provide very small loans to some of the poorest women in rural areas on a sustainable and profitable basis. Compartamos is also recognized worldwide as an MFI that has achieved to reach a critical scale – last summer you reached out to 1 million clients. Over the past years, Compartamos expanded at a rapid pace – the capital for growth came almost exclusively from re‐
tained earnings and consistently high profits that were the result of high interest rates charged. Some stake‐
holders of microfinance argue, a double‐bottom line business might consider other sources of funds to finance growth. What were the reasons that con­
vinced you to use this approach to financing growth? CARLOS LABARTHE: Well, Jessica, for us it is quite simple, if we really want to make a difference in the world, and want to serve the millions of people – some people say it is almost 1 billion people that have this lack of financial services, at the end of the day it’s a matter of capital. I remember a number that JPMorgan gave some years ago that the demand for financial ser‐
vices at the low‐income segment was around 400 bil‐
lion dollars. So there is not enough donated money or donations from multilaterals or the World Bank or NGOs that will be able to serve this demand, the whole of the demand. We realized this many, many years ago, to really be able to fulfil this demand, at least the one we have here in Mexico, – just to give you an idea of the market, we work with the C‐medium and D market if you see the economic pyramid, and just in that segment we have 14.5 million households, these are not clients but households, and 75 percent of those have not been banked, so they don’t have financial services from any institution. So again, the potential market, at least in Mexico, and I know this is the same for many other countries in the world, is just amazing. So we really believe that we have to tap, and we had to do this many years ago, we need to be able to tap into the financial market, to connect with the markets, to be able to have the amount of money we need again to fulfil the de‐
mand or at least a good portion of that demand. So the main reason why we have this approach is this one. And we really believe ‐ let me give you another idea, it’s very, very important this topic ‐ we really believe that we are not the only ones that have to serve this market, that we needed to create or help create an industry in Mexico, not just one institution or one company, that we really need an industry. The only way to build an industry is to have – maybe you read some paper from Michael Chu, he is a very interesting guy in Harvard – but the only way to build an industry is to have an eco‐
nomic activity and to have higher returns than the av‐
erage. That is the only way to build a new industry. Because I remember, let me give you an anecdote here, when we transformed from an NGO to a SOFOL, the first transformation that was in 2000, we were inviting some investors – I remember a friend of us who is a very rich guy here in Mexico, we were just starting and we were inviting him to be part of the shareholders and the first question he asked is “what is the return you are going to give me?”. I don’t remember the figure now but it was something around the average ‐ that is where we learnt this many, many years ago, very early ‐ he told us “you’re inviting me to a new industry, to something that is completely new for me, it is like an adventure, and you’re telling me that you’re going to pay me back like I would invest in Coca Cola? I would prefer to put my money there”. And that is what he did – he didn’t become a shareholder of Compartamos. So again, when you want to build an industry, you need an economic activity, but you also need a higher return than the average. The main reason behind high profit‐
ability of Compartamos is to reinvest, as you mentioned it, reinvest to continue growing as fast as possible, that is the first reason, and the second one is to create an industry. And this is the only way to create an industry, you need higher returns than the average. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: And how about, for instance, these specialized microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs) that have emerged in recent years and that provide both debt and equity finance and that usually expect a range of different returns, depending on the characteristics of that vehicle. Do you feel that during the last years, there were also other sources of funding, also commercial funding, available that may not necessarily come from interest rates but rather debt capital, or equity provided by socially responsible investors through these kind of vehi­
cles, for example? CARLOS LABARTHE: Oh, what we have seen is that these specialized investment vehicles in general are trying to charge a very similar profit or return on their investment. Sometimes I don’t understand the differ‐
ence between them, because the main majority, in my experience, their behaviour is like any other player in the market, so it is not that different. There are some differences when you see financial institutions in Mex‐
ico that we call development banks, because they re‐
ceive some kind of subsidy and they really try to help institutions to go further into the market and to serve other segments of the market. Yes, in those cases we see some kind of different conditions in the price. But when you talk about the main majority of the interna‐
tional ones, when you work with IFC, BlueOrchard or some of the founders or the shareholders are multilat‐
erals or bilaterals, with many of them the conditions are almost the same as the market, in many, many cases. So it’s really not the difference. This question here ‐ and that’s, Jessica, the approach we have played, we are always very careful to work with subsidized money because in the end, it’s exactly the same ration‐
ale that I just gave you in the first question, there will not be enough money from there to fulfil the demand. So if we do not connect with the markets, if we do not connect with these amounts of capital, we will not be able to fulfil the demand, that’s how it is. That’s why we’re open, just to give you an example, with this credit crunch and this crisis, that maybe is another question you have, with this liquidity crisis – if you see the bal‐
ance sheet of Compartamos and if you see the liabilities in our balance sheet, these have shifted in some sense from the largest banks in Mexico mainly to smaller banks in Mexico, Mexican banks that are more flexible, that do not have the international pressures. I don’t know if you’re aware that 80 percent of the assets of the banking sector are in the hands of the international banks, mainly British, Spanish and American banks. The local banks have much more flexibility. So we have shifted from those larger banks that were not able to fund, in the last quarter of last year Compartamos moved to smaller Mexican banks, and also we used local development banks because they were able to give funds, some of them in better conditions than the market. In this credit crunch situation, and in general, the industry is facing critical challenges before us. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: In what way did you seek to balance the interests of the clients with the inter­
ests of the investors, particularly with regards to the high profits made for many years and the huge financial success of the IPO? CARLOS LABARTHE: We have not seen, and actually that is a very good question, Jessica, we have not seen ‐ and we spent a lot of time in road shows and in front of investors – and I have not seen one investor that wants Compartamos to hurt its clients. They know very well that the model is based on good service and treating our clients well. And just be careful on the high interest rates, because when you see the market in Mexico, we are not the highest ones, we are one of the lowest ones when you talk about microfinance. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Yes, I realized that they are gen‐
erally high. It’s just that, you know, also while cover­
ing costs, you still have very high profits. CARLOS LABARTHE: Yes, but if you see the interest rates in the market, we are one of the cheapest ones. I know that this is quite different from context to con‐
text. But the investors know very well that we have to treat our clients preferably. And you know, if you have read out letter to our peers that we wrote I think al‐
most two years ago, that the interest rates have been dropping very dramatically in the history of Compar‐
tamos, and this will keep moving to a lower pace, not as fast as many would like to see. But then again, if you realize the context, just let me give you one important comparison and this was a comment that you made. Compartamos is serving an average loan balance per client of around US$450. If you see the costs of attend‐
ing the clients on a per year basis, it’s around US$150 per client per year. And if you see that number in Bo‐
livia, to give you a number from the MIX Market, that number is US$170. So in that way, Compartamos is more efficient. The problem is, that in average, Latin America, again just in Latin America, the average loan balance per client is a bit less than US$2,000, about US$1,800. And for Compartamos it’s US$450. So at the end, the main driver, Jessica, in the business of financial services, is the average loan balance per client. So if you see the number of our colleagues in Latin America that is US$1,800 and you divide this by US$450 which is about our average loan balance, it’s 4 times higher. So if we were giving loans of US$1,800 we could reduce our interest 4 times, so it would be at around 20 percent. So the main issue here is not costs, because if you compare Compartamos to our colleagues by costs we are even more efficient. The main ‘problem’ with the segment we decided to work in is average loan balance, that’s the main issue here. If you have costs that are compa‐
rable you will determine the interest rates by the aver‐
age loan balance, the lower the average loan balance – if the costs are comparable – you need a higher interest rate. So it’s as simple as that. That is the main issue behind the interest rates we have to charge, because we have a very, very, very low loan balance, because we have decided to do that. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: I feel most people do under­
stand that it is very expensive to make very small loans and they also know that Compartamos makes very small loans, much smaller than many MFIs in the region, but despite the high operating costs that are especially high in Mexico and that need to be covered, Compartamos still makes considerable profits and has made high profits for many years. CARLOS LABARTHE: Yes, but I gave you the two rea‐
sons behind that. We want to grow and we have 1,155,000 clients, and because we want to create an industry. Just to give you an example of that, there is an institution that is the representative of the clients of financial services and on their website they have al‐
most 800 institutions that give microfinance today. And we think that Compartamos has played a very, very important role that this is a reality now in Mexico. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: The extraordinary success of the IPO and the high purchase price of the shares, also implies high expectations about future profitability. The past profits resulted from high interest rates charged to the clients. Do you have a strategy of how you will maintain high profitability in the future, while balancing financial returns with social re­
turns and the clients’ interests? Do you feel the governance structure after the IPO will allow Com­
partamos to strike a balance between financial goals and your social mission, given that the new shareholders are primarily mainstream investors without a social mission? CARLOS LABARTHE: Well first of all, let me give you our definition, we are a bank that gives social, eco‐
nomic and human value. And we understand quite well that giving social value is the cause for giving economic value to the investors. And even when we did the first road show, our investors know very clearly that our profits come as a consequence from giving social value. To give you some numbers, 92 percent of our clients come back for another service that, as you know, in microfinance is very, very high. So the retention rate is very, very high, the satisfaction of the clients is very, very high and also how we treat the clients is very, very high. So we will not expect to change our strategy. And by the way, with this crisis, the shares of the company have been hit like everything in the market. So the great numbers or the prices that we saw when we started – just to give you the actual numbers, I mean it’s public information, you have it, the price of the IPO was 40 pesos per share, then it went up for the first month to 69 per share. And then it went down with the mar‐
ket, the lowest was around 18 pesos. The price today was something around 28 pesos. These huge numbers are not there. So the high expectations – there is noth‐
ing like that now. Because of this crisis. Well, it has hit everyone in the market. The second, I think it’s very important for you to know, that we put 30 percent of the company into the market. So the majority of the main shareholders – well, even if we signed a share‐
holders agreement that everyone will sell but no one will get out, so the main shareholders are still here. And it’s the majority. Because you mentioned something like the majority of the company is outside in the mar‐
ket and that’s not the case. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Oh, I was referring to the major‐
ity of the new shareholders after the IPO. CARLOS LABARTHE: Yes, but again – you know what is interesting, that’s another part of the market, Jessica, the market is not that rational guys that just think of profits. For me, it’s like a boat. When they see a good boat and they like the boat, and it’s a good boat with experience, following a clear path and with good re‐
sults, they go on top of that boat. But it’s not that they want to change the course of the boat. They don’t know anything about the business. It’s like they see some‐
thing that they like and they go and buy the shares of that company, but they don’t want to – I have not seen any investor that wants to decide what’s happening with the company and be influencing the strategy. They believe in the management that is there, even part of what they are buying is the management that has been there for many, many years. For many people the mar‐
ket is like the devil and we do not believe that. The market is intelligent people who know who are the ones that know the business and if they like what they see, they will get on board. And you have obviously the challenge and commitment to keep on moving the boat in the strategy and path that has been navigated for the last years. But in the end it’s not that they will change the strategy, that they will change completely the way the boat has been navigated. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Do you feel that if microfi­
nance gets more integrated into the global capital markets, this might even lead to some kind of a redistribution in the sense that it has an impact on existing inequalities? CARLOS LABARTHE: I would like to see microfinance as part of the financial mainstream. I know that this is different from context to context. But at least in Mexico, in our environment, in the region of Latin America, I really believe that microfinance has to be part of the financial sector. And it’s really happening and when you see the numbers and the number of clients, the main majority of them are served by commercially managed institutions that are supervised, that’s great news for the industry, and great news for the clients, because the difference between microfinance today and 10 years ago, at least in Mexico, is that you had maybe 5 alternatives to have a loan or a financial ser‐
vice for this segment and now they have maybe 1,000 institutions, from NGOs, SOFOMES, SOFOLES, banks, cooperatives, etc. etc. That’s great and that’s exactly what happens. And if you see any industry creation in the history of the world, there is always a new com‐
merce, the first one. And this is exactly what happens with Compartamos. With very high returns – and you can think of biotechnology, or you can think of the internet or software, the first commerce that did a good job are the ones that have very, very high returns and that’s exactly when an industry is born. We think that’s part of our mission. We know, and to be open, Jessica, we really know, this is a controversial. We really know that some people don’t like our model, but well, we really believe this is a good model, it’s not the only one, there are many others, and we really respect the other models in many ways and in many ways we think that our model and for example a different model from NGOs that want subsidies to work with impoverished communities, it’s a complement. We’re not working in the same communities and regions, or even where we are working in the same communities, we are working with different segments. It’s a complement. We can be a complement. It’s not that we have the model and this is the model to follow, we don’t know. What we really know is that this is a model that has been successful in Mexico to get scale and this is one of the main problems in microfinance, because it’s great to have all the num‐
bers now, it’s great to have millions of clients, but there’s a billion there that needs us and again the only way to go and tap into that billion is to be connected with the big money. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Considering that several mi­
crofinance stakeholders have criticized Comparta­
mos for placing financial returns above social re­
turns, how will you maintain the balance between clients’ and investors’ interests and convince the microfinance community that your business model is an effective way of helping the poor? CARLOS LABARTHE: Well, first, we don’t talk about the poor, because it’s a very relative word in many ways. Who is poor and who is not poor? The one with 1 dollar is the poorest and the one with 1.1 dollar is not the poorest? So we don’t like the word ‘poor’. That’s where we use the word low‐income segment, and we describe them as low‐income people, but we don’t like to talk about poor. Even our clients don’t like to be treated as poor and don’t like the word poor. We really believe that the person can be the main force behind his own or her own development. So you will never see in anything in our wording or public information talk‐
ing about poor. But we know that we work with a spe‐
cific segment. And what we know very clearly is that that segment has a lack of opportunities, – in health, environment, in nutrition, education, and another one is financial services. And what we were trying to do is to fill that gap, to really give them the opportunity, at least with the financial services – this is what we know how to do. So to be honest, as I already mentioned, the main focus is on our social impact. Because the social impact is the cause of the economic value. So this is the main thing. Because if we don’t give value to the client, she will leave – I’m talking as “she” because 98 percent of our clients are women. We really believe in the people, we believe in the person. It’s a virtuous circle. When you are able to give value to the client, you will have a return. And when you see the economies of the micro‐enterprises, and the margins that they have, it’s amazing but they can do a lot of money with very, very little amounts of money, again, because of the margins that they handle. It’s funny but some of the critics of Compartamos, they have never been with the clients. I would say the main majority of them. And when you go to these communities and talk with clients, even the interest rates that we’re charging, it’s quite low for them. Because again, their market and the comparison they make with moneylenders and other options that they have, they’re much more expensive. That’s the position where we can work. Even when you talk about other financial institutions that are giving the clients this service, the main majority are even more expen‐
sive. So, I think it’s a process, Jessica. Again, the interest rates have been going down. And to be honest – just to give you the cost structure of Compartamos – the low‐
est interest rates that a Mexican MFI could charge, even the lowest one for one in Chiapas that is an NGO, not having profits but just not to lose money, is around 62 percent annually. And I know that for the ones that have been criticizing Compartamos even this kind of interest rate is too much. So we are not working for those guys, we are working for our clients, we are working for our country. And we are very proud of what we have been doing. Again, we know it’s contro‐
versial, and we don’t expect that everyone understands and supports us, that’s life. Even my wife and I don’t think alike in many things, that’s life. We really respect other opinions and other models, and that’s fine. That’s the other thing, we have to be careful, Jessica, because when you’re in the field, when you’re a practitioner, it’s very different to look at things here, than look at things just in university. So that’s why we always invite people to come and see. Because the reality is very, very – sometimes it’s shocking. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: I actually went to Mexico to visit MFIs and their clients. I went to Chiapas, Estado de México, Hidalgo, Monterrey… CARLOS LABARTHE: That’s great! And did you visit Compartamos’ clients or not? JESSICA HAEUSSLER: I had a visit scheduled for Oax‐
aca, but then unfortunately I feel sick and had to go to hospital, so I had to cancel the visit, but I would have loved to go. What do you see as the greatest chal­
lenges for the Mexican microfinance sector in the coming years? CARLOS LABARTHE: Well, the first one would be this crisis, this liquidity crunch. This credit crunch is a huge challenge. The second one is to really build an industry in a very intelligent way, because what also happens when you build an industry is that you have very good players and you have some others that are not such good players. So the best thing we will have some years from now, we’ll have a consolidation process where the good institutions with more experience will grow and some of the small ones that have not been able to do things very good will be bought by others or maybe die. So we’ll have a consolidation process and that’s also a challenge. And another thing, for the microfinance in‐
dustry in general, because of the crisis, is to maintain the non‐performing loans as low as possible, because our clients as we all are suffering in some ways. The effects of the crisis, that’s the other issue where we have to be careful. And maybe lastly, I know you are familiar with ProDesarrollo, the other challenge is to be able to really have a representation, in this case ProDe‐
sarrollo, that is strong and can really represent us, etc. etc. So really to build, again, an industry and a repre‐
sentation that is strong and is good for the industry. Those are the four most important ones. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Thank you so much for your time. That was really, really helpful for my research.10 10
This interview was held on 30 March 2009 over the telephone. Appendix 20:
Interview with Dr. Gustavo del Ángel Mobarak, Professor and Researcher at CIDE,
Independent Consultant on the Board of ProDesarrollo
Mexico City, November 4, 2008 DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Creo que fue en el año 2005 el Banco de México y la Hacienda sacaron una ley llamada ley de transparencia y ordenamiento de los servicios financieros. Esta ley obliga a los intermediaros financieros a trasparentar sus costos, es decir lo que le cobran a los usuarios del servicio. La ley es muy general, obviamente para los intermediaros financieros que están supervisados por el Banco de México, esta ley cubre instituciones como bancos que atienden al sector popular (bajo, medio‐
bajo) que compiten por un segmento del mercado prestando dinero, ellos no entran al sector rural, ellos entran al sector semi‐rural y semi‐urbana, a los bancos la ley los cubre. Lo que salió este año, es una reglamentación, creo que es una ley, que obliga a los intermediaros financieros a publicar su CAT, pero los que están obligados son los que están supervisados, ellos si están obligados a publicarlos, a ponerlos en frente de la puerta o algo así, los demás no están obligados. El problema es el siguiente: La adición es voluntaria, tu puedes publicarlo o no, pero tienes redes como ProDesarrollo que dicen bueno nosotros vamos a ser transparentes estemos o no estemos regulados, en ProDesarrollo está Compartamos, AMUCSS, o unas pequeñas que atienden a señoras en el campo que hacen maíz o tortillas, etc. También de los que están obligados, como los bancos, pueden ir con un abogado y decir ‘nosotros queremos una excepción de la ley’, eso sí es posible. Ahora ya depende del regulardor que digan sí o no. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Cuál es la razón? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: En realidad aplica legalmente pero pueden tener una excusa legal. Hay un problema con el CAT. Hay este reporte anual del sistema financierca del Banco de México, y no quisieron hablar de microfinanzas este año, para no meterse en problemas. Las microfinanzas no parecen en este reporte. Y fue al propósito que no lo pusieron. Pero sí hablan del CAT. El problema del CAT es que castiga a las microfinanzas y castiga todavía más a los intermediarios como Banco Azteca. El CAT es una formula que estima el costo, pero no es el costo neto del crédito, es un costo financiero anual aunque sea un crédito de una semana. Si has visto la formula – el valor de tiempo es exponencial. Si tienes un crédito de hipoteca que pagas cada mes en 15 años y tienes un crédito que vas pagando cada semana durante 6 meses, te va a salir muchísimo más alto el crédito que pagas cada semana, porque la periodibilidad de los pagos te los hace muy altos. Lo que hace Banco Azteca es cargar tasas de interés muy altos, todo el mundo lo sabe, pero con pagos pequeños semalaes. Y lo que pasa es que su CAT sale altísimo. Hay instituciones de microfinanzas que a pesar del CAT salen con un CAT muy bajo. Y para el usuario ‐ el CAT solo sirve para el usuario que compara entre una institución y otra, no sirve para otra cosa, pero tiene que ser exactamente el mismo producto, es otro problema, no puedes comparar el CAT de una tarjeta de crédito con el CAT de un crédito de una licuadora, refrigerador, etc. que pagas cada semana. Por que son productos distintos. Esto genera dudas realmente de transparencia. Como yo lo veo, el CAT realmente es una fórmula complicada, y imagínate una señora que hace comida y quiere comprar una licuadora, y va a Coppel o a la Caja Popular Mexicana, y la ponen el CAT – ¿qué me está diciendo? Obviamente el usuario, como la gente en Chiapas y Oaxaca, lo que te dice es “¿cuánto me vas a prestar y cuanto te voy a devolver?” y ellos hacen su cuenta, a mano: pago cada semana esto, lo sumo, pago tanto de comisión, etc. Eso es lo que hace la gente rural. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Pero el problema es que así parece muy poco dinero que tienen que pagar cada semana, ¿no? Pero el final, una oferta les sale mucho más caro que otra, pero no tienen la posibilidad de comparar los costos. ¿Cree que hay otras formas, aparte del CAT, tal vez algo como el APR de Estados Unidos, u otra posibilidad que les permite comparar las ofertas? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Sí, es lo que creo, con el interés más las comisiones, sin complicarlo. Sí – porque el APR te dice más o menos cuanto acabas pagando. Y el CAT te dice el equivalente a un costo anual. Si quiero comprar una casa, el CAT a lo mejor está bien ‐ ves también el costo de oportunidad del dinero, ves muchas cosas. Pero para un microcrédito semanal, en mi opinion no es lo mejor. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Cree que en los próximos años va a haber un cambio en cuanto a la transparencia? DR.GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Aparentemente sí, porque hay más interés de instituciones grandes por hacer su información publica, eso le va a dar más peso al mercado. Hay dos tipos de información, información para el regulador que es la parte financiera y operacional que pones en el MIX Market; o información para el usuario – que es algo más complicado. En cuanto a la información para el gobierno – sí. Pasa muy rápido, unificar la información etc. Ahora hay una estandardisación contable y super rápido. Para el usuario – pues vamos a ver. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Como funcionó en otros países de Amércia Latina? ¿Quién es responsable para la transparencia y la educación financiera de los clientes, o apoyar de alguna manera a los clientes para que lo entiendan? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Buena pregunta. Eso es lo que se está dicutiendo ahora. La mayoría de las organizaciones como AMUCSS o ProMujer promueven la educación financiera. Eso es en medio rural. Cuando no es rural, o semi‐rural o periferia – ya has visto que en México hay lugares donde no sabes si es rural o periférico‐urbano que es rural pero está pegado a una ciudad, y la gente va y trabaja en la ciudad, una mezcolanza. O pueblos, que ya son una pequeña ciudad, pero que siguen siendo rurales pero que no son rurales marginados y se dedican solo al campo. Es mucha gente, son milliones. Es gente que va a la microfinanciera, tiene una cuenta de banco, va a Banco Azteca, va a la caja, porque cada una les presta 2,000 pesos, y ellos necesitan 10,000 pesos para su negocio. Y luego muchas veces allí se escapa esta educación financiera de organizaciones como ProMujer o una organización de este típo. Pues sí ayuda obviamente – porque les ayuda para entender “tengo que pensar que estoy haciendo”. El otro problema es la educación financiera y la promoción que hace CONDUSEF (La Comisión Nacional de Defensa del Usuario de Servicios Financieros) – el problema es que todo su escema, su protección y educación es orientado al usuario urbano que usa bancos o seguros. No piensa en los 4 o 5 milliones de usuarios del sector rural, de los potenciales. Además el problema es que esta gente tiene un bajo nivel de educación y es difícil explicar a funcionarios de CONDUSEF, cual es el problema que tienen. A lo mejor ni saben cuál es su problema. En primer lugar, es necesario identificar el problema, a veces dicen que se puede y talves no se puede, por que a veces ni el funcionario sabe de eso y dicen que ese no es problema, que el banco está bien, a lo mejor ni ellos saben. Sí, realmente sí, ahí hay un problema grave en la educación financiera. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Usted no ve ningún cambio en los siguientes años? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Espero que va haber un cambio y sí tiene que haber un cambio porque todo este sector, (microfinanciera, banca) es una cosa del futuro, pero sí se necesita un esquema de la educación financiera. Por que está dando servicios que necesita el beneficiario, y no solo a empresarios para hacer negocios, sino que necesitan administrar riesgos. Y para eso necesitan estos usuarios, como administrar estos productos, uno mismo. Hay una gran cantidad de clientes potenciales, que son mujeres, jefas de familia, ya que el hombre es borracho, se murió o se fue a Estados Unidos, pues está la mujer sola, con un nivel de educación baja, pues sí, necesitas un esquema de educación financiera. Lo que están haciendo está bien, pero a mi manera de ver, es un esquema muy tímida y muy localizada. Bueno, y la gente también hay muchos que van a tardar mucho en bancarizarse, pero algunos otros están como en medio, que tienen una cuenta en un banco, pero el banco nunca le va a dar crédito, y dependen de la caja de Banco Azteca, pero ahí tiene una cuenta de banco para recibir el subsidio de ProCampo, solamente lo usa para sacar su dinero, también necesita sacar cosas y a lo mejor lo que le presta la caja no le alcanza, la gente está buscando formas, pero se puede hacer más organizado. Yo espero que realmente hayan cambios en el sector, dependen del sector, al sector le conviene. Por ejemplo, la cartera vencida del Banco Azteca para el 2002 ó 2004, no recuerdo el año, iba en aumento, tenían como 14 millones de clientes, depuraron y se quedaron con 4 millones, y la cartera vencida fue bajando, bueno, bajó. Pero del 2005 a la fecha, la cartera vencida ha venido bajando. Si ellos no están aprendiendo, están quemando el mercado. Entiendes ese concepto? Esto es que están endeudando a la gente a lo bruto, estúpidamente, y a lo mejor, esta gente, podía haber prestado en una caja o en una microfinaciera, más ordenadamente. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Cree que con la competencia van a bajar los intereses y que también van a entrar a las zonas más rurales, o cree que es más bien una competencia destructiva? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Esta es una muy buena pregunta, yo creo que es la pregunta al futuro. ¿Qué va a pasar? Hay dos: Sí, va a haber una competencia destructiva, bueno no destructiva pero predatoria, entre ellos. Ahorita la competencia está siendo destructiva, por lo que te digo, hazte de cuenta. Ya llegaron a un segmento de mercado. – no sé si sea “pobre”, porque es gente con mucha liquidez, es la fuerza de trabajo que está empujando a la economía, bueno, la economía informal, pero bueno es el gran agente, el gran activo que tenemos, vamos a llamarle gente de ingresos bajos, no necesariamente estoy llegando a los pobres o a los más pobres, ya lo sabemos, como en todos lados esta es la critica, pero bueno esto es lo normal, es el mercado. Como no llega al segmento más bajo y se está quedando en este segmento, lo que hacen es sobreendeudar al sector, con el que están ahora y van a llegar a un momento donde están sobreendeudados y no van a poder pagar, y en vez de formar un sujeto de crédito, que va a tener una relación financiera a largo plazo, lo sobreendeudan y luego esa persona ya no quiere endeudarse o acaba pobre y hasta más pobre de lo que era, embargado, o en el buró de crédito. Ahí están quemando mercado, ahí si es destructivo, y entre estas entidades si va a ser una competencia predatoria, va a haber instituciones que se fusionen a otras. Yo creo que eso está bien, porque al final va a ser algo como el “survival of the fittest”, que no necesariamente es lo mejor, pero sí va a haber algo de eso, definitivamente. Creo que es parte de la idea porque obviamente va a haber instituciones fuertes y que trabajan bien y que van a sobrevivir, y va a haber otras que a lo mejor son buenas, pero van a desaparecer, pues eso ni modo. Y es un hecho que van a mover la frontera al sector rural. Hay dos problemas ahí. Bueno, muchos ya se están moviendo al sector rural. Bueno la semana pasada fue el congreso de PRONAFIN, la idea que tenían detrás de ellos es invitar a instituciones de gobierno como FIRA y la Financiera Rural, ellos ya están en el campo, ahora lo que les están pidiendo es que bajen a los productores más pobres. Hay dos cosas: que las instituciones lo puedan hacer sin todo el sistema de subsidios o con un subsidio que no dependa de eso que se mueva. Muchas de las instituciones lo ven como, bueno entramos al sector rural, pero solo si los subsidios les permiten hacer eso, y una cosa es eso y otra cosa es que el subsidio te ayude, nada más. Hay que evaluar eso, si necesitas evaluarlos con número, que no sea que estén las instituciones, a ver si me explico, operando solo por el subsidio en el sector rural, eso es un riesgo. Bueno, muchos si lo van a hacer, porque sí les interesa, porque sí el mercado en esta ciudad o en la otra ya está saturado, entonces vamos a ver que hay en el sector rural. El otro problema es el problema real del sector rural, que uno son los costos para atender al sector rural, y el problema real de identificar sujetos de crédito, y hacer transacciones a nivel rural. Como le haces. Hay un problema muy serio, luego viene gente aquí y hay muchos que ni saben, y dicen “no, es que con tecnología se resuelve” – pues sí y no. Porque sí se puede resolverlo con celulares, un palm etc. ‐ Con celulares, muy bien. Los campesinos tienen celulares ya, eso no es el problema, no es que estén estupidos o algo así, no es que no sepan que hay celulares y que por eso no los usan. No es así. Sí la gente usa celulares. El problema es diles a ellos “¡aquí deposita tu dinero!” Pues con eso ya no, eso no les va a gustar y dirán ‐ ¿Qué es una palm? JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Ósea, es una cuestion de confianza. DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Pues claro. De la tecnología y que usa de la tecnología. Eso es una. La otra es, sí, las transacciones electronicas las puedes hacer, con limitantes, porque en México hay un monopolio con competencia, pues Telmex es un monopolio, no tienes accesibilidad en zonas, pero bueno esa es otra historia. Porque luego tener acceso a internet en las sierras, necesitas un antena especial, y es una cosa complicada, pero bueno. El gran problema es que si ya tienes el aspecto de la tecnología, como le haces para expandir el sistema de pagos, ósea que llegue el cash allá, el dinero. Si alguien dice “bueno, pues yo deposité tanto dinero, ahora quiero recibir yo el cash para pagar unas ovejas o algo, comprar algo o se tienen que mover a algun lugar. Un típico ejemplo, están ahí en un lugar perdido en Oaxaca, en la Sierra y tienen que ir por una receta al doctor a una ciudad cercana, ya les cobra 20 pesos la camionetta para ir, más, tienen que sacar el dinero para pagar, ya les costó otros 5 pesos moverse entre un lugar y otro, y de ahí otros 20 pesos. Ya son 45 pesos. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ...y el tiempo que pierden... DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Y el tiempo que pierden, exacto. Por una transacción de 500 pesos, casi el 10% para moverse. Imagínate, ya te costó eso. Eso es el problema. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿En esas comunidades hay algunas tiendas o farmacias donde podrían recibir los pagos? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Esa es la solución. La solución ahorita es la corresponsalía, pueden usar la tienda o farmacia para los pagos, pero eso implica un costo, pero esa puede ser la solución – oficinas publicas del gobierno, la tienda, la farmacia, todo eso lo puede ser. Ahora hay una reglamentación de corresponsalía. La idea es que llegue al médico o a la farmacia con su tarjeta o con su celular, lleguen y hagan el pago ahí mismo, esto es casi ciencia ficción aquí en México, por la realidad nacional, pero lo que sí puede ser, a la farmacia, a la corresponsalía más cercana como la farmacia u otra entidad, y saquen de ahí el pago y paguen. Porque imagínate, moverte en este país, hay zonas que son muy inseguras para mover dinero, hay lugares donde les roban, así que los ponen en los zapatos o se ponen un yeso como que estuvieran con un hueso roto, y ahí esconden el dinero. Si las microfinanzas se hubieran desarrollado en México en los años 50, que se estaban desarrollando, como en Alemania las cajas, pero el gobierno no quiso, en esa época hubiera funcionado más rápido, hubiera sido bueno y funcionando porque habría más seguridad y tejido social y ahora no lo hay, y ahora el gobierno lo esta promoviendo. Ahora ese tejido social prácticamente no existe aquí arriba, pero bueno, en la zona rural, se está destruyendo y lo necesitas y que es tan importante para que funcione. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Es muy interesante aprender sobre eso, porque yo también leí mucho sobre las experiencias de otros países como Pakistan o las Filipinas, y es muy interesante escuchar si algo parecido también podría tener éxito en México o si hay caracteristicas idiosincráticas que no lo permiten. DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Sí, yo no sé. Pero por ejemplo este típo de cosas, los de AMUCSS ahí sí saben bien, digamos los más comerciales, los más tecnócratas no saben bien de eso, pero sí saben bien lo que está pasando en el sentido social, lo que sí saben es bien importante para que esto funcione porque si van a salir y les van a robar, ósea así nunca va a funcionar porque imagínate, van a tener que ir yendo a la ciudad donde es más o menos seguro, hacen todo ahí y ya regresan con poquito dinero acá pero no vaya a ser que los paren ahí unos idiotas y los roben, además son los del pueblo al lado. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Dicen el ex presidente Fox hizo mucho para las microfinanzas en México, como es ahora con el nuevo presidente? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Bien, mucho mejor. La realidad es que las financieras rurales – no agricultural lending, sino servicios financieros para los rurales – estaba leyendo una tesis de doctorado, yo soy del comité y revisando la tesis, descubrió que ya había cajas típo alemanas desde principios del siglo veinte en México, fines del diecinueve, ya había un impulso para hacerlo. Y es interesante porque es impulso de gente católica, entonces por alguna razón el gobierno después de la revolución, nunca vio eso con buenos ojos – no sé si fuera porque eran católicos, o porque el gobierno quería hacer todo, o las dos cosas. Fue el peor error en la historia de las microfinancieras. ¿Qué es lo que pasa? El gobierno las reconoce y que es algo bien importante desde antes de Fox. Creo que desde el gobierno de Zedillo. Toda la ley y eso, lo hacen antes de Fox. Y a él le dejaron la idea muy bien, ya estaba en moda con lo de Grameen, entonces su gobierno compró bien la idea. Y la gente que entra a hacer los programas como PRONAFIM eran del gobierno del partido de gobierno, el PAN. Los del PRI que hacían cosas financieras, no entendían estas cosas, ellos querían bancos, banca comercial, y bueno, si llegaban a los pobres, ok, muy bien, pero eso lo tenía que hacer el gobierno, eran otros los que tenían que hacerlo, era otra mentalidad. Pero no era Fox, es más un grupo que encajó bien con Fox, más lo que estaba pasando en México con las microfinanzas, fueron los que fueron, bueno y el gobierno de Fox vio que era políticamente correcto. Bueno, de hecho mi gran temor es que vayan a comenzar a inyectar crédito, crédito, crédito, a las entidades del sector, ósea que el gobierno les de demasiada liquidez, sin instrumentos para administrar bien la liquidez y que el gobierno les diga, presten, presten. Les damos dinero, para prestar, y no lo dan, entonces ya no les damos, no lo prestaron. Eso está malo, las entidades tienen que saber que hacer. O que el gobierno quiere entrar a prestar. BANSEFI es un banco de ahorro, que ellos captan ahorros, pero están tratando de ser el banco de las cajas también. Ellos son del gobierno, es un banco del gobierno. La Red de la Gente es administrada por BANSEFI, más toda la red de cajas, del gobierno. Ellos lo que hacen es captar ahorro y ayuda a las cajas a captar ahorro, se supone. Ahora quieren dar crédito, imagínate! Es un desastre, porque van a competir a las cajas, bancos, la gran frustración del gobierno es agarrar eso para echar dinero. Y claro viene gente aquí, especialistas del Banco Mundial, los colegas de Ohio, y luego no tienen tan claro que aquí en México el gobierno, hay un problema de riesgo político, y un riesgo político es que el gobierno quiere usar este sector políticamente, inyectándole recursos a través del sector. Claro desde ahí lo echan todo a perder, sí te das cuenta porque, no? JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Les dan demasiada liquidez para que las cajas presten? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Cajas o microfinancieras, sí, PRONAFIM da dinero, es la financiadora para las cajas, financiera rural también, entonces, hay otros programitas pero el problema es que el gobierno puede decirles, vamos a darles más y más dinero entonces llenas el mercado de dinero , pero es mas dinero del que las microfinancieras puedan administrar, entonces echas a perder el mercado. Tienes que darles dinero para el uso de tecnología, para educación financiera, eso está bien, pero no solo para que presten. Si aumentas este dinero para prestar que es una tensión política del gobierno, va a ser un desastre. El gobierno del Distrito Federal dijeron “¡vamos a hacer microcrédito para todos!” ellos hicieron un programa de microcrédito, que daban créditos a las familias, tu llegabas con tu credencial de elector obviamente y algunos papeles y te daban un crédito y cada quién pagaba, la tasa de morosidad creo que fue del 45% de su cartera vencida , entonces imagínate el microcrédito donde se supone que el nivel de la tasa es muy baja, imagínate, eso lo hicieron politicamente, para decirles “¡ya les dimos su crédito, ahora voten!, ¡ahora vengan a la manifestación!” Es un desastre y eso es el riesgo que siempre tiene el gobierno, pero bueno yo creo que el gobierno ahora sí lo está haciendo bien. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Cuando fue? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: El programa sigue pero ya no prestan. Fue al final de Fox, creo. Pero fue con el gobierno de aquí que es el partido oposición, ahorita no me acuerdo bien de ese programa y eso es el riesgo político, ahora, lo hacen bien pero el problema es que es un programa más grande de lo que el gobierno puede manejar, ósea tendría que tener más recursos y además también hay otro problema, que el gobierno cambia la gente cada vez, hay gente que está en un puesto y lo hace más o menos bien y luego la ponen en otro puesto, y ponen a otro que no sabe, y lo tiene que aprender. Hay un riesgo ahí de operación del gobierno fuerte, eso yo no sé porque no lo contemplan. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Ahorita hay organizaciones como ProMujer que dan servicios financieros y también no financieros, ¿cree que eso sea mejor, como un modelo integrado para tomar en cuenta los demás factores de la pobreza? ¿O cree que sea mejor una especialización? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Las dos son funcionales. El problema es que las como ProMujer, la parte no financiera depende del subsidio y lo tienes que separar. Muchos que operan en gran escala van a tener que hacer un convenio con ONG. Los servicios no financieros tienen que ser propios, si no los cargas al costo financiero, si no simplemente no hay forma de que te alcancen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Las tasas de interés en el sector de microfinanzas en general son muy altos. Pero en México son mucho más altas, ¿por qué es? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Sí, son más altos. Si tu ves la relación entre tasa y costo de operación, el costo promedio a mayor costo de operación, mayor es la tasa de interés, claro ahí varia y dos, a mayor riesgo que percives, también es mayor la tasa de interés. Lo de costo se entiende y lo del riesgo es porque es un sector joven o no acaban de aprender bien el mercado porque si aprendes de tu mercado puedes reducir el riesgo y bajar la tasa, ahora la competencia sí va a obligar a bajar las tasas, de echo ya están bajando pero siguen siendo altas. Es un hecho que el costo influye mucho. Por ejemplo el salario aquí, bueno yo no sé cual es el sueldo de un operador de crédito aquí, bueno de cuanto puede ser?, bueno uno bajo es de 500 dolares al mes, no creo que baje de eso, en Bolivia son 200 al mes. El costo de la mano de obra es caro en México, no es barato, bueno hace 20 años era barato por el típo de cambio, yo creo. Y si piensas por ejemplo las distancias, digamos que se tiene que mover al norte de Oaxaca, sí es muchísimo, muchísimo. Además el costo de transporte en México también es muy alto. También si te olvidas de todo lo demás, solo lo del salario y el costo de moverte en México, es muy alto y bueno es alto porque te tienes que mover en transporte en auto. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Pero esas cosas tampoco pueden cambiar facilmente, ¿no? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Eso no. Lo que sí se puede bajar es el riesgo. El otro es que la competencia los obliga a hacer eso. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Y al final eso significa menos ganancias? DR. GUSTAVO DEL ÁNGEL MOBARAK: Sí, va a bajar. Ya están bajando las tasas de interés y están bajando ganancias. Bueno, ganancias están bajando porque está a punto de riesgo. La realidad es que va a cambiar mucho, porque, como te digo, en el mercado hay algunas que van a levantar y otras van a absorber, eso es lo que va a pasar. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muchas gracias! Appendix 21:
Interview with Per Fischer, Head of Financial Institutions & Senior Vice President,
Commerzbank
Frankfurt am Main, September 10, 2008
JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Die Commerzbank hat sich zwi‐
schen 2000 und 2002 an ProCredit Banken in sechs Staaten Osteuropas beteiligt bzw. diese mitgegründet. Dabei hat die Commerzbank eine komplette Marktein‐
trittsstrategie entwickelt, was ursprünglich weniger im Rahmen einer Corporate Social Responsibility, sondern vielmehr als Teil ihrer Osteuropastrategie erfolgte. Die Commerzbank ist bisher die einzige deutsche kommer‐
zielle Bank, die als Shareholder direkt in Mikrofinanz‐
banken investiert. Könnten Sie noch einmal zusam­
menfassen, wie es zu der Entscheidung kam, Gesell­
schafter der ProCredit Banken in Osteuropa zu werden und welche Ziele die Commerzbank dabei verfolgt hat? PER FISCHER: Wir sind nach dem Jugoslawien‐Krieg Anfang des laufenden Jahrtausends von der Bundesre‐
gierung gefragt worden, ob wir nicht eine Bankfiliale im Kosovo gründen könnten. Da uns das damals zu riskant, zu exotisch und auch nicht machbar erschien, haben wir damals andere Partner gefragt ‐ die interna‐
tionalen Finanzinstitutionen KfW, EBRD, IFC ‐ ob man nicht so etwas zusammen machen könnte. Allerdings war noch kein Manager für die Bank vorhanden und so fiel unsere Wahl auf International Project Consultants, IPC, hier in Frankfurt, die sich bereit erklärten, als Ma‐
nager einzusteigen und eine Mikrofinanzbank im Koso‐
vo zu gründen, deren aller erstes Ziel es war, eine Grundversorgung für die Bevölkerung herzustellen, sowohl beim Sparen als auch bei der Kreditvergabe. Mindestens genauso wichtig war der Anschluss des Landes an die internationalen Zahlungsverkehrssyste‐
me, da es damals keine andere Bank gab. Das war also der Anlass und unsere Überlegung. Und dann sind wir ans Werk gegangen und haben mit den genannten Partnern diese Bank gegründet. Das ging dann recht schnell voran und wir gewannen mehr und mehr Inte‐
resse, speziell auch am Microfinancing, sodass wir dann in der Folge, in den nächsten Jahren in weiteren Staa‐
ten des Balkans Microfinance Banken gegründet haben, die alle unterschiedliche Namen hatten und schließlich dann vor etwa 2‐3 Jahren in ProCredit Banken umbe‐
nannt wurden. Wir sind heute an den ProCredit Banken der Länder Serbien, Bulgarien, Rumänien, Bosnien‐
Herzegowina und Albanien und Kosovo beteiligt. Damit haben wir auch eine eindrucksvolle Präsenz in Südost‐
europa aufgebaut und einen Beitrag zu unserer Osteu‐
ropastrategie geliefert. Welche Ziele haben wir ver‐
folgt: Das erste Ziel war ohne Frage, neue Partner zu finden, also neue Banken mit denen wir unsere Ge‐
schäftsbeziehungen erweitern konnten, Banken die auch Konten bei uns in Euro und in Dollar eröffnet haben und dann mit uns Zahlungsverkehr und Doku‐
mentengeschäft aufgenommen haben. Das erste Ziel war also die Kundenerweiterung. Das zweite Ziel war, die Zusammenarbeit mit den internationalen Finanz‐
institutionen, mit denen wir natürlich vielfältig zu‐
sammenarbeiten, noch um ein weiteres Feld, nämlich Microfinancing, zu erweitern. Ziel drei, aus unserem Investment eine vernünftige Rendite zu erwirtschaften. Das ist natürlich auch ein Ziel, denn wir sind kommer‐
ziell orientiert, also nicht nur „mission‐driven“ sondern auch kommerziell interessiert, das heißt dieses In‐
vestment muss eine vernünftige Rendite abgeben, wenn nicht gleich, dann aber nach einer überschauba‐
ren Zeit. Als viertes Ziel würde ich definieren, dass wir diese Investition doch zunehmend auch als Teil von Corporate Social Responsibility gesehen haben. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: In wie weit entsteht hierbei eine Win­win­Situation? Welche Vorteile ergeben sich daraus für die ProCredit Banken einerseits und für die Commerzbank andererseits? PER FISCHER: Insbesondere in der Anfangsphase war es natürlich für die ProCredit Banken von großem Vor‐
teil, eine internationale kommerzielle Bank an ihrer Seite zu haben. Das hat ohne Frage die Reputation der Banken, vielleicht sogar das Rating verbessert und sie bekannter gemacht. Viele Menschen kennen die Com‐
merzbank, weniger jedoch die internationalen Finanz‐
institutionen. Insofern glaube ich war das ein wichtiger Trumpf ‐ ist es immer noch, aber stärker sicherlich noch in der Anfangsphase. Es gibt natürlich auch prak‐
tische Punkte, die ganz wichtig sind. Die ProCredit Banken haben natürlich am Anfang, insbesondere im Kosovo, von unseren Erfahrungen in vielerlei Hinsicht theoretisch und praktisch im Bereich Zahlungsverkehr Nutzen gehabt. Wir haben also zum Beispiel der ProCredit Bank im Kosovo den Zahlungsverkehr „from Scratch“ aufgebaut. Wir haben über unser Haus den internationalen Zahlungsverkehr der Bank abgewickelt und haben durch unser großes Korrespondentennetz von etwa 6000 Banken, den ProCredit Banken Zugang zum internationalen Geschäft gewährt. Für die Com‐
merzbank ist das Win‐win in der Tatsache zu sehen, daß wir einerseits eine interessante Rendite er‐
wirtschaften, zweitens die ProCredit‐Banken immer wichtigere Geschäftspartner für unser internationales Geschäft werden und wir mit unseren Investitionen auch ein Unterscheidungsmerkmal zu anderen Banken haben, denn eigenes Geld investiert fast niemand in Microfinance – dies wirkt sich auch reputationsför‐
dernd für unser Haus aus, denn Microfinance ist Teil des Corporate Social Responsibility‐Ansatzes auch bei uns. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Welche neuen Geschäftsmög­
lichkeiten haben sich für die Commerzbank erge­
ben? PER FISCHER: Ich würde sagen, es ist ein laufender Prozess. In dem Maße wie die Banken wachsen, in dem Maße wie die Banken größer werden und zu Universal‐
banken werden, kommen wir auch in immer mehr Ge‐
schäfte hinein. Wenn wir am Anfang vielleicht nur den Zahlungsverkehr hatten, so haben wir heute auch Do‐
kumentengeschäft. Wir haben auch ein sehr intensives Treasury‐Geschäft. Wir kommen auch ins Investment Banking hinein, zumindest gehen die Banken diesen Weg und wir wollen sie dabei begleiten. Also die Ge‐
schäftsbasis in der Verbindung wird immer breiter. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Die Commerzbank strebt ei­
nen ROE von ca. 15 % (n. St.) an. PER FISCHER: Richtig, 15‐20 %. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Nach welcher Startphase wur­
de dieser bisher erreicht? PER FISCHER: Als Faustregel kann man sagen, es dau‐
ert 2‐3 Jahre bis wir Break‐Even haben. Das liegt ganz einfach daran, dass in der Anfangsphase viele Investiti‐
onen anstehen, die Banken müssen sofort ein breites Filialnetz aufbauen, das kostet viel Geld. Auch wenn es nicht Mikrofinanzbanken wären, kann man nicht er‐
warten, dass so eine Investition sofort Break‐Even ausweist. Realistisch sind 2‐3 Jahre. Bei der aktuellen Gründung der weißrussischen „Bank for Small Busi‐
ness“ gehen wir von 2,5 Jahren aus, bis der Break‐Even erreicht ist. Wir haben allerdings in der Rückschau gesehen, dass wenn mal der Break‐Even erreicht ist, sehr schnell auch 15‐20 % ROE realistisch sind. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Erwarten Sie langfristig eine Steigerung des ROE? PER FISCHER: Also ich finde das schon eine sehr gute Zahl. Das ist schwer zu sagen. Wir würden uns natür‐
lich freuen, wenn es mehr wird, dies hängt von vielen Faktoren ab. Ich denke 20 % ist realistisch, vielleicht leicht drüber, aber sehr viel mehr wird es nicht sein. Es ist überhaupt schon eine sehr große Leistung, dass die Banken in der Lage sind, bei ihrem Geschäftsmodell einen so guten ROE auszuweisen. Unser Ziel ist ein befriedigender ROE, aber er ist nicht das ausschließli‐
che Ziel. Es gibt auch andere Ziele, die für uns dabei wichtig sind, insofern wollen wir nicht anfangen hier eine Messlatte anzulegen, die gar nicht realistisch ist und dann eben auch nicht zielfördernd wäre. Also wir bleiben bei diesem ROE, der auch dem entspricht, den wir selber für uns als Bank postulieren und sind damit zufrieden. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Welche Vorteile ergeben sich aufgrund der Public­Private­Partnership (PPP) für den Aufbau nachhaltiger Mikrofinanzbanken? PER FISCHER: Ich glaube, dass die Resonanz einfach größer ist, wenn die Familie der Aktionäre aus mehre‐
ren Sektoren der Finanzwirtschaft kommt. Es ist in der Tat auch ein Gütesiegel, wenn es nicht nur internatio‐
nale oder staatliche Aktionäre sind. Es untermauert den Anspruch, den wir ja miteinander haben, dass wir bei den Mikrofinanzbanken ein kommerziell‐
orientiertes Modell praktizieren und nicht ein rein subsidiäres. Wenn ein Partner wie die Commerzbank dabei ist und damit den privaten Teil, also das eine „P“ darstellt, ist das sicherlich eine Unterstützung und Untermauerung des Geschäftsmodells. Ich denke, das ist wichtig. Mit Blick auf uns und die Aktionäre inner‐
halb der Banken sind wir im Übergang zu einem Modell bei dem wir als Minderheitsaktionär gemeinsam mit dem Mehrheitsaktionär ProCredit Holding Eigentümer der einzelnen Banken sind. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Gab es besondere Interessen­
konflikte, als sich die Partner der PPP vor allem in der Anfangsphase auf den gemeinsamen Geschäfts­
zweck einigten? PER FISCHER: Es gab Diskussionen und es gibt Diskus‐
sionen, aber es gab keine wirklichen Konflikte. Es gab sicherlich und gibt es weiterhin partielle Unterschiede im Blick auf das Wachstum der Banken. Es gibt eine Ansicht, das will ich nicht an einem Aktionär festma‐
chen, die sehr stark auf die „Mission“ gepocht hat und nicht so bereitwillig war, auch mittelständische oder mittlere Kundschaft zu begleiten, während wir, ohne Aufgabe der Mission und des „Micros“, eigentlich im‐
mer auch in die Richtung gepuscht haben, sich auch nach oben hin, also zum Mittelstand zu öffnen. Denn was macht es für einen Sinn, wenn man einen Kunden von klein an begleitet und ihn dann irgendwann ab einer bestimmten Größe an den sich händereibenden Mitbewerber abgibt, das ist schade. Insofern waren das immer unterschiedliche Betrachtungsweisen, aber nie wirklich ein Konflikt. Es gab sicherlich auch Unter‐
schiede der Betrachtungsweise in den Organisationen selbst, nicht bei uns sondern bei einem anderen Part‐
ner. Das Modell, das die Banken heute verfolgen, ist zumindest für die vorhandenen Aktionäre das Modell, das wir immer verfolgt haben. Und wir sehen auch in der weißrussischen Bank, bei der wir jetzt am Start‐
punkt sind wie bei den Mikrofinanzbanken vor 5, 6, 7 Jahren, gewisse unterschiedliche Betrachtungsweisen. Aber wir haben uns dann zusammengerauft und auch hier gilt ein kommerziell‐orientiertes Geschäftsmodell, insofern wird das in die gleiche Richtung gehen. Also wird durch die PPP auch das Gleichgewicht finanzieller und sozialer Ziele gestärkt (client benefit & sharholder value). JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Ist es langfristig betrachtet eine Herausforderung, die Interessen und Ziele der unterschiedlichen Shareholder in ein Gleichge­
wicht zu bringen? Oder gehen Sie davon aus, dass sich dieses Gleichgewicht auch langfristig hält? PER FISCHER: Ja, davon bin ich überzeugt. Das kann man auch aus der Praxis belegen. Und ich sage Ihnen ganz offen ‐ das ist vielleicht auch eine wichtige Beleg‐
stelle ‐ es gibt keinerlei Disput mit den anderen Aktio‐
nären, wenn es darum geht, auch Gewinne auszuschüt‐
ten. Da zeigt sich, dass zumindest der Mehrheitsaktio‐
när ProCredit Holding und wir an einer ganz entschei‐
denden Stelle gemeinsame Interesse haben. Das bedeu‐
tet, dass nicht nur Gewinne erwirtschaftet werden, sondern diese auch ausgeschüttet werden. Lange Zeit, gerade am Anfang, thesaurierten wir Gewinne wenn sie da waren, um des Wachstums willen. Aber heute sehen wir auch gerne, wenn Dividenden ausgeschüttet wer‐
den, auch da gibt es keinen Unterschied in der Betrach‐
tungsweise. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Also ein Gleichgewicht zwi­
schen Wachstum und Ausschüttung? PER FISCHER: Ja, also einfach auch, weil das Wachs‐
tum heute nicht so sehr auf der thesaurierten Dividen‐
de beruht, sondern auf dem eigenen Cashflow. Zu ei‐
nem nachhaltigen Geschäftsmodell gehört, dass Sie als Investor Ihre Dividende haben. Die Holding hat dafür Gründe, wir haben unsere Gründe, dass wir eben nicht nur sagen, wir haben diesen ROE, sondern dass wir ihn auch an uns fließen lassen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Zum Geschäftsmodell der ProCredit Banken: Durch den kommerziellen Ansatz der ProCredit Banken wird sichergestellt, dass diese dauerhaft wettbewerbsfähig bleiben. Gleichzeitig wer‐
den auch nachhaltige soziale Ziele verfolgt. Wenn der Gewinn sehr hoch ausfällt, wird laut ProCredit Holding beispielsweise in neue Filialen investiert oder die Kre‐
ditzinsen werden gesenkt. Kam es bei den Banken, an denen Sie beteiligt sind, bereits zu Zinssenkungen? PER FISCHER: Die Frage der Filialgründung hängt nicht damit zusammen, wie hoch der Gewinn ausfällt. Die Filialgründungen sind Teil des Geschäftsmodells, nah am Kunden zu sein. Wir bauen ja nicht auf Sicher‐
heiten, wie traditionelle Banken, sondern wir bauen auf ein enges partnerschaftliches Modell mit den Kunden, der in seinem Business gefördert und finanziell unter‐
stützt wird, dem wir aber auch nah sein wollen und müssen. Da wir keine Sicherheiten haben, müssen wir auf andere Weise sehen, dass wir die Kunden ständig im Auge behalten, deshalb die Filialen. Die Kreditzinsen sind hoch, das ist keine Frage, weil Sie natürlich in Be‐
tracht ziehen müssen, dass dieses Geschäftsmodell, das ja einerseits sehr granular, aber andererseits auch sehr arbeits‐, personalaufwändig und daher auch teuer ist. Und da wir ein nachhaltiges Geschäftsmodell anstre‐
ben, das heißt auch eine Rendite erwirtschaften müs‐
sen, müssen diese Kredite sich einzeln, aber auch als Portfolio rechnen. Die Frage der Kreditzinsen hat na‐
türlich eine Reihe von Komponenten. Da muss man einerseits die Kosten der Produktion und den zu erwar‐
tenden Gewinn hineinpreisen, aber natürlich auch die ganze Refinanzierung. Da ergeben sich durchaus unter‐
schiedliche Möglichkeiten. Ich kann nicht über die gan‐
ze Bandbreite sagen, ob wir Kreditzinsen gesenkt ha‐
ben, in jedem Fall sind die Kreditzinsen nicht um des Selbstzwecks hoch. Sie sind relativ hoch, wobei es ei‐
gentlich keinen Vergleich gibt. Im Grunde genommen machen nur wir Microfinancing und wenige andere; wenn es andere gibt, dann nicht mit dem gleichen Ge‐
schäftsmodell. Man kann schon sagen, dass eigentlich nur wir diesen Sektor Microfinancing in der Intensität betreiben, sodass es eigentlich keinen Vergleich gibt. Aber wir können in dem Maße Kreditzinsen senken, wie sich die Refinanzierung besser darstellt. Wir stre‐
ben eine Refinanzierung an, die möglichst auf den Ein‐
lagen basiert. Alles andere wäre teuerer, weil Sie ent‐
weder den Aufschlag eines anderen finanzierenden Unternehmens haben oder Sie müssen sich teuer kurz‐
fristig refinanzieren, und wir streben natürlich auch eine fristenkongruente Refinanzierung an. Damit bauen wir auf ein sehr konservatives Modell, gerade in der Refinanzierung versuchen wir die Vorteile aus den Depositen wahrzunehmen und diese dann auch mög‐
lichst weiterzugeben. Im Übrigen glaube ich, der beste Beweis für eine angemessene Zinspolitik ist die Nach‐
frage. Wir würden nicht so nachgefragt werden, und zwar aus allen Bereichen der Volkswirtschaft, sei es Handel, Agro, der produzierende Bereich, aus den Hauptstädten oder aus den ländlichen Regionen, wenn es nicht ein marktüblicher Zins wäre. Aber ich glaube jeglicher Vorwurf, es seien Wucherzinsen, ist schon daher nicht berechtigt, weil wir mehr Nachfrage haben als wir bedienen können. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Wie sieht es mit der Finanz­
bildung der Kreditnehmer aus? Die ProCredit Ban­
ken analysieren die Situation und das Rückzah­
lungspotenzial der Kunden sehr genau. In wie weit wird neben dieser Einschätzung seitens ProCredit sichergestellt, dass die Kreditnehmer selbst die Kreditkonditionen verstehen und ihre Rechte und Pflichten realistisch einschätzen? PER FISCHER: Das ist ein ganz wichtiger Punkt. Natür‐
lich haben wir es in der Regel mit einer Klientel zu tun, die neu im Geschäft ist, das sind zum Beispiel Familien‐
mitglieder, die ein Business anpacken, da können Sie nicht automatisch voraussetzen, dass eine sehr tiefge‐
hende Kenntnis der ganzen Materie gegeben ist. Ich will Ihnen ein Beispiel geben, das glaube ich diesen Punkt sehr klar unterstützt: In Serbien sind wir lange im Gespräch gewesen mit dem Gouverneur, Radovan Jelašić, über die Frage einer möglichst intensiven Auf‐
klärung der Bevölkerung, also auch unserer potenziel‐
len Kreditnehmer, über Finanzierung und konkrete Bankfragen, so zum Beispiel „wie arbeite ich und wie rede ich mit meiner Bank“. Dazu wollten wir unseren Beitrag leisten. Die ProCredit Bank in Serbien hat ein grundlegendes Werk herausgegeben, bei dem der Gou‐
verneur das Vorwort geschrieben hat, zum Thema „Wie spreche ich mit meiner Bank“. Sie hat dabei auch auf Material der Commerzbank zurückgegriffen, wir hatten so etwas ähnliches in Deutschland gemacht. Also wir nehmen das sehr, sehr ernst und haben uns auch auf die Fahne geschrieben, hier Basisinformationen zu geben, den Kunden zu schulen und nicht nur den Klein‐
kreditnehmer, sondern auch auf der Passivseite den Einleger intensiv zu schulen und über Day‐To‐Day Banking zu informieren. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Die Shareholder der ProCredit Banken messen den Erfolg auch im Hinblick auf die Marktdurchdringung. In Bulgarien zum Beispiel, wurde ein landesweites Filialnetz aufgebaut. Einerseits wird damit sehr vielen Menschen im ganzen Land der Zu‐
gang zu finanziellen Dienstleistungen ermöglicht (social impact), gleichzeitig ist diese Strategie auch erfolgsrelevant, wenn auf Sicherheiten verzichtet wird. Die Kundennähe aufgrund des dichten Filialnetzes ist aber auch sehr kostenintensiv. Ist diese Strategie im Interesse der Commerzbank oder wäre es hinsicht­
lich ihrer Osteuropastrategie lohnenswerter eine kleinere Anzahl von Filialen an strategischen Standorten aufzubauen und sich speziell auf die Kunden dieser Region zu konzentrieren (wo z.B. ein Großteil der deutschen KMUs geschäftstätig ist) und damit auf ein landesweites Filialnetz zu ver­
zichten? PER FISCHER: Gute Frage. Wissen Sie, wir haben nun einmal auch als Teil unserer Osteuropastrategie in die ProCredit Banken auf dem Balkan investiert. Wir sind ganz bewusst in diesen zerrissenen Balkan gegangen mit vielen, vielen kleinen Ländern, und haben die Betei‐
ligung an den ProCredit Banken ausgewählt, um prä‐
sent zu sein. Die Frage hat sich nie gestellt, in der Tat ein Filialnetz in diesen Staaten als Commerzbank auf‐
zubauen. Dabei hätte man sicherlich sehr viele Res‐
sourcen aufgewendet, die wir dann lieber wo anders eingesetzt haben. Was wir allerdings können, und auch bewiesen haben ist, dass wir durchaus unsere Beteili‐
gung an den ProCredit Banken auch zum Wohl unsere Mittelständler nutzen können. Natürlich nicht, wenn ein Mittelständler einen 50‐Millionen‐Kredit nachsucht, das wird nicht gelingen. Aber wir haben viele Beispiele, wo wir deutschen Firmen mit der ProCredit Bank eine Plattform geben konnten. Sei es, dass sie in einer Bank, die sehr stark deutsch tickt und auch einen der Com‐
merzbank nahen Service anbietet, ein Konto eröffnet haben; sei es, dass wir Kunden von hier aus die Mög‐
lichkeit gegeben haben, wenn sie denn Investitionen oder Bankdienstleistungen nachgesucht haben, über die ProCredit Banken vor Ort einen Einstieg erhalten haben. Wir haben also durchaus die Beteiligung auch für die Interessen unserer Kunden nutzen können. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Einige der kommerziellen Ban‐
ken, die in den letzten Jahren weltweit in die Mikrofi‐
nanzindustrie eingestiegen sind, bieten verstärkt auch Konsumentenkredite an. Die ProCredit Banken haben sich bisher bei Konsumentenkrediten zurückgehalten. Viele Stakeholder der Mikrofinanzindustrie argumen‐
tieren, dass sich durch diese Art von Krediten vor allem kurzfristige Gewinne erzielen lassen und dies langfris‐
tig zu einer Überschuldung der Kreditnehmer führt. Hängt die Zurückhaltung bei Konsumentenkredi­
ten seitens der ProCredit Banken in erster Linie damit zusammen, dass ein nachhaltiges Wirt­
schaftswachstum in den Ländern angestrebt wird? Könnte es in Zukunft auch bei den ProCredit Ban­
ken zu einer Orientierung in Richtung Konsumfi­
nanzierung kommen, insbesondere durch Ände­
rungen in der Shareholderstruktur? PER FISCHER: Änderungen in der Shareholderstruktur sehe ich nicht, weder bei ProCredit Holding, noch in den einzelnen Banken, insofern würde ich das nicht als Perspektive sehen. In der Tat sind wir sehr, sehr zu‐
rückhaltend bei Konsumentenkrediten und der Grund ist in der Tat, dass dies zum einen ein sehr kurzsichti‐
ger Weg zur Gewinnmaximierung wäre, dass wir darü‐
berhinaus eine Tendenz der Überschuldung von Haus‐
halten in diesen Ländern sehen und schließlich, dass wir auch eine Überschuldung in den volkswirtschaftli‐
chen Bilanzen der Länder sehen. Das ist ein großes Problem, Leistungsbilanzdefizite sind im wesentlichen konsumgetrieben. Daher ist das kein Modell für die ProCredit Banken, es ist allerhöchstens einmal ein Ne‐
benprodukt da und dort, aber keinesfalls der vorherr‐
schende und wesentliche Bereich, der wird es auch nie werden. Was wir sicherlich machen, aber das kann man nicht Konsumentenkredit nennen, im Gegenteil, das sind Kredite zur Verbesserung der Wohnungseinrich‐
tungen, sogenannte „House Improving Loans“. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Die ProCredit Banken sind kommerziell orientiert. Sie erhalten keine Subven­
tionen, da von Anfang an Nachhaltigkeit und wirt­
schaftliche Unabhängigkeit angestrebt werden. PER FISCHER: Richtig. Was die Banken am Anfang ihrer Entwicklung bekommen ist technische Hilfe, das heißt, dass aus einem Technische‐Hilfe‐Budget, zum Beispiel im Bereich Personal Anschubhilfen gegeben werden. Das ist in der Industrie üblich. Dies läuft je‐
doch sehr schnell aus. In der Tat gibt es bei den Ban‐
ken, in denen wir aktuell Shareholder sind, keinerlei Subventionen, diese müssen sich am Markt refinanzie‐
ren. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Was unterscheidet dieses Ge­
schäftsmodell dabei von anderen in der Mikrofi­
nanzindustrie? PER FISCHER: Ich denke, dass viele andere stärker auf ein Modell orientiert sind, das mit Subsidien arbeitet gerade um – da scheiden sich dann die Geister – dies in guter Absicht dem Kreditnehmer angedeihen zu lassen, dabei sozusagen den Kredit künstlich zu verbilligen. Das mag ein Motiv sein, gerade bei denen, die eher aus der NGO Szene und aus dem kirchlichen Bereich kom‐
men. Natürlich gibt es da eine Diskussion, man wirft uns schon mal vor, dass man durch die kommerzielle Ausrichtung viele Kreditnehmer, vor allem die aller untersten, nicht bedienen könne oder bedienen wolle. Wir glauben, dass wenn es um Kredit und Business geht, und das ist ja der Zweck, man auch von vorne herein und zu Beginn der Geschäftsbeziehung ein kommerzielles Modell praktizieren muss, sonst kann sich der Kreditnehmer seinerseits ja gar nicht kom‐
merziell bewegen, sonst würde dieser das Einmaleins des Business nicht lernen und aus dieser Subventions‐
mentalität nie heraus kommen. Das ist eigentlich der ideologische Unterschied. Man kann aber glaube ich mit gutem Recht feststellen, dass Microfinancing in der ganzen Breite aus vielen Modellen besteht und das muss generell nicht schlecht sein, da mögen auch die nicht so sehr kommerziell‐orientierten ihren Platz haben. Ich verfolge die verschiedenen Ansätze nicht bis zum letzten I‐Tüpfelchen, aber generell gibt es sicher‐
lich die stärker kommerziell geprägten wie wir und die stärker subsidiätsgeprägten, ich glaube das hat sein Nebeneinander. Wichtig ist, dass man sich kennt und miteinander diskutiert, dafür gibt es genügend Stätten und Veranstaltungen. Ich denke, der Gedanke, das eher kommerziell auszurichten, hat in der letzten Zeit zu‐
nehmend mehr Anhänger gewonnen. Und der Erfolg von ProCredit spricht sicherlich dafür. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Die ProCredit Banken streben ein starkes Einlagengeschäft an und daneben auch eine zunehmende Refinanzierung über den Kapitalmarkt. Die ProCredit Bank Bulgarien hat 2006 einen Teil ihres Kreditportfolios verbrieft und konnte sich durch diese Transaktion kostengünstig refinanzieren. Warum sind diese Kredite besonders gut zur Verbriefung geeig­
net? PER FISCHER: Da kommt noch ein weiterer Punkt hinzu, den ich gerne anfügen möchte. In diesen Län‐
dern hat natürlich das Kreditwachstum durch die ge‐
schilderten Zusammenhänge eines heißlaufenden Kre‐
ditmotors, gerade durch die Konsumentenfinanzierung, dazu geführt, dass die Nationalbanken dies sehr rigide bekämpft haben und die Mindestreservepflicht für Kredite in Fremdwährung, aber meines Wissens auch in den Landeswährungen, extrem hoch war. Das heißt, man musste automatisch nach Wegen suchen, Kredit‐
wachstum abzubauen und durch eine Verbriefung Neumittel heranzuziehen. Das ist ein sehr wichtiger Punkt, der uns gerade bei Bulgarien motiviert hat, die‐
sen Weg zu gehen. Es eignen sich für Verbriefungen besonders Konsumentenkredite und Microfinance Loans, weil diese erstens granular sind, zweitens alle irgendwo Standard sind und drittens sollte man nicht vergessen ‐ das gilt für alle Banken in der Familie ‐ dass die Ausfallquote extrem niedrig ist, diese liegt bei unter 1 %. Mit einer hohen Ausfallquoten ist die Möglichkeit der Veräußerung am Kapitalmarkt sehr viel geringer. Bei den Microfinance Loans handelt es sich um ein granulares Portfolio, es besteht aus sehr vielen gleich oder ähnlich gearteten Abschnitten, es ist von großer Qualität und von daher gesehen, kann man das sehr gut verbriefen, sozusagen zusammen“packen“ und damit an die Kapitalmärkte gehen. Diese Transaktion ist vor der Subprime Crisis abgelaufen, im Augenblick hätte man sicherlich Schwierigkeiten mit so einem Modell, dies steht auch aktuell nicht an. Aber diese Transaktion ist sehr erfolgreich gelaufen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Zu einem angemessenen Zeit‐
punkt werden die öffentlichen Partner (KfW, IFC, EBRD) wahrscheinlich ihre Anteile verkaufen. Wurde für diesen Fall bereits eine Ausstiegsstrategie ent­
wickelt, durch die sichergestellt wird, dass neue Anteilseigner die Zielgruppenorientierung und den Geschäftszweck teilen, damit die ursprünglichen Ziele der ProCredit Banken weiterhin verfolgt wer­
den und Änderungen in der Shareholder­Struktur nicht zu einem „Mission Drift“ führen? PER FISCHER: Diese Frage wäre eher an die ProCredit Holding zu richten. Gehen wir mal von den einzelnen Banken aus, an denen wir beteiligt sind. Da haben wir mit dem allmählichen Ausstieg der EBRD ‐ diese macht den Exit, ist jedoch nicht in der Holding ‐ eine Situation, bei der wir Minderheitsaktionäre sind und die ProCredit Holding Mehrheitsaktionär. Für unsere Ban‐
ken, das ist zunächst einmal entscheidend, erwarten wir aus möglichen Veränderungen in der ProCredit Holding, zum Beispiel einen IPO, keine Änderungen des Geschäftsmodells. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Angenommen ein Anteilseig­
ner der Banken, an denen auch die Commerzbank beteiligt ist, würde seine Anteile verkaufen. Wür­
den diese in so einem Fall in erster Linie von einem anderen Partner gekauft werden? PER FISCHER: Das ist ziemlich klar und auch schon vereinbart. Da wo die EBRD zum Beispiel aussteigt, übernimmt die Holding die Anteile. Bei denen, die in den Banken und gleichzeitig in der Holding sind, wie beispielsweise die KfW, werden Anteile aus den einzel‐
nen Banken in die Holding geswappt, mit dem Ergeb‐
nis, dass wir nicht wie am Anfang vielleicht 5 Partner a 20 % sind (KfW, EBRD, IFC, FMO, IPC und wir), sondern dass wir in Zukunft einen Mehrheitsaktionär haben, ProCredit Holding, in dem dann die internationalen Finanzinstitutionen Aktionäre sind, und uns, da wir nicht in der Holding sind. Das ist der einzige Unter‐
schied. Unser Anteil bleibt konstant, natürlich immer vorausgesetzt wir beteiligen uns an den allerdings ständig stattfindenden Kapitalerhöhungen und das haben wir in 99 % der Fälle gemacht und werden wir auch weiterhin machen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Welche weiteren Regionen könnten für die Commerzbank bei zukünftigen Be­
teiligungen interessant sein? Worauf achten Sie bei der Wahl geeigneter Partner besonders? PER FISCHER: Wir haben vor kurzem entschieden, dass wir uns nicht nur auf Südosteuropa ausrichten und ein erster Beleg dafür ist unsere jüngste Beteili‐
gung, die wir im letzten Jahr beschlossen haben, an der weißrussischen Belarusian Bank for Small Business (BBSB), da haben wir also bereits diese Einschränkung aufgegeben. Wir sind aber durchaus global bereit, die‐
ses Geschäft zu betreiben, das heißt zu investieren, da wir ja Shareholder und nicht Manager sind. Wir inves‐
tieren also als Shareholder und haben damit natürlich auch ein Kriterium für entsprechende Wahlmöglichkei‐
ten. Ein wesentliches Kriterium ist natürlich, dass uns der Manager überzeugen muss. Der Manager muss ausgewiesener Microfinance Spezialist sein, muss einen Track Record haben. Es muss nicht immer IPC sein, bisher hatten wir ausgezeichnete Erfahrungen mit IPC gemacht, aber es gibt auch andere, mit denen wir arbei‐
ten könnten. Im Falle der BBSB ist es eine amerikani‐
sche Gesellschaft, Shorecap, die dieses Geschäft auch kennt, vielleicht nicht so intensiv wie IPC, aber sie kennt es auch, das hat sie bewiesen. Also auch da kön‐
nen wir, vorausgesetzt immer, dass der Manager ein ausgewiesener Microfinance Spezialist ist, durchaus miteinander ins Geschäft kommen. Es müssen Länder sein, die eine gewisse Struktur haben, wo Unterneh‐
mertum überhaupt denkbar ist, wo es gefördert wird, oder zumindest toleriert wird, wo wir auch eine kriti‐
sche Masse haben. Wir suchen natürlich auch Partner, die uns hier schon über den Weg gelaufen sind, die renommierten Partner sind sicherlich ohne Frage die, mit den wir bereits in der Familie ProCredit zusam‐
mengearbeitet haben ‐ KfW, EBRD, IFC, FMO ‐ da wis‐
sen wir auch schon durch die Personen, die wir alle gut kennen, dass wir im Großen und Ganzen in die gleiche Richtung gehen. Generell könnte man sich auch ganz andere vorstellen. Wichtig und stark in manchen Regi‐
onen ist beispielsweise auch die Aga Khan Foundation, die auch eine Reihe von Microfinance Banken gegrün‐
det hat. Dazu kann ich noch nicht allzu viel sagen, au‐
ßer dass ich gesehen habe, dass sie in Syrien, Tadschi‐
kistan und so weiter auch sehr intensiv arbeiten. Also wir sind auch offen für andere Partner, aber wenn es um ein ganz neues Land für uns geht, ist es schon sehr angenehm und sehr positiv zu wissen, dass wir die Partner an der Seite haben, die auch Erfahrungen mit anderen Ländern gemacht haben. Da wird die EBRD nicht dabei sein, weil sie eben nur in Osteuropa arbei‐
tet. Also wenn es um Asien, Afrika und Amerika geht, wird es nicht die EBRD sein, aber ich glaube man kann ohne Übertreibung sagen, dass die KfW ein weltum‐
spannendes Commitment für Microfinancing hat und dort zu den Führenden gehört. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Vielen Dank. Interview with Per Fischer, Head of Financial Institutions & Senior Vice President,
Commerzbank
Translated to English
Frankfurt am Main, September 10, 2008 JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Between 2000 and 2002, Com‐
merzbank became a shareholder of ProCredit banks in six Eastern European states and co‐founded some of them. Commerzbank thereby developed an entire mar‐
ket entry strategy, which was originally not so much within the scope of a Corporate Social Responsibility, but rather part of its strategy for Eastern Europe. So far Commerzbank is the only German commercial bank that has directly invested into microfinance institutions as a shareholder. What was the occasion for Com­
merzbank to become shareholder of the ProCredit banks in Eastern Europe and which goals have you pursued? PER FISCHER: After the Yugoslavia war, the German government asked us at the beginning of this century if we could open a bank branch in Kosovo. At that time, it seemed too risky, too exotic and not feasible to us, so we asked other partners – the international financial institutions KfW, EBRD, IFC – if we could do something like that together. However, there was no manager in place yet, and our choice then fell on International Project Consultants, IPC, here in Frankfurt, who agreed to join as manager and to establish a microfinance bank in Kosovo, the primary goal of which it was to secure a basic provision in the area of both savings and credit. Connecting the country with the international money transfer systems was at least as important, given that there didn’t exist any other bank at that time. So this was the occasion and our consideration. And then we got started and established this bank together with the aforementioned partners. Relatively rapid progress was being made and we became increasingly interested in microfinance, which has led us to establish microfin‐
ance banks in other states of the Balkan in the follow‐
ing years that all had different names and were than renamed as ProCredit banks, 2‐3 years ago. Today we are shareholders of the ProCredit banks in Serbia, Bul garia, Romania, Bosnia‐Herzegovina, Albania and Ko‐
sovo. Hence, we have also established an impressive presence in South East Europe and contributed to our Eastern Europe strategy. The goals we pursued were the following: The first goal was, without doubt, to find new partners, that’s to say, new banks that we could extend our business relations with, banks that also opened accounts in euro and dollar with us and then took up payment transactions and documentary busi‐
ness with us. So the first goal was to expand our cus‐
tomer base. The second goal was to expand our coop‐
eration with the international financial institutions, which we collaborate with on different levels, by another area – microfinance. The third goal was to earn a reasonable return on our investment. Of course, this is also a goal, as we are commercially oriented, not only mission‐driven, but also commercially interested, which means that this investment has to yield a rea‐
sonable return, if not right away, then after a reasona‐
ble period of time. As a fourth goal I would define that we also increasingly regarded this investment as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: In what way does this consti­
tute a win­win­situation? What are the advantages for the ProCredit banks on the one hand, and for Commerzbank on the other? PER FISCHER: Particularly during the start‐up period, it was certainly a great advantage for the ProCredit banks to have an international commercial bank as a partner. This has unquestionably enhanced the reputa‐
tion of the banks, maybe even the rating, and has made them well‐known. Many people know Commerzbank, less of them, however, know the international financial institutions. In this respect, I believe it was an impor‐
tant trump – it still is, but probably even more so dur‐
ing the start‐up period. Of course there are also prac‐
tical aspects that are very important. The ProCredit banks, particularly in Kosovo, benefitted in many ways from our experience, both theoretically and in practice, in the area of payment transactions, especially at the beginning. For the ProCredit bank in Kosovo, for exam‐
ple, we built up the area of payment transactions from scratch. We conducted the international payment transactions of the bank via Commerzbank and offered the ProCredit banks access to the international busi‐
ness through our large network of about 6,000 corres‐
pondent banks. For Commerzbank it is “win‐win”, as we earn an interesting return on the one hand, and as the ProCredit banks increasingly become important business partners for our international business, while we also have an important distinguishing feature with our investments as compared to other banks, because hardly anybody invest their own money into microfin‐
ance – this also enhances the reputation of Commerz‐
bank, given that microfinance is also part of our Corpo‐
rate Social Responsibility approach. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Which were the new business opportunities that emerged for Commerzbank? PER FISCHER: I would say it is a continuous process. The more the banks grow, the larger the banks get and become universal banks, the more business we get to do with them. At the beginning, we might have only had payment transactions, while today we also have docu‐
mentary business. We also have a very intensive trea‐
sury business. We are also getting into the area of in‐
vestment banking, at least the banks want to go into that direction and we want to accompany them. So the business base in general is getting broader. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Commerzbank aims for an ROE of 15 % (after tax). PER FISCHER: Correct, 15‐20 %. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: How long has the start­up phase generally been until this was achieved? PER FISCHER: As a rule of thumb you can generally say it takes 2‐3 years until we have break‐even. That’s be‐
cause many investments are made during the start‐up period, the banks immediately have to build up a broad branch network, that costs a lot of money. Even if these weren’t microfinance banks, you can’t expect such an investment to show break‐even immediately. 2‐3 years are realistic. As for the current foundation of the Bela‐
rusian Bank for Small Business, we expect it to take 2,5 years until break‐even is reached. We have, however, observed in retrospect that once break‐even has been reached, an ROE of 15‐20% can be realistically achieved very quickly. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Do you expect the ROE to in­
crease in the long­run? PER FISCHER: Well, I think that is a pretty good figure. That’s hard to say. Of course we would be happy if it increased, this depends on many factors. I think 20 % is realistic, maybe slightly above, but it won’t be much more. It is already a remarkable achievement that the banks are able to yield such a good ROE with their business model. Our goal is a satisfactory ROE, but it is not the exclusive goal. There are also other goals, which are important for us, so we don’t want to raise the bar to a level that is not realistic and therefore also wouldn’t support our goal. So we maintain this ROE, which is also consistent with what we postulate for ourselves as a bank, and we’re happy with that. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: What advantages does the Public­Private­Partnership (PPP) provide with respect to establishing sustainable microfinance banks? PER FISCHER: I believe the response is greater if the shareholder family is from several financial sectors. It is indeed a seal of approval if they are not only interna‐
tional or public shareholders. It underscores the mis‐
sion that we share, that we want to practice a commer‐
cially‐oriented model with the microfinance banks and not a purely subsidized one. If a partner like Commerz‐
bank joins, who represents the private part, one “P”, this is certainly supporting and emphasizing the busi‐
ness model. I think that is important. Together with the shareholders within the banks, we are currently mov‐
ing to a model where we as the minority shareholder together with the controlling shareholder ProCredit Holding are the owners of the individual banks. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Did any particular conflicts of interest arise when the partners of the PPP, par­
ticularly during the start­up period, decided on a shared mission? PER FISCHER: There were discussions and there are discussions, but there were no real conflicts. There were certainly, and there are still partial differences regarding the growth of the banks. There is one point of view, I don’t want to base this on one particular shareholder, that emphasized the mission very strongly and was less prepared to accompany medium clients as well, while we – without departing from the mission and the “micro” ‐ have always pushed into the direction of being open for clients up to the medium‐sized ones. What is the point if you accompany a client from „mi‐
cro” and once he has reached a certain size you lose him to your competitor, that’s a pity. In this respect, these have always been different points of view, but never a real conflict. There were certainly also different perspectives within the organizations, not at Com‐
merzbank but another partner. The model the banks pursue today is, at least for the present shareholders, the model we have always pursued. And with the Bela‐
rusian bank, where we are currently in the start‐up period like with the microfinance banks 5,6,7 years ago, we also observe certain differences in the points of view. But then we got it all together and we also pursue a commercially‐oriented business model here, thus it will go into the same direction. So the PPP also strengthens the balance between financial and social goals (client benefit + shareholder value). JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Is it a challenge to balance the different interests and objectives of the individual shareholders in the long­run? Or do you expect this balance to be maintained over the long­term? PER FISCHER: Yes, I am convinced of that. This is also evident in the experiences we have made. Frankly spo‐
ken, – maybe that is another important evidence – there is no dispute among the shareholders regarding the distribution of profits. This underlines that at least the majority shareholder ProCredit Holding and our‐
selves have common interests at a very crucial point. This means that profits are not only earned but also distributed. For a long period of time, particularly at the beginning, we retained profits for the sake of growth, if profits were there. But today we also like to see dividends being distributed, in this regard there are no differences in the points of view either. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: So a balance between growth and distribution? PER FISCHER: Yes, especially since growth today does not so much depend on retained dividends, but on the own cash flow. A sustainable business model includes dividends for investors. The Holding has reasons for this, we have our reasons, so that we don’t only say we have this ROE, but that we also distribute it among us. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Regarding the business model of the ProCredit banks: The commercial approach of the ProCredit banks allows them to remain competitive in the long‐term. At the same time, social goals are pur‐
sued. If high profits are achieved, investments are made into new branches, for instance, or the interest rates are lowered, according to ProCredit Holding. Have those banks you are a shareholder of already been able to lower interest rates? PER FISCHER: Whether new branches are established does not depend on the level of profits achieved. Estab‐
lishing branches is part of the business model, to be close to the client. We don’t rely on collateral, like tra‐
ditional banks do, but we rely on a close model based on a partnership with the client, who is supported and financially supported in his business, and who we also want and have to be close to. As we don’t have collater‐
al, we have to keep an eye on the client in another way, that’s why we need the branches. The interest rates are high, no doubt, as you have to take into account that this business model, which is very granular on the one hand, is also very labor intensive and therefore expen‐
sive on the other hand. And as we pursue a sustainable business model, which includes that we also have to earn a return, these loans have to pay off both indivi‐
dually and as a portfolio. The issue of interest rates has, of course, a number of components. Both the cost of production and the expected profit have to be included, but of course also the whole refinancing component. There are certainly different alternatives. I can’t say if we have lowered interest rates overall, in either case, high interest rates are not ends in themselves. They are relatively high, although there is not really a compari‐
son. Basically only we do microfinancing and few oth‐
ers; if there are others, then not with the same business model. But you could certainly say that basically only we operate this sector microfinancing with this intensi‐
ty, so there is not really a comparison. But we can low‐
er interest rates to the degree to which the refinancing situation improves. We aim for a refinancing that is preferably based on deposits. Everything else would be more expensive, as you either have the premium of another financing company or you have to use short‐
term and thus expensive refinancing, and of course we also aim for matching maturities. So we rely on a very conservative model, particularly in terms of refinancing we try to take advantage of deposits and to pass this on whenever possible. I believe, by the way, that the de‐
mand is the best proof for an appropriate interest rate policy. There would not be such a high demand for our services, from all sectors of the economy, including trade, agro, production, in the capital cities or in rural areas, if these weren’t usual market interest rates. But I believe any accuse these were usurious interest rates is not justified, as we have more demand than we can serve. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: How about the financial lite­
racy of the borrowers? The ProCredit banks ana­
lyse the situation and the payment capacity of the clients very thoroughly. In what way do they ensure that – apart from this evaluation of ProCredit – the borrowers themselves understand the terms of the loan and can realistically assess their rights and obligations? PER FISCHER: This is a very important issue. Of course, we usually deal with a clientele that is new to this business. These are for example family members who start a business, so you can’t automatically expect that deep knowledge of the whole matter is given. I want to give you an example, which clearly supports this point: In Serbia we have long been in dialogue with the Governor, Radovan Jelašić, regarding an intensive awareness‐raising among the population, including our potential borrowers, about finance and concrete ques‐
tions to the bank, such as “how do I work with and how do I speak to my bank”. We wanted to contribute to this. The ProCredit bank in Serbia has published a fun‐
damental work, the foreword of which was written by the Governor, about the topic “How do I speak to my bank”. In this context, it took advantage of material from Commerzbank, we had done something similar in Germany. So we take this very, very seriously and have also committed ourselves to providing basic informa‐
tion in this regard, to educate the client, and not only the borrower, but also to educate the depositor on the liabilities side intensively and to inform them about day‐to‐day banking. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: The shareholders of the ProCre‐
dit banks also measure success in terms of market pe‐
netration. In Bulgaria, for instance, a countrywide net‐
work of branch offices was established. On the one hand, this provides many people in the entire country with the opportunity to access financial services (social impact), at the same time this strategy is also critical to success if you don’t rely on collateral. However, the proximity to customers due to a dense branch network is also very costly. Is this strategy in the interest of Commerzbank or, with respect to your Eastern Europe strategy, would it be more worthwhile to establish a smaller number of branches at strategic locations and to specifically focus on the clients of this region (e.g. where the majority of German SME are operating) and to depart from the idea of a countrywide branch network? PER FISCHER: Good question. You know, we have, after all, also invested into the ProCredit banks on the Balkan as part of our Eastern Europe strategy. We deli‐
berately went into this (war‐)torn Balkan with many, many small countries, and have chosen the sharehold‐
ing in the ProCredit banks to be present. The question never came up to actually establish a branch network in these states as Commerzbank. In this case, certainly many resources would have been used, which we pre‐
ferred to invest elsewhere. What we can do however, and have also proved, is that we can certainly use our shareholding in the ProCredit banks to benefit our SME. Of course this is not the case if a medium enterprise demands a credit of 50 million. But we have many ex‐
amples where we provide a platform to German com‐
panies with the ProCredit banks. For instance, where they have opened an account with a bank that operates very ‘German’ and also offers a service similar to that of Commerzbank, so when they looked for investments or financial services, the ProCredit banks provided them with local access. So we were indeed able to use our shareholding to benefit our clients. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Some of the commercial banks that have entered the field of microfinance in recent years around the world increasingly offer consumer credit. Many stakeholders of the microfinance industry argue that with these type of loans primarily short‐
term profits can be achieved and this can result in an over‐indebtedness of the clients in the long‐run. Is this reluctance regarding consumer loans primarily due to your aim of achieving sustainable economic growth in these countries? Might an orientation towards consumer finance also occur at ProCredit banks in future years, particularly due to changes in the shareholder structure? PER FISCHER: I don’t see any changes in the share‐
holder structure happen, neither at ProCredit Holding nor the individual banks, so that I wouldn’t see this as a perspective. Indeed, we are very, very reluctant with consumer credit and the reason is indeed that this would be a very shortsighted way of maximizing prof‐
its, and above that, we are also observing a heavy in‐
debtedness in the balance sheets of the national econ‐
omies of the countries. This is a great problem, current account deficits are primarily consumption‐driven. Therefore, this is not a model for the ProCredit banks, it is at best a byproduct here and there, but definitely not the dominating and primary area, which it will never be. What we certainly do, but you can’t call this con‐
sumer credit, on the contrary, these are house improv‐
ing loans. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: The ProCredit banks are com‐
mercially oriented. They don’t receive any subsidies, as sustainability and economic self‐sufficiency are pur‐
sued from the very beginning. PER FISCHER: Correct. What the banks do receive at the beginning of their development is technical aid, that means, initial funding is provided from a technical as‐
sistance budget, for example for the area of human resources. This is common in the industry. However, this phases out very quickly. Indeed, there are no sub‐
sidies at all for the banks which we are currently shareholder of, they have to refinance with the market. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: What distinguishes this busi­
ness model from others in the microfinance indus­
try? PER FISCHER: I think that many others are more strongly oriented towards a model that works with subsidies, particularly in order to – this is where opi‐
nions diverge – pass this on to the borrower, in good faith, thereby making the loan artificially cheaper. This may be a motive, particularly for those who come from the NGO scene and the ecclesiastical realm. Of course this leads to discussions, sometimes we are accused of not being able or willing to serve many borrowers, due to the commercial approach, especially those at the very bottom. We believe that when it’s about credit and business, and that’s the purpose, you have to practice a commercial model from the start and from the begin‐
ning of the business relation, otherwise the borrower himself can’t operate commercially, otherwise he would not learn the basics of business and never es‐
cape this subsidy mentality. This is the ideological dif‐
ference. However, it can be rightly stated that microfi‐
nancing in its entire scope consists of many models and this is generally not bad, also the not so much commer‐
cially‐oriented ones may have their place. I don’t follow the different approaches in every detail, but generally there are certainly the more commercially‐oriented ones like us and the more subsidy‐oriented ones, I think they can coexist. It is important that you know each other and discuss with each other, there are many platforms and events for this purpose. I believe the thought of a more commercial orientation has increa‐
singly gained supporters lately. And the success of Pro‐
Credit certainly points to that. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: The ProCredit banks aim for a strong deposit business as well as an increase in refi‐
nancing activities in the capital markets. The ProCredit bank in Bulgaria securitized part of its loan portfolio in 2006 and was able to refinance through this transac‐
tion at a favorable rate. Why are these loans particu­
larly suited for securitization? PER FISCHER: There is another important aspect that I would like to add. In these countries, the credit growth due to the described context of an overheating credit engine, particularly due to consumer finance, has led the national banks to fight this rigorously and the min‐
imum reserve requirement for loans in foreign curren‐
cy, but as far as I know also in local currency, was ex‐
tremely high. This means, you automatically had to look for ways to reduce credit growth and to obtain new financing through securitization. This is a very important aspect, which has motivated us especially in the case of Bulgaria to go this way. Particularly suitable for securitization are consumer loans and microfinance loans, as these are, first of all, granular, secondly, all somehow standard and thirdly, it should be borne in mind – this counts for all banks in the family – that the failure rate is extremely low, it is below 1%. With high failure rates the possibility of selling at the capital mar‐
kets is much lower. Microfinance loans make up a gra‐
nular portfolio, it consists of many similar or congener‐
ous layers, it is of high quality and therefore it can be securitized very well, it can be “bundled up” and placed at the capital markets. This transaction took place be‐
fore the subprime crisis, at the moment it would cer‐
tainly be difficult with such a model, this is also not currently on the agenda. But this transaction was very successful. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: At an appropriate point in time, the public partners (KfW, IFC, EBRD) will probably sell their shares. Has an exit strategy already been de­
veloped for this case, so as to assure that new shareholders share the target­group focus and the mission in order to continue to pursue the original goals of the ProCredit banks and to prevent changes in the shareholder structure from leading to “mission drift”? PER FISCHER: This question would be rather one for ProCredit Holding. Let’s consider the individual banks we are a shareholder of. With the gradual exit of EBRD – which is exiting, is however not in the Holding – we have a situation, where we are minority shareholders and ProCredit Holding is majority shareholder. For our banks, this is crucial, we do not expect any changes in the business model as a result of possible changes in the ProCredit Holding, such as an IPO. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Assuming that one sharehold­
er of the banks, which Commerzbank is also a shareholder of, would sell its shares. Would these shares in such a case be primarily bought by anoth­
er partner? PER FISCHER: This is pretty clear and already agreed upon. Where EBRD exits, for example, the Holding ac‐
quires the shares. For those who are shareholders of both the banks and the Holding, such as KfW, the shares of the individual banks are swapped into the Holding, with the result that we aren’t, say 5 partners a 20 %, like at the beginning, but in the future we will have one majority shareholder, ProCredit Holding, of which the international finance institutions are share‐
holder, and us, as we are not in the Holding. This is the only difference. Our share remains constant, of course always provided that we participate in the increases in capital which continuously take place, and this is what we have done in 99 % of all cases and will continue to do. countries. EBRD won’t be part of them, as they are only operating in Eastern Europe. So when it is about Asia, Africa and America, it won’t be EBRD, but I think you can say without exaggeration that KfW has a world‐
wide commitment for microfinancing and is among the leading ones. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Thank you very much.11 JESSICA HAEUSSLER: What other regions might be interesting for Commerzbank with regards to in­
vestments in the future? What do you primarily focus on when choosing suitable partners? PER FISCHER: We have recently decided that we will not only focus on Southeast Europe and a first evidence for this is our latest investment, which we have decided upon last year, into the Belarusian Bank for Small Busi‐
ness (BBSB), in this case we have already given up this restriction. But we are certainly prepared to pursue this business globally, that’s to say, to invest, as we are shareholder and not manager. So we invest as share‐
holders and therefore, of course, also have criteria for corresponding alternatives. A crucial criterion is, of course, that the manager has to convince us. The man‐
ager has to be a qualified microfinance specialists, has to have a track record. It doesn’t have to be always IPC, so far we have made excellent experiences with IPC, but there are also others who we can work with. In the case of BBSB it is an American organization, Shorecap, that also knows this business, maybe not as intensively as IPC, but it has also proven to know this business. So always provided that the manager is a qualified micro‐
finance specialist, we can certainly do business with each other. The countries have to have a certain struc‐
ture, so that entrepreneurship is actually thinkable, countries where it is promoted, or at least tolerated, and where we have a critical mass. Of course, we also look for partners who we have already been working with, the partners with a reputation are certainly with‐
out doubt those who we have already worked with in the ProCredit family – KfW, EBRD, IFC, FMO –, as we know the people there well, we already know in this case that, generally speaking, we go into the same di‐
rection. Important and strong in some regions is, for instance, the Aga Khan Foundation, that has also founded a number of microfinance banks. I can’t say too much about this yet, only that I have seen that they are also working very intensively in Syria, Tajikistan and so on. So we are also open for other partners, but when it is about an entirely new country for us, it is definitely very positive to know that we have the part‐
ners who have also gained experiences with other 11
This interview was translated from German to English
by the author
Appendix 22:
Interview with Dr. Gabriel Schor, Management Board, ProCredit Holding AG
Frankfurt am Main, March 11, 2009
JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ProCredit Mexico nahm im Juni 2007 in Morelia, der Hauptstadt des Bundesstaates Michoacán ihre Geschäftstätigkeit auf. Bis zum Ende des selben Jahres wurden insgesamt sechs Filialen eröffnet. Die Umwandlung in eine Vollbank ermöglicht es der ProCredit Mexico, neben den Kreditprodukten auch Sparprodukte anzubieten. Hat sich ProCredit Mexico bereits in eine Vollbank umgewandelt? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Wir sind dabei, wir haben dem Finanzministerium alles vorgelegt und vor zwei Wo‐
chen die Bestätigung bekommen, dass alles in Ordnung ist. Das nimmt jetzt seinen bürokratischen Gang und wir rechnen mit der Umwandlung bis Mitte des Jahres. Ich schätze, die operative Lizenz werden wir in circa einem Monat bekommen und Mitte des Jahres, im drit‐
ten Quartal, dann die volle Banklizenz. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Haben Sie vor, in weiteren Staaten Filialen zu eröffnen? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Wir sind bereits in Michoacán, Guadalajara, Santa Fe – insgesamt sind es vier Bundes‐
staaten um Michoacán herum, Richtung D.F.. Inzwi‐
schen haben wir auch unser Headquarter von Michoacán nach Guadalajara verlegt. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Sind neben Kredit­ und Spar­
produkten noch andere Dienstleistungen geplant, wie zum Beispiel Auslandsüberweisungen (Remittances)? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Bisher bieten wir nur Kredite, da wir noch keine Bank sind. Aber wir arbeiten parallel und sind dabei Infrastruktur aufzubauen, vor allem Zweigstellen, und sind insbesondere auch dabei, Staff auszubilden. Neben den Sparprodukten planen wir derzeit auch Remittances‐Services anzubieten. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Banco ProCredit El Salvador und Banco Los Andes, ProCredit in Bolivien, werden häufig als Erfolgsbeispiele dafür angeführt, dass eine Mikrofi nanzinstitution (MFI) mit der richtigen Methodologie Mikrofinanzdienstleistungen in ländlichen Gebieten anbieten und gleichzeitig finanziell nachhaltig agieren kann. Glauben Sie, dass diese Methodologien an die lokalen Gegebenheiten in Mexiko angepasst wer­
den und genauso erfolgreich sein können? Welche besonderen Umstände müssen im Fall Mexiko be­
rücksichtigt werden? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Das Modell war sehr erfolgreich, da kann ich nur zustimmen, sonst hätten wir auch nicht investiert, und es kann auch in Mexiko erfolgreich sein. Selbstverständlich gibt es Unterschiede, auch zwischen Bolivien und El Salvador, und auf diese Unterschiede sollte man eingehen und auf diese Unterschiede sind wir auch vorbereitet. Wesentliche Unterschiede sind: Mexiko ist ein riesiges Land, jedes Bundesland ist wie ein anderes zentralamerikanisches Land, das heißt logistisch ein solches Angebot zu organisieren, ist eine wesentliche Herausforderung. Man kann die Vorstel‐
lung eine solche Institution zentralisiert zu führen ver‐
gessen, denn von Michoacán nach Guadalajara braucht man mit dem Auto 4‐5 Stunden und mit dem Flugzeug eine Stunde, da kann man nicht jeden Tag hin. Dies ist in El Salvador und Bolivien zum Teil möglich. Wesentli‐
che Unterschiede liegen also in der Infrastruktur, in der Art eine Institution logistisch zu führen, aus dieser Nähe zu führen, wie wir es gewöhnt sind – sehr nah an den Kunden, sehr nah an den Zweigstellen. Dies so zu führen schafft eine Herausforderung. In Bolivien ist dies auch zum Teil der Fall, es ist infrastrukturell etwas schwer und nicht ganz erschlossen. Über die Nachfrage machen wir uns keine Gedanken. Die Nachfrage ist sehr, sehr groß im Vergleich zu anderen Ländern. In diesem Bereich ist Mexiko unterentwickelt, gerade im Hinblick auf die Segmente, die wir bedienen. Das Ange‐
bot ist aber da, es gibt viele MFIs, es gibt vor allem auch Banken die sich darauf spezialisiert haben, wie Banco Compartamos. Es gibt aber auch Institutionen die Kon‐
sumentenkredite vergeben, also Banco Azteca, Coppel und wie sie alle heißen, die jedoch kein verantwor‐
tungsvolles Angebot anbieten. Nicht verantwortungs‐
voll im Sinne, dass sie mit den Kunden nicht besonders transparent sind und mit der Zahlungsfähigkeit und Verschuldungsfähigkeit der Kunden nicht verantwor‐
tungsvoll umgehen. Wir treffen oft sehr, sehr viele Fälle von Kreditnehmern, die nachdem wir einen Kredit vergeben haben und sie gründlich analysiert haben, dann von einer anderen Institution einen Kredit neh‐
men, also die Kredite in der Summe erhöhen. Die ande‐
re Institution bietet in dem Fall Kredite zu etwas nied‐
rigeren Zinsen, damit die Kunden wechseln und wenn nicht, dann vergeben sie parallel Kredite. Im Vergleich zu El Salvador und im Vergleich zu Bolivien, beobach‐
ten wir in Mexiko ähnlich wie in Nicaragua einen hohen Verschuldungsgrad und oft Überschuldungsgrad von den Kreditnehmern. Damit muss man umgehen. Darü‐
ber hinaus war Mexiko Jahre lang gekennzeichnet durch sehr stark ausgeprägte staatliche Eingriffe ‐ sub‐
ventionierte Kredite, staatliche Programme ‐ und die Leute assoziieren in ihrer Denkweise Microfinance oft mit diesen Programmen. Die Zahlungsmoral ist oftmals nicht ausgeprägt und man muss härter daran arbeiten. Also Überschuldung, Zahlungsmoral und die staatlichen Eingriffe in der Vergangenheit sind ein Problem. Das sind die wesentlichen Unterschiede: die Größe des Landes, das Angebot, nicht die Nachfrage. Aber in den zwei Jahren, wo wir nun schon in Mexiko sind, können wir sagen, trotz Unterschiede läuft das Modell gut. Ein wesentlicher Unterschied im Vergleich zu der Entwick‐
lung in El Salvador und Nicaragua ist der Zeitpunkt: Wir haben die Institution mitten in der größten Fi‐
nanzkrise seit dem zweiten Weltkrieg gegründet. Das spürt man in Mexiko auch sehr stark. Durch den mak‐
roökonomischen Druck in den USA sind die Remittances niedriger geworden, viele Leute sind nach Hause zurück geschickt worden, es wird weniger Geld geschickt. Vor allem wird auch weniger exportiert in die USA. Auch in Michoacán gibt es sehr viele Maquilas. Die Remittances sind in Michaocán ziemlich herunter gegangen. Dies ist besonders ausgeprägt in Michaocán, aber auch in anderen Bundesstaaten merken wir das sehr stark. Das heißt, wir haben auch in einem schwie‐
rigen Jahr Investitionen getätigt. Das sind also weitere Unterschiede, die wir im Vergleich zu Bolivien und El Salvador gehabt haben. Trotz unsicheren Zeiten entwi‐
ckelt sich bis jetzt alles nach Plan. Aber wir machen uns für zwei schwierige Jahre bereit. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Haben Sie vor, dem mexikani­
schen MFI Netzwerk ProDesarrollo beizutreten? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Wir waren mit ihnen im Ge‐
spräch und sie haben uns auch eingeladen. Wir sind ein bisschen anders als die Institutionen die dort organi‐
siert sind. Wir sind zwar eine MFI, aber wir wollen von vorneherein eine Bank werden. Probleme die sie da haben sind Probleme die wir nicht unbedingt haben. Nichtsdestotrotz, es ist auch ein Forum wo man sich austauschen kann. Wir stehen in Verbindung mit ihnen, aber wir arbeiten schon anders, obwohl die Zielgruppe die gleiche ist. Uns verbindet also nicht so viel mit ihnen, aber gewiss, man kann miteinander reden und sich austauschen ‐ eher als Friends, aber nicht Family. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Die finanzielle Bildung stellt in Mexiko nach wie vor ein großes Problem dar. In seiner Rede im Juli 2008 äußerte der mexikanische Finanzmi‐
nister Augustín Carstens Bedenken hinsichtlich der Überschuldungproblematik bei Kreditnehmern. Auch andere wichtige Vertreter aus Politik und Wirtschaft scheinen zunehmend Interesse an Problembereichen wie Transparenz und Finanzbildung zu zeigen, doch ha‐
ben die bisherigen Initiativen im Bereich Konsumen‐
tenschutz und Finanzbildung der Verbraucherschutz‐
behörde CONDUSEF die Zielgruppe der MFIs weitge‐
hend ausgeschlossen und sich auf die traditionelle Kli‐
entel kommerzieller Banken in städtischen Regionen konzentriert. Bei meiner Recherche in Mexiko wurde seitens der mexikanischen Mikrofinanzexperten und ‐praktikern betont, welche Herausforderung die finan‐
zielle Bildung darstellt und dass sie die weitere Ent‐
wicklung des Sektors stark beeinflussen wird. ProCredit hat in Serbien ein grundlegendes Werk her‐
ausgebracht, mit dem Ziel einer möglichst intensiven Aufklärung der Bevölkerung zu Finanzfragen. Diese Initiative wurde durch den Gouverneur, der das Vor‐
wort schrieb, sehr begrüßt und unterstützt. Könnte eine solche Initiative auch in Mexiko Erfolg haben? Oder müsste Ihrer Meinung nach in Mexiko an ei­
ner anderen Stelle angesetzt werden? Wer sollte die Verantwortung für die finanzielle Bildung der breiten Bevölkerungsschichten und potentiellen Kunden der MFIs übernehmen? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Die zweite Frage ist eine weit‐
gehende, zunächst kann ich darauf eingehen, was ProCredit als wichtig und wesentlich erachtet. Finanzi‐
elle Bildung – oder financial literacy oder finanzielle Alphabetisierung – gehört bei uns dazu, ist ein Teil des Produktes genau wie das Sparbuch selbst. Es ist ein integraler Teil von dem was wir bieten und als sinnvoll erachten, in diesen Ländern zu machen. Mikrofinanzie‐
rung bedeutet für uns zunächst, Produkte anzubieten, die andere Banken nicht anbieten, aber die Art wie wir diese Produkte anbieten, dazu gehören Aktivitäten zu dieser Finanzbildung und –ausbildung. Das schließt Aktivitäten mit Kindern ein, das schließt besondere Erklärungen ein, auch für Schüler, genauso wie die Kurse zum Finanzwesen im Bereich der Erwachsenen‐
bildung, die wir anbieten. Also wie gesagt, das stellt einen Teil und Anteil des Produktes dar. In dem Be‐
reich machen wir viele Anstrengungen mit großem Erfolg. Ausgehend vom Bedarf oder einer Nachfrage, die wir befriedigen, würde ich sagen, wir bieten die Produkte an, aber zugleich machen wir viele Anstren‐
gungen, um zu der finanziellen Bildung beizutragen. Dies machen wir mit großem Erfolg, damit die Kunden verstehen, worauf sie sich einlassen. Wenn wir einen Kredit oder ein Sparprodukt anbieten, ohne dass ir‐
gendetwas getan worden ist zum Verständnis dieser Produkte, haben wir unsere Dienstleitung, die wir bie‐
ten und anbieten wollen nicht richtig vergeben. Inso‐
fern ist Finanzbildung Politik der gesamten Gruppe und wesentlicher Teil unseres Anspruchs. In Mexiko ist genau wie in anderen Ländern riesiger Bedarf, im Übri‐
gen auch in Europa, auch in Deutschland, in England wissen 80 % der Leute nicht wie viele Zinsen sie beim Kontokorrentkonto zahlen. In Mexiko ist genauso ein riesiger Bedarf wie wo anders und ist bei uns ein we‐
sentlicher Teil – wir geben die Kurse, wir machen für Kinder und Erwachsene Veranstaltungen, wo zunächst die Eigenschaften der Produkte selbst erläutert werden und auch Dinge wie „was sind Zinsen, warum kostet ein Kredit Geld“, sowie Informationen über die Bank gege‐
ben werden. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Die Mikrofinanzierung hat in den vergangen Jahren weltweit Anerkennung und Be‐
achtung erhalten. Die UN ernannte das Jahr 2005 zum "International Year of Microcredit", im Jahr 2006 wur‐
de Muhammad Yunus und der Grameen Bank der Frie‐
densnobelpreis verliehen und internationale kommer‐
zielle Banken gewannen zunehmend Interesse am Thema Microfinance. Im Hinblick auf die beiden zuerst genannten Events hat sich die ProCredit Holding be‐
wusst zurückgehalten, da die Erwartungen, die an die Mikrofinanzierung gestellt werden, Ihrer Auffassung nach übertrieben sind. Was kann die Mikrofinanzie­
rung ihrer Meinung nach leisten und wo liegen die Grenzen? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Das Problem fängt damit an, was man unter Mikrofinanzierung versteht, auch was man unter „mikro“ versteht. Mikro ist nicht gleich mik‐
ro. Und die gleiche Zielgruppe und ein Mikrokredit ist nicht gleich „Mikrokredit“. Was Sie ansprechen sind die Ansätze ‐ aber das sind nicht alle Ansätze in der Mikro‐
finanzierung ‐ die sich zur Aufgabe gemacht haben, Mikrofinanzierung als wesentlichen Anteil zur Armuts‐
bekämpfung zu sehen. Das ist der Punkt wo wir gesagt haben wir sind bescheidener. Wir sind Handwerker bei der Kreditvergabe, das können wir, und zur Armutsbe‐
kämpfung, ja, es kann sein dass wir die Lebensverhält‐
nisse der Kreditnehmer verbessern. Aber Armutsbe‐
kämpfung ist etwas anderes, das ist eine viel komplexe‐
re Aufgabe, wo nicht nur finanzielle Dienstleistungen dazu gehören, sondern auch Bildung und Ausbildung und im Allgemeinen Infrastrukturmaßnahmen. Was wir beitragen können zur Armutsbekämpfung, da sind wir bescheiden. Wir sind gute Handwerker und versu‐
chen das was wir können gut zu machen und was wir können ist eine gute Kreditvergabe. Klar, dass wir un‐
serer Zielgruppe Vorteile bieten, aber wir sind beschei‐
den genug um zu sagen, so werden wir Armut nicht bekämpfen. Es ist ein Aspekt, den wir verbessern, aber nicht mehr. Wir betrachten uns eher als Handwerker, die etwas distanziertere Banker sind, das ist das was wir können und wir tun Gutes für die Menschen, des‐
halb machen wir Mikrofinanzierung, sonst würden wir andere Aktivitäten im Bankenbereich machen. Was wir tun, versuchen wir sachlich richtig zu machen, wir glauben wir tragen dazu bei, aber wir überschätzen uns auch nicht. Und es wäre gut getan, glaube ich, das ganze nicht so sehr mit Ansprüchen zu überfrachten. Es ist eine gute Sache, auch für die Zukunft, trägt zur Verän‐
derung der Lebensverhältnissen bei, und das reicht uns. Was man sonst machen müsste wäre Aufgabe des Staates. Das sind dann wie gesagt Bildungs‐ und Infra‐
strukturmaßnahmen. Auch finanzielle Bildung ist pri‐
märe Aufgabe des Staates. Finanzbildung sollte Teil der Schulbildung sein. Auch in Deutschland wird heute diskutiert, ob in der Grundschule oder im Gymnasium Finanzbildung ein Bestandteil sein sollte, spätestens seit der Krise redet man darüber. Wenn wir dazu bei‐
tragen können, in beiden Bereichen, Finanzbildung und Armutsbekämpfung, gut, aber wir sind bescheiden genug um zu sagen, Armutsbekämpfungsmaßnahmen sind andere, die wir nicht anbieten können. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Ein zentraler Streitpunkt ist, ob die Mikrofinanzierung auch einen wesentlichen Beitrag beim Aufbau leistungsfähiger Finanzsysteme und der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung einer Volkswirt‐
schaft leisten kann. Einige Ökonomen argumentieren, Mikrofinanzierung und Mikrounternehmertum seien nicht der geeignete Weg, Wachstum zu erzielen. Hinge‐
gen machen Mikro‐ und Kleinunternehmen in Latein‐
amerika, nach Angaben von Álvaro Ramírez (ehemali‐
ger Chief der Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Divi­
sion der Interamerikanischen Entwicklungsbank), 40 % des GDP aus und schaffen knapp die Hälfte aller Ar‐
beitsplätze. Die Mehrheit dieser Mikrounternehmen seien mit Finanzierungsengpässen konfrontiert. Als herausragendes Erfolgsbeispiel im Bereich Mikrofinan‐
zierung gilt die ProCredit Bank Kosovo, die nach dem Ende des Kosovokrieges die erste Bank vor Ort war und maßgeblich zum Aufbau des gesamten Finanzsek‐
tors beigetragen hat. Wie bewerten Sie diese Aspek­
te? In wie fern können MFIs einen strukturbilden­
den Beitrag zur Entwicklung des Finanzsektors leisten? Haben die Mikrofinanzierung und die ent­
stehenden Mikrounternehmen das Potential, zu Wirtschaftswachstum und Beschäftigung beizutra­
gen? Was sind Ihrer Meinung nach die zentralen Voraussetzungen hierfür? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Zunächst sagt dies nicht nur die IDB, es ist ein Fakt, dass zwischen 50 und 80 % der Arbeitsplätze in Lateinamerika und mehr als 80 % in Afrika, 50 % in Osteuropa in kleinen Unternehmen bestehen, und auch in Deutschland werden die meisten Arbeitsplätze von kleinen und mittelständischen Un‐
ternehmen geschaffen. Das ist so. Was können wir dazu beitragen? Wir können einiges dazu beitragen, das wirtschaftliche Gebaren eines Unternehmens zu stabi‐
lisieren. Wir beobachten, dass die kleinen dieser Un‐
ternehmen ‐ und das ist die Vorstellung die man von Entwicklung hat, also dass es mit zwei, drei Arbeits‐
plätzen beginnt und schließlich zu einem mittelständi‐
schen Unternehmen wächst ‐ solche Unternehmen machen etwa 7‐12 % unserer Kleinstunternehmen aus. In der Regel, der größte Teil, und das ist was Ökono‐
men messen, stabilisieren ihre Lage, wachsen nicht überwiegen, schaffen nicht allzu viele Arbeitsplätze, aber sie stabilisieren die gegebenen und einen kleinen Beitrag haben wir auch bei diesen Unternehmungen gegeben. Also die Antwort auf Ihre Frage ist auch hier wieder dieselbe, etwas bescheidener in den Ansprü‐
chen. Dass wir wesentlich zum Wachstum der Wirt‐
schaft beitragen mit dem was wir tun, das wäre ver‐
messen. Was wir tun ist, dass wir Arbeitsplätze stabili‐
sieren, Arbeitsplätze die bereits in den Kleinunterneh‐
men vorhanden sind, auch die Lebensbedingungen der Menschen verbessern, die nun weniger zahlen als sie vorher bezahlt haben. Aber die Vorstellungen, das Un‐
ternehmen investiert und dann kommt die nächste Maschine und so weiter, das sind Illusionen. Sie haben etwas mehr Geld übrig, vielleicht um besser zu konsu‐
mieren, vielleicht machen sie etwas für die Bildung der eigenen Kinder, oder etwas für die Gesundheit. Ein riesiger Impact also nicht, aber was wir beobachten in der Beschaffung von Arbeitsplätzen bei der Kredit‐
vergabe – nicht für Micro‐, sondern für Small‐ und Me‐
dium‐Unternehmen – dort beobachten wir schon, dass unsere mittelständischen Kreditnehmer, die schon 15‐
20 Mitarbeiter haben, eine Wachstumsrate haben, die durchaus wahrnehmbar ist. Die Größe ist eine Ent‐
scheidungsgröße. Aber wie groß auch die Wirkung ist, ist sie uns groß genug, und es ist eine große Anzahl von Menschen, die wir mit diesen Dienstleitungen be‐
dienen, besser als andere. Das ist Anspruch genug. Zu dem Anspruch gehört, eine nachhaltig solide Institution aufzubauen und auch dazu beizutragen, dass sich die Leute daran gewöhnen, dass das nicht ein Programm ist und nicht eine MFI die nur ab und zu kommt, son‐
dern sie sind regelmäßige, dauerhafte Partner. Das heißt auch dass es Jahre dauert, dieses Vertrauen zu schaffen. Vertrauen zu schaffen, bedeutet auch Ver‐
trauen, Investitionen zu tätigen, also das sieht man nicht sofort in 2 Jahren. Es ist aber sehr wichtig ‐ wir sind für sie da, bleiben für sie da und bieten diese Dienstleitung dauerhaft an, darauf kann man sich ver‐
lassen. Das ist ein Prozess, das dauert. Solide In‐
stitutionen und solide und zuverlässige Partner für diese Mitarbeiter zu sein, das ist ein wichtiger Anstoß, wichtiger als der direkt messbarer Hinweis kurzfristig: Langfristige Institutionen, die eine klare Vision und eine langfristige Einstellung haben, solche Segmente zu bedienen und auch so wahrgenommen werden von den Kunden. Es ist also nicht ein Programm, das kommt und wieder geht und auch kein Regierungsprogramm, das von der Budgetlage abhängig ist. Dauerhaft eine Bank zu sein, das ist wichtig. In dieser Dauerhaftigkeit, glauben wir einen Beitrag zur Stabilisierung von Ar‐
beitskräften, zum Teil zur Schaffung von neuen Ar‐
beitsplätzen zu leisten und das genügt uns als An‐
spruch. Negatives in dem was wir tun, sehe ich nicht. Die Diskussion, die Sie ansprechen, bezieht sich auf die Frage – soll man Aktivitäten dieser MFIs subventionie‐
ren? Sollte der Staat aktiv sein und MFIs subventionie‐
ren? Dann stellt sich nämlich die Frage, was bringt die Investition? Ist das sinnvoll eingesetztes Geld? Und das ist auch die Frage, die sich bei Microfinance gestellt hat: Soll der Staat, oder IDB, oder wer auch immer da tätig ist, dieses Geschäft subventionieren? In dem Sinne stellt sich auch die Frage: Ist das Geld sinnvoll einge‐
setzt? Wir in unserem Fall bauen nicht auf Subventio‐
nen, wir sind eine privatwirtschaftliche Initiative und sagen, wir machen etwas sinnvolles, wir haben einen Entwicklungsanspruch, wir haben zum Teil in manchen Ländern Unterstützung bekommen, aber wir bauen nicht grundsätzlich auf Subventionen. Wir sind eine privatwirtschaftliche Initiative, sodass sich die Frage da weniger stellt. Nichtsdestotrotz, es ist eine sinnvolle Frage ‐ sollen sie etwas geben?, soll die Weltbank etwas geben?, etc. Je nachdem, welche Fragestellung man hat, würde man diese Frage anders beantworten. Wenn Armutsbekämpfung im Vordergrund steht, könnte man sagen, man unterstützt lieber Bildung, Gesundheit und Infrastruktur, als Microfinance. Wenn gesellschaftliche Entwicklung an erster Stelle steht, ist Microfinance sicher nicht schädlich. In unserem Fall sind wir eine privatwirtschaftliche Investition, die eine soziale Aus‐
richtung hat, die Gutes für die Wirtschaft tut und je weniger Intervention und Unterstützung sie von ande‐
ren benötigt desto besser, daher stellt sich die Frage nicht. Manchmal ist es notwendig, es ist hilfreich, das haben wir bei bestimmten Ländern, aber das ist An‐
schubfinanzierung und Ziel ist es, als Institution sehr schnell unabhängig von der Unterstützung des Staates zu agieren. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muhammad Yunus und die Grameen Foundation sind von dem „Microfinance Plus“ Model überzeugt, bei dem neben den Finanzdienstlei‐
tungen auch nichtfinanzielle Leistungen angeboten werden, denen bei der Armutsminderung ebenfalls eine große Bedeutung zukommt. Da die Hauptursachen für Zahlungsschwierigkeiten in Gesundheitsproblemen, Naturkatastrophen und Bildungsdefiziten liegen, so ar‐
gumentieren sie, sei es auch im Interesse der Instituti‐
on, Unterstützung in diesen Bereichen anzubieten. Teilen Sie diese Auffassung, oder sollten sich MFIs Ihrer Meinung nach allein auf Finanzdienstleistun­
gen konzentrieren, und nichtfinanzielle Dienstleis­
tungen anderen Organisationen überlassen? Könn­
ten strategische Allianzen eine Lösung sein, um ein breites Spektrum an unterschiedlichen Leistungen effektiver an die selbe Zielgruppe zu bringen? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Wir sehen uns, wie schon ge‐
sagt, bescheiden als gute Handwerker in diesem Be‐
reich. Manchmal gibt es Allianzen, aber man sollte das Ganze nicht überfrachten. Das was man tut sollte man ruhig und gründlich machen, das verwirrt sonst nur – ist man nun Banker, ist man Unterstützer, kümmert man sich um die Gesundheit oder die Bildung? Wir sind eher für Klarheit. Dass wir klarmachen, wir sind eine Bank, Banken tun Gutes, da sie solche Kredite verge‐
ben, aber sie sind auch böse, wenn die Kredite nicht bezahlt werden. Die Kunden wissen genau, was sie an uns haben und was sie von uns zu halten haben. Also wir sind sehr für Transparenz, klare und offene Ver‐
hältnisse. Dass die Kunden wissen, deshalb gehe ich da hin, um genau das zu bekommen, und verstehe, du bist gut in dem Sinne dass du Dienstleistungen im Finanz‐
bereich anbietest. Aber man kann nicht erklären, je‐
mand hat eine Gesundheitsleistung bekommen, aber das Kind ist trotzdem krank geworden, deshalb muss der Kredit nicht gezahlt werden – diese Mischungen zwischen Gutem und Bösen, als Banker sind wir oft die Bad Guys, aber man gerät nicht unter Rechtferti‐
gungsdruck. „Du bist Berater, unterstützt meine Fami‐
lie, aber andererseits bist du Banker“ ‐ wir sind eher dafür diese Sache zu trennen, also bescheidene Banker zu sein und andere sollen diese Tätigkeiten machen. Was nicht ausschließt, dass wenn in Michoacán ir‐
gendwo eine Sitzung ist, wo Schulen auch zeigen, was sie im Finanzbereich darstellen, dass wir auch mit ih‐
nen zusammenarbeiten. Oder bei Leuten, die Gesund‐
heitsleitungen anbieten, dass wir manchmal die Imp‐
fungen zusammen machen. Das haben wir zum Beispiel in Nicaragua gemacht. Aber strategische Allianzen sind das nicht. Wir sind bescheidenere Banker, die etwas versuchen gut zu tun, und wenn sich eine Zusammen‐
arbeit anbietet, tun wir das, aber wir bleiben bei dem was wir können. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Ein gesunder Wettbewerb ist generell vorteilhaft für die Kunden. Ein großer Prob‐
lembereich in der Mikrofinanzierung ist jedoch ein bedeutender Mangel an Transparenz. In den meisten reifen traditionellen Finanzmärkten sind Finanzinstitu‐
tionen verpflichtet, die Kosten ihrer Kreditprodukte auf eine einfache und einheitliche Weise aufzuschlüsseln („Truth in Lending“). In den meisten Mikrofinanz‐
sektoren jedoch, hat die Mehrheit der Kreditnehmer ernsthafte Probleme die Kreditkosten unterschiedli‐
cher MFIs zu vergleichen. Wie sollte dieses Problem Ihrer Meinung nach angegangen werden? Wie könnten alle Institutionen verpflichtet werden, ihre Kreditkosten auf eine Weise publik zu machen, die es den Mikrounternehmern ermöglicht, Ver­
gleiche zu ziehen und eine informierte Entschei­
dung zu treffen? Kennen Sie Erfolgsbeispiele aus Ländern wo erfolgreich Transparenz im Finanzsek­
tor geschaffen wurde? Könnten diese Erfahrungs­
werte für andere Länder hilfreich sein, um verbes­
serte Transparenz zu erreichen? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Zunächst dazu, wie man dies am erfolgreichsten angehen kann. Ich würde alle verpflich‐
ten, dies zu veröffentlichen. Eine Verpflichtung, die es langsam auch in vielen Ländern gibt. Also die Verpflich‐
tung zu veröffentlichen und dies dann auch zu kontrol‐
lieren. Das sollte für alle gelten, die Finanzdienstleis‐
tungen jeglicher Art anbieten. Auch Supermärkte die Produkte auf Raten finanzieren sind in manchen Län‐
dern – in Kolumbien zum Beispiel ‐ verpflichtet, Effek‐
tivzinsen zu veröffentlichen. Nicht alle tun das und es wird am wenigsten kontrolliert und ist schwierig. Aber als Anspruch würde ich sagen, selbstverständlich sollte es eine allgemeine Verpflichtung geben. Was wir tun, wie bereits gesagt, ist im Bereich Transparenz, Finanz‐
bildung, was wir als wesentlichen Bestandteil unserer Kreditvergabe betrachten und damit einen Beitrag zu Transparenz leisten. Aber ohne dass es eine allgemeine Verpflichtung ist, ist es keine einfache Geschichte für die Kunden zu vergleichen. Es gibt auch unverantwort‐
liche Kreditwerbung, in der ein Teil der Zinsraten ver‐
öffentlicht wird, aber nicht die effektiven Zinsen inklu‐
sive Commissions. Wir tun es trotzdem, und unser Er‐
folg und unsere Wachstumsraten sprechen dafür, dass man auch so erfolgreich sein kann. Es ist ein Kampf, in der Bankenvereinigung denken sie, wir übertreiben ein bisschen. Nichtsdestotrotz, dies ist die einzige Art bei der Finanzbildung und verantwortungsvollen Kredit‐
vergabe anzusetzten, die Kunden sollten wissen, wo‐
rauf sie sich einlassen. Was wir gelernt haben ist, die Veröffentlichung allein reicht nicht aus, deshalb sehen wir Finanzbildung als einen extrem wichtigen Bestand‐
teil. Bei Prozenten oder dem Wort „effective interest rate“ ist vielen nicht verständlich, was damit gemeint ist. Und ich meine nicht nur in diesen Ländern, auch hier in Deutschland, wenn Sie jemanden auf der Straße fragen was effektive Zinsen sind, ich schätze mehr als die Hälfte können das nicht erklären. Das heißt Ver‐
pflichtung einerseits ‐ es gibt Länder, wie zum Beispiel Bolivien, dort sind alle verpflichtet dies zu machen – das Problem ist aber weniger die Verpflichtung son‐
dern viel mehr die Überwachung. Aber es ist wichtig diesen Anspruch zu haben. Ein Verbot hat auch den Charakter, auch wenn nicht kontrolliert wird, andere indirekt zu verpflichten, sodass man sagt „eigentlich sollte man...“. Also ein Verbot, bzw. eine Verpflichtung ist wichtig, aber die Verpflichtung allein ist ganz klar nicht ausreichend. Was wir tun ist Finanzbildung, Fi‐
nanzausbildung, damit die Leute verstehen, um was es geht. Wir können andere nicht zwingen, wir gehen mit gutem Beispiel voran, vermutlich muss der Staat auch beitragen zu dieser Finanzbildung, und das gehört da‐
zu. Es ist eine Illusion zu glauben, Transparenz schafft einen souveränen Konsumenten, ohne Bildung. Trans‐
parenz ohne die Möglichkeit zu haben, diese Informati‐
on einzusetzen, ist nicht gelebte Transparenz und än‐
dert nichts. Die Leute sollten auch verstehen, worauf sie sich einlassen, also gelebte Transparenz. Transpa‐
renz erfordert viel, aber Ausbildung im Finanzbereich gehört immer dazu. Da tragen wir gewiss dazu bei, wir werden aber die gesamte Gesellschaft nicht ändern. Also auf Ihre Frage, es ist eine Mischung aus Maßnah‐
men die der Staat treffen soll, ‐ die Bankenaufsicht zum Beispiel bei der Verpflichtung, Effektivzinsen zu veröf‐
fentlichen ‐, Maßnahmen der Finanzbildung, ‐ das kön‐
nen Institutionen bieten, gewiss aber der Staat ‐, Sank‐
tionen gehören ebenfalls dazu und allgemeine Awareness, also ein Bewusstsein wie wichtig verant‐
wortungsvolles Handeln ist. Zu Verantwortung gehört selbstverständlich Transparenz, zwei Vertragspartner die sich gegenseitig ernst nehmen, die andere Person als gleichwertig anzuerkennen und wahrzunehmen ‐ das heißt sie müssen auf dem gleichen Informations‐
stand sein, sonst ist dies nicht möglich. Förderung im Bereich der Finanzbildung ist sehr wichtig, und nicht nur in Entwicklungsländern, das zeigt die aktuelle Krise wo diese Probleme sehr deutlich zum Ausdruck ge‐
kommen sind: fehlende Transparenz, fehlende Finanz‐
bildung, zu wenig fundierte Entscheidungen worauf sich die Kunden einlassen. Das heißt, es gibt eine Men‐
ge zu tun, wir tun das Unserige in diesen Ländern, aber es bleibt noch sehr viel zu tun. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Elizabeth Littlefield, CEO der Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), warnte: “There is some risk that the mainstreaming of microfin­
ance will threaten the very essence of microfinance’s core mission: to help poor people lead better lives”. Ausländi‐
sche Direktinvestitionen in die Mikrofinanzindustrie haben sich zwischen 2004 und 2006 auf 4 Milliarden USD mehr als verdreifacht. Ein großer Teil dieses Kapi‐
tals kommt aus dem Privatsektor und befindet sich vor allem in Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIVs). Viele argumentieren, der einzige Weg die enorme Nachfrage nach Mikro‐Finanzdienstleitungen zu bedie‐
nen sei über die Kapitalmärkte. Während die zuneh‐
mende Popularität bei großen institutionellen Investo‐
ren MFIs zu raschen Wachstum verhelfen kann, werden auch Bedenken geäußert, die Flut von privatem Kapital in die Mikrofinanzindustrie könne einen „Mission Drift“ bewirken und dazu führen, dass MFIs aufgrund des zunehmenden Drucks Gewinne zu erwirtschaften, von ihrem traditionellen Pro‐Poor‐Focus abdriften. Wie beurteilen Sie die aktuellen Entwicklungen? Sehen Sie die „Double­Bottom­Line“ einiger MFIs gefähr­
det? Können MFIs Ihrer Meinung nach die Vorteile der Kapitalmärkte nutzen und ihrer sozialen Missi­
on treu bleiben? Die Public­Private­Partnership (PPP) der ProCredit Banken ist weltweit einzigartig und stellt weitgehend sicher, dass das Gleichge­
wicht finanzieller und sozialer Ziele aufrechterhal­
ten bleibt. Welche Erfahrungen haben Sie mit der PPP gemacht? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Es kommt sehr stark darauf an, woran man so etwas misst. Was bedeutet und was meint auch Elizabeth mit „Mission Drift“ und woran wird dies gemessen? Wenn mit Mission Drift gemeint ist – und das wäre eine Gegenfrage an CGAP – dass wir Mikros aufhören zu bedienen, können wir in unserem Fall sagen, das ist nicht gegeben, wir bedienen weiter‐
hin Mikros. Dass wir auch andere Segmente, klein und mittelständische Unternehmen bedienen, damit glau‐
ben wir, tragen wir auch dazu bei, auch diese Unter‐
nehmen mit transparenten und verantwortungsvollen Produkten zu bedienen. Ob das sozialer Beitrag genug ist, im Sinne CGAPs, weiß ich nicht, wir glauben das reicht. Ich komme noch mal zurück zu der vorherigen Frage zum Anspruch, wir betrachten uns selbst als gute Handwerker, gute Banken, die eben dazu beitragen, die Finanzlage solcher Unternehmen, bei denen wir der Meinung sind, dass sie zum Großteil zu den Arbeits‐
plätzen beitragen, zu verbessern, und bieten Finanzbe‐
ziehungen auf eine transparente Art. Aber wie gesagt, wir betrachten nicht nur das was wir tun, sondern wie wir es tun. Das ist integraler Bestandteil, das wiederho‐
le ich immer wieder, von dem Produkt selbst. Und wenn wir dazu beitragen können, dass bestimmte Seg‐
mente, die diese Dienstleitung bis jetzt nicht hatten, entweder besser bedient werden, oder verantwor‐
tungsvoller bedient werden, das ist für uns sozialer Beitrag genug. Dazu tragen wir bei, aber dass wir damit nicht die Armut beseitigen, das ist klar. Wir glauben in unserer Public‐Private‐Partnership genau die Struktur geschaffen zu haben, die zu unseren Ansprüchen passt. Das ist unsere Vision, wir wollen Kleinst‐, Klein‐ und Mittelunternehmen dauerhaft auf eine transparente und verantwortungsvolle Art bedienen. Wir haben auch die Mission, die uns davor bewahrt davon wegzu‐
gehen. Wir haben die Publics die sagen, „vergiss nicht die soziale Wirkung“, wir haben die Privates die sagen, „vergiss nicht die Effizienz“. Dieses Gleichgewicht zwi‐
schen den beiden Elementen ermöglicht uns ‐ und die Ergebnisse zeigen, wir sprechen nicht nur von Wün‐
schen sondern von Fakten ‐ Wachstum ohne Mission‐
Drift, also auf eine dauerhafte Art, zu erzielen. Die Er‐
gebnisse bestätigen unsere Struktur. Dass man noch kleinere Unternehmungen bedienen und noch kleinere Kredite vergeben kann, selbstverständlich. Dass es gut ist, wenn eine Organisation auch Gesundheitsvorsorge betreibt, ja, das sind ergänzende Formen. Dass dadurch was wir tun nicht kleiner wird in der Wirkung, denke ich allerdings auch. Bescheidenere Ansprüche erfüllen nicht weniger in der Wirkung und dauerhaft genau das zu tun – CGAP mag es als Mission Drift empfinden, wenn man auch mittelständische Unternehmen be‐
dient, denn es sind keine Mikros, aber es sind trotzdem Leute, die diese Dienstleistungen brauchen, die Ar‐
beitsplätze schaffen, und es sind auch diejenigen, die in der Krise – wie wir gerade sehen – als erste von den Banken nicht bedient werden. Dauerhaft diese Unter‐
nehmen zu bedienen ist die Mission die wir von Anfang an gehabt haben. Wir sind mehr eine Unternehmens‐
bank als eine Mikrofinance‐Bank. Wir vergeben Kredit eine Kleinst‐, Klein‐ und Mittelunternehmen – große brauchen wir nicht, aber Unternehmen bis hin zum Mittelstand dauerhaft zu bedienen, ist schon immer unsere Mission gewesen. Man kann sagen, „mehr nicht?“ – Nein, mehr nicht, aber das ist genug. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Und im Hinblick auf die zu­
nehmende Rolle der Kapitalmärkte und einige MFIs, die ihre hohen Profite in erster Linie durch hohe Zinsraten erwirtschaften – sehen sie hierbei die Double­Bottom Line einiger MFIs gefährdet? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Die Gefahr ist immer da. Die Gefahr gibt es seit 10 Jahren. Nur jetzt redet die ganze Welt darüber, während der Krise, dass diese Gefahr besteht. Dass unregulierte Märkte, nicht verantwor‐
tungsvolle Banker, genau da hin führen können. Den Börsengang zu den Bedingungen von Compartamos fanden wir auch erschreckend, das kann dazu führen, dass man nur nach Krediten schielt und sich nicht ve‐
rantwortungsvoll verhält. Manche Kreditvergaben, ohne bestimmte Namen zu nennen, sind leider nicht verantwortungsvoll, weil sie sich nur darauf konzent‐
rieren Kredite zu vergeben, koste es was es wolle und sei es auch die Überschuldung des Kunden, ohne zu berücksichtigen, was dies für ein kleines Unternehmen bedeutet, das nach so einer Überschuldung für den Rest seines Lebens keinen Kredit mehr bekommt. Also die Gefahr ist immer gegeben, man braucht nicht viel wei‐
ter zu gucken, die Krise belegt, wohin so etwas führen kann. Wir glauben an unsere Public‐Private‐
Partnership und die Bedingungen, die wir uns dabei gegeben haben, in unserer gesamten Mission und Visi‐
on – damit glauben wir, dass die Gefahr gebannt ist. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Vielen Dank. Interview with Dr. Gabriel Schor, Management Board, ProCredit Holding AG
Translated to English
Frankfurt am Main, March 11, 2009
JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ProCredit Mexico took up its operations in July 2007 in Morelia, the capital of the state Michoacán. Until the end of the same year, six branches were opened. The transformation into a bank will allow ProCredit Mexico to offer savings products as well. Has ProCredit Mexico already transformed into a full­fledged licensed bank? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: We are currently working on it, we have already presented everything to the Ministry of Finance and received the confirmation that every‐
thing is fine, two weeks ago. It will now take its bureau‐
cratic course and we expect to have completed the transformation by midyear. I suppose we will receive the operating license in about a month and the full banking license by midyear, in the third quarter. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Do you have plans to open branches in other states as well? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: We are already in Michoacán, Guadalajara, Santa Fe – altogether, in four states around Michoacán, towards D.F.. We have also moved our headquarter from Michoacán to Guadalajara, lately. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Do you plan to offer any other products, besides loan and savings products, such as remittances services? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Up to now, we only offer loans, as we are not a bank yet. But we work parallel and are currently building infrastructure, particularly branches, and we are also training staff. Apart from the savings products, we also have plans to offer remit‐
tances services. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Banco ProCredit El Salvador and Banco los Andes, ProCredit in Bolivia, are often cited as success stories, proving that an MFI with the right me‐
thodology can offer microfinancial services in rural areas and operate sustainably at the same time. Do you feel these methodologies can be adapted according to the local environment in Mexico and might be equally successful in the Mexican context? Which particular circumstances have to be considered in the case of Mexico? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: The model was very successful, I can only agree with that, otherwise we wouldn’t have invested, and it can also be successful in Mexico. Of course there are differences, also between Bolivia and El Salvador, and these differences should be taken into account and we are also prepared for these differences. Key differences are: Mexico is a huge country, every state is like another Central American country, that means to organize such an offer logistically is a key challenge. You can forget about managing such an insti‐
tution in a centralized way, because from Michoacán to Guadalajara it takes 4‐5 hours by car and one hour by plane, you can’t go there every day. This is to some extent possible in El Salvador and Bolivia. So the key differences lie in the infrastructure, in the way of man‐
aging an institution logistically, from this proximity we are used to – very close to the client, very close to the branches. This presents a challenge. In Bolivia this is the case as well, to some extent, it is a bit difficult with regards to the infrastructure and it’s not entirely ac‐
cessible. We are not concerned about the demand. The demand is very, very high as compared to other coun‐
tries. In this area Mexico is underdeveloped, particular‐
ly regarding the segments we are serving. But the supply is there, there are many MFIs, and there are also banks that have specialized in this area, such as Banco Compartamos. But there are also institutions that pro‐
vide consumer loans, such as Banco Azteca, Coppel and all those, however they don’t offer their products res‐
ponsibly. Not responsibly in the sense that they are not particularly transparent with their clients and don’t handle the payment capacity and debt capacity of their clients responsibly. We are often confronted with many, many cases of borrowers who, after we have provided them with a loan and thoroughly analyzed them, then take out a loan with another institution, so that they increase the sum of their loans. In this case, the other institution offers the loans at slightly lower interest rates, so that the client switches and if not, they provide additional loans. As compared to El Salva‐
dor and Bolivia, we observe in Mexico – similarly to Nicaragua – a high degree of indebtedness and often overindebtedness of the borrowers. You have to be able to handle this. What’s more, Mexico was characte‐
rized by strong interventions of the state for many years – subsidized credit, state‐run programs – and in their way of thinking people often associate microfin‐
ance with these programs. The payment behavior is often not well‐developed and you have to work harder on it. So over‐indebtedness, payment behavior and interventions by the state in the past are a problem. These are the key differences: the size of the country, the supply, not the demand. But after having been in Mexico for two years now, we can say that despite dif‐
ferences, the model works well. A key difference as compared to the development in El Salvador and Nica‐
ragua is the timing: We have established the institution in the middle of the greatest financial crisis since the second world war. We perceive that very strongly in Mexico. Due to the macroeconomic pressure in the United States the remittances have declined, many people have been sent home, less money is being sent. Moreover, less is being exported into the USA. In Mi‐
choacán, there are also many maquilas. The remit‐
tances have decreased in Michoacán. This is particular‐
ly evident in Michoacán, but we also notice this quite strongly in other states. This means, we have also in‐
vested during a difficult year. So these are further dif‐
ferences that we have had compared to Bolivia and El Salvador. Despite uncertain times, everything is devel‐
oping according to plan so far. But we are gearing up for two difficult years ahead. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Are you planning to join the Mexican MFI network ProDesarrollo? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: We have been in dialogue with them and they have also invited us. We are a bit differ‐
ent from the institutions that are organized there. Even though we are an MFI, we want to become a bank right from the start. The problems you have there are prob‐
lems we don’t necessarily have. Nevertheless, it is a forum for exchanging ideas. We are in touch with them, but we do work differently, although the target group is the same. So there is not too much that connects us with them, but sure, we can talk to each other and ex‐
change ideas – more as friends, rather than family. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Financial literacy continues to be a key issue in Mexico. In his speech of July 2008, the Mexican Finance Minister Augustín Carstens raised concerns regarding the problem of over‐indebtedness of borrowers. There seems to be a growing interest in issues like transparency and financial literacy on the political and economic sphere, however the target population of microfinance has so far been excluded from most financial education and consumer protec‐
tion initiatives of the consumer protection agency CONDUSEF that has been focusing on the traditional segment of commercial banks in urban areas. During my research in Mexico, the Mexican microfinance ex‐
perts and practitioners emphasized the challenge fi‐
nancial literacy constitutes and that this will impact on the future developments of the sector. In Serbia, Pro‐
Credit has published a fundamental work aimed at facilitating intensive education for the population con‐
cerning questions about finance. This initiative was welcomed and supported by the Governor who also wrote the foreword. Could such an initiative also be successful in Mexico? Or do you feel it would be necessary to start with a different approach in Mex­
ico? Who should be responsible for the financial literacy of the population and the potential clients of MFIs? GABRIEL SCHOR: The second question is an extensive one, first of all I can address what ProCredit regards as important and essential. Financial education – or finan‐
cial literacy or financial alphabetization – are part of what we do, are part of the product just like the savings book. It is an integral part of what we offer and regard as reasonable to do in these countries. Microfinance means for us, first of all, to offer products which other banks don’t offer, but the way in which we offer these products includes activities to promote financial educa‐
tion. This includes activities with children, particular explanations, also for students, as well as seminars about finance in the area of adult education, which we offer. So as I said, this constitutes part of the product itself. In this area we undertake many efforts with great success. Based on a need or a demand that we satisfy, I would say, we offer the products, but at the same time we undertake many efforts to contribute to the finan‐
cial education. We do that with great success, so that the clients understand what they get involved in. If we offer a loan or a savings product without having contri‐
buted to the understanding of these products, we ha‐
ven’t provided the service that we offer and want to offer well. Financial education is the policy of the entire group and a substantial part of our mission. In Mexico, just as in other countries, there is a huge need, also in Europe by the way, also in Germany, in England 80 % of the people don’t know how much interest they pay with their checking account. In Mexico, the demand is as huge as elsewhere and makes up a substantial part for us – we provide training courses, we hold events for children and adults where the characteristics of the products are explained first of all, as well as things such as “what are interest rates, why does a loan cost mon‐
ey”, and information about the bank are provided. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Microfinance has attracted worldwide recognition and attention during the past years. The UN made the year 2005 the “International Year of Microcredit”, in 2006 Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank were awarded the Peace Nobel Prize and international commercial banks have become in‐
creasingly interested in the topic of microfinance. Re‐
garding the two events mentioned first, ProCredit Holding intentionally remained a bit more reserved, as in your opinion, the expectations about microfinance are exaggerated. What can microfinance achieve in your opinion and where are the limitations? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: The problem begins with how microfinance is being understood, as well as how „mi‐
cro“ is understood. Micro is not the same as micro. And the same target group and a microcredit is not equal to “microcredit”. What you are referring to are approach‐
es – but these are not all approaches in microfinance – that have made it their mission to regard microfinance as a substantial part of poverty alleviation. That was the moment when we said we are more modest. We are „craftspeople“ in the business of lending, this is what we know how to do, and poverty alleviation, yes, it’s possible that we improve the living conditions of the borrowers. But poverty alleviation is something else, it is a much more complex task that does not only com‐
prise financial services, but also education, vocational training and generally infrastructure measures. We are more modest with what we can contribute to poverty alleviation. We are good “craftspeople” and try to do well what we know how to do, and what we know how to do is a good provision of credit. Of course we offer our target group advantages, but we are modest enough to say, this way we won’t combat poverty. It is one aspect that we improve, but not more. We rather regard ourselves as „craftspeople“ that are somewhat “distanced bankers”, this is what we know how to do and we do good for the people, that’s why we do micro‐
finance, otherwise we would do other activities in the banking sector. We try to do well what we do, we be‐
lieve we contribute to it, but we also don’t overestimate ourselves. And I think it would be good not to overload the whole thing with demands. It is a good cause, also for the future, it contributes to an improvement of the living conditions, and that’s sufficient for us. The other things that need to be done would be the job of the state. These are, as I mentioned, education and infra‐
structure measures. Financial literacy is also primarily the job of the state. Financial education should be part of the education in school. In Germany, they are also discussing today whether financial education should be part of elementary or high school, since the crisis at the very latest. If we can contribute to it in both areas, fi‐
nancial education and poverty alleviation, that’s fine, but we are modest enough to say, poverty alleviation measures are something else, something we can’t offer. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: One important issue has been whether microfinance can significantly contribute to the establishment of sound financial systems and the macroeconomic development of the economy. Some economists claim microfinance and micro‐
entrepreneurship are not the appropriate way to achieve growth. On the other hand, micro and small enterprises in Latin America make up 40 % of GDP and create half of all employment, according to Alvaro Ramírez (former Chief of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Division of the Inter‐American Development Bank). The majority of these microenterprises, howev‐
er, are faced with financing shortages. The ProCredit bank in Kosovo is an excellent success story, as it was the first bank after the end of the war and contributed significantly to the establishment of the entire financial sector. How do you evaluate these aspects? In what way can MFIs contribute to the development of the financial sector? Does microfinance and the emerg­
ing micro­enterprises have the potential to contri­
bute to economic growth and employment? What do you consider to be the key conditions for this? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: Well, first of all, not only IDB says that, it is a matter of fact that between 50 and 80 % of all employment in Latin America and more than 80 % in Africa, 50 % in Eastern Europe is created by small enterprises, also in Germany the majority of em‐
ployment is provided by small and medium enterpris‐
es. It’s like that. What can we contribute? We can con‐
tribute quite a lot to stabilize the economic operations of a company. We observe that the small companies – and this is the idea that people have of development, that it starts with two, three employees and eventually grows to a medium‐sized company – such companies make up about 7‐12 % of our micro enterprises. Gener‐
ally, the larger part, and this is what economists meas‐
ure, stabilize their situation, don’t grow significantly, don’t create too much employment, but they stabilize the existing employment and a small contribution is also given for these enterprises. So the answer to your question is the same again, a bit more modest in the demands. It would be a misconception to believe that we contribute significantly to the growth of the econo‐
my with what we do. What we do is to stabilize em‐
ployment, employment that is already existent in the small enterprises, improve the living conditions of the people, who now pay less than they previously did. But the idea that the company invests and then the next machine is bought and so on, that’s an illusion. They have some more money left, maybe for better con‐
sumption, maybe they do something for their children’s education, or something for their health. So not a huge impact, but what we observe regarding employment creation when we provide credit – not for micro, but for small and medium enterprises, there we do observe that our medium sized borrowers who already have 15‐20 employees, do have a growth rate that is indeed noticeable. But however big the impact is, for us it is big enough, and it is a large number of people who we offer these services to, better than others. That is enough as a mission. Part of that mission is to build sustainably sound institutions and to contribute in a way that al‐
lows the people to get used to the idea that this is not a program and not an MFI that only comes once in a while, but that they are regular and long‐term partners. That means it takes years to create this trust. Creating trust also means confidence to make investments, it’s not something you see immediately within two years. But it’s very important – we are there for them, we will continue to be there for them and offer these services permanently, this is something you can rely on. It’s a process, it takes time. To be a sound institution and a reliable partner for these employees is an important impulse, more important than the directly measureable evidence in the short‐run: Long‐term institutions that have a clear vision and a long‐term attitude to serve such segments and are also perceived by the clients like that. It’s not a program that comes and goes and not a governmental program that depends on the budget situation. It’s important to be a bank permanently. In this permanency, we believe to contribute to the stabi‐
lization of employment and to some extent to the crea‐
tion of new employment and that’s enough for us as a mission. I don’t see anything negative in what we do. The discussion you are raising refers to the question – should the activities of those MFIs be subsidized? Should the state get involved and subsidize MFIs? Be‐
cause this raises the question, what does the invest‐
ment bring about? Is the money invested appropriate‐
ly? And this is also the question that has been raised in the context of microfinance: Should the state, or IDB, or whoever is involved there, subsidize this business? In this context the question is raised: Is the money in‐
vested wisely? We, in our case, don’t build on subsidies, we are a private sector initiative, so it’s not that likely that the question comes up. Nevertheless, it is a useful question – should they give something?, should the World Bank give something?, etc. Depending on the type of question you ask, you would answer this ques‐
tion differently. If poverty alleviation comes first, you could say, you support education, health and infra‐
structure rather than microfinance. If social develop‐
ment comes first, microfinance is certainly not bad. In our case, we are a private sector investment, with a social orientation, that does good for the economy and the less intervention and support it requires from oth‐
ers the better, so it’s not a question that comes up. Sometimes it is necessary, it is helpful, we have that in certain countries, but that’s start‐up financing and the goal is to operate independently from the support of the state as an institution very early. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muhammad Yunus and the Gra‐
meen Foundation are strongly convinced of the “Micro‐
finance Plus” model that adds additional non‐financial services into the microfinance framework to address several critical areas associated with poverty. As the main constraints to micro‐entrepreneurs’ success and the main reasons for payment difficulties are poor health, natural disaster and lack of education, they argue, providing support in these areas is also in the interest of the institution. Do you share this percep­
tion, or do you feel MFIs should specialize in purely financial services and other institutions be respon­
sible for the provision of non­financial services? Could strategic alliances that seek to leverage the resources of different institutions to reach the same target group in a more effective way provide a viable solution? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: As I said, we regard ourselves modestly as good „craftspeople“ in this area. Some‐
times there are alliances, but you shouldn’t overload the whole thing. Those things you do, you should do them calmly and thoroughly, otherwise it’s only confus‐
ing – are you a banker, a supporter, are you taking care of the health or education? We prefer clarity. So that we make them understand we are a bank, banks do good, because they provide loans, but they are also bad when the loans aren’t repaid. The clients know exactly what they can expect from us. We are very much in favor of transparency, to get things straightened out. So that the clients know, that’s why I go there, because I want pre‐
cisely that, and I understand, you are good in the sense that you offer me services in the area of finance. But you can’t explain, somebody got a health service, but the child fell ill anyway, and because of this the loan doesn’t have to be repaid – this combination of good and bad, as bankers we are often the bad guys, but we don’t get faced with the pressure of justification. “You are a consultant, support my family, on the other hand you are also a banker” – we prefer to separate those things, and to be modest bankers, while others should do these activities. This does not mean that if there is a meeting in Michoacán where schools show what they do in the area of finance, that we don’t collaborate with them. Or with those people offering health care servic‐
es, that we sometimes do the vaccination together. We have done that for example in Nicaragua. But these are not strategic alliances. We are more modest bankers who try to do something well, and if there is an oppor‐
tunity for collaboration, we do it, but we continue to do what we know how to do. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Healthy competition is generally beneficial for the clients. A key issue in microfinance, however, has been a disturbing lack of transparency. In most mature formal financial markets, financial institu‐
tions are required to display the costs of their loan products in a basic and consistent fashion (“truth‐in‐
lending”). In most microfinance sectors, however, the majority of borrowers have a serious problem compar‐
ing the loan costs of different MFIs. How should this issue be addressed in your opinion? How could all institutions be required to display their loan costs in such a way that the microfinance clients are able to compare the product costs and make an in­
formed decision? Do you know any success stories from countries where transparency has been im­
plemented successfully in the financial sector? Could these experiences be helpful for other coun­
tries to achieve enhanced transparency? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: First of all, how this can be ad‐
dressed most successfully. I would obligate everyone to publish this. It’s an obligation that is gradually emerg‐
ing in many countries. So the obligation to make it pub‐
lic, and to monitor it. This should apply for all those who offer any kind of financial services. Also super‐
markets that offer products on credit are in some coun‐
tries – such as Colombia – obliged to publish effective interest rates. Not all of them do it and it is hardly being monitored and is difficult. But as a requirement I would say, of course there should be a general obligation. What we do is, as I have already mentioned, in the area of transparency, financial education, which we regard as an integral part of our provision of credit, and con‐
tribute to transparency in this regard. But without a general obligation in place, it is not easy for the clients to compare. There is also irresponsible advertisement for credit, in which a part of the interest rates is pub‐
lished, but not the effective interest rates including commissions. We do it anyway, and our success and our growth rates support the argument that you can also be successful this way. It is a fight, in the associa‐
tion of banks they think we exaggerate a little. Never‐
theless, this is the only way to begin with financial edu‐
cation and responsible lending, the clients should know what they get involved in. We have learnt that disclo‐
sure as such is not sufficient. That’s why we regard financial literacy as an extremely important part. Many don’t understand what is meant by percentages or the word “effective interest rate”. And not only in those countries, also here in Germany, if you ask somebody on the street what effective interest rates are, I bet more than half of them can’t explain it. So on the one hand an obligation – in countries like Bolivia all institu‐
tions are obliged to do this – the problem, however, is not so much the obligation, but rather the monitoring. Yet it is important to have this requirement. A prohibi‐
tion also has the character to oblige others indirectly, also if it is not being monitored, so that people say “ac‐
tually you should…”. So a prohibition or an obligation is important, but the obligation alone is definitely not sufficient. What we do is financial literacy, financial education, so the people understand what it is all about. We can’t force others, but we can set a good example, the state probably also has to contribute to this financial literacy, that’s part of it. It is an illusion to believe transparency creates a competent consumer, without education. If you provide transparency without the possibility to apply this information, you do not live up to your claim of transparency, and it doesn’t change anything. The people should also understand what they get involved in − so living up to transparency. Transpa‐
rency requires a lot, but education in the area of finance always belongs to it. We certainly contribute to this, but we cannot change the whole society. So to answer your question, it is a combination of actions to be taken by the state, − the bank supervision for in‐
stance, when it comes to the obligation of publishing effective interest rates −, financial education schemes, − this can be offered by institutions, but certainly by the state −, sanctions also belong to it and a general aware‐
ness, an awareness about how important responsible behavior is. Transparency belongs to responsibility as a matter of course: Two parties that take each other seri‐
ously, recognize and appreciate the other person as equal – that means they need to have the same level of information, otherwise this is not possible. Support in the area of financial literacy is very important, not only in developing countries, this is evident in the current crisis where these issues have become very apparent: a lack of transparency, a lack of financial education, and too little sound decisions about what the clients get involved in. So a lot needs to be done, we do our part in these countries, but there remains a lot to be done. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: According to Elizabeth Little‐
field, CEO of CGAP, “there is some risk that the main­
streaming of microfinance will threaten the very essence of microfinance’s core mission: to help poor people lead better lives”12. The past few years have seen significant changes in the landscape of cross‐border microfinance investments. Between 2004 and 2006, foreign capital investment has more than tripled to 4 billion USD, a large part of which comes from the private sector and which is primarily held by specialized microfinance 12
De Schrevel, 2008, Microfinance Insights Vol. 7, July 2008
investment vehicles (MIVs). Many argue, the only poss‐
ible way to reach out and satisfy the vast demand of microfinance around the globe is through the capital markets. While the growing popularity among large financial institutions may catalyze growth in outreach, concerns have been raised that the surge of private capital into the microfinance industry in recent years may cause mission drift, thereby diluting the original focus on poverty alleviation in view of an increased pressure to generate profits. How do you evaluate the current developments? Do you consider the double­bottom line of some MFIs threatened? Do you feel MFIs can take advantage of the capital markets and maintain their original social mission? The Public­Private­Partnership (PPP) of the Pro­
Credit banks is globally unique and largely guaran­
tees that the balance between financial and social objectives is being maintained. What have your experiences been with the PPP? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: It very much depends on how something like that is being measured. What does “mis‐
sion drift” mean and what does Elizabeth refer to, how is this to be measured? If mission drift means – and that would be a counterquestion to CGAP – that we stop to serve micros, in our case we can say, that’s not the case, we will continue to serve micros. By also serving other segments, small and medium enterprises, we believe we contribute to providing these enterprises with transparent and responsible products as well. If that is enough social impact in the eyes of GCAP I don’t know, we believe that’s sufficient. Let me get back to the previous question about the expectations, we re‐
gard ourselves as good “craftspeople”, good banks who contribute to improving the financial situation of those enterprises that we believe contribute to the largest part of employment, and offer financial relations in a transparent fashion. But as I said, we don’t only consid‐
er what we do, but also how we do it. That is an integral part, I repeat that again and again, of the product itself. And if we can contribute so that certain segments that have not had these services so far, are now being served in a better way or in a more responsible way, for us this is enough social impact. We contribute to this, but it is clear that we won’t alleviate poverty like this. We believe to have created exactly the kind of structure in our Public‐Private‐Partnership that suits our mission. This is our vision, we want to serve micro, small and medium enterprises sustainably in a trans‐
parent and responsible fashion. We have the mission that prevents us from drifting away from this. We have the publics who say “don’t forget the social impact” and we have the privates who say “don’t forget about effi‐
ciency”. This balance between the two elements allows us – and the results show that we are not only talking about wishes but facts – to achieve growth without mission drift in a sustainable manner. The results sup‐
port our structure. Of course you can serve even small‐
er enterprises and offer even smaller loans. Yes, it is good if an organization also offers health care services, these are complementary. But I also believe that this does not make the things we do have less of an impact. More modest demands do not achieve less impact, and to do exactly this – CGAP may perceive it as mission drift, if you also serve medium enterprises, as they are not micros, but they are nevertheless people who need these services, who create employment and who are those who in times of crisis – as we have seen – are the first ones who are no longer served by banks. To serve these enterprises sustainably is the mission we have had since inception. We are rather a bank for enter‐
prises than a microfinance bank. We provide credit to micro, small and medium enterprises – we don’t need the big ones, but enterprises up to medium‐size are those we want to serve sustainably, this has always been our mission. You could say “not more?” – No, not more, but that’s enough. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: And regarding the increasing­
ly important role the capital markets come to play, and the high profits of some MFIs that are primarily the result of high interest rates – do you feel the double­bottom line of some MFIs in threatened? DR. GABRIEL SCHOR: The threat is always there. It has been there for 10 years. Just that now everyone is talk‐
ing about it, since the crisis, that unregulated markets, irresponsible bankers can lead to this. We also found the IPO at the conditions of Compartamos alarming, this can lead to a situation where you are only focusing on the loans and don’t act responsibly. Some lending, without mentioning certain names, unfortunately has not been responsible, because they only focus on pro‐
viding credit, no matter what, even if it is the over‐
indebtedness of the clients, without taking into consid‐
eration the consequences for a small enterprise that will never receive a loan again for the rest of its life. So the danger is always there, the crisis underscores where this can lead to. We believe in our Public‐
Private‐Partnership and the conditions we have estab‐
lished for ourselves, in our entire mission and vision – we believe this averts the threat. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Thank you very much.13 13
This interview was translated from German to English by the author Appendix 23:
Interview with Dr. Mark Schwiete, Principal Financial Sector Expert - L III a Europe,
KfW Entwicklungsbank Frankfurt am Main, March 5, 2009 Background: KfW plays a key role in the international microfinance industry
KfW regards microfinance as an integral part in the development of inclusive financial systems, and is convinced that sustainable micro­
finance leads to poverty reduction and contributes significantly to the achievement of the MDGs. KfW has emerged as a leading stake­
holder and investor in the field of microfinance worldwide. Its outstanding portfolio accounts for € 543 million (12/2006). In the first round of the SmartAid for Microfinance Index in 2007, KfW scored 85 out of 100 points, CGAP pointed out the “very strong performance and the highest rated DFI participating in this round”. KfW Entwicklungsbank supports 100 microfinance initiatives in 42 developing and transformation countries reaching out to more than 12 million people. KfW pursues a variety of approaches in its support for micro­
finance. Greenfielding initiatives are primarily supported through equity investments, long­term refinancing and staff capacity building. KfW also supports upgrading initiatives and assists NGOs and unlicensed MFIs to transform and obtain a banking license that allows them to mobilize savings from the public. Moreover, KfW Entwicklungsbank supports down­scaling initiatives of local commercial banks by providing staff capacity building assistance as well as credit lines in both local and foreign currencies aimed at increasing the banks’ microloan portfolios. KfW’s support for linkage­initiatives has played a vital role in linking MFIs with local and international financial markets. KfW forms part of globally recognized Public Private Partnerships. It supports the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE) and also played a key role in the foundation of the ProCredit Holding AG which supports the long­term growth of MFIs around the world through equity investments. The international microfinance networks ACCION and FINCA are supported through KfW Entwick­
lungsbank. Finally, KfW has been a strong promoter of structured finance used in investment funds and securitization. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: One major aspect in the global debate about microfinance has revolved around the impact microfinance and micro‐entrepreneurship can have on growth and employment in developing and transition economies. Some economists claim, there was no reason to expect microfinance to affect eco‐
nomic growth and the development of successful busi‐
nesses. From KfW’s experience around the world, do micro­enterprises with access to financial ser­
vices grow and employ more people? Can economic development driven by micro­enterprise create the conditions for a strong SME­sector? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Zunächst einmal ganz wichtig, wir fördern Mikrofinanzierung im Sinne der Finanzsys‐
temförderung. Uns geht es darum, Inclusive Financial Systems zu fördern, das heißt, für alle Menschen im Land etwas zu ermöglichen, das wir für selbstverständ‐
lich halten, nämlich dass 98 % der Bevölkerung eine Bankverbindung haben und nicht nur 2 %. Dies zu för‐
dern ist unser primäres Ziel. Kredite für Mikrounter‐
nehmen ist ein wichtiger Bestandteil, aber man darf auch nicht vergessen, Mikrofinanzierung ist weit mehr als nur Mikrokredit. Gerade der Bereich Sparprodukte und Zahlungsverkehrsprodukte für die privaten Haus‐
halte hat einen enormen Stellenwert und ist in vielen Ländern sogar wichtiger als die Kreditkomponente. Nichtsdestotrotz ist Mikrokredit natürlich sehr wichtig, ist die Anfangsschwelle auch überhaupt, denn keine Bank und keine Mikrofinanzinstitution kann ohne Kre‐
ditprodukte selbst überleben. Wir beobachten bei vie‐
len unserer Mikrokreditunternehmer ein Umsatz‐
wachstum und ein Gewinnwachstum. Allerdings nicht bei allen. Viele bleiben auch sehr lange Zeit auf der Ebene auf der sie vorher waren. Sie stellen sich etwas besser, weil sie nicht mehr zum Geldverleiher gehen müssen und nicht mehr bei der Familie betteln müssen, sondern jetzt wirklich auch Zugang zu Bankprodukten haben, aber viele bleiben ungefähr auf dem Niveau auf dem sie sind. Einige oder auch viele wachsen vom Um‐
satz und Geschäft her, können auch mehr Geschäft machen, weiten dann auch ihr Geschäft aus, sodass sie noch ein bis zwei Angestellte hinzunehmen – und, lei‐
der nur einige wenige schaffen dann auch wirklich den Sprung vom Mikrounternehmer zum mittelständischen Unternehmer. Das sind einige, im Gesamtkontext dann aber doch wenige, längst nicht so viele wie wir das gerne hätten. Aber das hindert uns ja nicht daran, dass auf der Individuen‐Ebene Mikrofinanzierung Armut lindert und auch Beschäftigung schafft. Also auch wenn ein Mikrounternehmer nicht zum mittelständischen Unternehmer mit 250 Arbeitskräften wird, sondern ein Mikrounternehmer mit 5 Arbeitskräften bleibt – wenn er vorher keine hatte und hat nun 5, sind dies 5 Leute mehr mit Beschäftigung. Dann haben Sie unmittelbar auf der Ebene klare Armutswirkung. Aber ich glaube wo man der Mikrofinanzierung Unrecht getan hat und sie überfrachtet hat – mit Mikrofinanzierung allein können Sie die Armutsprobleme der Welt nicht lindern. Sie können mit Mikrofinanzierung allein auch nicht Wirtschaftswachstum schaffen und die Einkommens‐
ungleichheit in den Entwicklungsländern begleichen. Das ist nur ein Bestandteil davon. Aber dass Sie sozu‐
sagen auf einmal statistisch signifikant sehen, dass Mikrofinanzierung Wirtschaftswachstum erzeugt, so‐
dass sich die gesamtwirtschaftliche Wachstumsrate verändert, das wäre glaube ich etwas zu viel verlangt. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muhammad Yunus and the Gra‐
meen Foundation are strongly convinced of the “Micro‐
finance Plus” model that adds additional non‐financial services into the microfinance framework to address several critical areas associated with poverty. As the main constraints to micro‐entrepreneurs’ success in a microfinance program are poor health, natural disaster and lack of education, they argue, providing support in these areas is also in the interest of the institution. Do you share this perception, or do you feel MFIs should specialize in purely financial services and other institutions be responsible for the provision of non­financial services? Could strategic alliances that seek to leverage the resources of different in­
stitutions to reach the same target clients in a more effective way provide a viable solution? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Das Spektrum an Anbietern von Mikrofinanzdienstleistungen ist sehr breit und das ist auch gut so, weil es sehr viele unterschiedliche Situationen, Landes‐ und Regionalkontexte gibt in de‐
nen man das machen kann. Grameen hat da ein sehr erfolgreiches Modell gefahren durch diese Kombination von beidem, ist auch in dem bangladeschspezifischen Kontext damit sehr gut gefahren und es stellt sich dann die Frage ob das auch vom Landeskontext abhängig ist. Wir haben die Erfahrung gemacht, und das ist auch der Ansatz den wir maßgeblich fördern, dass diese Spezia‐
lisierung durchaus Sinn macht und gerade auch bei Mikrofinanzierung Sinn macht. Denn immerhin ist das was im Endeffekt die Entwicklung der Menschheit aus‐
gelöst hat, dass man sich spezialisiert und dass nicht mehr einer alles macht ‐ dadurch kam überhaupt erst Geld in die Wirtschaft, weil sich einer auf etwas spezia‐
lisiert hat und das andere von einem anderen erwerben musste. Wenn man von Grameen mal absieht, ist es nach meiner Wahrnehmung so, dass alle die Mikrofi‐
nanzinstitutionen, die eine sichtbare Größe erreicht haben und eine sichtbare Klientel erreichen und financially sustainable sind, das heißt, die mit ihrem Geschäft so spezialisiert und so professionell sind, das sie ihre Kosten alleine decken und auch eine Rendite erwirtschaften, dass sie Investoren anlocken und nicht mehr auf Geberzuschüsse angewiesen sind, – das sind nach meinem Kenntnisstand zu einem weit überwie‐
genden Anteil Mikrofinanzinstitutionen oder Banken die sich auf die Finanzdienstleistungen alleine speziali‐
siert haben. Ich persönlich würde ja auch nicht zu mei‐
nem Arzt gehen und von ihm eine Anlagenberatung oder Kreditberatung haben wollen. Genauso wenig würde ich persönlich zu meiner Bank gehen, um meine Gesundheit checken zu lassen. Dass es da Länderkon‐
texte gibt, wo man dies im Zweifel kombinieren kann und muss, das finde ich durchaus richtig. Gerade in Subsahara Afrika weiß ich von Mikrofinanzinstitutio‐
nen, die dort sehr eng mit dem Gesundheitswesen zu‐
sammen arbeiten und wo regelmäßige HIV‐Kontrollen und im Zweifel Präventionsmaßnahmen durchgeführt werden und auch wirklich in der Kreditakte mit festge‐
halten und geprüft werden und das zwingender Be‐
standteil für die Kreditvergabe ist. Aber da macht nicht die MFI den HIV‐Test und verteilt auch nicht die Medi‐
kamente, das ist dann eine getrennte Geschichte. Ich persönlich glaube schon, dass es die Spezialisierung wirklich sinnvoll ist, und das sind die Ansätze die wir fördern und unsere Unterstützung zeigen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Many countries in Latin America are faced with high levels of inequality and large in‐
come disparities. Do you feel microfinance provides a viable solution where large parts of the popula­
tion do not currently benefit from the fruits of eco­
nomic development? Where do you see the limita­
tions? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Die Mikrofinanzierung leistet sicherlich einen wichtigen Beitrag, indem sie den Tei‐
len der Bevölkerung, die derzeit nichts oder sehr wenig haben, die Möglichkeit bietet, ihre Einkommensströme zu stabilisieren und somit im Laufe der Zeit mehr zu haben. Dass dies auch zu einer gerechteren Verteilung oder einer Art Umverteilung führen kann, bezweifele ich. Denn selbst wenn wir davon ausgehen, dass je‐
mand der heute von einem Dollar am Tag lebt, morgen von zwei Dollar am Tag leben könnte, wäre dies eine Verdoppelung seines Vermögens. Und doch wäre dies sehr viel geringer als der Vermögenszuwachs eines Reicheren, der einen Teil seines Vermögens lediglich bei der Bank anlegt und darauf Zinsen erhält. Für einen einzelnen, der aktuell kein Vermögen hat, kann die Mikrofinanzierung bedeutende Veränderungen brin‐
gen. Aber zu einer gerechteren Verteilung innerhalb der gesamten Gesellschaft wird dies kaum führen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Against the background of glob‐
alization, free trade agreements and climate change, whole communities in rural areas are losing their live‐
lihood. Peasants faced with highly subsidized competi‐
tion from abroad need to come up with new productive activities. Do you believe MFIs can play a leading role in creating new economic opportunities in rural areas? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Meines Erachtens ist die Auf‐
gabe der MFIs die Unternehmungen, die auf Initiative der Mikrounternehmer entstehen, auf Kreditwürdig‐
keit zu prüfen und zu finanzieren. Es ist nicht die Auf‐
gabe der MFI der lokalen Bevölkerung Unternehmens‐
ideen zu liefern, denn wenn Leute erst zu Unterneh‐
mertum ermutigt werden und gesagt bekommen, wel‐
che unternehmerische Tätigkeit sie wahrnehmen soll‐
ten, sind diese Leute im Zweifelsfall auch keine Unter‐
nehmer und vermutlich auch weniger erfolgreich. Die Initiative eine Unternehmung anzupacken und eine Geschäftsidee zu entwickeln sollte schon von den Mik‐
rounternehmern selbst kommen. Eine MFI kann den Mikrounternehmern sicherlich beratend zur Seite ste‐
hen und auf diese Weise einen Beitrag leisten, aber sie sollte sich nicht zu sehr in die Unternehmung einmi‐
schen und Einfluss auf die Geschäftstätigkeit selbst nehmen – denn sonst kann sie die Kreditwürdigkeit dieses Unternehmens ja nicht mehr objektiv beurteilen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Can microfinance ever be a viable solution to address the massive urbanization and migration pressure? What roles should MFIs play in this regard? How could they be more sup­
portive? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Keine Maßnahme und kein Lösungsansatz weltweit konnte bisher der Verstädte‐
rung entgegen wirken. Egal was unternommen wurde, die Leute wanderten trotzdem in die Städte ab. Ich glaube, dass da auch die Mikrofinanzierung die Land‐
flucht nicht verhindern kann. Aber sie kann den Men‐
schen in ländlichen Gebieten die Möglichkeit geben, ihr Einkommen sicher anzulegen, ihnen sichere Geldtrans‐
fers ermöglichen und ihnen Zugang zu weiteren essen‐
tiellen Finanzprodukten bieten. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: One of the key findings of my research in Mexico has been the need to link micro‐
entrepreneurs in rural areas with markets. This point was raised by a number of MFIs and several micro‐
entrepreneurs in rural communities. Some MFIs have started pilot projects to support their clients with the commercialization of their products and create links with national and international markets. How do you feel can links with markets best be established and fair prices for the products be guaranteed? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Ich glaube, dass sich eine MFI spezialisieren sollten. Wir haben durchaus ländliche Kreditgenossenschaften, die auch vor vielen Jahrzehn‐
ten in Deutschland „nichts anderes“ gemacht haben, als Kooperativen zu bilden und die verschiedensten Klein‐
unternehmen und Kleinbauern zu bündeln, damit diese auf eine vernünftige Tragfähigkeit kommen und sich der Weg auf den weiten Markt lohnt. Das ist sicherlich ein Ansatz zur Mikrofinanzierung im ländlichen Raum. Ich glaube auch, dass eine professionelle MFI Unter‐
stützung und Beratung bei der Bildung von Kooperati‐
ven leisten kann, Kontakte zu den großen Märkten vermitteln kann, im Zweifel vielleicht auch über Kon‐
takte zum Grundstückseigentümerverein verfügt, zum Unternehmerverein, Kontakte zu verschiedenen Leuten hat, um auf die Art sozusagen die Kontakte zu dem Markt in der großen Stadt sicher zu stellen. Aber das Eröffnen eines Geschäftes dann in dem Markt, oder eines Marktstandes, und das Marketing für die Produk‐
te, das Verteilen von Flugblättern und so weiter, das ist Aufgabe der Kleinbauern, der Union oder der Koopera‐
tive aus den Kleinbauern. Da bin ich persönlich der Meinung, eine Mikrofinanzinstitution sollte sich auf das konzentrieren was sie am besten kann, nämlich diesen Ansatz – die Bauern schließen sich zusammen, machen ein Geschäft auf, um die Produkte vernünftig zu ver‐
markten – soll eine MFI bankmäßig auf Kreditwürdig‐
keit hin prüfen und es dann auch entsprechend finan‐
zieren, aber nicht das Geschäft selber betreiben. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Just one year after Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank were awarded the Peace Nobel Prize in 2006, the negative press around micro‐
credit and irresponsible lending practices started. To preserve the good reputation of the industry, coalitions of microfinance stakeholders and networks of MFIs have established codes of ethics and launched initia‐
tives aimed at determining best practices and core principles that are agreed upon by the vast majority of the industry. These include the commitment to avoid irresponsible lending, to ensure fair and transparent pricing, to promote debt collection practices that are not coercive as well as ethical standards for members of staff and ensuring the privacy of client data. Yet, these codes of ethics are generally voluntary and often subject to interpretation. It is therefore disputable to what extent institutions can be held accountable for any behavior that does not necessarily coincide with the principles laid down in the code of conduct. Can voluntary codes of ethics ever be sufficient? How could they be improved in order to work more ef­
fectively in practice? What else would be required to ensure compliance with common standards? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Ich glaube solche Standards sind wichtig und auch für die KfW ist der ganze Bereich Social Responsibility und Socially Responsible Finance ein sehr, sehr wichtiger. Wir prüfen das bei allen unse‐
ren Kunden ab. Bevor wir mit irgendeinem Kunden ein Geschäft abschließen oder eine Finanzierungslinie bereit stellen prüfen wir, ob er unseren hohen Ansprü‐
chen in der Art was Konditionengestaltung, was Trans‐
parenz gegenüber dem Kunden angeht, ob er dem ge‐
recht wird. Und nur dann fördern wir einen solchen Partner auch. Was meines Erachtens hier hauptsächlich die Krux ist, das sind in vielen Ländern zu laxe und zu unverbindliche landesspezifische Vorschriften für das Bankenrecht, was die Mindesttransparenz, die Konditionengestaltung und Darstellung der Konditio‐
nen gegenüber dem Kunden anbelangt. Wenn ich an das „Raubrittertum“ in der Ukraine denke, wo es er‐
laubt ist, dass Sie Kreditwerbung machen für Konsum‐
entenfinanzierung mit 0,5 % Zinsen pro Jahr groß auf dem Plakat und in einer ganz kleinen Fußnote steht dann monatliche Gebühr von 10 %, sodass Sie im End‐
effekt bei 120 % Zinsen landen – solange solche Dinge erlaubt sind im Landesrecht, ist es unheimlich schwie‐
rig da etwas zu machen. Der Hauptpunkt wäre dass man da ansetzt und überall darauf drängt, dass klare Standards für alle Banken gelten. Das gilt ja nicht nur für Mikrofinanzen, das gilt für alle Finanzen – dass hier auf nationaler Ebene klare Mindestvorgaben gemacht werden, was das Ausweisen von Effektivzinsen und Dingen wie Gebühren etc. angeht. Ich finde diese ethi‐
schen Vereinbarungen und Codes wichtig und auch hilfreich, es kann aber meines Erachtens auch nur eine freiwillige Selbstverpflichtung sein. Es wäre glaube ich eine philosophische Frage, ob man die Leute zu ethi‐
schem Verhalten zwingen kann, oder ob man sich dann einen Markt sucht wo das nicht so ist. Die ethischen Prinzipien, die man für sich selber oder seine Instituti‐
on erkennt, die erkennt man ja freiwillig an, alles ande‐
re ist Regulierung und Zwang dem man folgen kann. Ich glaube dass wir letztlich dahin kommen müssen, dass wir überall für entsprechende Regulierungen sorgen. Was die Gebergemeinschaft tun kann und was auch all die anderen mit denen wir zusammenarbeiten so wie wir tun, ist dass wir nur die Institutionen fördern, die unseren Standards gerecht werden und sich sozial verantwortlichen Prinzipien verpflichtet fühlen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Financial literacy and consumer protection continue to be a key issue in several micro‐
finance sectors around the world. Financial literacy also presents a considerable challenge in Mexico. Al‐
though there seems to be a growing interest in issues like transparency, consumer protection and financial literacy on the political and economic sphere, the target population of microfinance has so far been excluded from most consumer protection initiatives. Has the challenge of consumer protection and fi­
nancial literacy been successfully addressed in other countries where KfW has been working, and could this experience possibly serve as an example for Mexico? Who do you feel should be responsible for the provision of financial literacy to the target population of microfinance? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Zu einem gewissen Grad sind die MFIs selbst gefordert, die Finanzbildung bei Kun‐
den zu fördern. Dezentrale Ansätze sind hierbei sicher‐
lich am hilfreichsten. Im Balkan hat die KfW in Zusam‐
menarbeit mit den Zentralbanken für Standards ge‐
sorgt. Die Zentralbank ist natürlich gefordert, Mindest‐
standards zu erlassen und zu überprüfen. In einigen Ländern gibt es auch eine spezielle Mikrofinanzregulie‐
rung. Eine zentrale Rolle bei der Förderung der Mikro‐
finanzierung spielt die Politik. Der Politik muss es wichtig genug sein, auch gegen Partikularinteressen Einzelner allgemeine Mindeststandards durchzusetzen. Die Geber haben hierauf wenig Einfluss. Wir können uns natürlich bei der Refinanzierung auf die MFIs kon‐
zentrieren, die unseren Vorgaben und Standards ge‐
recht werden und auch nur diese Institutionen fördern. Dabei können Nachahmer‐Effekte erzielt und die all‐
gemeinen Standards verbreitet werden. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Healthy competition is generally beneficial for the clients. A key issue in microfinance, however, has been a disturbing lack of transparency. In most mature formal financial markets, financial institu‐
tions are required to display the costs of their loan products in a basic and consistent fashion (“truth‐in‐
lending”). In most microfinance sectors, however, the majority of MFIs do not publish the effective loan costs and borrowers have a serious problem comparing the loan costs of different MFIs. How could this issue be addressed? How could all institutions be required to display their loan costs in such a way that the microfinance clients are able to compare the prod­
uct costs? Are you aware of any countries where the implementation of transparency in the (formal) financial sector worked well? Could other countries today learn from these experiences when imple­
menting legislation aimed at improving transpa­
rency? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Das ist eigentlich die klassi‐
schen TZ‐Aufgabe. Die GTZ macht in diesem Bereich viel. Konkrete Modellfälle kann ich Ihnen auf Anhieb nicht nennen. Die Gebergemeinschaft kann Transpa‐
renz fördern, indem sie die MFIs fördert, die ganz kon‐
sequent und strikt die Kreditkosten und –konditionen ausweisen und dem Kunden erklären. Auch wenn es verschiedene Berechnungsmethoden gibt, irgendeine Form von effektivem Zins sollte auf jeden Fall ausge‐
wiesen werden. Dem Kunden gegenüber sollte klar ausgewiesen werden, wie sich die Konditionen und Gebühren zusammensetzen. Dazu zählt zum Beispiel auch, ob die Zinsen „flat“ oder auf die „declining balan‐
ce“ berechnet werden. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: In the Banana Skins study 2008 on the current risks in the microfinance industry, re‐
spondents from Latin America identified the rapid in‐
crease in competition and increased commercialization as a major risk. Do you feel the wrong type of compe­
tition is entering the market? Or is the intensifying competition desirable in light of innovations and outreach to more isolated areas? How do you ex­
pect the current trends to develop in the near fu­
ture? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Zunächst ist es wichtig zu be‐
rücksichtigen, dass Retail‐ und Konsumfinanzierung nicht Teil der Mikrofinanzierung ist. Konsumfinanzie‐
rung betrachten wir mit sehr viel Misstrauen. Wir un‐
terstützen ganz klar Unternehmerkredite, mit dem Ziel den Cash‐Flow von Mikrounternehmungen zu stabili‐
sieren. Generell bin ich der Meinung, dass Wettbewerb auf jeden Fall etwas Gutes ist – das heißt Wettbewerb unter den MFIs. Wettbewerb fördert Effizienz und zwingt MFIs ständig besser zu werden und teilweise auf Gewinne zu verzichten. Wenn massiv Institutionen aus dem Bereich der Konsumfinanzierung in den Markt eindringen, besteht natürlich die Gefahr, dass diese den MFIs das Geschäft kaputt machen. Laxere Geschäftsstandards bei diesen Institutionen kann nega‐
tive Konsequenzen für den Markt haben, wie bei‐
spielsweise die Überschuldung der Kreditnehmer. Für die Zulassung und die Entscheidung welche Institution Kredite vergeben darf, ist jedoch die Zentralbank zu‐
ständig. Die internationale Gemeinschaft hat auf die Politik im jeweiligen Land keinen direkten Einfluss. Wir können verantwortungsvoll mit der Auswahl der Part‐
ner umgehen und haben die Wahl, welche Institutionen wir fördern und mit wem wir Geschäfte machen. In kleineren Ländern haben wir es sogar teilweise ge‐
schafft, eine Beziehung zu der Zentralbank aufzubauen und somit zum Teil Einfluss auf die Sektorentwicklung zu nehmen. Dies ist allerdings eher selten der Fall und zudem von Land zu Land unterschiedlich, je nachdem welche Interessengruppen auf die Politik der Zentral‐
bank Einfluss nehmen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: According to Elizabeth Little‐
field, CEO of CGAP, “there is some risk that the main­
streaming of microfinance will threaten the very essence of microfinance’s core mission: to help poor people lead better lives”14. The past few years have seen significant changes in the landscape of cross‐border microfinance investments. Between 2004 and 2006, foreign capital investment has more than tripled to 4 billion USD, a large part of which comes from the private sector and which is primarily held by specialized microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs). Many argue, the only poss‐
ible way to reach out and satisfy the vast demand of microfinance around the globe is through the capital markets. While the growing popularity among large financial institutions may catalyze growth in outreach, concerns have been raised that the surge of private capital into the microfinance industry in recent years may cause mission drift, thereby diluting the original focus on poverty alleviation in view of an increased pressure to generate profits. How do you evaluate the current developments? Do you feel MFIs could take advantage of the capital markets and maintain their original social mission? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: In diesem Punkt stimmen wir nicht immer ganz mit CGAP überein. Es gibt zwei As‐
pekte, die hier wichtig sind: Der erste ist die Mikrofi‐
nanzierung als direktes Mittel zur Armutsminderung. Der zweite ist die Mikrofinanzierung als wichtiger, elementarer Bestandteil der Finanzsektorförderung – Inclusive Financial Systems. Ein wesentlicher Punkt ist, wie die immense Nachfrage nach Mikrofinanzdienst‐
leistungen weltweit gedeckt werden kann. Mit traditio‐
nellen Ansätzen à la Grameen werden wir dies nie schaffen, sondern nur wenn wir in die Richtung gehen, Mainstream‐Finanzierung einzuwerben. Im Zweifel geht dies zu Lasten des zuerst genannten Aspektes – des direkten Ziels der Armutsminderung per se. Aber es stellt sich natürlich die Frage: Helfen wir mehr Ar‐
men oder helfen wir den Armen besser? Ein MFI mit einem „Microfinance Plus“ Modell, das den Kunden ebenfalls Gesundheitsleistungen und Bildung anbietet, erreicht das Ziel der Armutsminderung möglicherweise besser, erreicht aber viel weniger Arme. Hingegen er‐
reicht eine MFI, die sich auf seine Kernkompetenzen, finanzielle Nachhaltigkeit und Wachstum konzentriert in der Regel ein vielfaches an armen Menschen und schafft es außerdem, mit einer angemessenen Rendite Investoren anzulocken und den Zugang zu Kapital sicherzustellen. Natürlich ist es ganz wichtig, dass die soziale Verantwortung trotz Professionalisierung und Mainstreaming erhalten bleibt. Die Grundsätze der 14
De Schrevel, 2008, Microfinance Insights Vol. 7, July 2008
sozialen Verantwortung gelten nach wie vor und müs‐
sen beibehalten werden. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: If MFIs achieved to be regu­
lated, reliable financial intermediaries and success­
fully mobilized deposits from the public, would the capital markets still play a significant role in fund­
ing the growth of MFIs? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Das Einlagengeschäft ist so‐
wohl eine Refinanzierungsquelle als auch ein wichtiges Produkt. Als Produkt ermöglicht es zum Beispiel der Ehefrau, Geld vom Zugriff des Mannes zu entziehen, es sicher aufzubewahren und damit die Ernährung der Kinder sicher zu stellen. Die KfW fördert die lokale Ersparnismobilisierung sehr. Es ist sehr wichtig, auch diese Quelle zu erschließen. Die Kapitalmärkte werden jedoch auch weiterhin eine wichtige Rolle spielen. Bei Spareinlagen handelt es sich um eine kurzfristige Refi‐
nanzierungsquelle, bei den nationalen und internatio‐
nalen Kapitalmärkten um eine langfristige. Die interna‐
tionalen Kapitalmärkte sind bisher die einzige langfris‐
tige Refinanzierungsquelle und werden auch weiterhin notwendig sein. Bei einem Bedarf von mehr als 200 Milliarden Dollar an Finanzierungsmitteln in den kommenden Jahren, wie es zum Beispiel Morgan Stan‐
ley und Deutsche Bank ermittelt haben, werden die Kapitalmärkte eine wichtige Rolle spielen. In der Fi‐
nanzkrise ist natürlich alles schwieriger. Zum einen sehen wir in Ländern, gerade in Osteuropa, massive Depositenabflüsse mit denen MFIs zu kämpfen haben. Gleichzeitig sind die internationalen Kapitalmärkte ausgetrocknet. Die KfW hat daher auch mit IFC eine Microfinance Enhancement Facility gegründet. Man braucht also beides. Vor allem auch in der Krise, wo alles runter geht, sind beide Refinanzierungsquellen von Bedeutung. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Microfinance stakeholders raised the concern that the surge of investments into the industry might just be withdrawn as quickly, as microfinance falls out of fashion and another sector is en‐vogue. Moreover, there may be disappointment among investors attracted by double bottom line re‐
turns who might consequently withdraw their capital, thereby severely affecting the microfinance industry as a whole. How real is this risk? What might be ap­
propriate mitigation strategies? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Das ist natürlich mit ein Grund, warum Spareinlagen eine wichtige ergänzende Refi‐
nanzierungsquelle darstellen. Es hat sich bewiesen, dass die Mikrofinanzierung eine sichere Anlagequelle ist – gerade wenn Sie an Beispiele wie Bolivien oder Nicaragua denken. Auch im Rahmen der aktuellen Fi‐
nanzkrise ist mir keine MFI bekannt, die Konkurs an‐
gemeldet hat. Viele haben große Schwierigkeiten, aber noch keinen Zahlungsverzug. Investitionen in die Mik‐
rofinanzierung gründen sich nicht nur auf ethische Motivation, sondern die Mikrofinanzierung bietet wich‐
tige Diversifikationseffekte. Das wird glaube ich auch so bleiben. Die KfW wird auch weiterhin daran arbei‐
ten, dass sich die Mikrofinanzierung etabliert. Gerade auch hinsichtlich aktueller Trends, wie des verstärkten Interesses an Umweltschutz – es hat sich in den letzten Jahren gezeigt, dass man Mikrofinanzierung und Um‐
weltschutz miteinander verbinden kann, Stichwort Osteuropa. Dass die Gebergemeinschaft und IFIs jedoch noch lange gebaucht werden, zeigt sich insbesondere in der Krise. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Although microfinance has been particularly appealing to investors due to its low corre‐
lation with macro‐economic trends, this characteristic might be affected as MFIs become increasingly inte‐
grated with mainstream banking and exposed to forces beyond their immediate control, such as the current worldwide financial crisis. Do you expect MFIs to experience an increased vulnerability towards trends in the global markets? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Bisher lag die geringe Korrela‐
tion mit makroökonomischen Trends vor allem daran, wie das Geschäft läuft, nicht weil die Mikrofinanzierung weniger integriert war. Die Mikrounternehmen agieren in schwierigen Ländern, befinden sich aber meist im Handel‐ und Dienstleistungsbereich. Wenn sie Richtung produzierende KMU gehen, werden sie auch direkter von solchen Trends betroffen sein. Im Hinblick auf Trends in den globalen Märkten, die zunehmende In‐
tegration in die Kapitalmärkte wirkt sich vor allem auf die Passivseite aus und umso anfälliger werden die MFIs auch für Trends in den globalen Märkten, auch in normalen Zeiten. In Zeiten wo sich die weltweite Wirt‐
schaft in Rezession befindet, können sich auch MFIs den Auswirkungen nicht entziehen. Als Beispiel, wenn in den USA die Nachfrage wegbricht und daraufhin in Brasilien die Zahl der Arbeitslosen steigt, hat auch der Straßenverkäufer in Brasilien weniger Kundschaft. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Vielen Dank. Interview with Dr. Mark Schwiete, Principal Financial Sector Expert - L III a Europe,
KfW Entwicklungsbank
Translated to English Frankfurt am Main, March 5, 2009 Background: KfW plays a key role in the international microfinance industry
KfW regards microfinance as an integral part in the development of inclusive financial systems, and is convinced that sustainable micro­
finance leads to poverty reduction and contributes significantly to the achievement of the MDGs. KfW has emerged as a leading stake­
holder and investor in the field of microfinance worldwide. Its outstanding portfolio accounts for € 543 million (12/2006). In the first round of the SmartAid for Microfinance Index in 2007, KfW scored 85 out of 100 points, CGAP pointed out the “very strong performance and the highest rated DFI participating in this round”. KfW Entwicklungsbank supports 100 microfinance initiatives in 42 developing and transformation countries reaching out to more than 12 million people. KfW pursues a variety of approaches in its support for micro­
finance. Greenfielding initiatives are primarily supported through equity investments, long­term refinancing and staff capacity building. KfW also supports upgrading initiatives and assists NGOs and unlicensed MFIs to transform and obtain a banking license that allows them to mobilize savings from the public. Moreover, KfW Entwicklungsbank supports down­scaling initiatives of local commercial banks by providing staff capacity building assistance as well as credit lines in both local and foreign currencies aimed at increasing the banks’ microloan portfolios. KfW’s support for linkage­initiatives has played a vital role in linking MFIs with local and international financial markets. KfW forms part of globally recognized Public Private Partnerships. It supports the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE) and also played a key role in the foundation of the ProCredit Holding AG which supports the long­term growth of MFIs around the world through equity investments. The international microfinance networks ACCION and FINCA are supported through KfW Entwick­
lungsbank. Finally, KfW has been a strong promoter of structured finance used in investment funds and securitization. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: One major aspect in the global debate about microfinance has revolved around the impact microfinance and micro‐entrepreneurship can have on growth and employment in developing and transition economies. Some economists claim, there was no reason to expect microfinance to affect eco‐
nomic growth and the development of successful busi‐
nesses. From KfW’s experience around the world, do micro­enterprises with access to financial ser­
vices grow and employ more people? Can economic development driven by micro­enterprise create the conditions for a strong SME­sector? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: First of all it’s important that we promote microfinance in terms of financial system assistance. What is important for us is to promote in‐
clusive financial systems, that means to facilitate some‐
thing we take for granted for all people in the country – that 98 % of the population have a bank account, and not just 2 %. To promote this is our primary goal. Loans for micro‐enterprises is an important component, but it’s important to remember that microfinance is much more than just microcredit. Particularly the area of savings products and products for monetary transac‐
tions for private households is of utmost significance and is even more important than the credit component in many countries. Nevertheless, microfinance is cer‐
tainly very important, it is the overall starting point, because no bank and no microfinance institution can survive without loan products. We observe a growth in sales and profit growth with many of our micro‐
entrepreneurs. However, not with all of them. Many remain on the same level for a long time. They slightly improve their situation, because they no longer have to go to the moneylender and beg from their family, they now actually have access to bank products, but many remain more or less on the same level. Some or also many grow in terms of sales and business, can do more business, extend their business so that they employ one to two people – and, unfortunately only a few also achieve to develop from a micro‐enterprise to a me‐
dium enterprise. These are several, but in the overall context rather few, not as many as we would like to see. But nevertheless, on the individual level microfinance does alleviate poverty and create employment. Even if a micro‐enterprise does not grow to become a medium‐
sized enterprise with 250 employees, but remains a micro‐enterprise with 5 employees – if he previously didn’t employ anybody and now employs 5, we now have 5 more people with employment. Then you have directly on this level a clear impact on poverty. But I believe where they have done wrong to microfinance and overloaded it – with microfinance alone you cannot solve the problems of poverty in this world. With mi‐
crofinance alone you also cannot create economic growth and address the income disparities in develop‐
ing countries. It is only one component. But it would be too much to expect to suddenly see in a statistically significant manner that microfinance creates economic growth so as to change the macroeconomic growth rate. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muhammad Yunus and the Gra‐
meen Foundation are strongly convinced of the “Micro‐
finance Plus” model that adds additional non‐financial services into the microfinance framework to address several critical areas associated with poverty. As the main constraints to micro‐entrepreneurs’ success in a microfinance program are poor health, natural disaster and lack of education, they argue, providing support in these areas is also in the interest of the institution. Do you share this perception, or do you feel MFIs should specialize in purely financial services and other institutions be responsible for the provision of non­financial services? Could strategic alliances that seek to leverage the resources of different in­
stitutions to reach the same target clients in a more effective way provide a viable solution? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: There is a broad spectrum of suppliers of micro‐financial services and that’s how it should be, because there are many different situations, country and regional contexts in which this can be done. Grameen has established a very successful model by combining both, and has been very successful with this in the specific context of Bangladesh, and this rais‐
es the question whether it also depends on the country context. We have made the experience, and this is also the approach we primarily promote, that this speciali‐
zation does make sense and particularly makes sense in microfinance. After all, this is what sparked the de‐
velopment of mankind, that people specialized and one person did no longer do everything – only because of this, money became vital in the economy, because one person specialized and had to purchase everything else from another person. Apart from Grameen, as I perce‐
ive it, all microfinance institutions that reached a noti‐
ceable scale and a noticeable clientele and are financial‐
ly sustainable, that’s to say, that have such a specialized and professional business that they can cover their costs and generate a return which allows them to at‐
tract investors and to no longer be dependent on donor grants, − as far as I am aware, these are primarily mi‐
crofinance institutions or banks that have specialized in financial services only. Personally, I also wouldn’t want to go to my doctor and receive an investment advice or advisory on credit products. Just as I perso‐
nally wouldn’t want to go to my bank to get my health checked. I do think it’s right that there are country contexts where you can combine this or even have to combine this. Particularly in Sub‐Saharan Africa, I know a microfinance institution that collaborates very closely with the health sector and where HIV‐checks and possibly preventive measures are carried out, and it is actually included and verified in the documents of the credit, and it is a compulsory component of the provision of credit. But in this case it’s not the MFI who carries out the HIV‐test and distributes the medicine, these two things are separated. I personally do believe that a specialization is indeed useful, and these are the approaches that we promote and where we offer our support. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Many countries in Latin America are faced with high levels of inequality and large in‐
come disparities. Do you feel microfinance provides a viable solution where large parts of the popula­
tion do not currently benefit from the fruits of eco­
nomic development? Where do you see the limita­
tions? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Microfinance certainly makes an important contribution by offering those of the pop‐
ulation who currently have nothing or very little the opportunity to stabilize their streams of income and to have more over the course of time. But I doubt that this can lead to a more just distribution or some kind of a redistribution. Even if we suppose that somebody who lived from one dollar a day today could live from two dollars a day tomorrow, this would be a duplication of his wealth. And yet this would be much less than the increase in wealth of somebody who is richer, who simply puts a portion of his wealth in his bank account and earns interest. For an individual who currently doesn’t have any wealth, microfinance can bring about a significant change. But it is unlikely that this will lead to a more just distribution within society. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Against the background of glob‐
alization, free trade agreements and climate change, whole communities in rural areas are losing their live‐
lihood. Peasants faced with highly subsidized competi‐
tion from abroad need to come up with new productive activities. Do you believe MFIs can play a leading role in creating new economic opportunities in rural areas? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: In my opinion, the role of the MFI is to evaluate the creditworthiness of, and to finance the enterprises that emerge on the initiative of the micro‐entrepreneurs. It is not the task of the MFI to provide the local population with business concepts, because if the people have to be encouraged to explore entrepreneurship in the first place and are being told what entrepreneurial activities they should pursue, then these people are possibly not entrepreneurs and probably less successful. The initiative to start an en‐
terprise and to develop a business concept should come from the micro‐entrepreneurs themselves. An MFI can certainly act in an advisory capacity to the micro‐entrepreneurs and contribute in this way, but it shouldn’t get too involved in the enterprise and influ‐
ence the business activity as such – otherwise it won’t be able to objectively evaluate the creditworthiness of this enterprise anymore. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Can microfinance ever be a viable solution to address the massive urbanization and migration pressure? What roles should MFIs play in this regard? How could they be more sup­
portive? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: No measure and no approach worldwide has so far achieved to counteract urbaniza‐
tion. No matter what has been done, the people mi‐
grated to the cities anyway. I think that microfinance can’t prevent the migration into cities, either. But it can provide the people in rural areas with the opportunity to deposit their money safely, facilitate money trans‐
fers and provide access to other essential financial products. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: One of the key findings of my research in Mexico has been the need to link micro‐
entrepreneurs in rural areas with markets. This point was raised by a number of MFIs and several micro‐
entrepreneurs in rural communities. Some MFIs have started pilot projects to support their clients with the commercialization of their products and create links with national and international markets. How do you feel can links with markets best be established and fair prices for the products be guaranteed? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: I believe an MFI should special‐
ize. We do actually have rural credit unions that have also done “nothing else” in Germany many centuries ago than to form cooperatives and unite the different micro‐enterprises and peasants, so that they achieve a proper viability and the long way to the market is worthwhile. This is certainly an approach to microfin‐
ance in rural areas. I also believe that a professional MFI can provide support and advisory when it comes to creating a cooperative, it can provide contacts to the big markets, possibly also has contacts at the property owner association and entrepreneur association and is in contact with different people, so as to provide con‐
tacts to the market in the big city in this regard. But the opening of a shop in the market or a market stall, as well as the marketing of the products, handing out flyers and so on, that’s the job of the peasants, the un‐
ion or the cooperative of peasants. This is where I am personally of the opinion that a microfinance institu‐
tion should focus on what it knows how to do best, and that is to evaluate the creditworthiness of this ap‐
proach – the peasants from a union, open a shop to market their products properly – as a bank and then finance it accordingly, but not to run the business itself. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Just one year after Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank were awarded the Peace Nobel Prize in 2006, the negative press around micro‐
credit and irresponsible lending practices started. To preserve the good reputation of the industry, coalitions of microfinance stakeholders and networks of MFIs have established codes of ethics and launched initia‐
tives aimed at determining best practices and core principles that are agreed upon by the vast majority of the industry. These include the commitment to avoid irresponsible lending, to ensure fair and transparent pricing, to promote debt collection practices that are not coercive as well as ethical standards for members of staff and ensuring the privacy of client data. Yet, these codes of ethics are generally voluntary and often subject to interpretation. It is therefore disputable to what extent institutions can be held accountable for any behavior that does not necessarily coincide with the principles laid down in the code of conduct. Can voluntary codes of ethics ever be sufficient? How could they be improved in order to work more ef­
fectively in practice? What else would be required to ensure compliance with common standards? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: I believe such standards are important and also for KfW the whole area of social responsibility and socially responsible finance is a very, very important one. We check on this with all our clients. Before conducting business with any client or providing a funding line, we check if they fulfill our high expectations regarding the arrangement of terms and transparency towards the clients. And only then we also support such a partner. In my opinion, the crux is primarily that in many countries the country specific regulation for the banking law regarding minimum transparency, the arrangement of terms and the pres‐
entation of the terms towards the client is too lax and not binding. If I think about the “robber‐knighthood“ in the Ukraine where it is permitted to publish advertise‐
ment about consumer finance with 0.5 % interest per year, big on the poster and in a tiny footnote it says 10 % monthly, so that you end up paying 120 % interest – as long as these kind of things are permitted according to national law, it is incredibly difficult to do something about it. The gist is to demand that clear standards for banks be implemented in all areas. This does not only count for microfinance, it counts for all finance – to establish clear minimum requirements on a national level regarding the disclosure of effective interest rates and things like fees etc. I think these ethical arrange‐
ments and codes are important and also useful, but in my opinion it can only be a voluntary commitment. I guess it would be a philosophical question whether you could force people to behave ethically, or if they would then look for a market where it is not like that. The ethical principles that you recognize for yourself or your institution are those you recognize voluntarily, everything else is regulation and enforcement that you can obey. I think at the end of the day we will have to arrange for appropriate regulation everywhere. What the donor community can do and also everyone else we are collaborating with can do, is to only support institu‐
tions that comply with our standards and feel commit‐
ted to socially responsible principles. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Financial literacy and consumer protection continue to be a key issue in several micro‐
finance sectors around the world. Financial literacy also presents a considerable challenge in Mexico. Al‐
though there seems to be a growing interest in issues like transparency, consumer protection and financial literacy on the political and economic sphere, the target population of microfinance has so far been excluded from most consumer protection initiatives. Has the challenge of consumer protection and financial literacy been successfully addressed in other coun­
tries where KfW has been working, and could this experience possibly serve as an example for Mex­
ico? Who do you feel should be responsible for the provision of financial literacy to the target popula­
tion of microfinance? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: To a certain extent it is up to the MFIs themselves to promote financial literacy among their clients. Decentralized approaches are cer‐
tainly most useful. In the Balkans, KfW has arranged for standards in collaboration with the central banks. Of course it is up to the central bank to adopt minimum standards and to monitor them. In some countries there is also particular regulation for microfinance. The government plays a key role in promoting microfin‐
ance. Politicians need to take enough interest to en‐
force minimum standards, also against the special in‐
terests of individuals. The donors have little influence on that. We can certainly focus on refinancing those MFIs that comply with our requirements and standards and only support these institutions. This can result in a bandwagon effect and the common standards are being spread. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Healthy competition is generally beneficial for the clients. A key issue in microfinance, however, has been a disturbing lack of transparency. In most mature formal financial markets, financial institu‐
tions are required to display the costs of their loan products in a basic and consistent fashion (“truth‐in‐
lending”). In most microfinance sectors, however, the majority of MFIs do not publish the effective loan costs and borrowers have a serious problem comparing the loan costs of different MFIs. How could this issue be addressed? How could all institutions be required to display their loan costs in such a way that the microfinance clients are able to compare the prod­
uct costs? Are you aware of any countries where the implementation of transparency in the (formal) financial sector worked well? Could other countries today learn from these experiences when imple­
menting legislation aimed at improving transpa­
rency? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: That’s actually the classical role of technical cooperation. GTZ does a lot in this area. I can’t give you concrete cases off the bat. The donor community can promote transparency by sup‐
porting MFIs who disclose the loan costs and terms consistently and strictly and explain them to the client. Even if there are different calculation methods, some kind of effective interest rates should definitely be disclosed. How the terms and fees are arranged should be disclosed very clearly towards the client. This also includes, for example, whether interest is calculated “flat” or on the “declining balance”. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: In the Banana Skins study 2008 on the current risks in the microfinance industry, re‐
spondents from Latin America identified the rapid in‐
crease in competition and increased commercialization as a major. Do you feel the wrong type of competi­
tion is entering the market? Or is the intensifying competition desirable in light of innovations and outreach to more isolated areas? How do you ex­
pect the current trends to develop in the near fu­
ture? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: First of all, it is important to consider that retail and consumer finance are not part of microfinance. We view consumer finance with a lot of distrust. We definitely support enterprise loans with the goal of stabilizing the cash‐flow of micro‐
enterprises. I am generally of the opinion that competi‐
tion is definitely something good – that’s to say compe‐
tition among MFIs. Competition promotes efficiency and forces MFIs to continuously become better and to some extent to forgo profits. If institutions of the area of consumer finance massively enter the market, there is of course the danger that these damage the business of the MFIs. More lax business standards of these insti‐
tution can have negative ramifications for the market, such as the over‐indebtedness of the borrowers. It is however the central bank that is responsible for the authorization and the decision which institution can offer credit. We can act responsibly when we are choosing our partners and we have the choice to decide which institutions we support and who we conduct business with. In smaller countries we have even par‐
tially achieved to establish a relation with the central bank and to take influence on the sector development to some extent in this way. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: According to Elizabeth Little‐
field, CEO of CGAP, “there is some risk that the main­
streaming of microfinance will threaten the very essence of microfinance’s core mission: to help poor people lead better lives”15. The past few years have seen significant changes in the landscape of cross‐border microfinance investments. Between 2004 and 2006, foreign capital investment has more than tripled to 4 billion USD, a large part of which comes from the private sector and which is primarily held by specialized microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs). Many argue, the only poss‐
ible way to reach out and satisfy the vast demand of microfinance around the globe is through the capital markets. While the growing popularity among large financial institutions may catalyze growth in outreach, concerns have been raised that the surge of private capital into the microfinance industry in recent years may cause mission drift, thereby diluting the original focus on poverty alleviation in view of an increased pressure to generate profits. How do you evaluate the current developments? Do you feel MFIs could take advantage of the capital markets and maintain their original social mission? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: We don’t always fully agree with CGAP on this matter. There are two aspects that are important here: The first one is microfinance as a direct tool to alleviate poverty. The second one is mi‐
crofinance as an important, fundamental component of the financial sector development – Inclusive Financial Systems. A key issue is how the immense demand for micro‐financial services worldwide is to be satisfied. With traditional approaches á la Grameen we will nev‐
er achieve this, but only if we go into the direction of attracting mainstream financing. This may be at the expense of the first mentioned aspect – the direct goal of poverty alleviation per se. But of course this raises the question: Do we help more poor people or do we help the poor better? An MFI with a “Microfinance Plus” model that also offers the clients health services 15
De Schrevel, 2008, Microfinance Insights Vol. 7, July 2008
and education possibly achieves the goal of poverty alleviation better, but reaches out to much less poor people. On the other hand, an MFI that focuses on its core competencies, financial sustainability and growth, generally reaches out to a multiple of poor people and with an appropriate return also achieves to attract investors and ensure access to capital. Of course it is very important to maintain the social responsibility despite professionalization and mainstreaming. The principles of social responsibility still apply and have to be maintained. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: If MFIs achieved to be regu­
lated, reliable financial intermediaries and success­
fully mobilized deposits from the public, would the capital markets still play a significant role in fund­
ing the growth of MFIs? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: Deposit banking is both a source of refinancing as well as an important product. As a product it allows a wife, for example, to keep the money safe so it’s not accessible to her husband, so as to guarantee the alimentation of the children. KfW promotes the local mobilization of savings very strong‐
ly. It is very important to tap this source as well. The capital markets, however, will continue to play an im‐
portant role. Deposits represent a short‐term source of refinancing, while the national and international capital markets represent a long‐term source. The interna‐
tional capital markets have so far been the only long‐
term source of refinancing and will continue to be ne‐
cessary. With a demand of more than 200 billion dollar of funds in the coming years, as Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank estimate for instance, the capital mar‐
kets will play an important role. During the financial crisis everything is more difficult of course. On the one hand, we see in some countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, massive deposit drains that MFIs are strug‐
gling with. At the same time, the international capital markets are dried up. That’s why KfW together with IFC have founded a Microfinance Enhancement Facility. So you need both. Particularly during the crisis, where everything goes down, both sources of refinancing are of importance. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Microfinance stakeholders raised the concern that the surge of investments into the industry might just be withdrawn as quickly, as microfinance falls out of fashion and another sector is en‐vogue. Moreover, there may be disappointment among investors attracted by double bottom line re‐
turns who might consequently withdraw their capital, thereby severely affecting the microfinance industry as a whole. How real is this risk? What might be ap­
propriate mitigation strategies? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: That is, of course, also a reason why deposits are an important complementary source of refinancing. Microfinance has proven to be a safe asset class – particularly if you think about examples like Bolivia or Nicaragua. Also within the scope of the current financial crisis, I am not aware of any MFI that has filed for bankruptcy. Many have great difficulties, but no delay of payments yet. Investments into micro‐
finance are not only based on ethical motivation, micro‐
finance also offers important diversification effects. I think this will continue to be the case. KfW will contin‐
ue to work towards the establishment of microfinance. Particularly in light of current trends, such as the in‐
creased interest in environmental protection – the past years have shown that microfinance and environmen‐
tal protection can be combined, keyword Eastern Eu‐
rope. That the donor community and the IFIs will con‐
tinue to be needed, however, is particularly evident in the crisis. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Although microfinance has been particularly appealing to investors due to its low corre‐
lation with macro‐economic trends, this characteristic might be affected as MFIs become increasingly inte‐
grated with mainstream banking and exposed to forces beyond their immediate control, such as the current worldwide financial crisis. Do you expect MFIs to experience an increased vulnerability towards trends in the global markets? DR. MARK SCHWIETE: So far, the low correlation with macroeconomic trends has been particularly due to the way the business works, not because microfinance has been less integrated. The micro‐enterprises operate in difficult countries, are however usually operating in the area of trade and services. If they move more into the direction of producing SME, they will also be more affected by such trends. Regarding the trends in the global markets, the increasing integration into the capi‐
tal markets particularly impacts on the liabilities side, and the more susceptible the MFIs also become to trends in the global markets, also in normal times. In times of worldwide recession, MFIs can’t escape the effects, either. As an example, if the demand declines in the USA and the number of unemployed rises in Brazil as a consequence, the street vendor in Brazil will also have less clients. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Thank you very much.16 16
This interview was translated from German to English by the author Appendix 24:
Interview with Niclaus Bergmann, Deputy Director, Sparkassenstiftung für internationale
Kooperation / Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation (SBFIC) Februar 4, 2009 Hintergrund: Restrukturierung des mexikanischen Sparkassensektors: Im Auftrag der Weltbank und des Bundesministeriums für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) wurden mehrere Projekte seitens der Sparkassenstiftung während des Zeitraums 2001 bis 2008 durch 6 internationale Langzeitexperten, 10 internationa­
le Kurzzeitexperten sowie bis zu 80 lokale Fachkräfte durchgeführt. Unterstützt wurden mehrere mexikanische Sparkassenverbände sowie insgesamt 180 genossenschaftlich organisierte Sparkassen. Mit der Unterstützung der deutschen Sparkassenstiftung wurden die rechtlichen und organisatorischen Rahmenbedingungen des mexikanischen Sparkassensektors reformiert. In diesem Rahmen wurde auch das neue Gesetz Ley de Ahorro y Crédito Popular (LACP) sowie ein Aufsichtskonzept für die Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (CNBV), die mexikanische Bankenaufsichtsbehörde, entwickelt. Im Rahmen der Restrukturierung erhielten Einzelverbände technische Unterstützung. Auch für die Mitgliedssparkassen der Einzelverbände wurden Restrukturierungspläne erstellt und implementiert. Mit dem Headoffice der Sparkassenstiftung in Mexico City und weiteren sechs landesweiten Büros wurde die gesamte Entwicklung des genossen­
schaftlichen Bankensektors und damit alle Stakeholder unterstützt (insbesondere Regierung, Bankenaufsicht, Verbände und einzelne Institutionen). JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Die Sparkassen und Genossen‐
schaftsbanken entstanden vor 200 Jahren in Deutsch‐
land und zählen damit zu den ersten Mikrofinanzinsti‐
tutionen (MFI) der Welt. Die Sparkassen und genossen‐
schaftlichen Finanzinstitute haben im Bereich der Mik‐
rokreditvergabe und Kleinstersparnismobilisierung die längsten Erfahrungen und konnten – zumindest in Deutschland – bemerkenswerte Erfolge verzeichnen. Auch heute finanzieren die Sparkassen 70 % aller Kleinstunternehmen und mehr als die Hälfte aller Exis‐
tenzgründungen in Deutschland. Im Rahmen des globa‐
len Erfahrungsaustausches im Bereich der Mikrofinan‐
zierung wird die Entwicklung des deutschen Sparkas‐
sensystems im 19. Jahrhundert von Mikrofinanzexper‐
ten weltweit als Erfahrungsbeispiel herangezogen. Damit bilden die Erfahrungswerte, insbesondere im Bezug auf die strukturbildende Wirkung des Sparkas‐
sensystems für den Finanzsektor, und deren Übertrag‐
barkeit auf die heutigen Entwicklungs‐ und Schwellen‐
länder eine wichtige Grundlage für die heutige Mikrofi‐
nanzierung. In wie fern lassen sich die Erfahrungs­
werte aus Deutschland auf die heutigen Entwick­
lungs­ und Schwellenländer übertragen? Gibt es Länder, bei denen die Erfahrungswerte eine bedeu­
tendere Rolle spielen als bei anderen?
NICLAUS BERGMANN: Die Übertragung der Erfahrun‐
gen der deutschen Sparkassen ist prinzipiell in allen Ländern möglich. Basierend auf der konkreten Situati‐
on jedes Landes ist eine selektive Anwendung einzelner praktischer Erfahrungen aus Deutschland möglich und sinnvoll. Dabei gibt es Themen, die weniger relevant sind als andere. So spielt die Rechtsform der jeweiligen Institute in der Regel keine große Rolle. Eine hohe Re levanz hat jedoch immer die Verbindung von öffentli‐
chem Auftrag, lokaler Wirtschaftsentwicklung, Ar‐
mutsbekämpfung durch eine Fokussierung auf Gering‐
verdiener und KKMU und die Professionalisierung bzw. Profitabilität der Projektpartner. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Deutschland sah sich im 19. Jahrhundert mit gravierenden wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Problemen konfrontiert, wie dem Zerfall tradi‐
tioneller Familienstrukturen bedingt durch die Land‐
flucht. In dieser Zeit entstanden die ersten Sparkassen, denen eine wichtige sozioökonomische Bedeutung zukam. Die Verstädterung und der Migrationsdruck bilden seit Jahrzehnten eine große Herausforderung für Mexiko. Auch wenn die Situation in Mexiko auf­
grund der Globalisierung und Verflechtung der Märkte heute erheblich komplexer ist, lassen sich in diesem Zusammenhang Parallelen ziehen? NICLAUS BERGMANN: Obwohl aufgrund der ähnlichen Ausgangssituation gewisse Parallelen durchaus vor‐
handen sind, spielen auch andere Fakten eine wichtige Rolle. So steht in Mexiko die Selbsthilfe vor Ort im Mit‐
telpunkt und vor allem Frauen nehmen hier einen wichtigen Platz ein, da die Männer oft nicht vor Ort sind, weil sie an einem anderen Ort arbeiten. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Die Reform des mexikanischen Sparkassensektors wird durch die Weltbank sowie internationale Berater, zu denen auch die deutschen Sparkassen und Genossenschaftsbanken zählen, unter‐
stützt. Das Restrukturierungsprogramm gründet sich zu einem großen Teil auf die Erfahrungen des deut‐
schen Sparkassensektors. Das deutsche Sparkassenmo‐
dell wurde in gewisser Weise an die mexikanischen Gegebenheiten angepasst. Welche Erfahrungswerte konnten die Berater der deutschen Sparkassen einbringen? NICLAUS BERGMANN: Das deutsche Sparkassenmo‐
dell wurde an die lokalen Bedingungen angepasst. Ent‐
scheidend ist die Stärkung jeder einzelnen caja (Spar‐
kasse), denn nur gesunde cajas schaffen ein gesundes Sparkassensystem, in dem den Verbänden vor allem eine Dienstleisterfunktion zukommt. Eine wichtige Erfahrung, die es zu vermitteln gilt, ist die Formalisie‐
rung und Aufsicht der einzelnen Institute im Sinne einer delegierten Aufsicht. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: „Kleinstkreditprogramme haben Menschen in zahlreichen Ländern in der ganzen Welt erfolgreich geholfen, sich aus der Armut zu befreien“, so die United Nations in einem Dokument vom 15. Dezem‐
ber 1998. An diesem Tag beschloss die UN‐Generalver‐
sammlung, das Jahr 2005 zum "International Year of Microcredit" zu erklären. Die UNO hält Mikrokredite für eine wichtige Strategie bei der Erreichung der Millenniumsentwicklungsziele. Der Zugang zu Finanz‐
dienstleistungen und Märkten gilt als eine wesentliche Voraussetzung für die selbstbestimmte und nachhaltige Überwindung der Armut. Die deutschen Sparkassen verbanden bereits im 19. Jahrhundert soziale Verant‐
wortung und wirtschaftlichen Erfolg, verfolgten also in gewisser Weise die „double‐bottom line“, die heute den Kern der Mikrofinanzierung bildet. Was sind Ihrer Meinung nach die wichtigsten Erfolgsfaktoren, da­
mit die heutigen Mikrofinanzinstitutionen langfris­
tig das Gleichgewicht der sozialen und wirtschaftli­
chen Ziele aufrechterhalten und erfolgreich zur Armutsminderung beitragen können? NICLAUS BERGMANN: Es ist ganz wichtig, eine doppelte Nachhaltigkeit zu erreichen. Dazu gehören neben einer dauerhaften Kundenbindung und der stetigen Verfolgung des gesetzten sozialen Ziels auch die Formalisierung und die Effizienz der Leistungs‐
erbringung sowie die Profitabilität der Institute. Ein weiterer Faktor für den dauerhaften Erfolg bei der Armutsbekämpfung ist die Zusammenarbeit mit ande‐
ren MFI, das heißt, der Aufbau von Netzwerken bis hin zu einer engen Kooperation und Zusammenarbeit, um durch die Schaffung von Skaleneffekten effizienter arbeiten zu können. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Das Sparkassensystem in Deutschland hat einen bedeutenden Beitrag zur nach‐
haltigen sozioökonomischen Entwicklung geleistet. Glauben Sie, dass auch die heutigen Mikrofinanzin­
stitutionen (die nicht unbedingt Teil der „cajas“ sind) langfristig positive soziale und wirtschaftli­
che Effekte für die ärmeren Bevölkerungsschichten bewirken können? NICLAUS BERGMANN: Ja, das erscheint mir unzwei‐
felhaft. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Ein großer Streitpunkt ist, ob die Mikrofinanzierung auch einen wesentlichen Beitrag beim Aufbau leistungsfähiger Finanzsysteme und der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung einer Volkswirt‐
schaft leisten kann. Wie bewerten Sie diesen Aspekt? Haben die Mikrofinanzierung und die entstehen­
den Mikrounternehmen das Potential, zu Wirt­
schaftswachstum und Beschäftigung beizutragen? Was sind Ihrer Meinung nach die zentralen Voraus­
setzungen hierfür? NICLAUS BERGMANN: Ich bin überzeugt davon, dass die Mikrofinanzierung zur lokalen und regionalen Wirtschaftsentwicklung beitragen kann, wenn sie dau‐
erhaft nachhaltig betrieben wird. Dazu muss sie forma‐
lisiert sein und einer Aufsicht unterliegen sowie mittel‐ bis langfristig in das nationale Finanzwesen eingebun‐
den werden. Ebenso wichtig ist, dass sie professionell und profitabel arbeiten können, wollen und dürfen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Ein zentraler Bestandteil der Mikrofinanzierung ist das Ziel der Nachhaltigkeit und damit die Festigung institutioneller Strukturen („insti‐
tution building“). Die MFIs sollen nach einer gewissen Startphase unabhängig von Spendengeldern agieren können und somit langfristig zur Armutsbekämpfung und Strukturbildung des Finanzsektors beitragen. Bei den Sparkassen in Deutschland steht neben sozialem Auftrag die Professionalität und Profitabilität an obers‐
ter Stelle. Nur so können die Banken als integraler Be‐
standteil des Finanzsystems langfristig bestehen und finanziell nachhaltig agieren. Ziel der deutschen Spar‐
kassen ist es, diese Prinzipien an die Partnerinstitute in Entwicklungsländern weiterzugeben. Der Sparkassen‐ und Genossenschaftssektor in Mexiko war lange Zeit wenig effizient, zuverlässig und nachhaltig. Neben einer geringen Zahlungsmoral war der Sektor von mangeln‐
der Qualität und Varietät der angebotenen Leistungen geprägt und teilweise recht unseriös. Es gab Schnee‐
ballsysteme und kam verstärkt zu Betrugsfällen. Mit welchen Maßnahmen konnte die Sparkassen­ stiftung die Professionalität und Nachhaltigkeit des Sektors stärken? NICLAUS BERGMANN: Die Arbeit der Sparkassenstif‐
tung setzte auf drei Ebenen an: Erstens musste das Sparkassensystem als ganzes gestärkt werden. Hier ging es um die Gestaltung des rechtlichen Rahmens, die Aufsicht und das Verbandswesen. Zweitens orientierte sich unsere Arbeit auf die Stärkung aller bzw. vieler Einzelinstitute. Und drittens haben wir uns für eine positive öffentliche Wahrnehmung der cajas engagiert. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Einige Kritiker der Mikrokredit­
bewegung argumentieren, die Erfahrung in Ländern wie Deutschland zeige, dass die „Demokratisierung von Finanzdienstleistungen“ im Bereich der Ersparnisbil‐
dung angesetzt habe und Mikrokredite für die ärmeren Bevölkerungsschichten erst viel später eine Rolle spiel‐
ten und zudem zur Konsumfinanzierung dienten und nicht – wie es in der heutigen Mikrofinanzbewegung der Fall ist – als Betriebskapital („working capital“) bestimmt waren. Wie bewerten Sie dieses Argu­
ment? Sollten Mikrofinanzinstitute in Entwick­
lungsländern heute bei den Sparanlagen ansetzten? Und welches Erfolgspotential haben Mikrokredite, die als Investitionskapital für eine Mikrounter­
nehmung bestimmt sind, ihrer Meinung nach? NICLAUS BERGMANN: Das Mikrofinanzwesen bietet seinen Kunden immer parallel sowohl Produkte im Spar‐, Kredit‐ und Versicherungsbereich sowie im Zah‐
lungsverkehr an. Mit welcher Art von Produkten be‐
gonnen wird, hängt vom lokalen Bedarf ab. Für die Kunden sind Sparen und Kredit sehr oft gleich wichtig. Für die MFI hingegen ist ohne Sparprodukte Nachhal‐
tigkeit meistens nicht möglich. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Die finanzielle Bildung stellt in Mexiko nach wie vor ein großes Problem dar. Zwar scheinen wichtige Vertreter aus Politik und Wirtschaft zunehmend Interesse an Problembereichen wie Trans‐
parenz, Überschuldung und Finanzbildung zu zeigen, doch haben die bisherigen Initiativen im Bereich Kon‐
sumentenschutz und Finanzbildung der Verbraucher‐
schutzbehörde CONDUSEF die Zielgruppe der MFIs weitgehend ausgeschlossen und sich auf die traditio‐
nelle Klientel kommerzieller Banken in städtischen Regionen konzentriert. Bei meiner Recherche in Mexi‐
ko wurde seitens der mexikanischen Mikrofinanzex‐
perten betont, welche Herausforderung die finanzielle Bildung spielt und dass sie die weitere Entwicklung des Sektors stark beeinflussen wird. Im Rahmen einer Studie der Sparkassenstiftung in verschiedenen Ländern wurden Empfehlungen für die Entwick­
lung von Angeboten im Bereich der Finanzbildung formuliert, die nun bei Pilotprojekten in Mexiko getestet werden sollen. Gibt es in diesem Zusam­
menhang schon die ersten Ergebnisse? NICLAUS BERGMANN: Die finanzielle Bildung wurde inzwischen als wichtig erkannt und verschiedene Insti‐
tutionen, wie CONDUSEF, BANSEFI und Freedom from Hunger, führen Maßnahmen durch. Frau Dr. Heimann, Repräsentantin der Sparkassenstiftung für internatio‐
nale Kooperation in Mexiko, ist zum Beispiel Mitglied eines Beraterstabes des Erziehungsministeriums, der Konzepte der finanziellen Grundbildung in die Studien‐
pläne der Sekundarstufe II einarbeitet. Im Rahmen dieses Stabes wurde auch Material für eine Lehrerschu‐
lung entwickelt, um die Lehrer zu motivieren, die fi‐
nanzielle Grundbildung positiv in ihre Arbeitspläne zu integrieren. In ganz Mexiko werden in den nächsten Wochen und Monaten etwa 2.000 Lehrer mit diesem Material geschult. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Sind weitere Projekte der Sparkassenstiftung in Mexiko geplant? NICLAUS BERGMANN: Die Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation führt mit finanzieller Un‐
terstützung des Bundesministeriums für wirt‐
schaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) seit 2001 in Mexiko ein Projekt zur Stärkung des Spar‐
kassensektors durch, welches 2009 abgeschlossen werden wird. Von 2003 bis 2008 haben wir mit Welt‐
bankmitteln für BANSEFI drei Projekte zur Förderung der cajas und ihrer Verbände realisiert. Von 2008 bis 2010 unterstützen wir mit finanzieller Förderung durch die Weltbank über das im mexikanischen Land‐
wirtschaftsministerium angesiedelte PATMIR‐Projekt Sparkassen im ländlichen Raum. Im Jahre 2008 hat die Sparkassenstiftung in Mexiko mit der Fundación Alemana de Servicios (FAS) eine Tochtergesellschaft gegründet, um noch besser in Mexiko und Lateinameri‐
ka arbeiten zu können. Mit Frau Dr. Ursula Heimann und Herrn Gerd Weißbach verfügt die Sparkassenstif‐
tung über zwei erfahrene Repräsentanten in Mexiko, die auch in den kommenden Jahren vor großen Heraus‐
forderungen stehen. Es gilt einerseits, die Aktivitäten der FAS zu planen und zu leiten, und andererseits die Projekte der Sparkassenstiftung erfolgreich zu gestal‐
ten. Hier stehen im kommenden Jahr die Verlängerung des PATMIR‐Projektes sowie der mögliche Beginn ei‐
nes neuen mit Mitteln des BMZ geförderten Regional‐
projektes zur finanziellen Bildung auf dem Plan. Denk‐
bar ist auch die Entwicklung weiterer internationaler Projekte in Mexiko, Peru und anderen Ländern, um die Ergebnisse aus Mexiko auch für andere Partner nutz‐
bar zu machen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Vielen Dank.17 17
The interview was carried out on February 4, 2009, via telephone.
Interview with Niclaus Bergmann, Deputy Director, Sparkassenstiftung für internationale
Kooperation / Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation (SBFIC)
Translated to English Februar 4, 2009 Background: Restructuring of the Mexican Savings Banks Sector: On behalf of the World Bank and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), several projects were carried out by SBFIC with 6 international long­term experts, 10 international short­term experts as well as up to 80 local skilled personnel between 2001 and 2008. Several Mexican savings banks associations as well as a total of 180 coope­
ratively organized savings banks were supported. With the support of the German SBFIC, the legal and organizational framework of the Mexican savings banks sector were reformed. In this context, the new law Ley de Ahorro y Crédito Popular (LACP) as well as a supervisory concept for the Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (CNBV), the Mexican banking supervision agency, were developed. Within the scope of the restructuring, the individual associations received technical assistance. Restructuring plans were also designed and implemented for the member savings banks of the associations. The entire development of the cooperative banking sector and thus all stakeholders (particularly the government, banking supervision agency, associations and individual institutions) were supported through the head office of SBFIC in Mexico City and six other offices in the country. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: The savings banks and coopera‐
tives emerged in Germany 200 years ago and were among the first microfinance institutions (MFIs) worldwide. The savings banks and cooperatives have long standing experience in the area of microcredit and micro savings mobilization and have been strikingly successful – at least in Germany. Also today 70 % of all small enterprises and more than half of all business start‐ups are financed by the savings banks in Germa‐
ny. Within the scope of the global exchange of expe‐
riences in the area of microfinance, the development of the German savings bank system in the 19th Century has been citied by microfinance experts worldwide as a leading example. The experience, particularly with regards to the structural impact of the savings bank system on the financial sector, and its relevance for the developing and emerging economies of today, consti‐
tutes an important groundwork for today’s microfin‐
ance. To what extent can the experiences made in Germany be relevant for today’s developing and transformation economies? Are there countries where these experiences are particularly relevant as compared to others? NICLAUS BERGMANN: The transfer of experiences of the German savings bank system is generally possible in all countries. Based on the concrete situation of each country, a selective application of the individual prac‐
tical experiences from Germany is possible and makes sense. In this context, there are topics that are less relevant than others. The legal form of the respective institutions usually doesn’t play a big role. The combi‐
nation of public mission, local economic development, poverty alleviation by focusing on low‐income people and SME and the professionalization or profitability of the project partners, however, is always of great impor‐
tance. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: In the 19th century, Germany was faced with grave economic and social problems, such as the collapse of traditional family structures provoked by the migration to cities. During this time, the first savings banks emerged and were of significant socioeconomic importance. Urbanization and migration pressure have been a major challenge in Mexico for decades. Even if the situation in Mexico today is much more complex due to globalization and the integration of markets, can parallels be drawn in this context? NICLAUS BERGMANN: Even though there are indeed certain parallels due to the similar initial situation, there are also other factors that play an important role. In Mexico, the focus lies on local self‐help and particu‐
larly women play a vital role, given that the men are often not at the location, as they work in a different place. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: The reform of the Mexican sav‐
ings banks (cajas) sector is supported by the World Bank as well as international consultants, the German savings banks and cooperative banks are among them. The restructuring program is to a large extent based on the experiences of the German savings bank system. In some respects, the German savings bank model has been adapted to the Mexican particularities. What ex­
periences have the consultants of the German sav­
ings banks been able to contribute? NICLAUS BERGMANN: The German savings bank mod‐
el has been adapted to the local conditions. Strengthen‐
ing each individual caja (savings bank) is crucial, as only healthy cajas create a healthy savings bank sys‐
tem, in which the associations primarily assume the role of a service provider. An important experience, which is to be communicated, is the formalization and the supervision of the individual institutes in terms of a delegated supervision. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: According to the United Nations, microcredit programs have successfully helped people in many countries worldwide to escape poverty. On 15 December 1998, the UN General Assembly declared the year 2005 as the “International Year of Microcredit”. The UN considers microcredit as an important strategy to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Access to financial services and markets is considered a crucial condition for self‐determined and sustainable poverty alleviation. The German savings banks already com‐
bined social responsibility and economic success in the 19th Century, and in a sense pursued the double‐bottom line that lies at the core of microfinance today. What do you consider to be the key success factor, so that the MFIs of today can maintain the balance of social and economic objectives in the long­run and suc­
cessfully contribute to poverty alleviation? NICLAUS BERGMANN: It is very important to achieve a double sustainability. Besides long‐term customer ties and the continuous pursuance of the social objectives set, this also includes the formalization and efficiency of operations as well as the profitability of the institu‐
tions. Another factor for sustainable success in terms of poverty alleviation is the cooperation with other MFIs, that is the establishment of networks up to a close col‐
laboration and cooperation, so as to create economies of scale to be able to work more efficiently. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: The savings bank system in Germany has contributed significantly to sustainable socioeconomic development. Do you believe that the MFIs today (that are not necessarily part of the “cajas”) can bring about positive social and eco­
nomic effects for the poorer segments of the popu­
lation in the long­run? NICLAUS BERGMANN: Yes, unquestionably. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: One important issue has been whether microfinance can significantly contribute to the establishment of sound financial systems and the macroeconomic development of the economy. How do you evaluate this aspect? Does microfinance and the emerging micro­enterprises have the potential to contribute to economic growth and employ­
ment? What do you consider to be the key condi­
tions for this? NICLAUS BERGMANN: I am convinced that microfin‐
ance can contribute to the local and regional economic development, if operating sustainably and permanent‐
ly. In order for this to happen, it has to be formalized and be subject to supervision as well as to be inte‐
grated into the national financial system in the me‐
dium‐ to long‐term. Just as important is that they can, want and are allowed to operate professionally and profitably. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: An important component of microfinance is the goal of sustainability and therefore institution building. MFIs should operate independent‐
ly of donor money after a certain start‐up phase and thereby contribute to poverty alleviation and the de‐
velopment of the financial sector in the long‐run. Be‐
sides the social mission, professionalism and profitabil‐
ity are of great significance for the German savings banks. This allows the banks to form an integral part of the financial system in the long‐run and to operate financially sustainably. The goal of the German savings banks is to pass these principles on to the partner insti‐
tutions in developing countries. In Mexico, the sector of savings banks and cooperatives was little efficient, reliable and sustainable for a long time. Besides a weak payment behavior, the sector was characterized by lacking quality and variety of the services offered and was to some extent quite untrustworthy. Pyramid schemes and cases of fraud increasingly became a problem. What kind of measures allowed the SBFIC to strengthen the professionalism and sustainabili­
ty of the sector? NICLAUS BERGMANN: SBFIC works on three levels: First of all, the savings bank system had to be streng‐
thened as a whole. This included the design of the legal framework, the supervision and the system of associa‐
tions. Secondly, our work is oriented towards the strengthening of all, or many individual institutions. And thirdly, we have advocated for a positive public perception of the cajas. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Some critics of the microcredit movement have argued, the experience in countries like Germany showed that the „democratization of financial services“ began in the area of savings, while microcredit for the poorer segments of the population actually only played a role much later and was also destined for consumption and did not – as it is the case in the microfinance movement today − serve as work‐
ing capital. How do you evaluate this argumenta­
tion? Should MFIs in developing countries today begin with savings products? And what potential for success does microcredit that provides working capital to micro­enterprises have? NICLAUS BERGMANN: Microfinance always offers its clients products in the areas of savings, loans and in‐
surance as well as money transfers. It depends on the local demand which kind of products are offered first. For the clients, savings and loan products are often equally important. For an MFI, on the other hand, it is usually not possible to achieve sustainability without savings products. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Financial literacy continues to be a key issue in Mexico. Although there seems to be a growing interest in issues like transparency, over‐
indebtedness and financial literacy on the political and economic sphere, the target population of microfinance has so far been excluded from most financial education and consumer protection initiatives of the consumer protection agency CONDUSEF has been focusing on the traditional segment of commercial banks in urban ar‐
eas. During my research in Mexico, the Mexican micro‐
finance experts emphasized the challenge financial literacy constitutes and that this will impact on the future developments of the sector. Within the scope of a study in different countries, SBFIC provided rec­
ommendations for the development of different offers in the area of financial education, which are now being tested as pilot projects in Mexico. Have the first results already been presented? 2001, which will be completed in 2009. Between 2003 and 2008, we have implemented three project to sup‐
port the cajas and their associations for BANSEFI with World Bank funds. From 2008 to 2010 we are support‐
ing savings banks in rural areas through the PATMIR project that is part of the Mexican Ministry of Agricul‐
ture with the financial support of the World Bank. In 2008, SBFIC together with the Fundación Alemana de Servicios (FAS) founded a subsidiary in Mexico that will allow for enhanced operations in Mexico and Latin America. SBFIC has two experienced representatives in Mexico, Dr. Ursula Heimann and Mr. Gerd Weißbach, who will continue to be faced with great challenges in the coming years. On the one hand, the activities of FAS have to be planned and coordinated, and on the other, the projects of SBFIC have to be successfully designed. Next year, the extension of the PATMIR project as well as the possible initiation of a new regional project for financial literacy funded by the BMZ are on the agenda. The development of further international projects in Mexico, Peru and other countries aimed at harnessing the results from Mexico for other partners may also be possible. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Thank you very much.18 19 NICLAUS BERGMANN: The importance of financial education has been recognized, lately, and different institutions such as CONDUSEF, BANSEFI and Freedom from Hunger, are taking measures. Dr. Heimann, repre‐
sentative of SBFIC in Mexico, for example, is a member of an advisory committee of the Ministry of Education, which implements financial literacy concepts into the curricula of the secondary school. Within the frame‐
work of this committee, material for teacher trainings has been developed aimed at motivating the teachers to integrate financial education positively into their work‐
ing agendas. In the coming weeks and months, 2,000 teachers will be trained with this material all over Mex‐
ico. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Does SBFIC have plans for other projects in the future? NICLAUS BERGMANN: SBFIC has been carrying out a project aimed at strengthening the savings bank sector with the financial support of the (German) Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) since 18
The interview was carried out on February 4, 2009, via
telephone.
19
This interview was translated from German to English
by the author Appendix 25:
Interview with Maricela Gamboa de Alba, Grameen Trust,
Director of Institutional Relations
San Cristóbal de las Casa, Chiapas, November 12, 2008 MARICELA GAMBOA DE ALBA: Empecé hace 10 años, inicié todo esto, no existía nada y mi oficina simplemente era la montaña. Yo lo inicié con los libros de Muhammad Yunus, pero no había todavía ido a Bangladesh. Empecé con grupos de puras mujeres, todavía no había ningún hombre, hablaba con ellas y pedí un permiso a las autoridades, ellas acudían a las pláticas, ahí les decíamos que iba a ser Grameen, que iba a dar microcréditos para proyectos productivos, para que pudieran vender sus cosas o comprar materiales más baratos, por más cantidad y volumen, y que fueran parte de apoyo económico en sus casas. Al principio fue muy difícil, pero poco a poco fueron viendo que era verdad y que sí ayudábamos a la familia realmente. Pero en eso me tuve que ir a Bangladesh, y la verdad no quería porque me daba mucho miedo. Me invitó Muhammad Yunus, yo tenía que tomar el workshop, entonces me fui 2 semanas a Bangladesh y tomé allá el taller, el curso, que fue muy enriquecedor. Pero lo puse muy claro que en todos lados donde haya una microfinancieras tienen que llevarlo al gusto de la mujer con base a sus necesidades y a lo que se pueda también. Por eso ahora nosotros damos tantos y diferentes tipos de créditos y diferentes típos de productos ya que nosotros nos adaptamos a sus necesidades. Esto se empezó con un grupo de 200 personas, ahora somos muchísimos más, pero todo esto porque todos necesitan diferentes cosas. Tenemos a las mujeres en microcréditos pero también en servicios sociales, se han hecho muchos convenios con el gobierno del estado y sus diferentes áreas como salud, técnica, social, educativa, etc. Y lo que necesita cada grupo se lo vamos llevando, también se les consigue talleres gratis a los hijos para que vayan a aprender carpintería, mecánica, electricidad, cocina etc. Sin ningún costo. Esto es gratis lo único que se les pide es que regresen a su comunidad y enseñen, reproduzcan eso con otras personas. Esto también nos ayuda a darle el apoyo al hombre, no tanto pero con eso pueden ayudarse y poder tener una opción más, con lo que aprenden pueden abrir otro negocio. En el área de la vivienda todo el que quiera una vivienda la puede tener y el que quiera va a ser apoyado para eso, pero eso se va viendo poco a poco. El seguro de vida también es muy importante, no les va a resolver lo de un familiar muerto pero si les va a resolver en lo económico para que ya no tengan que pagar ellos, ni el grupo solidario y tampoco los miembros de la familia. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Ha sido difícil explicarles a los clientes que los servicios financieros sí hay que pagarlos, pero los servicios que no son financieros como la salud y educación son gratuitas? MARICELA GAMBOA DE ALBA: No ha sido difícil, yo antes trabajé en el DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia) y con ellos trabajaba con los 16 municipios de la zona de los altos de Chiapas, la mayoría de los indígenas se conocen y somos como amigos. Yo sigo visitando a las mujeres en las comunidades. Tengo mucha relación con el gobierno y el gobierno te tiene que ayudar, está obligado a ayudarte, y si no es el gobierno son instituciones muy altruistas que tampoco me cobran. Las que no me ofrecen se los exijo. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Ustedes no tienen un servicio de ahorro, ¿verdad?, porque no están regulados. ¿No sería una posibilidad crear un vínculo con un banco para poder también ofrecer este servicio? MARICELA GAMBOA DE ALBA: Nosotros hemos estando dándole vuelta a ver como lo hacemos, pero no somos una entidad regulada y no queremos problemas con la institución, pero siempre se les platica del ahorro, se le va a visitar y checar, porque el ahorro no las hace más ricas, la hace menos pobres. Pero eso es un plan que dentro de poco será casi una obligación y me lo encantaría porque ahora ya están un poco más acostumbradas a ahorrar, antes de darse los microcréditos siempre se les hace mención de lo importante que es ahorrar. Tenemos diferentes talleres en las comunidades. Por ejemplo, en el área de agropecuaria: granja integral, hortícolas, lombricultura, composteo, etc. En el área técnica: corte y confección, carpintería, electricidad, serigrafía y herrería. En el área de artesanal: bordado a mano, hilado y tejidos. Tenemos las mujeres floreciendo: desarrollo humano y acción comunitaria. Donde se dan estos talleres se cuenta con una guardería donde las mujeres pueden dejar a sus hijos y mientras pueden tomar sus cursos y aprenden para luego ir a las comunidades más cercanas. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿También es de Grameen la guardería? MARICELA GAMBOA DE ALBA: No, es un vínculo que tengo con el gobierno que es un programa de desarrollo social. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿La iniciativa fue de Grameen? MARICELA GAMBOA DE ALBA: Sí, la iniciativa sí fue de Grameen pero nosotros no abrimos este lugar, el lugar lo abrió el gobierno y nosotros solo somos el vínculo para que ellas puedan acceder a eso. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿En los otros programas que no son financieras, también son vínculos, son alianzas estratégicas, verdad? MARICELA GAMBOA DE ALBA: Sí, todas las áreas son con vínculos. Hacemos alianzas, pero por un tiempo determinado y después volvemos. La impresión es que los demás microfinancieras quieren hacer una solo cosa muy importante para que la gente este sorprendida, pero no, depende de las necesidades – tu a lo mejor necesitas que comer, yo lo que necesito son unos zapatos etc. ‐. Nosotros lo hacemos personalizado por grupos en las comunidades y nosotros vamos a darles lo que necesitan por área. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Hay varios créditos para las diferentes actividades? MARICELA GAMBOA DE ALBA: Todos son para proyectos productivos en grupos solidarios o personales pero con la misma metodología. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Tienen también un típo de crédito para vivienda? MARICELA GAMBOA DE ALBA: Sí, para vivienda sí hay y en educación, nosotros hacemos las alianzas y hay becas. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿En las zonas que son muy remotas y marginadas, tienen alguna estrategia en particular? MARICELA GAMBOA DE ALBA: Es con las que nosotros más trabajamos, en general trabajamos con todos, vamos con las promotoras a las zonas muy marginadas y todo lo hacen los promotores, ese es el chiste, es el know‐how. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Tienen alguna tecnología para disminuir los costos operativos? MARICELA GAMBOA DE ALBA: Lo que pasa es que las personas que contratamos son de ahí mismo y las conocen, para ellos no es tanto gasto y para nosotros tampoco. Creo que eso es la clave porque no genera un costo y las personas confían en ellos porque las conocen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Tienen alguna garantía líquida? MARICELA GAMBOA DE ALBA: Es en el 10 %. Después del 10 % ya no se pide garantía prendaría, solo cuando es un crédito muy grande. Sí se pide y es para todos. No se paga ningún interés. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Hay algúnas características idiosincráticas del estado de Chiapas que es importante para su model, comparado con los otros estados? MARICELA GAMBOA DE ALBA: De trabaja en todos lados con el mismo modelo pero con las necesidades de cada persona. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muchas gracias por la entrevista! Appendix 26:
Interview with Julio Luna, GrameenTrust Chiapas, Project Coordinator, The Gender and
Microfinance Research Project in Chiapas, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)
San Cristóbal de las Casa, Chiapas, November 12, 2008 JULIO LUNA: Acerca del proyecto, se implementaron cinco oficinas regionales, cada oficina regional abastece a diferentes comunidades, incluso cada uno tiene su propia metodología , un ejemplo específico de esto sería, hay oficinas que tienen necesidad de abrir un local para representación en cada comunidad, hay oficinas que administran todo con promotores desde una oficina central con promotores que están directamente en el campo y directamente con las personas, todo esto depende en las necesidades de la cobertura y los costos de implementación. En el numero de localidades, estamos hablando de unas 20 localidades en el proyecto, sin embargo sabemos que Grameen tiene 36 o 38 sucursales activamente en todo el estado de Chiapas y hay otras oficinas en otros estados. Hace rato te comentaba sobre Oaxaca, Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Yucatán, Veracruz, etc. Ahora que es lo que pasa? En el caso de Veracruz, Yucatán y Oaxaca son casos muy particulares al de Chiapas, por ejemplo el caso de Jalisco y Aguascalientes son casos extraordinarios, es gente que supo del programa y vino a pedir una especie de representación. Lo más importante que tienes que saber es que Grameen es un líder general y dentro de Grameen hay diferentes empresas u organizaciones, entonces con esto se cumple un amplio numero de servicios financieros pero se tienen que respetar la parte de asociación civil y que se conserven exclusivamente los proyectos que están orientados a la contabilidad de esta organización, que tiene productos distintos, que tiene fuente de fonos distintos, que tiene tasas de interés distintas, formas de cobranza distintas y muchos más, adecuados a los costos diarios. Estábamos pensando un poco al principio…. Es que ese proyecto buscaba una cobertura que fuera muy representativa de lo que pasa en Chiapas, San Cristóbal nos ofrecía una caja cooperativa, nos ofreció una variedad muy amplia de contactos urbanos y semi‐
urbanos, el entorno netamente rural e indígena. Ahora cada localidad tiene su metodología y cada una es distinta, las formas de pago son distintas, las tasas son distintas. San Cristóbal en si es muy representativo para lo que pasa en Grameen, es muy heterogéneo, ahora Tuxtla Gutiérrez es muy urbano, de un nivel económico más alto, es una política de estado, es un estado muy pobre pero que recibe mucho dinero de la federación... y eso le da un dinamismo muy diferente a la ciudad, desde esa oficina central se abastece a las colonias o comunidades rurales que están cerca de Tuxtla, digamos no sé si tenga sentido hablarte de nombre pero prácticamente las que conocen más o menos la zona venían de lugares como San Fernando , Chiapa de Corzo, etc. Ahora el tema ahí es que el típo de cliente es muy distinto, la gente de la ciudad tiene una mentalidad... digamos están acostumbrados al crédito, toda esta fortaleza que se generan en grupos solidarios es mas débil por los contactos urbanos, porque la gente tiene mas posibilidad de no pagar, de huir, de esconderse, la forma de cobranza es distinta, digamos entonces cambia mucho la forma de operación. Entonces te diría como experiencia personal, la sucursal de Tuxtla prefiere operar en las comunidades que están en la misma ciudad. Ahora tenemos otro informe de la sucursal de Comitán, Comitán también desde ahí cubre la ciudad desde diferentes puntos, en el centro, en el mercado y también en las comunidades muy distintas pero con un aspecto muy interesante, por ejemplo tiene el entorno de la frontera en un lugar que se llama Comulat, en este lugar digamos la gente está más alejada de Chiapas de Guatemala, el típo de gente es distinta en el caso de Opuntic, es un pueblo azucarero, es una industria muy interesante, en el caso de Las Margaritas que es otra de las oficinas regionales que te comenté, es un municipio que independiente cual sea el contexto político actual, desde el inicio se caracterizo por ser como... digamos el termino en español sería como amigable con los Zapatistas, entonces los Zapatistas podían llegar a las margaritas abastecerse de productos y entonces era un entorno muy distinto. Sin embargo con el tiempo, yo te podría decir que el tema del zapatismo es muy importante, ahora, hay muchos con movimiento pero no nos afectan, lo que sí es importante es que Las Margaritas es un lugar donde hay muchas mujeres solas porque es donde se concentra la mayoría de hombres que se han ido a Estados Unidos de braceros y todo eso. Por último está la sucursal de Ocosingo. Ocosingo por muchos años ha sido una cabecera muy importante en cuanto al ganado, entonces se produce mucha carne, mucho queso y todo eso, ¿no? Lo tradicional de Ocosingo es comer carne. Aquí lo importante es configurar una comunicación muy distinta con la gente que vive de una manera que sí es diferente. Va a ser importante también, algo que te comentaba antes de la grabación es que Grameen tiene como 45,000 clientes, la ultima vez que lo chequé eran más de 45,000, todos están distribuidos mayormente en el estado Chiapas. Muchas de ellas son representantes de las mismas familias, entonces digamos a lo largo de los 10 años se han venido acumulando un número importante de clientes. Bueno, el proyecto que nosotros estamos haciendo tiene que ver con las cinco oficinas que te estoy comentando, prácticamente en esas cinco sucursales se concentraría el 36% de toda la población de Grameen en términos de acreditados, las oficinas de San Cristóbal, Tuxtla son los brazos fuertes de Grameen, tradicionalmente se trabaja con los créditos inmediatos, sin embargo el nuevo escenario de competencia y el nuevo escenario de evaluación, es decir la gente ya se acostumbró a las microfinanzas y la gente también se acostumbró a que si no pagan en general no hay una grave consecuencia, entonces ha sido un proceso de ajuste muy delicado ya que se le da seguimiento de manera muy específica donde los promotores intervienen demasiado. Digamos aquí el tema de fondos es el tema de incentivos, el promotor como todos los que trabajan aquí, están aquí por el dinero, ¿no? Si tiene motivación u objetivos personales, el promotor cobra una quincena, cobra su salario de eso vive y de eso mantiene a su familia. Entonces el verdadero reto es generar un sistema de incentivos que les permita a ellos hacer su trabajo sin contradecir sus objetivos sociales, entonces por ejemplo si incentivas la colocación lo que pasas con el promotor es que entre más coloques, más vendes pero no es muy responsable con la cobranza, así por otro lado si incentivas la cobranza lo que pasa es que el acreditado va a escoger al promotor y el promotor va a escoger a sus clientes, vas a decir pues estas no son muy bien pagadas. El chiste de crecer como institución es que la institución no dependa tanto de las personas, es decir que se pueda automatizar esta operación que se pueda estandarizar los procesos, que se pueda generar protocolos para que cada vez se dependa menos de la gente si bien no se podría hacer nada con las personas, pero un poco el criterio sería que las personas no intervengan tanto para que no se atasque y que no se convierta en una decisión personal. Entonces a nosotros nos incrementa el resigo, es muy difícil multiplicar las personas o crecer, uno de los temas de interés de Grameen mientras más cobertura tienes, mientras de más gente dependas, más crece también la organización. Entonces es un circulo virtuoso donde difícilmente se pueden colocar otras empresas, mientras más ayuda a la gente, el crecimiento se genera más en la organización y por lo tanto se tiene más cobertura, cada vez se contrata más gente, cada vez se expande más y respetando mucho los intereses sociales del mismo porque los dueños así lo requieren. El hecho de los incentivos que ha hecho que el promotor intervenga tanto, dificulta el proceso de expansión, la otra cosa es que ya se convierta en un criterio que se tenga que facilitar el trabajo del promotor. Por ejemplo, en operación, si bien el sistema es una herramienta computarizada como se le dice el cliente de broma “las computadoras no mienten”, el problema es que esa información es cargada por manos , ¿no? Es un proceso que se tiene muy viciado también, es un proceso que el sistema no permite que una persona que ya haya trabajado continue; pero con que se le cambie una cosita para que ya se convierta en otro nombre, eso es un tema muy delicado, es un tema que Grameen tiene muy claro y que cuida mucho que es el manejo de la infamación, base de datos con indicadores estratégicos actualizados, confiables y de manera periódica de tal manera que se pueda tener acceso a todo este tipo de cosas, ahí hemos trabajado un sinfín de cosas, no te puedo dar la información sin la autorización de la organización pero te podría decir de manera preliminar que mucho de lo que hacemos tiene mucho que ver por ejemplo ¿Cuál es la probabilidad de defraudar? Dependiendo del contexto, dependiendo del tamaño del grupo, dependiendo del tamaño del monto de grupo, dependiendo del tamaño personal de préstamo, dependiendo del parentesco que tenga con el grupo y del entorno donde están aplicando microcréditos. La información es muy importante, como te decía la caja es muy conflictiva y se pudiera simplificarlo en una sola frase, es que las microfinanzas han tenido una expansión muy grande en el medio y hablando específicamente en Chiapas por dos razones, la primera es porque el gobierno empieza a dar recursos, la segunda es porque la mayoría de las organizaciones que vas a encontrar exclusivamente en México, las que tienen ya muchos años, te das cuenta que la mayoría son muy burocráticas, casi todas las organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG) o asociaciones civiles sobre todo fuera de la ciudad caen en manos de familias que ya están acostumbrados al tema de la calidad, digamos entonces esto está permitido generar estructuras que son elevadamente costosas sin ningún interés intermediario, recuperar hasta que quedan sin nada, les han permitido implementar la metodología más autentica y por ultimo creo que esto será lo mas importante de todo y no lo tomes como muy optimismo, la verdad es que el mercado ha sido muy noble. Las personas han sido muy cumplidas a pesar de la falta de control y a pesar de la falta de estandarización, a pesar de todos los errores que se han cometido en el proceso, la gente ha resultado muy pagadora y solo es más allá de un comentario emocional o emotivo, esa es la razón muy importante en un contexto más viciado como en una ciudad como el D.F., Tijuana, Monterrey y Guadalajara, el nivel de des‐promoción es muy mala, es decir si la gente supiera que si no paga no pasa nada, esto sería una locura. Entonces yo te diría, para mi fue una sorpresa, yo te puedo decir que después de estar a cargo tantos años acá estoy mucho más empapado del tema, pero cuando recién llegue me platicaron esto como funciona: promueves, forman grupos, solicitan, llenas su solicitud y se someten a consideración, se aprueban, se imprimen los cheques, ahora hay lugares donde no hay bancos y se tiene que dar en efectivo, la mayoría de los clientes de Grameen no tiene bancos, yo estaba muy impresionado que la gente te paga, yo me había imaginado que les das el dinero y salen corriendo, entonces ¿qué es lo que pasa? Yo platicaría en forma de broma, mucha de la gente del sector de finanzas se creen que saben de la banca y creen que saben del crédito cuando realmente es la gente y la bondad de la gente la que ha permitido que estas instituciones crezcan más que el estar de banqueros. Tienes un tema muy delicado de Grameen, tienen muy divididas las operaciones, Grameen sabe perfecto que lo que es cumplir con los objetivos sociales se tiene que cuidar de una manera clara e incluso se manejan estructuras mucho mas pequeñas en todos los casos como el proceso de promoción, información, el levantamiento de las solicitudes, el tramite administrativo de los crédito, la entrega de los montos y sobre todo el seguimiento que es la parte de cobranza, las reuniones, la capacitación y yo te diaría que todo este proceso termina cuando se renueva el crédito, es decir el proceso no termina cuando haces el ultimo pago, después de ahí entras en todo un tema de teorías para mi como te digo es un tema muy delicado. Yo te diría, muchas de las preguntas que nos hacemos es, que pasa con la antigüedad de los clientes, es decir conviene que tenga varios créditos en su historial o lo mismo sería que cumplieran su ciclo, es decir que hayan generado sus objetivos que les permitan continuar o que sean autosuficiente. Es un dilema muy interesante porque no tendríamos información sólida para la gente que se va, se va por dos razones una porque es autosuficiente, ya cumplió con el objetivo del crédito o porque se fue con la competencia o simplemente no funcionó muy bien. Ojala nos pudiéramos pegar a las condiciones más optimistas pero primero hay que ser muy realistas, hay que decir es suficiente o no suficiente, ¿no? Pero tu investigación puede encontrar interesante, por ejemplo mucha de las preguntas que nos hacemos es, ¿cuál ha sido la transformación aquí en la región, después de prácticamente 10 años, es decir, realmente ha habido un cambio o no? Ese cambio se debe exclusivamente a las microfinanzas o se debe a un evento natural de la economía en la región y se genera un impacto, sobre todo en qué magnitud de comparación con otros programas sociales, por ejemplo Oportunidades, un programa federal de apoyo a las mujeres, cuesta miles de pesos al año y los programas de microfinanzas están por x numero de miles de pesos al año, al final mi objetivo es una mayor cobertura social, ¿cuál proyecto es más rentable? Desde este punto de vista debe de ser muy importante para los acreedores de políticas de nuestro país porque es tan sencillo como decir este proyecto requiere el mismo esfuerzo que este, pero con operaciones más simples, pero en este hay ciertas deficiencias en la operación, ¿qué es lo que pasa? Para nosotros sí es muy importante saber si la pobreza realmente en la politica tiene un impacto o no. Y en qué magnitud y en qué temas, es decir, los temas pueden ser: salud, educación, etc. Esta pregunta tiene muchas respuestas, un ejemplo, en el caso de México existe un programa de educación muy grande y es muy grande a nivel nacional, en todos los términos uno de los temas que tiene que ver es en la política publica, cual es la población mas chiquita, técnicamente estos programas tienen que estar dirigidos a las personas que menos recursos tienen, sin embargo la educación publica en México tiene un conflicto muy importante, la gente que más lo necesita no se puede dar el lujo de ir a la escuela ya que la gente que más lo necesita por lo general esta allá fuera trabajando para ganar un poco de dinero, específicamente todos los niños de la calle de México. El niño dice ¿voy a la escuela o me pongo a trabajar? ¿Qué sucede? La política publica tiene una falla, por ejemplo, el proceso de acreditar para aprobar un crédito puede caer en el mismo problema, es decir, si haces una solicitud y tu le pides a la persona que tenga una actividad económica o un negocio, ya de entrada estás excluyendo a mucha gente porque a lo mejor no tiene forma de comprobar nada, ¿no? Finanzas siempre es un tema delicado, a través de los promotores nosotros podemos decidir, si ellos checan y ven que no tienen ninguna razón sólida para solicitar un crédito se le dice júntate con un grupo que te conzca, entonces de esas personas dicen que sí te conocen o admiten, yo también los admito, el grupo tiene que estar muy bien enterado de cuáles son los riesgos, si la persona es confiable o no, así es como se va formando un esquema de mucha confianza. Regresando al tema anterior, algo que es muy importante, antes seguramente hay personas en el sector que hablen de la bondad, yo no voy a cuestionar la bondad o no de las personas, creo que si Grameen no hubiera hecho esto así, no hubiera logrado lo que ha crecido y creo que esto está motivado porque se generaron incentivos para crecer al igual que la gente. En el caso de un grupo solidario, si tu sabes que si metes a alguien, tiene que ser responsable, es decir la gente también busca crecer y sabe que si colabora con un grupo que no se haya comportado adecuado, queda marcado para siempre en el historial. Yo te decía que toda la información que se lleva con mucho detalle, entonces sí es un tema de interés hasta donde estamos llegando con nuestros programas. La otra parte es la participación mayor de las mujeres, en realidad no sabemos de que manera contribuye o no, yo te diría antes de la cuestión de género en las microfinanzas estaba regido el tema de pago es decir si eres un grupo, si pagas te quedas si no pagas te vas. Si sigues con ese esquema solo te quedarías con las personas que funcionan bien y que tienen mayor participación, en el caso de Grameen, el 80% son mujeres. Esta independiente económica de la mujer rompe con la tradición en México del patriarcado que es, los hombres son los que mantienen el hogar, obviamente cambia eso. Sabemos que la independencia económica sí trae cosas buenas al hogar porque la mujer es más responsable con los gastos y además con el contexto que nos toca estudiar, ahí los hijos crecen muy cerca de la mamá y entonces si la mamá esta ahí por consecuencia también están ahí los hijos. La mamá no toma, es muy difícil encontrar a la mamá que toma, yo te diría lo hombres tampoco reportan altos niveles de alcoholismo, sin embargo no tenemos información benigna que nos ayude a confirmar esto, mucha de la información que se recibe no es real, entonces siguiendo con esta línea de seguimiento, cual es la configuración del mercado, actualmente como aceptas fondos, cual es la característica, cuales son sus requisitos para que puedan prestar fondos para organizaciones como esta, básicamente esto es lo que pasa. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Tienen algúna estrategia en particular para trabajar en las comunidades marginadas y alejadas? JULIO LUNA: Digamos la estrategia de promoción... Algo que es muy importante dejar claro es que – no está mal, pero tendría que ser más preciso – más allá de una política interna, de que si vamos a ir a cubrir el lugar más lejano, el promotor sabe que sus costos tienen que ser buenos y saben que si incrementan su cartera, también le va ir mejor a él, el mejor incentivo para el promotor es ese, entre más gente cubra es mejor para él. En las comunidades más alejadas, se requiere muchísima más participación del promotor, no solo para capacitarlo sobre el proyecto sino también para constituir a todas las instituciones que pudieran participar en proyectos como aquí. Por ejemplo, si el promotor está completamente a cargo de llevar el dinero e irlo a cobrar, digamos que si no va a cobrarlo hay un riesgo de pago impuntual. Entonces el promotor tiene que estar muy atento para cumplir con los días de cobro y con las fechas de pagos. Cómo le puedo explicar yo al promotor? La mejor manera de que yo se lo puedo explicar es, “si no lo llevas al tiempo, te van a dejar de pagar, y eso va a incrementar tu cartera vencida y no vas a cumplir con tus desafíos”. Suena muy extraño que te voy a decir, pero mi misión del día es que no lo lleven así. No cuestiono la buena voluntad del socio ni de los promotores, lo que se está generando es un riesgo porque hay veces que te dejan de pagar por alguna razón, p. Ej. Que tienen que ir al medico, el que pueda incorporarse a su actividad de nuevo es lo que le interesa a Grameen, ya que en el proceso también pueda continuar con su actividad económica y no deje de pagar su crédito. Ahora se les da también ayuda de manera muy subjetiva y ahí se necesita mucho la interpretación del promotor. Y esto desafortu‐
nadamente afecta a la institución porque si nos dañan ellos se dañan a ellos también. Es muy difícil cuando los promotores tocan dinero, es muy difícil darles seguimiento. Qué pasa cuando el promotor recibe mucho dinero? En un día en el camino de regreso la asaltan o simplemente se acuerda que tiene que pagar la colegiatura de sus hijos. Nosotros partimos de la base que eso no pasa, pero hay que estarlo checando. Entonces en este tema es de día y de noche por lo mismo todo se reduce a que todos los fondos tienen un interés, en un objetivo de la institución para cumplir con los objetivos que son sociales. Ahora bien, cómo le transmites esos incentivos a los promotores y cómo los promotores le ofrecen la idea a los grupos y a la gente para que sigua participando? Entonces es un tema muy interesante. Yo te diría que hay muy pocas situaciones en la política pública que se convierte en una situación grave, lo natural es que ese sector se expanda y crezca generalmente como lo está haciendo ahora. Entonces con fondos cada vez más baratos lo que sí es muy importante es que mientras más eficiente seas como organización disminuyes el riesgo. Y como el riesgo es un interés real, entonces lo que haces es disminuir la tasa de interés. Imagínate mientras mejor hagamos el trabajo nosotros menor es la tasa, ahora la tasas por lo general son altas y digamos con una justificación generalmente aceptada, ya que los costos de cobranza son altos, por lo mismo de que es una estructura por el promotor y los gastos para trasladarse. Porque si los cobros son pequeños, el costo operativo es mayor, imagínate, si cobras un crédito de 1,000 pesos me cuesta más caro ir que lo que estoy cobrando. Entonces en ese sentido los promotores van a ir a cobrar muchos para que valga la pena cobrarlos. El promotor es él que sabe como hacer esto porque es él que lo vive todos los días y tiene mucha experiencia, sensibilidad y mucho olfato, sin embargo nuestra obligación es combinar esa experiencia y sistematizarla, de esta conversación se reduce a la palabra sistematizarlo. Por qué? Porque si hay un caso de éxito de un promotor que ya tiene mucha práctica, eso hay que sistematizarlo para la organización y adecuarlo al contexto de cada uno, te digo hay muchos retos, pero depende mucho de la regulación, por ejemplo en construcción tenemos el programa de vivienda digna y para eso hay fundadores como Grameen. Hay mucha tecnología, hay proyectos de material de bajo costo de ahorro de energía y productos no contaminantes, también los créditos de nutrición. Hay convenios con organizaciones que nos dan alimentos donde de alguna manera se consiguen precios preferenciales para las canastas básicas, hay nutríologos participando directamente, prevención de adicciones y otro tipo de prevención familiar, estos son como otro tipo de incentivos para los promotores y clientes. Por ejemplo, un banco comercial te da un seguro para tu coche, a veces hasta más barato que una aseguradora, y lo que pasa es que el banco sabe que si tienes un crédito con ellos o una cuenta, ellos saben que si tienes un accidente mayor, pierdes el coche o tienes que pagar daños materiales o en el caso de la salud tienes una enfermedad, qué es lo que hace el banco? Dice, si este señor tiene una tragedía económica y ha dejado de pagar, ellos de cierta manera han sido muy generosos al darte un seguro más barato, con tal de que ellos aseguren que si el cliente tiene un accidente con gastos mayores no le afecta al banco. A mí me gusta mucho verlo desde esta perspectiva, no porque no confíe en la gente, en el caso de las adicciones o problemas familiares yo te diría que los problemas dentro del hogar generalmente se ve en un mal comportamiento en el pago de su crédito, es decir, en una familia donde todos participan, donde comparten todos los bienes, existe una solidez económica que les permite desempeñarse mejor en los pagos del crédito, si bien hay una preocupación real por el entorno, para mí sigue siendo más valioso el tema si el proyecto en si mismo genera, entonces digamos con el proceso de crecimiento hay que generar una estructura eficiente. Yo te diría que Grameen está muy cerca de llegar a una situación donde no puede seguir creciendo porque no tiene dinero para seguir prestando, entonces cada vez es más grande el reto. Y en conclusión yo te diría mientras más crezca la organización, lo más viable y económicamente posible es conservar la metodología original, entre más se crece más se regresa al sistema tradicional. Por que? Porque se cubren lo objetivos desde otra perspectiva y se aprende bastante, en el proceso se genera una estructura muy rentable con la colocación de recursos no lucrativos. En el gran avance que he observado, yo creo que hay que separar lo social y después todo lo demás en un caso. Donde un cliente llegaría a pedir un crédito, yo te diría el gran motor de este sector sería que es un mercado muy grande que tradicionalmente ha sido el cliente de la banca tradicional y de la banca comercial. Entonces el gran mérito es crear un modelo que le permita pagarlo con una normativa fundamental que si le va bien a uno le va bien a todos. La gente en la región ya está muy acostumbrada al crédito, la gente en los pueblos está muy acostumbrada a ir con los prestadores y pedir préstamos. Lo que nosotros decimos es que nuestros intereses son más bajos y en un esquema ordenado de pagos, después se envía al promotor y se explica específicamente de que se trata, cuál es el interés, cuál es el objetivo del interés, cuando son los días de pago, y se les da un seguimiento. Si en un caso quisieran recalcar qué es la metodología, existen las reuniones por lo menos semanalmente, cuando un grupo cumple con sus pagos, se reduce la necesidad de las reuniones, es decir, mi promotor tiene que decidir en qué invertir su tiempo, si va a ir a cobrarles a los que no pagan o si van a ir a platicar sobre la metodología. Yo te diría que el promotor siempre va a preferir estar cobrando, sobre todo en épocas malas se reúnen más con los grupos morosos que son los que no pagan, pero en ese proceso de reuniones se les capacita y se les dan todas las indicaciones y se aclaran todas sus dudas. Así mismo hay una línea de atención a clientes gratuita, donde se les permite hablar para capacitarlos y reportar cualquier abuso por parte del promotor. Eso es algo muy importante, si estamos hablando de valores como de confianza, al promotor si lo descuidas un poco es capaz de decirles “yo les puedo dar más cosas”, esto puede pasar. Pero partimos de la idea que los promotores no operan de mala fe, hay muchos casos donde te puedo decir que un promotor requiere que se le haga un detalle más específico sobre su cartera y sobre todo en los lugares más marginados donde no hay mucha comunicación. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿ Los servicios de capacitación son gratis? JULIO LUNA: Totalmente gratis, sí, te dije que son el incentivo. Una cosa muy sencilla que quisiera recalcar, el promotor tiene que tener la ultima palabra, es una persona baja de recursos y que necesita dinero, es una gente que también necesita incentivos para poder cobrar ese dinero cada 15 días, entonces es un reto realmente interesante. No me cabe la menor que el presidente y los socios que fundaron esto, estamos muy comprometidos con los cambios sociales, pero como se transmite ese sentimiento o conocimiento, es un tema mucho más de incentivo que de reevangelización. Entonces no es tampoco que están obligados a eso pero al final los indicadores son muy sencillos, cuanta gente esta ayudado, cuantos créditos se han entregado, con que características, hacia que actividad están dirigidas, sobre todo cual es la tasa de pago, a lo mejor los indicadores no son más por alianzas estratégicas y son más bien de indicadores estratégicos, ...es nuestra promoción en nuestro sector y de todos los sectores, mientras mejor le va a la gente mejor le va a todos, por lo tanto formamos gente consciente. Nosotros decimos el naturalismo a diario no subestimo la buena voluntad y el esfuerzo que están haciendo las personas allá fuera, que es muy grande, lo que creo yo es que nos tienen una tasa de crecimiento más alta que otros , ¿no? Porque al final el éxito de la persona se ejecuta sola, es decir, cual es mi necesidad con hecho en la vida real, ósea yo lo veo aquí, ¿no? Cuando llego a las cajas y veo los proyectos y que tengo que conseguir ciertos numero de gente y que los tengo que capacitar, si me lo dan aunque pierdan tiempo, ¿no? Que es un tiempo que ellos dedican a promoción o a cobranza, me lo dedican a mí y lo hacen porque es gente buena y gente comprometida con la organización, pero si hay incentivas en el proceso, es mejor para ellos, si yo les digo mira te voy a financiar los gastos o te voy a dar una ayuda económica por cada conteo que realicen , cosas así, con un incentivo las cosas pueden funcionar mejor, nunca han funcionado mal, solo que hay maneras más rápidas de avanzar. Entonces normalmente representa ver las cosas de manera distinta pero por lo pronto te puedo decir que desde mi punto de vista, ¿cual es el interés? En tener información confiable, obviamente verídica, una manera estandardizada , una sola metodología, que me permita a mí generar una estrategia más confiable, generar técnica, técnica es eso, tener comprobantes desde un punto muy objetivo, en un entorno como este, en Estados Unidos cuando simplemente esta metodología, ellos tienen información demasiado detallada es una larga tradición de recolectar datos, en México no tenemos eso. Entonces cada vez que vamos e implementamos un objetivo como este, tenemos que garantizar que la información sea confiable, ¿no? Ósea una vez más mis objetivos son con el proyecto y la variedad de la información, esto termina en un sistema de incentivos similar, estos son los procesos de adaptación que se deben hacer para sacar los precios. La gente pobre en México tiene mucha costumbre de que la encuesten, en todos los organismos nacionales e incluso en algunos internacionales los encuestan, si yo voy en la calle y te dio, “oye me regalas 45 minuntos para que te encueste, seguramente no me lo darías, y si te digo que digas algo relacionado con tu pareja, mucho menos. ¿Entonces como le haces? De hecho nosotros lo llamamos implementación, trabajar lo mejor posible con lo que tenemos, ¿no? Con organización, con estructura de promotores, con los egresados mismos, yo te diría que nuestro proyecto se parece mucho al del año pasado, con los objetivos distintos, pero coincidimos en lo fundamental y todo se reduce a que si les va bien, a todos le va bien. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Quién da la capacitación, los promotores? JULIO LUNA: No, bueno sí están los promotores, pero te decía que tienen alianzas, por ejemplo el banco interamericano para el desarrollo, te presta dinero para dar crédito y eso incluye un componente para capacitar a la oficina y componente para capacitar y crear talleres para los asociados. Ahora depende siempre de los recursos, yo te diría muchos recursos dependen de los promotores para realizar la capacitación y en otras hemos visto que se van a México y es muy interesante, entonces yo te diría que hay diferentes modelos.Casi todo el mundo está interesado en la pobreza y sobre todo en tiempo de crisis, entonces como hacerle para que el proceso de cobranza también funcione como una oportunidad de conexión entre ellos, como te decía que ayuda a la gente y al mismo tiempo busca la carga administrativa, al mismo tiempo asumen el riesgo, al mismo tiempo reduzca la tasa de interés y al mismo tiempo que dan la obertura, es una cuestión muy sencilla, es una especie de secuencia de mercado quien genera la menos tasa de interés será quien tendrá la mayor parte de la gente. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Grameen recibe fondos? ¿Es autosustentable? JULIO LUNA: No sabría responder, sé que recibe fondos de organismos internacionales con quién tiene compromisos de pago pero no sé si los fondos que se generan son propiedad de Grameen o son de las sociedades, eso solo el director general o el director de contabilidad te lo puede decir. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Me podría platicar un poco más sobre el cambio que ha observado en cuanto al rol de las mujeres? JULIO LUNA: Eso sería un tema muy interesante, ese sería un tema que valdría la pena ponerlo aprueba y hacerlo de una manera formal. De momento lo que podría irte adelantando es que los fondos llevan muchos años pero no han sido llevado de manera adecuada, en el caso del Banco de México tienen destinados a la agricultura y curiosamente también son ellos los encargados para dar los fondos para las microfinanzas, ahora los fondos y recursos son esas cosas, entonces yo te diría no tengo los datos a la mano pero los porcentajes de inversión en el campo son cada vez menor, la cantidad de dinero que está destinado de tal manera que el gobierno está más efectivo en cumplir los objetivos de sus fondos, tienen la posibilidad de cobrar y ser sustentables, entonces en ese proceso había programas para el campo como Procampo, Alianza Contigo, había diferentes proyectos que estaban orientados a habilitar a los agricultores, entonces hay varios aspectos que ya cambiaron. Bueno a nivel general entonces que sucede, que las formas existentes era que el hombre trabajaba el campo, entonces la dependencia económica ya no recae en el hombre, entonces ahora la mujer está recibiendo su dependencia económica y eso le permite por lo menos una visión distinta, digamos que el tema patriarcal tiene que ver con la cultura. Sabemos que hay familias desde la mujer sea independientemente económica, seguramente le informa de todos sus proyectos a su marido, digamos contra eso no tenemos mucho que hacer, sin embargo el planteamiento de todos las decisiones que toman estas mujeres desde punto, es decir, en cuanto vendo la bolsa y con la esperanza también de que el negocio crezca que también ese es el fin. Hay casos en comunidades muy equitativas en cuestión de género, en el caso de Zinacantán, el tema del machismo no es tan trágico como en otras zonas, sin embargo sí hay cierto generamiento cultural y te das cuenta, por ejemplo las mujeres están en la tienda vendiendo y los hombres están atrás, así sí pasa, es una muestra muy poco equitativa pero son cosas de las que no se da cuenta nadie, en este punto de manera que la mayoría de los esposos con los que se trabaja aquí, aparentan una relación muy armoniosa con su pareja, yo te diría que es un requisito fundamental. De hecho hay un regla escrita de una proporción de hombre y mujeres, donde por cada hombre que se incorpora al grupo tiene que haber por lo menos tres mujeres. Yo no puedo hacer encuestas porque obvio soy hombre y la metodología dice que las mujeres tienen que hablar con mujeres para que se sientan mas cómodas al hablar, es un tema donde se excluye al hombre inclusive al coordinador del proyecto, pero bueno eso es lo que pasa en la operación. Appendix 27:
Interview with Alvaro Ramírez, Former Chief of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise
Division, Sustainable Development Department, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
February 9, 2009 JESSICA HAEUSSLER: In the Banana Skins study 2008 on the current risks in the microfinance industry, re‐
spondents from Latin America identified the rapid in‐
crease in competition and commercialization as a ma‐
jor risk. Do you feel the wrong type of competition is entering the market? Or is the intensifying compe­
tition desirable in light of innovations and outreach to more isolated areas? How do you expect the current trends to develop in the near future? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: I believe the more competition the better, because that will reduce the cost. It will also increase creativity and innovation. Right now in Latin America, only about 10 to 12 percent of credit is for micro‐entrepreneurs, there is still a long way to go. So I believe the more competition, the better. It is impor‐
tant to consider that each country is different in Latin America. Bolivia was an excellent case. With more competition, MFIs were very innovative and very crea‐
tive. About 7 or 8 years ago, the interest rate was at about 60 percent and right now it is at about 18 per‐
cent. So the interest rate was reduced because of com‐
petition. And I believe the more competition, the more people will be served. It’s beneficial for the clients. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Interest rates in Mexico are much higher than in the rest of Latin America. An explanation for this has been the lagged development of the Mexican microfinance sector, the high operating costs, the relatively small loan amounts and a lack of competition until recently. Yet, some institutions con‐
tinue to make considerable profits despite intensifying competition in some regions. Have you come across an explanation for this phenomenon? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: Yes, Mexico has high interest rates and there’s a long way to go. The industry in Mexico is still very new and has a long way ahead. But also, the operating costs are very expensive. The salaries in Mexico are very high compared to other Latin Ameri‐
can countries. So even though I believe they should make an effort to reduce cost, it is important to consid‐
er that cost are high in Mexico. There are right now more institutions entering the industry in Mexico, so I believe in the long‐run, they will go down. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: One important issue in the glob‐
al debate about microfinance has been the impact micro‐entrepreneurship can have on the economic development of a country. Some economists claim, a loan provided as working capital to start a microenter‐
prise was likely to be doomed to failure, because “most of the poor are no entrepreneurs”. Critics also argue there was no reason to expect microfinance to affect economic growth and the development of successful businesses. In your publication The Microfinance Expe­
rience in Latin America and the Caribbean (2004), you pointed out that micro and small enterprises in Latin America account for 40 percent of GDP and nearly half of all employment in Latin America. These impressive numbers suggest that microenterprises already played a critical role in the local economies even before they had access to microfinance. Do you believe microen­
terprises with access to microfinance will grow and eventually employ more people? And may eco­
nomic development driven by micro­enterprise create the conditions for the emergence of a strong SME­sector? From your experience, can a microen­
terprise sector accelerate economic growth? And can financial support for microenterprises be of macroeconomic importance in the Latin American region? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: I believe, yes. But if you want to support micro‐entrepreneurs, microfinance is just one stage, it is also about very good business development services; such as training, marketing, where they are going to accelerate growth. It is important to facilitate all the other instruments that make people grow. Mi‐
crofinance is only one area. Another area that is also crucial would be that of training. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Do you think these services should be provided by the same MFI? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: I would generally say, do what you can do best. Financing is one area and business devel‐
opment services is another area. I would rather let it do different institutions. The loan officer of an MFI is the person to support the micro‐entrepreneurs in some aspects, there is a close relationship between the MFI and the micro‐entrepreneurs. So I believe this kind of assistance is fine. But regarding formal training, that should be provided by a different institution. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Some critics of microfinance also argue that most of the poor are not micro‐
entrepreneurs by choice and are often caught up in subsistence activities. They claim most microenter‐
prises are very small, located in highly competitive sub‐
sectors and many fail, therefore microfinance does not “lead to flourishing economies”20. Do you believe that with access to financial services and capacity train­
ing, even subsistence activities may be the first step towards an established business? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: This is difficult. I mean, we can try to help these people, but it’s not always the case that this works successfully. But that, of course, doesn’t mean you cannot try to do it. When they start a busi‐
ness you have to help them always have this quality of business. As an entrepreneur you have to wake up early in the morning for your raw material and so on, you really need that drive to succeed with your busi‐
ness. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: The global microfinance com‐
munity is still divided on whether sustainable micro‐
finance can actually lead to poverty reduction. Ac‐
cording to the World Bank “it is still unclear how big an impact microfinance has had on poverty overall21”. What has been your experience with regards to microfi­
nance in Latin America? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: There hasn’t been carried out extensive research on whether microfinance really has an impact for the people of poverty, because it costs a lot of money to do so and is not easy. But let me tell you that over the years, as institutions start very very small and you can see all these financial institutions grow and stay with the same people and help them in one way or another ‐ I think yes. I think that if microfinance empowers them to do better, yes. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Many countries in Latin America are faced with high levels of inequality and large in‐
come disparities. Do you feel microfinance provides a viable solution where large parts of the popula­
tion do not currently benefit from the fruits of economic development? Where do you see the limi­
tations? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: Microfinance is a way to really help these people. Limiting the facilitation is sometimes the government’s intervention. The government is 20 Aneel Karnani, 2007 21 The World Bank, 2008, p. 13
crucial in whatever we do. If we want to have a very solid microfinance industry, we need to have very sta‐
ble macroeconomic conditions. And these macroeco‐
nomic conditions are provided through the govern‐
ment. We require very good regulation. We also need a good credit bureau for reporting. So the limitation is the regulation and government intervention if it’s unfa‐
vourable. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Against the background of glob‐
alization, free trade agreements and climate change, whole communities in rural areas are losing their live‐
lihood. Peasants faced with highly subsidized competi‐
tion from abroad need to come up with new productive activities. Do you believe MFIs can play a leading role in creating new economic opportunities in rural areas? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: Well, we have been trying to reach out to the rural areas. It is very difficult. With technol‐
ogy, like i‐phones, it might be made possible and we can try to get to those areas. But right now ‐ I wish we could find ways to go to these areas, but it is something very difficult to do. Even the government programs in rural areas don’t have a critical mass of people doing business and many are unable to participate. Also in microfinance, the institutions need to be sustainable and if they are going to do business with just a few people, they won’t last. You must try to find another way to do it. I’m afraid in Latin America, in the remote areas there is not enough to create a market. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Can microfinance ever be a viable solution to address the massive urbanization and migration pressure? What roles should MFIs play in this regard? How could they be more sup­
portive? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: It always depends on how the microfinance institution is working. The government needs to provide an enabling environment. We need to have very good regulation to enable microfinance to develop. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: One of the key findings of my research in Mexico has been the need to link micro‐
entrepreneurs in rural areas with markets. This point was raised by a number of MFIs and several micro‐
entrepreneurs in rural communities. (In some rural communities there was either no market at all or the market for these products was highly competitive and saturated. Indigenous entrepreneurs also mentioned the “intermediary” who dictates the price.) Some MFIs have started pilot projects to support their clients with the commercialization of their products and create links with national and international markets. How do you feel can links with markets best be established and fair prices for the products be guaranteed? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: It is hard for MFIs to be sustain‐
able in rural areas, so it could be difficult. If there is a way for them to do it, then of course they can do it, as long as they don’t compromise their sustainability. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Financial literacy and consumer protection continue to be a considerable challenge for the Mexican microfinance sector. Although there seems to be increased interest in issues of transparency, con‐
sumer protection and financial literacy on the political and economic sphere, the target population of microfi‐
nance has so far been excluded from most consumer protection initiatives. How would you evaluate this situation in the rest of Latin America? Have the challenges of transparency, consumer protection and financial literacy been addressed in other countries, and could this experience serve as an example for Mexico? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: In this area, we have a long way to go. I believe that we need to have better transparency and financial literacy. I think we need more education in the financial area, that a loan has to be repaid, that you need to be responsible, and especially for the fi‐
nancial institution to be transparent on what interest rates they are charging. Because sometimes they say the interest rate is a low percentage, but then add the fees and extra fees and commissions, at the end it can result in 100 percent. You have to convince them that transparency is a very good idea and it helps everybody to know what they are paying for. Also, not everybody is reporting to a credit bureau. A credit bureau can provide better access to information. The only example I know where an excellent job was done in this area, is Bolivia. Yes, we need to do something in these areas. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: It has been argued that although there are microfinance institutions entirely dedicated to women, women benefit less, as there is no “level playing field” for female micro‐entrepreneurs. As a result, the argument goes, women may achieve to be‐
come less poor but they may not become more equal given the social inequalities prevalent in many coun‐
tries. Do you believe microfinance can achieve the empowerment of women even in traditionally patriarchal societies? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: Yes, I believe so. In Latin American countries, the women are the best payers. Women are responsible for the kids, for the household, and so on. I believe that yes, it empowers the women. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: And have you also expe­
rienced that the women who received the loans really had the power to decide on how the money is spent? In Mexico, for instance, I was told that in some cases the women receive the loan, but the men end up making the decision on how the money is spent. ALVARO RAMÍREZ: It differs from case to case. But it shouldn’t be like that. You have to ensure that the women really make the decision. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: So that would be the role of the MFI? ALVARO RAMÍREZ: Yes, it’s the role of the MFI to en‐
sure that the person who receives the money – the woman – makes the decisions. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Thank you very much. Appendix 28:
Interview with Annabelle Sulmont, AMUCSS, Area of Applied Research
Mexico City, October 31, 2008 ANNABELLE SULMONT: AMUCSS es una organización que está constituida hace más de 15 años, es una organización que apoya mediante creación, promoción, organización y operación a instituciones micro‐
financieras rurales del país. En el 2000 se enfocó en el modelo microbanco. AMUCSS está trabajando y seguirá trabajando con instituciones microfinancieras, pero creó su propio modelo que está desarrollando. Los microbancos tienen la particularidad de estar en comunidades rurales marginadas siempre, captan el ahorro mediante créditos y son servicios integrales, sus socios son como en muchas cooperativas donde, cuando te vuelves cliente, pagas una prestación social y esto te permite estar en la asamblea y ser parte de las decisiones que se tomen y ser representante de la sala. Otra cosa importante del microbanco es renovar la integridad cultural local, muchos de los bancos están en zonas indígenas, en general mucha gente no habla español, los empleados de los microbancos son originarios de ahí o de la zona y hablan el idioma local. Es una red, que están integrados a nivel nacional pero apenas se está haciendo esto, al principio eran clientes autónomos aunque era la identidad quién proporcionaba toda la metodología, le daban seguimiento muy constante pero los microbancos eran muy independientes. Ahora están agrupados en un red regional, entonces quien tiene la identidad jurídica es la red regional, son 7 redes en 5 estados, y cada red tiene 3 o 5 microbancos. Entonces AMUCSS creyó los microbancos. Hay instituciones que trabajan con AMUCSS que cambiaron de figura entrando con AMUCSS, pero los microbancos se crearon totalmente, a veces el microbanco es el sucesor de una unión de crédito. En total son 7 redes en 5 estados, 28 microbancos con un total de 28,000 socios en todo el país, ahora todos los bancos cuentan con 15,300 cuentas de ahorro y hasta la fecha se han autorizado más de 60 mil créditos. El reto de AMUCSS es mediante los microbancos y las otras instituciones microfinancieras adaptar sus servicios a las necesidades locales. Los ahorros de AMUCSS son libres, son ahorros con propósitos, los créditos son libres y familiares. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Hay diferentes créditos? ANNABELLE SULMONT: El crédito en general se puede utilizar para todo, pero también hay diferentes crédito, por ejemplo el crédito solidario, el crédito individual, etc. En vivienda hay una red que maneja un crédito, hay 2 tipos de ahorro, el disponible y el ahorro a plazos que es el que genera la empresa, proporciona otros servicios como cambio de cheques, pago de servicios como luz, teléfono, cambio de dólares y cambio de remesas de dinero, se está desarrollando un microseguro. Ahora hay un microseguro de vida, pero se está desarrollando el microseguro para el crédito. Hay un modelo de seguro que se está trabajando para el migrante. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Cómo es el seguro del migrante? ANNABELLE SULMONT: Es un seguro de vida donde tú recibes una remesa al mes, se paga el seguro que sirve, por ejemplo, si te deja de llegar tu remesa, el seguro sirve para que te la sigan dando durante unos meses. Nosotros también tenemos un seguro de repatriación que es cuando el migrante se muere, tiene que repatriarlo y con el seguro se cubre el gasto del traslado, funeral y una cuota de seguro. Generalmente trabajamos con personas de agricultura que no venden mucho y la mayoría de la cosecha es para autoconsumo. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Como impactan los servicios financieros? ANNABELLE SULMONT: La gente es muy pobre y prefiere ahorrar a pedir un crédito porque les da más seguridad. Los préstamos son de muy bajo costo, generalmente el crédito sirve para el hogar y para la engorda de puercos, para la agricultura y esto es una inversión indirecta. En una familia que tiene un miembro de la familia que es migrante, el crédito lo utilizan para todo, para actividad agrícola, vivienda, sociales, etc. La estrategia es meter una cierta liquidez en su economía para que pueda ser más flexible poder enfrentar todos los gastos que tienen y mientras generan utilidades como fuentes. El uso femenino del crédito, como lo usan las mujeres en el contexto de migración, es un crédito que sirve para todo y para tener más fluidez a su ingreso. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Si alguién quiere un crédito, como analizan la capacidad de pago? ANNABELLE SULMONT: Se hace un estudio del reembolso del crédito. Los asesores de crédito conocen bien a las personas y ellos saben si es un crédito que se va a reembolsar. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿En el grupo solidario, si uno no paga los demás tienen que pagar? ANNABELLE SULMONT: Sí, se supone que pagan los demás, pero en realidad ya está pagado. El grupo no puede pedir otro crédito hasta que la otra persona termine de pagar. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Como es el estudio de vulnerabilidad? ANNABELLE SULMONT: La idea del estudio es profundizar en el conocimiento de las economías familiares campesinas para adaptarlos al servicio. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿La mayoría comunidades son de campesinos? de las ANNABELLE SULMONT: No, en la mayoría de las comunidades hay una actividad agrícola, pero en general sus actividades son campesinas donde sus ingresos vienen del campo. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Y esa actividad en general es para el auto­consumo y no para vender? ANNABELLE SULMONT: Sí, en la mayoría de las zonas tienen pequeñas áreas para auto‐consumo pero también hay grandes para vender. Es un crédito agrícola, es un crédito flexible, lo pueden pagar cada mes, cada 2 semanas, en 1 semestre, pero se basa en las actividades del hogar. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Para el ahorro pagan interés? ANNABELLE SULMONT: Sí, en el ahorro a plazos es del 4 % más o menos, en el corriente es menos, el ahorro ayuda a resolver pequeñas crisis económicas, apoya a las actividades productivas, todo eso en caso de vulnerabilidad. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Cómo es el proyectos Tierras Verde? ANNABELLE SULMONT: Es un proyecto productivo que se está implementando. Lo que pasa es que si bajan o no bajan los servicios financieros, una institución debe tener servicios mayores a los financieros. Los estudios de impacto que hicimos nos hicieron ver que los servicios financieros te ayudan a reducir tu vulnerabilidad pero no te permiten solo generar una actividad productiva, solo si no tienes antecedentes, si eres de un segmento pobre, el interés no basta para generar una actividad productiva. Por eso el objetivo a largo plazo es crear una red nacional de agencias de desarrollo local para la incubación de empresas rurales paralela a los microbancos, a nivel local. La idea es desarrollar agencias de desarrollo local que con gente que se dedique a ver cuales son las oportunidades de la zona, cuales son las necesidades también de apoyo y vincularlos con los microbancos, mediante la otorgación de créditos se pueda crecer, a nivel local son agencias de desarrollo y microbancos, la idea es crear una red. Appendix 29:
Interview with Pilar Quintanilla, Director of Social Services, AlSol
Sán Cristóbal de la Casas, Chiapas, November 11, 2008 JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Cómo es la metología de los grupos solidarios de AlSol ? PILAR QUINTANILLA: Hay un centro grande y dentro de este centro hay los grupos solidarios que son de 3 a 7 personas ‐ eso es la metología de Grameen. Ellos trabajan por centros solidarios, y así es como funcionamos nosotros. Normalmente son de 15 a 20 personas, las tienes que conocer y hacer solidarias con las del grupo. Pero además, tienes que hacer solidarias con todo el centro, y todos de los grupos se tienen que conocer. Entonces, si tu por ejemplo no quieres que una mujer entre, no la aceptamos. Hay una representante financiera que es como la presidenta del grupo, cada grupito tiene su representante. PILAR QUINTANILLA: Como se trabaja es que varios van en camioneta y lo que hacen es que una persona va repartiendo a varias personas: la persona que va a la comunidad más lejos deja a sus compañeros en las comunidades en camino y de regreso pasa por los compañeros y se regresan a San Cristóbal y al final no necesitamos transporte para cada uno y vamos en la misma camioneta a toda una zona. Entonces esa es una forma para disminuir los gastos operativos. En otra, se van en camioneta y a lo mejor después se van en moto. Tenemos 8 vehículos de transporte, camionetas y coches ‐ hay alrededor de 12 asesores de crédito entre la succursal 1 y 2 de Sán Cristóbal. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿ Cómo son las reuniones ? JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Cuáles son las ventajes? ¿El centro sirve para fortalecer la garantia solidaria y los grupos pequeños para atender mejor las varias necesidades de las personas que forman parte de los grupitos? PILAR QUINTANILLA: Las reuniones de los grupos son cada 15 días y siempre va una asesora de crédito. Cada una tiene sus grupos ‐ si hay algun problema cambiamos, pero si no, siempre es la misma persona que es responsable para un grupo. PILAR QUINTANILLA: Claro. Cada grupo (pequeño) tiene diferentes montos y cíclos. A lo mejor un grupo esta en 4,000 y otro en 10,000 pesos, es para atender las necesidades de los varios grupos y en una de las visitas verlas a todas las que están cerca ‐ que es otro requisito, que estén cerca. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿ Los servicios de capacitación son para todas las clientes? JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Así cuesta menos tiempo, verdad? PILAR QUINTANILLA: Exacto, menos gastos operativos para nosotros, pero también hay un limíte. Es que no dejamos que sean centros muy grandes porque entonces tampoco los puedes atender bien, y es importante que las puedas ver, que sepas como se llaman etc. ‐ y no que te pierdas en 100 señoras y ya no sepas ni quién es nadie. La organización de los grupos pequeños en el centro grande también ayuda a que no se junte toda la chamba, todo el trabajo en una sola sentada ‐ pues distribuyendo el riesgo. Sobre todo porque pagan en efectivo, así también disminuye el riesgo. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿En zonas muy remotas, como lo hacen para que el costo operativo no sea tan alto? PILAR QUINTANILLA: No, es que las de la alfabetización y salud preventiva están llegando ahorita alrededor de 400 mujeres y nosotros en San Cristóbal tenemos alrededor de 9,000 mujeres, entonces en realidad es un porcentaje chiquito a lo que están llegando actualmente los proyectos sociales. Nosotros hicimos una prueba piloto para tratar que las asesores den a ellas pláticas, y van a dar pláticas de negocios. Ahorita hay 3 asesoras que están dando pláticas pero la meta es que en enero todos los asesores estén capacitados con el fin de trabajar con sus grupos y hacer pláticas de negocios. Son cosas muy básicas como separar el dinero personal y el dinero del negocio, como calcular las ganazias, con materiales muy sensillos, muy participativos. No sé si has visto las materiales de Freedom From Hunger, en su página tienen materiales para microfinancieras que son de diferentes temas, de salud, de negocios, de autoestima, de problemas de las mujeres. Entonces nosotros nos capacitamos en estos materiales, hicimos las adaptaciones necesarias para México, las historias, los nombres, los dibujos, y a mí me ha tocado capacitar a los asesores para que ya estén listos para dar las pláticas. Está ahorita super bonito ya que las reuniones se aprovechan más, ya no es solamente llegar a cobrar sino ahora se da una plática de como ir mejorando su negocio, la idea es que ellas hablan, hablan, hablan y la asosora solamente va manejando el tema. En las sucursales empieza a finales de este año y en la sucursal de San Cristobal en enero. después entran a la parte financiera y combinan. Y la de AlSol fue, primero apostemosle a que funcione muy bien la parte financiera y después ya metemoslo en los proyectos sociales. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿ Todos los servicios sociales ­ como salud y educación ­ son gratis ? PILAR QUINTANILLA: Todavía hasta el momento lo recibimos de algunas organizaciones, para que sigue funcionando y para poder crecer. Ya estamos auto‐
sustenible ahorita, pero cuanto más recibemos lo más sustentabilidad vamos a tener. PILAR QUINTANILLA: Sí. La mirada de AlSol es que nostoros no somos una organización con fines de lucro. Todo el remanente de los intereses ‐ hay la parte de los costos operativos etc. – pero todo el remanente, lo regresamos a las señoras en forma de capacitación. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿ Entonces las tasas de interés incluyen más que solo los costos operativos y incluyen un porcentaje que es como una ganancia pero está utilizado para proveer los servicios sociales ? PILAR QUINTANILLA: La tasa de interés no incluye ninguna parte de capacitaciones, sino los costos operativos y en realidad, ya. Entonces eso aparte, siempre ha tenido cierto remanente como si fuera un negocio de que ganancias entran en el bolsillo del duñeo. Pero como nosotros no nos queremos quedar con ese dinero que sobra, queremos regresarlo a las mujeres y como en lugar de regresarles el dinero, lo regresamos en forma de capacitación. La tasa ahorita es 3.46 % y una parte sí cubre los gastos operativos, otra sirve para volver a refuncionar los crédito, pero siempre hay algo que es como una ganancia. Entonces esa parte se va acumulando y de eso nos queremos ocupar y regresar (el dinero) a las mujeres. Cada vez estamos más auto‐sustenible y la tasa va bajando también. Entonces en lugar de 3.46 %, a lo mejor el año que entra estará en 3 %, pero seguimos ofreciendo los servicios de capacitación, y cada vez que nos vaya mejor, la tasa va bajando lo más posible. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿En cuanto a las finanzas, como funciona? La organización ya es auto­
sustantable? PILAR QUINTANILLA: Sí, todas las partes financieras ahora ya funcionan muy, muy bien, por eso estamos pensando desde el año pasado en echarle mucho energía en la parte de los proyectos sociales. Porque la mirada de AlSol era: primero, que todo nos salga muy bien de las partes financieras y luego ya entramos a la parte social ‐ esa fue la lógica de AlSol. Porque muchas organizaciones de crédito empiezan con la parte social, JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Y al principio también recibían fondos de algunas organizaciones, no? JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Entonces ya son auto­
sustenibles pero con los fondos adicionales les permite crecer más rápido ? PILAR QUINTANILLA: Así es. Recibimos de Kiva, de Grameen Foundation en Estados Unidos, de Oxfam y de Ford. Entonces hay unas constantes organizaciones que están apoyando a AlSol para que llegamos a cada vez más mujeres. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Ahorita que fui a la reunión de las mujeres en la comunidad de Zinacantán me platicaron las mujeres (bueno, los chicos de AlSol me lo traducieron de tzotzil a español) que venden sus cosas en el centro de San Cristóbal y varios otros lugares y que a veces no venden mucho y pues tienen que regresar con casi todas las cosas. Y me comentaron que para ellas sería muy bueno tener algo como una tienda o algun apoyo de AlSol para la comercialización. ¿Ya han pensado en algo así? PILAR QUINTANILLA: Sí. Ahorita los proyectos que están son alfabetización, salud preventiva, y estos de negocios de que te conté. La alfabetización pretende alcanzar a todas las mujeres que ahorita no saben escribir, el de salud a todas las zonas rurales donde no haya acceso a la salud, y el apoyo de negocio va a llegar a todas, y los proyectos que siguen serán este de la artesanía, porque tenemos alrededor de 25 % de mujeres que son artesanas, entonces atender a esas señoras que han confiado en nosotros, dandoles capacitación no solo de como comercializar, sino de la mejor calidad, colores, muchas, muchas cosas que hay que ir mejorando, modelos, varias cosas distintas – eso es el plan. Eso también ocurrirá en 2009 porque hay que contratar a alguién que se ocupa de todos estos proyectos y ahora cuando ya producen con mejor calidad, ya se trata de como mejor comercializar. Porque sí es cierto, es bien difícil. Aúnque hagas las cosas bien, que las vendas. Y además tu sabes, con esta crisis económica, el año que entra tambien será bien difícil, el turismo va a bajar mucho y ellas necesitan mucho el turismo. Y quien sabe a San Cristobal como le va a pegar. Y que el 25 % que son artesanas, viven de eso! Hacen las camisas para turistas. Vamos a ver si hacemos un colchon para ver como si podemos comercializarlo dentro de México o exportar. Hace poco, vinieron de Estados Unidos, del proyecto “Chiapas Project”, vieron las chalinas y lo querían, y ellos también nos pidieron unos cientos chales que van a regalar en un congreso u otro evento que tienen en Estado Unidos, y eso está muy bien. Pero algo así, queremos tenerlo como algo constante. Entonces este es el proyecto para el año que entra, igual como viviendanismo, constuir con materiales de la región ‐ casa, estufas de arrodadoras de lenas, para que el humo salga y no se quede en la casa, que usan menos leña, letrina, captación de agua, todas estas cosas. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muchas gracias, Pilar! Appendix 30:
Conversation with Hilda Palomares, ADMIC
Monterrey, June 6, 2008 La primera etapa de Admic fue en 1980 a 1987, esto es para darle un origen oficial, la oficina logró crecer en 7 oficinas, los recursos venían del extranjero, se trabajaba a través de un fideicomiso, era complicada la administración, llegaba a Admic en dólares, se depositaba en un fideicomiso, nuestros asesores iban haciendo un estudio socioeconómico evaluando la probabilidad del crédito y se autorizaba ese financiamiento, pero Admic no tenía pues ahora los recursos en la sucursal, el cliente tenía que ir al banco a recoger sus recursos y hacían sus pagos en ventanillas del banco, entonces la administración era un poco complicada. Sin embargo la institución logró crecer a 7 oficinas, 3 en la zona metropolitana, 1 en el Sur del Estado, 1 en Saltillo, 1 en la Zona Lagunera y una en el Distrito Federal. La oficina estuvo operando por 7 años y luego vino una época de expansión importante, hacia el año de 1989 Admic empezó a trabajar con la banca de segundo piso, lo que en México es nacional financiera, en ese tiempo nacional financiera confió en Admic porque ya había visto nuestro desempeño a lo largo de 9 años en el segmento y nos invitó a participar en un programa de apoyo a la microempresa con condiciones de tasa más amables y cosa por el estilo y con una buena cantidad de recursos que nace aquí mismo de México. Nos dimos a la tarea de crecer, del año de 1990 a 1994 con el apoyo de NAFI y del sector publico por así decirlo verdad indirectamente nosotros logramos crecer pero también hablaba de condiciones de crédito del gobierno federal. Había personas que no lograban a cumplir con la tramito logia que se nos exigía, nosotros nos dirigimos a un mercado un poquito más formal, más establecido donde el cliente tuviera balances históricos, que tuviera una garantía real con la cual se le pudiera apoyar, porque también triangulábamos, NAFI ocupaba de la banca del primer piso para poder hacer efectivo los recursos y nosotros éramos lo gestores, el tramitador y respaldo, los que tomábamos la decisión pero con los recursos de ellos, pero nos permitió un crecimiento increíble ya que de 7 oficinas pasamos a ser 42 con una presencia en 17 estados de la república mexicana. Eso para nosotros fue importante, fue un crecimiento muy desmesurado pero esto nos ayudó a ayudar a muchas personas. En 1994 a México le toco vivir una de las más difícil situanciones económicas y esto no dejo de afectar a un programa como el nuestro donde estábamos ya trabajando con este tipo de genetes, la mayoría de ellos microindustriales, con negocios formales, generadores de empleos que ante la situacion económica se vieron muy emproblemadas y no teníamos muchas alternativas porque todo el país estaba en crisis en lo económico principalmente, lo social, en lo familiar, en lo empresarial la crisis se afecto a mas del 10% y eso acabo con muchos negocios pequeñitos, nosotros dependiendo de un solo fonador como NAFI, la institución se vio en un grave problema y bastante complicada. Finalmente nosotros seguimos insistiendo dando capacitación, dandodels asesoría, orientándoles pero la recesión económica era tal que lo que decía yo era necesito vender, buscamos alternativas para ponerlos en contacto con el comercio interior, en el extranjero, através de un programa que hicimo con Bancomex, pero la verdad fue una situación muy difícil, al borde de la extinción del programa. En 1997 existió el riesgo de que la institución cerrara sus operaciones porque con la crisis nos vimos en la penosa necesidad de cerrar algunas sucursales, también nosotros liquidar personal, dejar solo una persona en cada área para no dejar de darle seguimiento a estas personas. 1998 el Presidente del Consejo dijo que lo nuestro es apoyar al sistema y las microempresas, entonces nosotros no podíamos dedicarnos a otra cosa si lo que sabíamoas hacer era apoyar a la microempresa. Entonces se pensó en como hacer para darle la vuelta sin dejar de operar, nosotros siempre nos hemos mantenido como una Asosiacion Civil, en México no había recursos, entonces tuvimos que salir y tocar puertas en organismos internacionales para buscar el apoyo ante un reto más grande, después de la crisis de 1994 en México, la pobreza era mucho mayor, entonces ahora se consiguó una línea de crédito USAIDS, ellos nos dieronla oportunidad para resurgir y empezar a operar con el crédito de menos recursos pero un numero mayor de clientes a quienes apoyar, dirigir y orientar el mercado, como ya no podíamos dirigirnos a ese segmento, porque a ellos les estábamos dando crédito muy altos. Cuando se hace todo el estudio de mercado, se revisa todo, nos damos cuenta que lo que son los microcréditos que es la base de la pirámide, teníamos nosotros que cambiar también y empezar a trabajar con la pobreza, pobreza extrema y pobreza moderada que es la gente que con 50 pesos al día tiene que darle de comer a un grupo de 5 o 6 personas, es complicado y es impactante, de estar apoyando a crédito que son de 20,000 o 30,000 pesos, a empezar a apoyar a crédito de 2,000 pesos. Llegábamos a casas donde vivían los aceditados que eran casas hechas de madera, de carton. Esa gente realiza actividades productivas, las señoras reciclan papel, periódico, que recolectan de la basura, las señoras van y hacen viajes para vender ropa, cuando van a recolectar, la gente también les da ropa, o cosas que han dejado de usar en sus casas como juguetes, apartos electrónicos, y ellos los puedan vender. Era cambiar completamente el esquema y cambiar ahora a microcréditos. En 1998 nosotros empezamos a trabajar con la pobreza extrema con nuestro programa de microcrédito, eso también cambio la metodología de nuestra empresa porque al revisar o estudiar, como iba a ser nuestro programa de intervención, los fondos utilizan el crédito y utilizan el crédito más alto con la tase de interés exagerada, pero son clientes que carecen de garantías reales, entonces teníamos que adaptar un esquema y retomar el concepto que habíamos iniciado en la primera etapa. Pero primero todos eran una cooperativa, todos estaban dentro del mismo negocio y formaban la cooperativa, ahora con este nuevo concepto con el que empezamos a trabajar, el grupo solidiario es mayor, cada persona tiene que tener un negocio independiente todos tienen que ser miembros de la misma comunidad y conocerse de mucho tiempo, porque se garantizan através de una fianza solidaria y para nosotros un grupo solidarios es un grupo con un minimo de 3 a máximo 5 personas donde no se repiten actividades., todas son actividades independientes. Ese es el esquema que nosotros empezamos a manejar y el crédito individual que son aquellas personas que sus condiciones son de pobreza extrema pero tienen un familiar que está asalariado en una fábrica, que tiene una forma de comprobar sus ingresos. Entonces empezamos el programa con ciertas inquietudes y cierto temor, sobre todo a los que nos tocó trabajar con microempresas formales y ahora teníamos que trabajar con crédito de 2,000 pesos, pero este trabajo es muy noble y el microcrédito, como son prestamos chiquitos, nos permitió ver resultados en corto tiempo. En Septiembre de 1998 empezamos y en Febrero del 1999 ya teníamos resultados porque los préstamos eran máximo de 2,000 pesos a pagarse a tres meses con pagos semanales, catorcenales o mensuales. En el microcrédito afortunadamente los pobres pagan y ahora hay un bum donde todas las empresas de finanzas han cambiado sus estrategias de ventas y también los están dirijiendo a este tipo de mercado porque se dieron cuenta que los pobres pagan y pagan bien si tu los sabes manejar. Nosotros tenemos un fin y tenemos una metodología donde revisamos todo eso, porque hay metodologías donde no les importa y saturan a los clientes que después no les pueden pagar. Nosotros nos dimos cuenta que el mercado es muy noble y que teníamos muchas cosas que hacer porque hay mucha gente que lo único que necesita es un apoyo, alguién quién crea en ellos. En 1999 empezamos en el area metropolitana con tres oficinas, a un año las duplicamos, ahora aquí en el estado de Nuevo León son 13 sucusales, con el programa de microcréditos son 14 más a nivel nacional, queremos crecer en todo el Norte. Estamo empezando un nuevo programa con incubadora social del Tec, estamos empezando con las incubadoras sociales, también ofrecemos servicios educativos. El asesor visita a los grupos solidarios y se juntan los 5 en una casa, pero cuando hace el estudio socioeconómico va a visitar a cada persona para ver cuales son sus necesidades, cuantas persona son familiares, etc. y después ya hablamos de negocio como cuales son las posibilidades y para detectar si mi cliente tiene las posibilidades de pagar. Después esto se pasa a un comité quien es el que al final autoriza o no el crédito por el bien de los intereses de todos. Formamos nosotros alianzas estratégicas. Tenemos una alianza con una comercializadora de productos de belleza, sus clientes también son clientes nuestros, ellos solicitan un crédito con nosotros y le compran su producto a ellos . Cuando los clientes están interesados se le lleva a una platica de información con todos los detalles, si a la gente le interesa, lo que nosotros hacemos es un a visita de negocio para evaluar que tan probable es su negocio. Si al cliente le interesa, dice “voy a formar mi grupo solidario”, después se juntan a las personas y se les explica cuales son las activides y el asesor tiene que medir en que nivel se encuentra la solidaridad de los participantes, que tanto se conocen. Después se hace la solicitud y se hace un estudio socioeconómico donde en la primera hoja se piden datos generales, se hace una relación de ingresos y gastos familiares. La siguiente hoja tienen que ver con la evaluación del negocio y la evaluación financiera, vemos las posibilidades del negocio, las ganancias y hacemos los estados financieros. En la tercera hoja el asesor ve cual es el programa de inversión, es decir en que va a gastar el dinero que me pide, el asesor prepara su reporte para presentarlo al comité quien es el que revisa que se este cumpliendo con la normatividad de Admic y con esta el comité acepta, rechaza o deja pendiente. Estas actividades se hacen todo los días y se presta también todos los días si hubo ya créditos autorizados. Si el crédito esta ya autorizado se generan dos documentos, uno es un contrato y el otro es un pagaré después se genera el cheque y todos los prestamos van acompañados con un seguro de vida .22 22
Based on conversation and video material.
Appendix 31:
Interview with Carolina Nieto, Social Entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow,
Director of TodaMujer
Mexico City, October 30, 2008 JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿De qué manera apoyan ustedes a las mujeres con sus negocios? CAROLINA NIETO: Nosotros lo que hacemos es que entramos a una comunidad de mujeres en una zona rural, entramos a trabajar con una comunidad de mujeres y durante una año las vamos formando desde la parte anímica, emocional, de las creencias, de empresaria que implica ir cambiando su actitud a una actitud mas ambiciosa y definida para que pueda sustentarse a un largo plazo, luego vamos trabajando con ellas en el proceso de que descubran todas las habilidades que hay más allá de lo que ellas hacen para que vean que tantas habilidades hay, una vez detectada les ayudamos a desarrollar sus productos , que sean competitivos, que tengan éxito en el mercado, que no compitan con lo chino que no sea necesario venderlo locamente porque lo hacen es que lo quieren vender ahí mismo en el mercado que es gente que no le interesa y entonces terminan casi regalándolo, entonces cuando les ayudamos a diseñar su producto, les enseñamos a valorar su trabajo, la mano de obra y con esos cambios también cambiamos esa cultura de cuanto creen ellas que vale y después les ayudamos a decidir donde pueden producir, eso también ha sido un de los problemas que se da cuando empiezan a entrar al mercado, y tenían un pedido grande y no pueden venderlo entonces ver que nivel de producción ver cuanto exactamente y cuando ya esta listo el producto y ya lo tienes para vender se sube a una pagina de Internet que pueden ver y donde mostramos los productos a las mujeres de las ciudades que pueden comprar y consumir. Entonces el protucto va de micro a micro. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Las mujeres de la ciudad usan los productos para su propio consumo o para venderlo? CAROLINA NIETO: Pueden venderlos en su tiendita o los pueden consumir para su servicio. Por ejemplo, la de mi hermana tiene un hotel, es una microempresa que cree en los productos de estas comunidades y que además paga poco como una canasta que hubieran vendido en $80 pesos la venden en $400 esto lleva un coste de tiempos de la elaboración y el material, hay una valoración importante, como los cobran, ‐ es un proceso de la parte humana porque para valorar esta parte tienen que valorar su trabajo y esto tiene un proceso de crecimiento bastante bueno para las mujeres. lo que nosotros hacemos es mandamos un pedido y ellas tienen que trabajar y todo el vinculo del trabajo es por Internet, el internet es el vínculo entre la comunidad y el mercado, porque son comunidades donde difícilmente la gente se puede mover, son comunidades de la cabecera del estado que están a dos horas en un camino de tercería, eso es lo que lo hace difícil su acceso, ahora estamos logrando que a esos lugares lleguen antenas y que ellas ahí tenga conexión. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Parece una solución muy buena para las áreas lejanas donde no hay un mercado para los productos, porque así también tendría caso que trabajen las instituciones de microfinanzas ahí, si logran tener un vínculo con un mercado. ¿El sitio de Internet donde suben los productos, cómo es? CAROLINA NIETO: Sí. El sitio de internet donde subimos los productos es como si fuera una exposición o feria, no es que las mujeres tienen que ir a una feria o exposición sino que con esto ayuda a que este vinculada esta comunidad y se muestren los productos y lo que nosotros hacemos es que se conecten y puedan hacer los pedidos. Hay dos huecos del proyecto que están ahora por definir, uno es si realmente convendría que nosotros quedáramos en un rol de comercializadores en algunos proyectos porque pasa mucho que a veces que el cliente a veces quiere algo y a veces el tiempo en contactar a alas señoras es muy complicado, y ahí nos damos cuanta que hay una forma de vender como si nosotros fueramos una microempresaria más. Y la otra es, ha aparecido la necesidad de recursos para hacer un catalogo en línea y subir los productos que estamos vendiendo y la necesidad de los fondos revolventes. De cualquier manera de repente necesitamos adelantar por ejemplo, que viene la navidad tenemos que tener ya algo hecho, sería maravilloso porque entonces tendríamos esta parte de fondos revolventes y a lo mejor con un pequeño interés para tener ganancias y puedan tener como un stock y no sea que cada vez que piden tener que arrancar. A mi me parece que el préstamo tiene sentido cuando sabes que hay una solvencia regular que se puede dar los montos para repagarlo. El tema del microcrédito es muy importante y delicado a la vez porque tiene mucho sentido cuando estás pensando en momentos de crecimiento, cuando tengo que aumentar y conseguir una maquinaria pero sé que más o menos hay una manera de irlo cubriendo, entonces en ese sentido las comunidades con las que trabajo en algún momento van a tener que conseguir un crédito, pero tienen que ser en un nivel de subsistencia mas alto o a lo mejor para algo personal saben que tienen el sueldo del marido o de ellas, pero para la empresa misma tienen que ser igual al crédito. Generalmente como el programa que nosotros hacemos va desde el diseño del producto, en realidad lo que tienen que producir es la muestra, no tienen que tener un gran stock. Si el grupo ya vendió algo o la microempresa ya vendió algo, generalmente se sigue produciendo y lo que hacen es estar produciendo conforme venden y ahí a veces si les ayudamos porque ellas tienen su sistema, si están apenas empezando no tiene que empezar a producir hasta que tengan pedidos y en algunos caso conseguimos el fondo revolvente, que no es crédito básicamente porque llevaría mucho tiempo restituirlo, es decir si apenas están empezando a venderlo y no hay montos para pagarlo, todos son revolventes de $1000 pesos y no más de $5000 y se los damos como fondo revolvente que es una especie de crédito en unos sentidos pero no tiene intereses, pero sí tiene un día de pago, justamente estamos viendo como hacer la diferencia, ya que en el fondo revolvente yo no gano por los fondos y en el crédito sí tiene que haber una ganancia y un margen. La idea es que no haya un stock para que no genere un costo, porque si tiene productos que se pueden manchar, romper, etc. Y eso seria una perdida. El catalogo esta bien definido para que digan exactamente que es lo que quieren, todo el catalogo ha sido bueno porque tiene una variedad de cosas y asi ellas pueden saber cuanto tiempo necesitan y que no prometan cosas que no puedan cumplir, ya que es muy importante que lo entreguen en los tiempo que dicen. Ya tuvimos los primero pedidos hechos directamente con la comunidad de mujeres y con esto yo ya probé que esto funciona y ahorita la red de mujeres con los productos en el catalogo, logramos conseguir con una organización donara los equipos de computo, entonces dos chicas del grupo van al centro a conectarse para bajar los pedidos. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Y cree que esto es algo que se puede ampliar? CAROLINA NIETO: Sí. El programa que hacemos es un programa de un año que tiene un inicio de tres módulos escritos, tienen algo de lectura y un segundo taller de diseño de producto de tres módulos, otro taller de tres módulos de costo y producción ¿promoción?, ‐ son 9 módulos en total, son 4 talleres. Los módulos están escritos para que los puede enternder las mujeres prácticamente de cualquier nivel. Y realmente se encarga en que puedan hacer los modulos en su organización local. Entonces tu tienes tu organización local, trabajos con este grupo de mujeres y con otro grupo de mujeres, y otro grupo de mujere etc. Las mujeres que forman a los grupos pueden después pueden asistir en el mismo producto pero en diferente comunidades ahí mismo y el vinculo que mantienen con nosotros es para el diseño del producto, en eso les ayudamos pero ellas tienen que aprender hacer lo através del Internet, y para estar en el sito de comercialización, ese es el vinculo. Nosotros vamos a algún lugar a hacer un programa, lo que estamos haciendo es formar un núcleo de personas que pueden por si solas producir, podría haber gente que les puede convenir tener su propio sitio porque tienen mucha vinculación con los Estados Unidos mandando muchos productos. Entonces ellos pueden decidir subir los productos a nuestro sitio o bien, pueden ellos hacer su propio sito, lo que se sigue es en el modelo de pensar en una organización civil local vinculada con una organización civil de aqui y esa organización tiene el contacto con las comunidades y las comunidades con la organización y eso permite que se genere el mercado. Y un mercado donde las microempresarias van a pedir cantidades pequeñas y las condiciones en las que pueden comprar también son mucho mas adecuadas a las condiciones que tiene la microempresa del otro lado. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Las organizaciones civiles son sin fines de lucro, verdad? CAROLINA NIETO: Son sin fines de lucro. Las que tienen contacto con las comunidades son generalmente sin fin de lucro. Generalmente entramos en contacto con las comunidades porque la organización nos los pide, por ejemplo: en la sierra gorda una fellow de Ashoka tenía proyectos y nos pidió ayuda y así entramos. En Guanjuato teníamos el vínculo con una organización civil de mujeres productoras, que nos pidió ayuda. Y ahorita en Chiapas tenemos un vínculo con la Fundación Azteca. Generalmente nuestro vinculo es con las organizaciones y así es como entramos a las comunidades de mujeres, lo que sí es difícil poder reunir a las mujeres para que vayan a oírte y muy difícil que confíen, para eso necesitas a alguien que es de ahí y que vive ahí, que sea alguien que ellas conozcan y confíen. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Las microempresas de los microfinanzas son grupos de miembros de la misma familia? ¿O otros grupos de emprendedores? ¿Cómo son? CAROLINA NIETO: Nos ha pasado de todo, hay grupos donde son cabeza de familia las mujeres pero la familia esta hecha por amigos y familia también. Tenemos el grupo de bordadoras que son 30, son de la comunidad pero no son familia. Hay otra de la miel, donde son mujeres y un hombre que se organizaron que son de la comunidad pero no son familia. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿También crecen las empresa y luego tiene más personas? CAROLINA NIETO: A este nivel aún no ha pasado, pasa de repente que cuando hay un pedido así muy esporadico y muy grande entonces si traen a gente que les ayude temporalmente. Uno de los paradigmas en la economía que tiene que cambiar es eso de que para una empresa tenga éxito tiene que crecer. Creo que las mujeres como el equilibrio con la familia es difícil entonces dicen que no a quiero algo que me rompa con el principio de los hijo y después de los nietos entonces la mujeres buscamos mas opciones que nos generen ingresos pero con mucho menos ambición de lo grande. La grande a otra dinámica de estrés, de demanda, de todo. Si logramos que en las comunidades haya grupos pequeños donde ganen $3000 pesos en vez de $300 pesos, ¿para que quiero que crezca? Claro, que gustaría que más gente en la comunidad tenga trabajo, esta parte sí es muy buena. Pero a lo mejor lo que funcione es que cada mujer tenga su propia actividad emprendesarial. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Y hay tanta variedad para que así no haya tanta competencia entre ellas? Porque esto es algo de que hablan mucho al nivel mundial, que el problema es que todas la microempresas hacen lo mismo y hay mucha competencia. CAROLINA NIETO: Una parte que hacemos cuando organizamos los grupos, los organizamos para que hagan productos distintos, para que ellas también tengan más posibilidades. Creo que si el núcleo de la empresa tenga salud financiera y genera un buen ingreso, cada quién puede decidir si crece o no crece, porque luego dicen ‘¿crecer para qué?’ Yo a lo mejor gano suficiente para tener mi casa, para vivir bien, y viajar también, y entonces no tengo una necesitdad de crecer. ¿Para qué crecer? ¿Si no es una empresa grande no vale? ¿Qué pasa si somos muchas empresas pequeñas? Sería un grupo más fuerte. Crecer en el sentido de que vaya mejorando, de que vaya manteniendo la actividad, la necesidad de cambiar de giro o esas partes básicas porque si no se te muere la empresa. Pero una familia que tiene un restaurante o una miscelanea, una tortillaría o una tienda de artesanías, ellos ganan bien, con eso los hijos pueden ir a la escuela. Tienen los recursos básicos y necesarios. ¿Si alguién quiere crecer porque vamos a valorarlo por el tamaño del negocio? Es un tema de desarrollo que yo cuestionaría. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Pero eso genera empleo, no? CAROLINA NIETO: Yo que he tenido empresas, la carga de darles empleo a las personas en un país como México, en donde tu te encargas de todo, hasta de pargarles cuando ya no están trabajando contigo, es muy difícil, cuando tu ya has tenido una empresa, y esta parte de decir yo tengo una empresa de cinco personas donde cuatro me gustan más y una no, o correrle a alguién que ya no da el ancho, y que sabes que no puedes correrla, que este es la realidad de toda las empresas en México, de verdad, esto es un conflicto tremendo. La gente ya no quiere ni queremos crear empresas ni generar empleos, porque los problemas en los que te metes son tremendos. Entonces yo lo que digo es mejor que la gente cree su propia estructura económica y así tu no cargas con toda una responsibilidad que a veces no tiene sentido, ¿no? Antes, en la idea que había el empresario explotador, para proteger a los empleados tenías que tener toda esta política salariar, pero ahora que estamos en la logica de que son unas solas cuantas empresas grandes y que somos un monton de personas haciendo microempresas, pues entonces no tiene mucho sentido de empleo, ¿no? En este contexto yo digo que es mucho mejor imaginar que les estamos formando gente autónoma con capacidad de autoemplearse con el compromiso de sacar adelante proyectos. Cuando hablamos de micro empresas hay que separa dos cosas, una es la parte legal y la otra parte es la organizativa. Creo que la mayor parte, las empresas que se han formado y la cantidad de gente que se ha metido a pagar impuestos, ha ido creciendo, pero en el mundo informal puedes hablar de una microempresa de mucha maneras desde personas físicas con actividades empresariales hasta empresas que a lo mejor son cooperativas pero funcionan como empresas o son sociedades rurales o son SA de CV, pero hay muchos proyectos productivos. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Las mujeres tienen caja de ahorro? CAROLINA NIETO: No en el banco porque el nivel que trabajamos nosotras, muy poca gente podría ahorrar. Hay algunas comunidades donde hay migrantes donde yo sí creo que para recibir el dinero haya algun típo de banco y de reprente haya de ahorro. Pero en el nivel en el que nosotros estamos no es posible. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿y lo poco de ganancias que tienen, lo tienen en un lugar seguro? CAROLINA NIETO: No, no porque la gente no ahorra. Si la gente ahorra lo hace en un banco. Bueno luego pueden guardarlo en su casa pero en general no hay cultura de ahorrar. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Entonces tampoco sería un servicio que se necesita? CAROLINA NIETO: Yo creo que sí. El nivel de educación ha subido mucho y la gente ahora entiende muchas cosas de otra manera. Aúnque no lo hacen ahorita yo estoy segura de que sí sería algo atractivo y algo a que entraría yo, sobre todo en las comunidades donde hay migrantes sí se podría plantear una cultura de ahorro, porque son mujeres que ya tienen un nivel, pero en la mayoría el nivel de educación es minimo. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Sí, a veces el ahorro es más importante que el crédito, ¿no? CAROLINA NIETO: Sí. Isabel Cruz dice que hay comunidades donde hay más ahorro que crédito. Yo creo que el tema de ahorro es un tema de mujeres en todos lados. Es más, yo creo que las organizaciones como AMUCSS tendríamos que imagar que pudiera haber como estos sistemas de ahorro para las mujeres solas, ese caso es como el mío. Bueno, sí lo importante es ahorror para que tengan algo sostenible. Pero en las circunstancias de hacerte cargo de los hijos y demás, no le entras al trabajo igual. El hombre sabe que tiene a una mujer que está cuidando a los hijos y la mujer que se engarga de la familia, entonces el ingreso de la mujer nunca es igual. Y en general no tiene la capacidad de ahorro. Yo creo que en la medida que vas viendo tu edad te va pegando. Yo yo, el sistema de ahorro me parece más fuerte que el del crédito. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿En qué utilizan las mujeres las ganancias? CAROLINA NIETO: En general la parte de la educación y la salud, generalmente en las comunidades es gratuita por el gobierno, entonces eso no influye, pero todo lo asociado a eso como ropa, útiles, medicamentos, transportes, etc. Por ejemplo, una mujer que vive en una comunidad que se llama la Forradora que es un bosque hermoso y que vive hasta arriba, bueno para al mercado algo así paga 15 pesos de transporte. El otro día me estaban diciendo, que en una comunidad en la sierra gorda que está en un lugar ecoturístico, para que el niño fuera a la escuela pagaba 15 pesos de ida y 15 pesos de regreso, ya son 30 pesos al día nada más para ir a la primaria. Y con un coche local de un amigo o de un familiar le tiene que pagar al amigo, nisiquiera es un servicio del gobierno el transporte, entonces a la semana son 150 pesos, al mes son como 600 pesos, para un niño. ¿De dónde lo saca la mamá? Y es solo un hijo y nada más el transporte. Por eso alguién que decía el otro día que una familia podría vivir con 650 pesos al mes, yo decía bueno, con eso ni la comida, entonces comida, vestidos de los hijos, transporte como los cubre con eso, y a eso le sumas las medicinas, aúnque haya programas alternativos para eso. Claro, si tienen el ingreso del marido migrante, va a cubrir toda esa parte, además cubre los gastos de la casa. Pero, primero hay mujeres que no tienen a un marido migrante, pero tienen el marido ahí local, y segundo, aún cuando el marido es el que mande dinero y demás, ellas también a veces quieren decidir gastar el dinero en algo que les guste o algún servicio que necesiten. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Entonces los servicios de educación y de salud son del gobierno? CAROLINA NIETO: Sí, el gobierno te da educación gratuita incluyendo los libros, en primaria y secundaria y en algunos lugares la preparatoria, esto es en todo el país. Por eso también no es tan buena, bueno no porque sea gratuita sino que en realidad no hemos puesto el dedo ahí. Bueno claro ninguno de los hijos de alguién de clase ligeramente más alta, yo diría que tienen el nivel medio, medio‐bajo para particulares. Te estoy hablando en lo general, en la preparación y la estructura. En algunos lugares como la sierra gorda hay una organización civil que se han metido en terminos de la educación, que tienen un sistema nuevo muy bueno, pero si no, a veces tienen el maestro que llega bebido a su clase todos los días que es de ahí mismo y que tuvo una educación deficiente, entonces imagínate que nivel tiene ese profesor. Bueno, pero en la preparatoria es un poco mejor. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Su organización solo apoya a las mujeres, verdad? CAROLINA NIETO: En general sí, pero en algunos casos en nuestros proyectos hay hombres, no nos peleamos con eso pero en toda la manera en que esta diseñada la metodología si está diseñada para la atención de los hijos y los horarios y todo, el típo de creecias de las mujeres. Pero también hay proyectos donde participan los jóvenes y hombres. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Las microempresas son solo de las mujeres o de los hombres también? CAROLINA NIETO: No, tienen que ser de las mujeres porque es parte del programa, puede participar los maridos pero las decisiones las toma la mujer. Los esposos la mayoría son migrantes y en algunos casos les ayudan con el negocio o tienen un empleo local o su propio negocio y en muchas casos trabajan en la empresa pero ellas son las que toman las decisiones. Me ha tocado que vayamos a Guanajuato donde hay unas costureras, hemos ido y sentado en unas juntas con ellas y demás, nos ha servido el mole y arroz sel señor. Bueno, entonces digo yo, que bueno que en estos medios hemos cambiado el rol. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Las mujeres enfrentan problemas al tener el negocio? ¿Cuáles son los problemas? CAROLINA NIETO: Sí, tremendos. Uno es decir que se va a dedicar a una empresa, como atiendo a la casa, como hago una buena empresa, ver como organiza si tiene una familia y no tiene quien le ayude, aún hoy en día se hacen los talleres con las mujer y con sus hijos. Entonces ahí hay un area muy desventajosa para la mujer porque no hay guardería y servicios en las comunidades hay incluso que buscar quién cuide a los hijos mientras las mujeres trabajan. Luego hay todo un tema sobre las creencias de tener empleo, que el ganar dinero no es bueno, que hecha a perder la parte religiosa, hay que ganar para vivir y no para vivir bien. Bueno ayer me dijo una microempresaria que tiene una tienda, me dijo “pero mi bordado no es caro porque es puro hilo”. ¿Cómo no es caro? ¿Dónde entra el tiempo que lleva bordarlo? Claro que puede ser caro si tu valoras tu tiempo. Por ejemplo las mismas mujeres que están en la ciudad manejan el mismo valor. Todo el tema si ellas hacen proyectos propios, ¿que pasa con el marido? Entonces, por ejemplo, cuando viene el marido de Estados Unidos ellas se separan mucho de la empresa, porque tienen que estar con el marido, entonces no terminan sus bordados, y está bien, tienen una prioridad en ese momento, pero no puedes hacer una empresa así. Entonces como le cambias estas mentalidad de que esto no puede ser un rato sí un rato no. O cosas como que no saben separar el tiempo para dedicarle a la familia y el tiempo para dedicarle a trabajar. Entonces cuando tu quieres entrar a decir “¿cuánto tiempo lleva hacer esto?” ellas te dicen que son tres días. Bueno, esperame, ¿tres días para hacer esto? Sí, tres días porque a ratitos lo hago, porque tengo que darles a comer a los animales, o tengo que llevar a los niños a la escuela, o porque tuvieron que hacer un mole para una fiesta. ¿Bueno como hay que hacer para separar esta parte del proceso? Esto no es un problema para aprender, porque sí lo aprenden, pero es un problema de la cultura donde viven, porque la cultura no separa el trabajo con lo de la vida. Bueno, a mí me pasa mucho porque a veces estás trabajando, pero también aprovechas para ver que falta en la casa. Yo creo que todo esto también es por los paradigmas de pensar que la manera en que está ligado el mercado con la vida productiva, con las empresas y microempresas siempre está ligado el mundo de las negocios si valorado desde ahí. Yo creo que las mujeres debemos mirarlo desde de una apreciación que lo que quieres es un buen ingreso para vivir. Está cosa de que vas a dejar tu vida para hacer una empresa muy grande o transnacional no está en la cabeza, no nos interesa. Lo vemos mal a veces. Tiene que ver con el contacto de lo muy básico y habría que pensar que estamos trabajando particularmente con mujeres, hay un regreso para ver cuales son realmente las necesidades para que haya desarrollo social que no son las que estamos mirando desde la modernidad. Ahí yo creo que hay los retos que enfrentan las mujeres, son como de otro tamaño o de otra simplicidad. Y esto no es tan fácil. Si te vas a las ciudades, es muy distinto. Cuando ves a la microempresaria o a la mujer que no quiere vida de pareja, no quiere desequilibrar a su casa. Voy a trabajar, me voy a vivir en un avión, estar viajando de un lado al otro. Las mujeres que lo hacen un rato, paran y dicen “esto no puede ser” en general. Entonces yo creo que por ahí hay como un camino de reflexión hacia a lo que realmente quieren de este mundo que ya existe. Por eso lo vemos desde el lado de las mujeres. Los hombres han tenido que cambiar más o menos a fuerza sin saber como. Yo creo que esto ha generado una círcunstancia buena, no te digo que esto ha eliminado la violencia, lo que quiero decir es que hay momentos donde el hombre no está tan seguro de lo que está haciendo. Pero al mismo tiempo tú ve lo que están haciendo las mujeres. Si ha cambiado la educación pero nos falta muchísimo. Hay mucha discriminación todavía. Pero si te vas dando cuenta que sí se están haciendo cambios. Fíjate yo tengo comunidades donde antes las mujeres me decían “no, es que mi marido no me deja venir” o tenía que hacer algo como llevar los hijos a la escuela o ir al doctor, al año me decían que ya no pedían permiso, que lo decidían solas. Y eso es porque ellas han encontrado de alguna manera como no generar violencia y cumplir con sus actividades. Y en otros momentos a lo mejor por la posibilidad de su autonomía económica esto te da otra perspectiva de la vida. Yo creo que la microeconomía es una buena union entre la economía y la vida de las mujeres, porque por un lado te permite atender a la casa y organizar bien todo lo que necesitas, es ese sentido es mucho mejor que un trabajo y al mismo tiempo te da una sensación de autonomía muy importante, porque tú estás generando tú propio ingreso. Entonces yo creo que la mujer valora más una microempresa que un trabajo. Porque a lo mejor ganas menos que en un trabajo pero tienes otras fácilidades y oportunidades. Yo a veces pieso que en el caso de mis proyectos tendría que ser un préstamo para la empresa y no a la persona. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Para que no esté unida a la familia? CAROLINA NIETO: Sí, es mejor que asuman todas las personas el crédito y no solo una persona, como un riesgo propio. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Entonces por ejemplo significa que la familia no tiene que vender su casa para pagarlo? CAROLINA NIETO: Sí, exacto. El préstamo no es para la persona sino para todo el grupo. Lo que entiendo es que cuando lo hacen así y no pagan crea un riesgo porque no se pueden ir en contra de la empresa. Necesitan una persona. Por eso es que lo hacen así. Esto lo hacen con las personas, porque si fallan no se pueden ir en contra de nadie. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muchas gracias! Appendix 32:
Interview with Amado Sánchez Moreno, Director General, AMEXTRA
November 28, 2008 JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Tuve la oportunidad de participar en una « hora de reflexión » en la oficina de Palenque y fue muy enriquecedor. Parece que esto también sirve al equipo de Amextra a fortalecer su misión social y sus objetivos para aliviar la pobreza y apoyar a hogares de escasos recursos. Con respecto al trabajo de Amextra en las comunidades ¿Acaso llevan ustedes también su fe a estas comunidades o el trabajo inmediato dentro de estas comunidades no está ligado directamente a una creencia en particular? AMADO SÁNCHEZ: En relación al equipo de colaboradores, efectivamente, este es un aspecto que permite fortalecer la misión de la organización y el compromiso de nuestros colaboradores, también es una manera de alentar los esfuerzos y que el logro de objetivos apoyados en el aspecto espiritual, es pertinente reconocer que muchas veces los aspectos programáticos no son suficientes para lograr los objetivos. En relación a las comunidades, hay varios aspectos que apoyan y hacen sinergia con nuestro trabajo, uno de ellos es que aun en las comunidades rurales la diversidad religiosa evangélica‐protestante esta en ascenso y esto coincide con el compromiso cristiano de Amextra, este es un aspecto fundamental, ya que fortalece la confianza de las comunidades y los participantes con la organización. Otro aspecto muy importante que una practica ecuménica que permite trabajar con grupos de diferentes iglesias, incluyendo a los católicos, esto es que no realizamos discriminación alguna por la fe de nuestros beneficiarios. En cuanto a si llevamos nuestra fé a las comunidades, definitivamente la respuesta es no, tenemos una declaración que el compromiso cristiano de la organización y sus colaboradores no debe mezclarse con nuestro trabajo. Reconocemos que el proselitismo religioso le corresponde a las iglesias y que Amextra le corresponde como misión como la transformación integral de las familias y comunidades. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Amextra tiene programas en diversas áreas, como programas agropecuarios, de la salud y de la educación. Amextra como una entidad completa recibe fondos de fuentes nacionales e internacionales para poder realizar todos estos programas. En cuanto a los programas de micro finanzas, ¿es esta parte de la organización auto­
sustentable o también requiere de fondos? (Y si depende de fondos, ¿tienen planes de ser auto­
sustentables en el área de micro finanzas en el futuro?) AMADO SÁNCHEZ: El Programa de Microfinanzas es autosustentable desde hace 5 años, si recibiste los benchmarking de 2006 y 2007 de Prodesarrollo así lo constatan. Este es un gran logro, que nos hace pregonarlo, ya que organizaciones con mayor cobertura no lo han logrado, a esto le agregamos que nuestra cartera en riesgo a 30 días es bastante sana, en Chiapas la recuperación es del 99.20 %. En un futuro muy próximo, gracias a esta autosostenibilidad por 5 años ya estaremos utilizando financiamiento de tipo privado y publico, así como nacional y extranjero para la ampliación de nuestras actividades. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Las tasas de interés que Amextra cobra en Palenque, son más bajos en zonas rurales que en zonas urbanas, aunque los costos operativos para atender a las comunidades sean mucho más altos. ¿Logran cubrir todos los costos con estas tasas de interés? Y si no cubren todos los costos, ¿es porque esto es parte de su misión social de cobrar tasas de interés adecuadas, donde en primer lugar toman en cuenta la capacidad de los hogares rurales antes del aspecto financiero de su organización? ¿O cuál es la explicación por qué son más bajas las tasas de interés en zonas rurales? AMADO SÁNCHEZ: Las tasas de interés diferenciadas en zonas rurales es un acto de justicia. Si las tasas fueran iguales estaríamos no reconociendo que el campo requiere una atención especial, las inversiones son diferentes a la zona urbana, tienen mayor riesgo para los productores, etc. Por otro lado, si agregaramos los costos mas altos de atención a los productores tendríamos que llegar a establecer tasas hasta un 50 % mas altas. Esto implica cancelar la posibilidad de hacer llegar el crédito a las zonas que mas lo requieren. Solo para poner un ejemplo de tipo internacional, el gobierno norteamericano otorga los subsidios mas elevados a sus productores agropecuarios en relación a otras naciones industrializadas y el resto de America Latina. Finalmente es un forma que nuestras áreas urbanas subsidien a quien mas lo necesitan, este es un principio de subsidariedad. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿A qué nivel de pobreza llegan los servicios de microfinanzas de Amextra? ¿Están enfocados a las personas de mayor ingreso en las zonas rurales o las opciones financieras que ofrecen están pensadas para grupos económicos muy bajos e incluso bajo la media de ingresos de la región o del país? AMADO SÁNCHEZ: Nuestra apreciación es que la mayor pobreza (capacidad de ingreso) se encuentra en las zonas rurales y consideramos que el esquema de financiamiento es muy noble: tasas bajas, crédito opcional, es decir, no es obligatorio; plazos de acuerdo a la necesidad, recuperación por tipo de inversión, etc. Definitivamente si estamos convencidos que el modelo es adecuado para población en pobreza. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muchas gracias.23 23
The interview was carried out on November 28, 2008, via email. Appendix 33:
Interview with Jorge Alberto Pérez Ruiz, AMEXTRA,
Coordinator of the Savings and Credit Program
Palenque, Chiapas, November 6, 2008 JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Cuáles son los desafíos en cuanto a las microfinanzas rurales? JORGE ALBERTO PÉREZ RUIZ: En las comunidades es un poco mas difícil tal vez que en la ciudad, aún en la ciudad tiene sus pequeñas dificultades. Al principio igual aquí en Palenque, la gente no confiaba, tal vez habían otras gentes que ya habían venido a hacer algo igual o un programa donde ahorraron pero posible‐
mente les defraudaron, robaron su dinero, había des‐
confianza de que entonces igual nosotros estabamos ofreciendo este servicio. Pero aquí en Palenque creo que estamos ya cerca de la ciudad, la gente nos conoce, conoce la oficina y la gente, poco a poco empezó a en‐
trar a los programas. En lo rural, bueno sí llegamos no, nos trasladamos a las comunidades, pegamos carteles, entregamos volantes, damos información con la gente, juntamos a grupos, empezamos a explicar, pero siem‐
pre nos dicen « pues vamos a pensarlo » o lo que pasa es que « hace años vino una persona que solo junto el dinero y ya no volvimos a saber nada de él, y siempre hemos notado en las comunidades son muy desconfia‐
dos aún más que en Palenque, pero a la vez más res‐
ponsable que la gente de Palenque. Porque de los gru‐
pos que tenemos en las comunidades, son mas respon‐
sables en pago, no hay mora como las que tenemos en Palenque, aunque tampoco es demasiado, pero si lo comparamos luego la caretera o las personas que están atrasadas son mucho menos en las comunidades ya que casi siempre todo lo tenemos la corriente o sí se atra‐
san pero no tardan en pagar, de repente tardan más aqui en Palenque, no sé si por como en la ciudad la gente está mas maliciada o porque en otros programas que luego les dan el dinero y no los presionan a pagar, igual piensan que ahora que entran a otros programas que tal vez no les van a presionar a pagar. Pero sí, gra‐
cias a dios, creo que se ha manteniendo nuestra carete‐
ra bien, no hemos bajado de 99 % de estar recuperando la cartera, pero la labor, sí es muy continua porque como viste hoy son 8 promotores y cada promotor los visita a sus grupos una vez a la semana, entonces hacen visitas 4 veces al mes si trae el mes 4 semana o si hay meses que traen 5 semanas lo visita 5 veces en el mes, eso hace que el promotor por un lado llega a la reunion, quien hace el pago, quien se está atrasado, que grupo esta muy ahorita. Hay personas que sacan 2 o 3 crédi‐
tos más en otros lugares. Entonces como se endeudan demasiado sin medir consecuencias. O bien porque han tenido un familiar enfermo y para que la persona se recupere puede pasar una semana porque también se enfermó un familiar, pero si en ocasiones que la gente responde a la siguiente semana pagando y el grupo sigue muy bien, ahorita podemos tener como 2 o 3 grupos que pueden estar un poquito batallandole pero fuera de ahí si son 100 u 80 grupos, tampoco estamos con todos los grupo batallando, nada más algunos y el promotor sigue visitandolos, sigue dandoles seguimien‐
to con los socios, a recoger sus pagos, animarlos a que continuen y creo que ahorita es la labor más pesada. El que haga que las personas no caigan mucho en mora para que el programa vaya bien, hay que estar animan‐
dolos, visitandolos y no dejandolos solos. Si el promo‐
tor dejara de llegar, entonces posiblemente tendría el programa un poquito de más atrasos o no habría in‐
formación. Hace como un año empezamos a notar que hay perso‐
nas en los grupos que ya tienen un negocio establecido y tal vez ya su necesidad de capital está un poco más alta del que se está dando dentro de los grupos. Lo que se pensaba primero fue que bueno, si esta persona necesita más capital, pero ya es un socio que tiene tal vez 1,5 años en el grupo su negocio ya es un negocio, ya está establecido, hace 1 año donde solo se requiere un poco más inversión para volver a surtir o poder poner un poco más de mercancenía en su negocio. Empezo a otorgar creditos de 20,000 pesos, porque en los grupos solo llega de 2,000 hasta 17,000 mil (el tope), y con esta opcion del crédito de 20,000 la idea es que ya el socio no tenga que ir a las reuniones del grupo, más bien ya es un servicio para él como un socio solo, porque dice que no tiene tiempo para atender a las reuniones del grupo, pero sí tiene un poco de tiempo para ir a hacer su pago. Entonces los lunes siempre ellos tienen que venir a depositar sus pagos que son semanales, de he‐
cho se les da hasta un año, 12 meses semanales para que cubran el préstamo de 20,000. Son cantidades solo arriba de 500 pesos que están pagando a la semana. Con el fin que no se sientan tan presionados de regre‐
sarlo en 4 o 6 meses, y lo pueda aprovechar para inver‐
tir en su negocio. De hecho hasta finales del mes de Octubre, hemos dado ya 15 de estos créditos a socios que han ya estado en grupos. Hay algunos que solo tienen 17,000, pero está llegando a casi 300,000 pre‐
stado en crédito que nosotros llamamos créditos mi‐
croempresariales, para pequeños negocios. De hehco la idea es seguir fomentandolo dentro de los grupos por‐
que si tal vez hay socios que tienen una papelería, una tienda de abarrotes, una tlapalería, un pequeño restaurant, una carpintería, pueden ellos acceder a ese crédito. Ahorita damos la información a los grupos acerca de este servicio o igual ponemos un cartel en la oficina donde dice que tal fecha vamos a dar una nueva plática sobre como funcionan los créditos empresaria‐
les, socios interesados anotarse y los promotores igual en sus grupos empiezan a acercarse a personas que están animadas y les dan la plática de como funciona. Estas pláticas normalmente son en la tarde cuando ya no tenemos servicios de oficina. Hoy que vamos a Chancala, ahí la particularidad en la zona rural es que los grupos se reunen cada 2 semanas, para evitar que ellos tengan que gastar tanto pasaje 4 veces al mes, más bien que solo sean 2 pasajes, y donde el grupo tal vez copera 2 o 4 pesos para que la persona que viene a depositar venga a la oficina y haga el deposito y no tenga que desembolsar una sola persona este pasaje, salvo cuando viene a retirar su ahorro o viene a retirar un crédito si tiene que ser la persona del grupo. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Tienen un enfoque de género? JORGE ALBERTO PÉREZ RUIZ: En los grupos, la mayoría de los socios son mujeres. De repente dicen que tal vez las mujeres son más responsables que los hombres, este es el comentario que hacen en los gru‐
pos, se van a las cantinas, que no administran bien el dinero, diferente a las mujeres. Pero bueno, creo que no todos los hombres son así. Porque de mil socios, esta‐
mos hablando de 700 que son mujeres, 70 % de los socios del programa son mujeres, y hay grupos que son completamente de puras mujeres, hay uno o dos gru‐
pos que son puros hombres y hacen muy bien el pago, desde que iniciaron, hay hombres que sí son respon‐
sables. De hecho es un grupo de hombres numeroso, son 18 hombres y normalmente puede haber una se‐
mana que se atrasen en el pago pero no dejan que se atrasen más sus pagos, creo que ellos mismos se exigen que todos vayan bien. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿En qué invierten los partici­
pantes? JORGE ALBERTO PÉREZ RUIZ: Hay la posibilidad que las personas dicen que van a invertir el crédito en la educación de sus hijos, la mejora de su casa, o por en‐
fermedad (tal vez va a comprar algún medicamento, quiere hacer un estudio para la enfermedad ya que en ocasiones la gente a veces no tiene recursos o no tiene servicio medico y en algún momento solicita un crédito por alguna enfermedad), o bien dice “estoy inviertien‐
do en mi negocio”. Tienes opciones aquí en Palenque de la solicitud. Mayormente solo se pide para negocios. Hay ocaciones para pagar la colegiatura de su hijo, pero igual no es todo el año, solo sacan el crédito para em‐
pezar algo o para una ocacion. JESSICA HAEUSSLER : ¿Tienen que tener una cuenta de ahorro ? JORGE ALBERTO PÉREZ RUIZ: Sí, en los grupos, bue‐
no ahí sí necesitan la firma de lo socios cuando van a solicitar su crédito, también en el caso de urbano y rural, se les pide que igual estén ahorrando porque en base a sus ahorros también es lo que se presta a ellos. Aquí en Palenque por ejemplo, se les presta 3 o 4 veces más de lo que el socio tenga ahorrado, si yo tengo un ahorro de 500 pesos, me pueden prestar 1,500 o me pueden prestar 2,000 pesos. Si es un grupo pequeño de 3 a 9 personas me prestan 3 veces mas de lo que tengo ahorrado y si mi grupo son de 10 personas o más, m prestan 4 veces más de lo que tengo ahorrado. En el caso de los créditos microempresariales a ellos se les presta 5 veces más, entonces ellos nos entregan una garantia del 20 % cuando solicitan su crédito de 20,000 porque no se les pide nada de factura ni nada, a ellos les conviene porque se les está pagando intereses por sus aborros. Acá en Palenque se les paga el 12 % de interés al año y en lo rural se les paga el 10 %, en Pa‐
lenque se paga más de interés que en lo rural porque en Palenque se cobra el 5 % de interés y es más que en lo rural, en la zona rural se cobra el 3 %. Como a ellos se les cobra solo el 3 %, a ellos se les da 10 % a sus ahorros porque tambien tienes que estar cobrando menos intereses a sus créditos. Igual en la zona rural piden sus créditos para invertir en alimento para en‐
gordar pollo y después los vendan o bien también lo piden para engordar pavo, cerdos. O cuando ya están sacando préstamso de 7, 8 o 10,000 pesos ya lo usan para comprar becerros o ganado bobino para que ellos los empiencen a ingorda, pues ellos de ahí empiecen a vender o bien también compran vaquiyas para estar teniendo crias y puedan estar produciendo su dinero, otros invierten en negocios como éste para que tengan que comprar material, las pieles, todo lo que ellos usan para su negocio. Muchos han mencionado que si com‐
praran poquito gastan más y le sale más caro el trabajo, es mejor comprar más material en volumen y asi puede aprovechar en hacer más trabajos y sacarlos a Palen‐
que o hay personas que luego los llevan a vender a Cancún. Entonces creo que ellos ya se organizan y al‐
guién los lleva a vender. Otras señoras que los usan para venta de zapatos por catálogo, o ropa, perfumes. Eso no se daba antes mucho en la comunidad pero ahora la gente sí compran y las mujeres invierten en eso o tienen sus pequeñas tiendas de abarrotes, una pequeña tienda que vende papelería, en ocasiones ha‐
sta un pequeño molino donde la gente lleva su maíz para moler, para hacer su tortilla, o para hacer el pozo‐
le y una bebida de maíz con agua y cacao. Hay varios negocios en los que la genete puede invertir, hay varios negocios o proyectos que luego la gente tiene. A donde vamos a visitar es ahorita hacia Chantalá, ahí las perso‐
nas algunas tienen tiendas de abarrotes, alguas invier‐
ten en el campo engordando pollos, etc. También in‐
vierten en madera porque algunos tienen carpinterías, también hay unas personas que tienen papelerías. En lo rural lo máximo que se presta son 12,000, no ha cam‐
biado al escala y hay personas que se les ha prestado esa cantidad. Tal vez en este año se aumenta la escala para la zona rural, pero no a todos porque no todos necesitan esa cantidad y a veces la mayoría prefiere ir sacando cantidades pequeñas hasta donde consideran que es lo que necesitan para su negocio. Nosotro sen‐
timos que no es porque les queremos dar un crédito, porque podemos estar prestando y prestando y luego no tienen para pagar y con eso podemos perjudicar a la familia. Entonces si ya sacó préstamos de 5,000 y siente que no puede pagar más o ve que su negocio solo nece‐
sita ese capital, entonces no saque mas para que tam‐
poco se sature. Pero si siente que su negocio está cre‐
ciendo y necesita más, ya es decisión de usted y siem‐
pre y cuando valore que no le va a perjudicar. Entonces creo que es muy importante estar platicando, animan‐
dolos a ellos, también aprendan a administrar. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Como es el apoyo en cuanto a la capacitación? JORGE ALBERTO PÉREZ RUIZ: Hace como dos meses con los muchachos se le empezó a dar capacitaciones para el grupo, se les imparti a como empezar y admini‐
star su negocio, aún no lo terminamos pero lo estamos estudiando cada 15 días, vamos por temas (como em‐
pezar el negocio, luego los numeros, que es lo que ne‐
cesito, etc.) Esto es un programa que no solo va a ser de este año y es algo que va a ir mejorando para que po‐
damos seguir transmitiendoles a ellos conocimientos que les ayuden en el grupo y ellos vayan reforzando el trabajo y que cuando lleguen con el asesor no solo les diga cuanto tiene ahorrado o cuanto debe, sino también que les pregunte como va el negocio, si le ha faltado algo o que la misma persona le de sugerencias. Estos asesoramientos los solicitaron los clientes y los mismo asesores. Ahorita lo primero es darselo al equipo de promotores porque son ellos los que visitan a los gru‐
pos, también se les ha dado a algunos de los clientes pero no se ha dado frecuentemente, se ha dejado a veces mucho tiempo en darle a los clientes. Hace ya como tres años se tuvo contacto con una organización que se encarga de unicamente capacitación que se lla‐
ma “Pro Empleo”, ellos dan cursos de como iniciar o como mejorar tu negocio, como empezar tu empresa. Y en esa ocasion participaron más de 40 socios porque se dio capacitación a socios que podían llegar en la maña‐
na y quienes podían llegar en la tarde. Esto duró un mes, eran cuatro semanas de capacitación. Fue muy bueno y le sirvió a muchas personas que comentaron que era algo nuevo para ellos porque no solo una per‐
sona impartió la capacitación, eran diferentes personas especializadas en diferentes temas como autoestima, mercadotecnia, ventas, etc. y participaron muchos so‐
cios. Aquí si se imparten cursos pero no muchos porque sabemos que muchas personas no saben escribir o leer y sería darles mucha información que tal vez no com‐
prenden. Se tendría que adaptar un material al apren‐
dizaje de aquí de las personas. Se hicieron pruebas piloto con diferentes capacitaciones y algunas personas mostraron interés y preguntaban cuando se iban a dar más capacitaciones, pero había otras personas que cuando estaban en la capacitación se salían porque la mayoría solo aprovechaban para recojer ahorro, solici‐
tudes y son tramites que les llevan 15 minutos. Y no tenían tiempo para quedarse mas por diferentes razo‐
nes como por sus hijos, etc. La capacitación de “Pro Empleo” fue hace 2 años, por un contacto, y ese pro‐
grama continua en Chalco porque ahí está la oficina y está más cerca y por eso se continua allá. Aquí en Chia‐
pas es más difícil porque la organización tiene que gastar más en transporte y eso es del dinero que usan para apoyar a la gente y eso fue una limitante para que aquí no continuara. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muchas gracias.
Appendix 34:
Interview with Cristina Zepeda, SIEMBRA, C.E.O.
Mexico City, October 30, 2008 CRISTINA ZEPEDA: Nosotros hacemos diagnósticos de las pequeñas empresas de las mujeres con diferentes preguntas y esto nos dice en el estado en el que están las pequeñas empresas o cooperativa. Hay diferentes empresas como microempresas que máximo tienen 10 personas, están las cooperativas que tienen de 10 a 20 mujeres y empresas sociales de 15 mujeres aproximadamente. Usamos otras herramientas para explicar a las mujeres “que es una empresa?” y con las herramientas se hacen talleres y ahí se les explica que es una empresa y como funciona, que necesita, como administrarlos, gerencia, etc. y que tengan sus productos claros. Hay empresas, artesanales, manufactureras, empresariales, etc. Donde Siembra trabaja con empresas rurales o de zonas urbanas que trabajan en zonas rurales, les damos capacitación y les explicamos cuales son los diferentes típos de empresas y ellos encuentran su identidad como empresarios. Se les explica cual es el proceso administrativo, que recursos están incluidos en el proceso administrativo y cuales son sus objetivo, como tienen que planear su futuro en un promedio de 5 a 10 años, su plan de negocio, como deben hacer el trabajo y el procedimiento para que la empresa sea rentable y exitosa. Tenemos mecanismos de evaluación con diferentes herramientas para que ellas de manera muy sencilla puedan calcular si su empresa está bien o mal, si ya tienen utilidades, etc. Tenemos instrumentos que Siembra ha creado de manera muy sencilla para que ellas hagan su plan de negocio y las herramientas les ayudan a programar su trabajo por hora. Se hacen ejercicios para que ellas conozcan y aprovechen sus materias primas y aprendan que tienen que cotizar sus materias primas con diferentes proveedores para que puedan tener los mejores precios y poder tener un precio más justo en el mercado y competitivo. Con otra herramienta muy sencilla las ayudamos a calcular sus costos de producción para que con base en sus costos de producción incorporen su mano de obra que en el precio del costo, a veces las mujeres no incluyen su mano de obra, solo los materiales, también se les enseñamos a que calculen su utilidad. Tenemos formatos para que ellas conozcan a su competidor más cercano y ellas chequen el precio del mismo producto del mercado con el objeto de que ellas tengan un precio justo pero tampoco que ellas pierdan. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Entonces hacen varios seminarios en áreas diferentes? CRISTINA ZEPEDA: Sí, tenemos Negocio, Autoestima, Ciudadanía, Derechos Humanos, Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Todas las mujeres hacen los módulos? CRISTINA ZEPEDA: Normalmente sí, pero se van capacitando para un oficio como hacer tela, joyería, ahorita estamos trabajando con 210 mujeres urbanas que viven es zonas rurales en el Distrito Federal. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Y todas ellas tienen una microempresa? CRISTINA ZEPEDA: Ellas son las que estamos formando con Desarrollo Empresarial y con un oficio artesanal, joyería, tela, arte en bom‐bom, tela, etc. Esto va siempre acompañado con la teoría y la práctica, en el tercer año ellas ya se gradúan y reciben un diploma y un catalogo para vender sus productos. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Ese es siempre el fin, formar cooperativas? CRISTINA ZEPEDA: Sí, al final sí eso nos gustaría, formar redes ciudadanas de mujeres productoras. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Es la idea que no compita una contra otra? CRISTINA ZEPEDA: Más bien que actúen como un grupo de apoyo mutuo. El taller de ventas es muy completo, como con topología del cliente donde les dice que típos de clientes se va a encontrar, comunicación en la venta, como cerrar una venta, etc. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Siembra también crea los vínculos con los mercados? CRISTINA ZEPEDA: Sí, nosotros hacemos los vínculos y buscamos más espacios para hacer vínculos. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: esposos? ¿Cómo reaccionan los CRISTINA ZEPEDA: Nosotros buscamos relaciones armoniosas, pero que las mujeres no sean mujeres sumisas, sino que sean mujeres que negocien con sus parejas, que aprendan a dialogar y a negociar, esto lo hacemos con cursos de comunicación afectiva. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Les ha pasado que cuando las mujeres fueron a los cursos en algunos casos aumentó la violencia en la familia? CRISTINA ZEPEDA: Con nosotros no es tan común, pero hemos bajado la violencia con anuncios en paredes. Nosotros somos una organización muy pequeña pero muy productiva, nuestro trabajo habla por si mismo. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Me podría platicar sobre algunos de los desafíos que enfrentan las mujeres en las zonas rurales? CRISTINA ZEPEDA: El gran desafío es la pobreza y el ir rompiendo con los estereotipos matriarcales que existen en la sociedad y que impiden el desarrollo de las mujeres. El mayor desafío es que haya relevos generacionales donde las mujeres jóvenes después apoyen a nosotros. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muchas gracias! Appendix 35:
Interview with Irina Ignatieva, Microfinance Adviser, Concern Worldwide
March 10, 2009
JESSICA HAEUSSLER: The aim of AMK, Concern’s 100% owned subsidiary in Cambodia, is to reach oper‐
ational and financial sustainability while at the same time maintaining its social mission. Are these objec­
tives that all of your microfinance organizations pursue? IRINA IGNATIEVA: AMK (Cambodia) is the only sub‐
sidiary MFI of Concern. Concern’s policy is not to be a banker for the poor; the policy is to work through part‐
ners (with whom Concern promotes operational and financial sustainability). Concern also works directly with the poorest at the community level by facilitating the establishment of village savings and loan associ‐
ations (groups) ‐ VSLA; however, these are not formal microfinance institutions. CONCERN has a number of microfinance projects – e.g. in Bangladesh, Laos and Haiti. Each project is shaped by the specific context. In Bangladesh Concern is building sustainable linkages between community‐based organisations and a com‐
mercial bank; in Laos Concern provides support to a national government agency that collects and dissemi‐
nates data on the state of the national microfinance sector; in Haiti Concern works with a partner MFI who operates in urban slums. Concern’s focus is on creating sustainable access to finance for the poorest, which is the goal of all Concern’s microfinance interventions. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: There has been much debate on the issue of whether access to microfinance and sup‐
port for micro‐enterprise contribute to economic growth of a country in the long‐run. Do you feel that sustainable microfinance can be a key component in establishing sound financial market structures in developing countries and can be regarded as the first step in launching SME (small and medium­
sized enterprises)? Have you experienced this dur­
ing your work as the Microfinance Advisor at Con­
cern Worldwide, Dublin? Or are you aware of any other evidence regarding this issue? IRINA IGNATIEVA: I feel that microfinance is critical for bringing the poorest into the focus of financial insti‐
tutions, serving the poorer market segments with ap‐
propriate, financially sustainable products. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Do Concern’s microfinance programs have a specific strategy on how to most effectively and efficiently reach marginalized com­
munities in remote rural areas? Are you working with technology in that context? And what do you feel might be an innovative solution in the coming years to be able to increase outreach to these com­
munities and reduce the operational costs asso­
ciated with serving communities in remote areas? IRINA IGNATIEVA: Concern uses the VSLA model whenever appropriate, to reach remote rural areas. Concern doesn’t have experience applying innovative technological solutions in its microfinance interven‐
tions per se. However, Concern did use quite innovative solutions (e.g. using mobile phones for cash transfers) in other interventions. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Do you feel MFIs should have an integrated model, offering financial as well as non­financial services and by that addressing a variety of factors that are related to poverty? (e.g. MFIs like Grameen, ProMujer and others also provide education, health care, empowerment and capacity building to their clients) Or do you feel a more fo­
cused approach is preferable and that MFIs should specialize in specific financial services? An option might also be for MFIs to establish links with other organizations (e.g. NGOs) providing non­financial services (like ProMujer does in some countries in the area of health care). How do you feel about this? financial services? Or do you rather perceive the current industry developments and the rapid surge of private investment into microfinance as a threat to the industry’s social mission? What do you feel is crucial to maintaining the balance between the financial and social objectives? IRINA IGNATIEVA: I feel that, in the current climate, the large increase in private investments is not quite feasible. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: The current shareholders in AMK are Concern Worldwide Dublin and Concern Worldwide UK. Do you see any changes with regards to the shareholder structure in the coming years? IRINA IGNATIEVA: Unfortunately, I’m not in the posi‐
tion to discuss this. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Thank you very much for your time and support, and for sharing your perspective on these issues.24 IRINA IGNATIEVA: I feel in favour of a focused ap‐
proach, while establishing partnerships that cater for other needs such as education, heath care, etc. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: The financial literacy of micro‐
borrowers is still an issue in many countries around the world. For instance, in Mexico, where I did my pri‐
mary research, this constitutes a serious problem, as many micro‐entrepreneurs can’t distinguish between the loan offer of one institution and another given the lack of transparency in pricing and the low degree of financial education of many borrowers. As new players with a more commercial approach to microfinance and less of a social mission enter the market, this non‐
transparency and lack of financial literacy can become a serious problem. Who do you feel is responsible for providing low­income households with the required financial literacy? And do you see any solution to this issue? IRINA IGNATIEVA: I feel that an MFI must have a client protection policy, and it is the responsibility of the MFI that clients (particularly, illiterate clients) understand the contract, and are aware of the full costs of their loan. If by providing financial literacy you mean train‐
ing, I don’t think MFIs should be providers of such trainings. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Do you feel the large increase in private investments through vehicles of com­
mercial banks, investment banks and pension funds are desirable in light of scaling up outreach and satisfying the worldwide demand of micro­
24
The interview was carried out on March 10, 2009, via email. Appendix 36: Table A 36.1: MFI Respondents from ProDesarrollo – Business Models, Pricing and Competition
* MFI & Respondent * Locations * Number of Active Borrowers ¿Cuales son las fortalezas de su IMF que la diferencian de otras IMF’s en México? 25
* Loan Portfolio (MXN) (1 USD = 14,93214 MXN26) ¿Poseen alguna estimación del número de clientes que previamente hayan estado con otra IMF y se hayan cambiado a su IMF, dada la calidad de su servicio? ¿Llevan a cabo algún tipo de estudio sobre satisfacción de clientes? ¿Qué indicadores de desempeño social se monitorean dentro de su IMF para determinar la calidad de servicio hacia los clientes objetivo? ¿Quiénes son sus principales competidores en las áreas donde trabajan? ¿En dónde existe una mayor competencia? ¿Los costos de sus préstamos varían por localidad? ¿Qué factores determinan los costos? ¿Ustedes adaptan su modelo de negocio a las características particulares de cada lugar? ¿Poseen una oferta diferenciada de productos y servicios, o un pricing diferenciado, por ejemplo, para considerar discrepancias en costos operativos? La mayor competencia se encuentra en el Distrito Federal donde un gran de nuevos competidores se han incursionado en este mercado. Fincomun, Credito Familiar, Don Apoyo son algunos de ellos. En lo que corresponde al interior de México, los competidores son Compartamos, Financiera Independencia. Los costos son muy similares en cada localidad, los sueldos son los mismos en todas las plazas, aun cuando se puede pagar menor sueldo en algunas plazas del interior de México. Los demás costos como rentas y publicidad son los mismos. Debido a lo anterior no tenemos estudios de costo por localidad. Los factores que determinan los costos son los costos laborales, renta, equipo de computo, conmuto, publicidad y gastos de instalaciones. Tenemos un producto que es universal ya que se puede pagar por semana, quincena o mensual y el plazo se puede seleccionar desde 6 meses o 26 semanas o 13 quincenas hasta 24 meses, 104 semanas o 52 quincenas, lo que el cliente elija. El precio es el mismo en cada localidad ya que la competencia mantiene el mismo pricing a nivel de todas las localidades. Como comente, el costo es casi similar, tal vez existirá una variación del 5 % entre localidades. En algunos casos, las rentas son mayores pero los gastos de publicidad son menores. Apoyo Económico Familiar, S. de R.L. de C.V. Mauricio Galán, Director General Distrito Federal, Estado de México, Morelos y Guerrero 23,347 borrowers $ 189.838.267 25
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Nuestras fortalezas las podemos dividir en 3 aspectos generales: El N/A primer aspecto es la atención a clientes, debemos tratar a nuestros clientes potenciales como clientes de banca privada, por lo que le damos atención personalizada. Los clientes no son de algún ejecutivo, los clientes pertenecen a la sucursal y todos los ejecutivos son responsables del bienestar del cliente. El segundo aspecto es la infraestructura del sistema, nuestro sistema nos permite poner notas cuando tenemos contacto con el cliente ya sea físicamente o por teléfono, por lo que si nos pide pagar un poco más tarde el mismo día, o bien resolver algún asunto, lo pude atender cualquier ejecutivo de la sucursal. Tenemos como norma, cuando un cliente entra o habla por teléfono tengo que ir al sistema dentro del apartado de notas y leer los últimos comentarios que el ejecutivo escribió. El tercer aspecto es el Recursos Humano, aquí manejamos 2 áreas, la capacitación y el Hacemos pequeños estudios internos. Actualmente tenemos un programa de referencias, es decir si un cliente actual me refiere a un cliente potencial y puedo cerrar el préstamo, entonces llevo un indicador. Este medidor es de los más importantes ya que actualmente entre el 10 a 15 % de nuestros nuevos clientes vienen por referencias de los actuales. Este medidor puede llegar en algunas sucursales hasta el 20 %. Por otro lado, hacemos mystery shoppers para conocer la calidad de trato con nuestros clientes. ProDesarrollo, Afiliadas a ProDesarrollo, http://www.prodesarrollo.org/Asociados-a-la-Red.29.0.html As of 27.02.2009 programa de incentivo. Tenemos varios cursos de capacitación para ofrecer una atención estadarizada con los clientes y llevamos un programa de coaching con los gerentes de sucursales para tener un buen clima laboral y trabajo en equipo, de tal forma que el programa de incentivos se paga por equipo, por lo que resulta beneficioso ya que todos los ejecutivos tienen el mismo objetivo. Créditos Pronegocio, S.A. de N/A C.V. SOFOL Grupo Financiero Banorte Jorge Alberto Cantú Morales, Gerente de Control de Gestión N/A Dicho cambio sí existe, pero no tenemos la estadística. No contamos con dichos estudios y monitoreos. Emprendesarial inició operaciones en Junio de 2006 siendo la única sucursal en Huatulco, Oaxaca. A esa fecha el mercado tenía participación de otras empresas, por Banco Compartamos y Dada la actividad donde Finsol un promotor de crédito visita cada semana a sus clientes se percibe la satisfacción de los mismos tanto por los servicios financieros como los del área médica, Determinamos un solo costo para todo el país. ALL states EXCEPT for Baja California Sur, Colima, Oaxaca, Tabasco and Tlaxcala 54.500 borrowers $ 584.845.000 Emprendesarial, S.A. de C.V., SOFOM, E.N.R. José Alberto Aguilar López, Director Huatulco, Oaxaca N/A El costo de nuestros prestamos es para todos el 4.3% mensual sobre saldo global fijo. El precio se determinó en función del costo del dinero para la empresa y sus gastos programados, incluyendo No. Nuestro modelo y oferta es único para todos los Estados. Nuestros créditos son entre $5,000 y $50,000, individuales (no comunales o grupales), garantizados con un 2 avales y apoyados con un estudio socioeconómico e investigación de sus antecedentes crediticios, y van dirigidos a microempresarios que tengan al menos 1 año con un negocio en marcha y que pertenezcan a los sectores comerciales, industriales o de servicios (no atendemos actividades primarias como agricultura, ganadería, pesca, minería, etc.) y que tengan su domicilio dentro de las principales ciudades (no atendemos al área rural). N/A 364 borrowers $ 3.042.488 Grupo Consultor para la Microempresa, S.A. de C.V., SOFOM, E.N.R. (FINCRECEMOS) N/A Antonio Fonte Pons, Director General lo que pese a no tener un indicador o medidor del número de clientas que se hayan cambiado a nuestra empresa estimamos que el 80% por lo menos lo hizo. Actualmente no tenemos estadística de cuantas trabajan con nosotros exclusivamente o cuantas compartimos con otras empresas. sin embargo no se lleva a la fecha un estudio formal sobre su satisfacción. En cuanto a los indices de rotación no tenemos un dato de las clientas que se han salido para irse a otra institución. N/A Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas 14.943 borrowers $ 28.971.878 Credi‐Capital, S.A. de C.V., SOFOM, E.N.R. $ 88.903.680 No hemos realizado esta estimacion sobre cuantos estan en otra financiera, el unico dato estimado que tenemos es que al consultar las centrales de riesgo oficiales , existio un 30 % de rechazos Diego Filiberto Duque Robledo, Director General Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche y Yucatán 22.745 borrowers N/A las aportaciones a Entre Lazos A.C. En la medida que la empresa pueda reducir dichos costos y gastos la tasa de interés se disminuirá. 2009 se inicio un monitoreo de satisfaccion y estan calibrando la metodologia de muestreo paera esta variable, ya tenemos los primeros resultados En todas las plazas en donde operamos se encuentra Compartamos banco, Finsol y Finca y en algunas plazas esfuerzos locales gubernamentales como el caso de Emprendamos Juntos en la Cd. de San Luis Potosí y el Fondo Asunción en Aguascalientes. El competidor mas fuerte indiscutiblemente es Compartamos en todas las plazas y la mayor competencia se presenta en la ciudad de San Luis Potosí. En el sureste de Mexico existen una gran diversidad de figuras juridicas que dan prestamos pequeños a nuestro mismo segmento de mercado, existen desde cooperativas, bancos, sofomes, uniones de credito etc, nuestros principales competidores identificamos a los Muy poco, el 65% de los costos de los créditos es el sueldo y prestaciones de los empleados y tenemos el mismo tabulador en las plazas en donde trabajamos, por esta condición existe muy poca diferencia entre los costos por localidad. Los factores más importantes son el sueldo y los viaticos del personal de campo, continuando con el gasto de soporte (oficina matriz). Las variaciones son muy pequeñas y están basadas principalmente por el grado de competencia de la plaza, en estos casos si aplicamos diferencias en la tasa de interés. Los montos varian de acuerdo al segmento de mercado, actualmente tenemos dos metodologias de credito: grupales e individuales. Los grupales van de 1000 a 22,000 pesos y los individuales se dividen en dos segmentos: de 5000 a 50,000 y de 50,000 a 350,000 pesos, para fijar tasas tomamos encuenta Los montos varian de acuerdo al segmento de mercado, actualmente tenemos dos metodologias de credito: grupales e individuales. Los grupales van de 1000 a 22,000 pesos y los individuales se dividen en dos segmentos: de 5000 a 50,000 y de 50,000 a 350,000 pesos, para fijar tasas tomamos encuenta primeramente el Solfi, S.A. de C.V. SOFOM E.N.R. N/A N/A Héctor Sepúlveda Rodríguez, Director de Desarrollo Estratégico No. No utilizamos actualmente los indicadores sociales. siguientes: compartamos banco, finca mexico, finsol, invirtiendo, atemexpa, y varias instituciones pequeñas. Estimamos que tan solo chiapas hay mas de 300 en el segmento de microcredito. primeramente el comportamiento del mercado local y lo vamos adecuando de acuerdo a como se mueva el mercado. comportamiento del mercado local y lo vamos adecuando de acuerdo a como se mueva el mercado. Compartamos, Promujer, Finsol, Came [ in Hidalgo ] No. No. No, nuestros costos son los mismos en cada localidad, la forma de determinar los costos, pasan por el nivel de riesgo del segmento y el costo de operar este nivel de créditos No, el modelo de negocio es el mismo, son ciudades separadas por 2.5 horas en promedio, por lo tanto el nivel de clientes tiende a ser el mismo. Hidalgo, Estado de México, Veracruz, Tlaxcala, Morelos, Puebla, Oaxaca 25.095 borrowers $ 66.222.524 Vivir Soluciones Financieras, S.A. de C.V., SOFOM, E.R. BanRegio Grupo Financiero (BANREGIO) Sergio Arenas Díaz, Director General Nuevo León, Coahuila y Tamaulipas 319 borrowers $ 3.051.649 N/A Hoy en día el 30% de nuestros clientes es “virgen” en buró (fuimos nosotros su primera experiencia), lo cual nos muestra que al 75% de los clientes los hemos traído de la competencia o los estamos compartiendo con ellos Hoy en día tenemos un estudio de satisfacción con los clientes, uno que se aplica en el proceso del crédito, generando un 96% de satisfacción y otro posterior al desembolso, que nos arroja un 90% de satisfacción La plaza mas competida es Nuevo Leon, (Monterrey) porque es una ciudad de 4 millones de habitante y acá están todos los competidores formales o informales que te puedas imaginar. También tenemos plazas como Montemorelos, donde solo compartimos el mercado con 2 financieras. Nuestros principales competidores son: Elektra – Crédito familiar – Pronegocio ‐ Finsol ‐ Fincomun Banco Amigo, S.A., Institución de Banca Múltiple Pedro Manuel Guajardo Leal Nuevo León 2,560 borrowers $ 18.985.961 La principal fortaleza es que somos BANCO y que además somos el primer banco en México que ofrece todos los productos bancarios a los clientes de micro finanzas como lo son las cuentas de ahorro e inversión que a diferencia de Banco Compartamos lo terciariza con otro banco como CITI o HSBC. Otra gran fortaleza es que hoy en día damos servicio de crédito de consumo a muchos clientes que también son micro empresarios es decir ya cubrimos la parte de consumo de estos, ahora nos estamos enfocando en cubrir las necesidades de crédito productivo. Nuestro programa de micro crédito como tal tiene poco tiempo y aún se encuentra en fase de prueba piloto en la cual hemos atendido alrededor de 4,000 clientes y muy seguramente poco más del 70% ya trabajaba con otra IMF. No como tal pero te puedo comentar que tenemos muy poca deserción de clientes por el tema de satisfacción, la gran mayoría de los clientes que no renuevan su crédito es por cuestiones de que en nuestra opinión no cumplen con los criterios establecidos para hacer dichas renovaciones, sin embargo se les invita a que utilicen algún otro producto o servicio del banco En nuestro segmento objetivo el principal sería Compartamos y varias SOFOM´s no Reguladas que se han dedicado a dar prestamos personales (consumo) en sustitución de créditos productivos.
No llevamos ningún estudio de manera formal, pero el propio crecimiento a través de la recomendación de nuestros clientes es constante, así como la renovación de créditos, lo cual nos hace patente que estamos haciendo el trabajo bien, y en el caso de mejora de vivienda tenemos el 100% de los créditos documentados con fotografías sobre la mejora de la vivienda, lo cual implica un bienestar social. En el Distrito Federal cerramos la operación hace 8 meses y solo estamos recuperando créditos ya que es una plaza muy competida por muchos actores como: casas de cambio, casas de prenda, prestamistas, bancos, sofomes, fondos de gobierno, etc. La mayoría de los clientes tienen incidencias en Buró de Crédito, la productividad por oficial de crédito era muy baja por tráfico, tiempo de desplazamiento y con un costo de vida más alto. La principal competencia en el DF era Fincomún y Compartamos. Actualmente el micro crédito solo lo operamos en Monterrey, capital de nuestro estado Nuevo León y principalmente el costo esta compuesto por: el costo del dinero, los costos de análisis y originación y un benchmark que constantemente se realiza. N/A Te Creemos, S.A. de C.V., S.F.P. Oscar Pfeiffer Schlittler, Director of Administration and Finance Chiapas, Distrito Federal, Guanajuato 7,742 borrowers $ 47.669.600
La principal fortaleza de Te N/A Creemos es que está haciendo crédito bajo la metodología individual para personas con actividad productiva, es decir, pequeños negocios. A este nicho de mercado casi no se le atiende en México bajo esta metodología. Tenemos una alianza comercial con la cadena de farmacias más grande de México (sin contar las similares), lo que permite que nuestros clientes paguen sus créditos en las farmacias. Tenemos un producto de crédito para mejora de vivienda que incluye un 40% de subsidio por parte del gobierno federal a través de la CONAVI (Comisión Nacional de Vivienda), dirigido a personas que ganan menos de $6,500 pesos al mes, lo cual apoya bastante a las personas de bajos recursos económicos. En Chiapas es en donde mayor competencia No, todos los costos de los créditos son iguales en todo el país y obedecen a una investigación de mercado que hacemos por producto en donde nos ubicamos en la media baja. No, nuestro modelo de negocio y de productos lo hacemos igual en todo el país, cada producto tiene una tasa de interés diferente y una comisión diferente, en base al costo operativo de cada producto. existe, hay muchas financieras y cajas de ahorro y préstamo, principal competencia es Compartamos, Finsol y Asea. En Guanajuato también hay competencia y son Caja Popular Mexicana, Compartamos, Caja Libertad, Financiera Independencia
Financiera Independencia, S.A.B. de C.V. SOFOM, E.N.R. 829.172 borrowers No tenemos el análisis de cuantos clientes se han cambiado de MF’s pero lo que si creemos es que los clientes están ahí y en gran medida se deciden tomar un crédito con la primera MF que se los ofrezca. Dado el nivel de clientes que atacamos (segmento de ingresos bajos), nuestros clientes no hacen benchmarking de diferentes opciones de crédito, solo toman el primero que se los entregue. $ 3.156.163.000 Adeodato Carbajal Orozco, Subdirector of Finance Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Coahuila, Colima, Chihuahua, Chiapas, Durango, Guerrero, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacán, Distrito Federal, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Querétaro, Sinaloa, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatán, Zacatecas Considero que la principal fortaleza de Financiera Independencia son los controles operativos que se tienen sobre los principales procesos del negocio, i) proceso de originación y, ii) proceso de cobranza. Así como el nivel de sistematización y el control de los volúmenes de datos que se operan día a día en Financiera. Source: Interview via email, February-May 2009
Financiera esta trabajando en este sentido, se conformó un área que medirá la satisfacción de nuestros clientes. Esperamos tener información de esto a finales de este año. Financiera opera en 143 ciudades y en 31 de los 32 estados de la república mexicana. Nuestros competidores pueden ser Banco Azteca, Compartamos, cajas de ahorro, cajas de empeño. * N/A = Not Applicable or Not Asked or Not Answered
La tasa de interés que se cobra a nuestros clientes es la misma para todos ellos, solo varía dependiendo el producto que elija el cliente. Esta tasa se determina considerando el costo de fondos de la empresa, el riesgo incurrido y los gastos asociados a los procesos respectivos. No, se tiene un precio (tasa) para todos nuestros productos (varía por producto), independientemente de la ubicación de nuestras sucursales. Table A 36.2: MFI Respondents from ProDesarrollo – The Impact of Microfinance
* MFI & Respondent * Locations * Number of Active Borrowers * Loan Portfolio (MXN)27 (1 USD = 14,93214 MXN28) ¿Considera que el apoyo de la microfinanciación al sector de la micro‐
empresa puede acelerar el crecimiento económico? Desde su experiencia, ¿cree que la mayoría de los micro‐empresarios compiten entre sí mismos dentro del mismo nicho de mercado o en cambio cubren una amplia gama de negocios? ¿Cree que la microfinanciación puede contribuir significativamente a combatir la pobreza en México? ¿Dónde están las principales limitaciones? ¿Tienen alguna estimación de cuántos de sus clientes han salido de la pobreza? ¿Cree que las microfinanzas pueden lograr el empoderamiento (empowerment) de la mujer, incluso en sociedades tradicionalmente patriarcales? ¿Qué ve como los mayores desafíos dentro del sector de microfinanzas en México en los próximos años? Apoyo Económico Familiar, S. de R.L. de C.V. Mauricio Galán, Director General Distrito Federal, Estado de México, Morelos y Guerrero 23,347 borrowers $ 189.838.267 Esta industria todavía es muy pequeña en términos de tiempo. Existen 4 grandes jugadores como Compartamos, Financiera Independencia, Crédito Familiar y Finsol, todas arriba de mil millones de pesos de cartera. Creo que no solo se necesita financiar a los micro‐empresa sino también asesorarlos en cómo manejar la empresa desde el punto de vista de finanzas, producción, etc. Creo que si pudiéramos tener el SBA como en EUA sería exitoso y seguramente sería más fácil acelerar el crecimiento económico de algunas regiones. Los microempresarios compiten entre sí mismos, carecen de conocimiento de mercado y muchos de ellos son celosos para compartir conocimiento y por lo tanto la posibilidad de agruparse para competir con empresas medianas es imposible. De ahí que se necesite una institución como el SBA (Small Business Administration). Por supuesto que sí, en el caso de Apoyo Económico, nos encontramos en las zonas conurbadas de ciudades medianas, hemos visto como algunos clientes utilizan el crédito de manera muy prudencial y estacional. Como ejemplo, tenemos clientes que durante el mes de Noviembre hacen compras y elaboran productos para diciembre y en el mes de enero nos liquidan los préstamos. Utilizan su línea de crédito por 3 meses. No tenemos respuesta a su pregunta, pero hemos ayudado a mas de 30,000 microempresarios con recursos. Por supuesto que sí, cada día la sociedad está permitiendo la igualdad de género. En nuestro caso, los créditos otorgados a mujeres tienen una mejor tasa de pago y existe una clara política interna de contratar mujeres dentro de la empresa. Dentro de los desafíos del sector de microfinanzas en México en los próximos años son: a) Seguramente con la crisis, se perderán MFI´s y fortalecerá las que se mantengan y se adecuen a las nuevas condiciones de mercado. b) Las fuentes de fondeo serán menores y cada vez más caras. c) Será necesario mantener al recurso más valioso que son las personas que ya hemos capacitado, para mantener costos fijos o menores. d) El volumen de crédito disminuirá, por lo que tendremos que mantener los gastos lo mas abajo posible. e) mantener nuestras fuentes de fondeo 27
28
ProDesarrollo, Afiliadas a ProDesarrollo, http://www.prodesarrollo.org/Asociados-a-la-Red.29.0.html As of 27.02.2009 Créditos Pronegocio, S.A. de C.V. a) Claro que sí. SOFOL Grupo Financiero Banorte b) Algunos de ellos compiten entre sí, pero Jorge Alberto Cantú Morales, también hay otros que por diversas Gerente de Control de Gestión circunstancias (mismo nicho pero distinta zona geográfica, distinto nicho, etc.) tienen ALL states EXCEPT for Baja poca o nula competencia. California Sur, Colima, Oaxaca, Tabasco and Tlaxcala a) Por supuesto. b) Distanciamiento geográfico entre clientes y MFI’s, falta de cultura financiera de los clientes, explotación de la gente más pobre, por parte de algunas personas malintencionadas. c) No tenemos estadística. Claro que sí. Parte de que sean patriarcales es porque la mujer depende al 100% de los hombres. Si ellas se independizan financieramente, se debilitará el patriarcado. La culturización financiera de los clientes, incluyendo la cultura de pago oportuno. Cuando la gente cuenta con recursos que puede pagar podría invertir para crear mayores ingresos por lo tanto la microfinanciación si es un canal para combatir la pobreza el cual no funciona solo, de ahí su inefectividad en muchos casos. Debe ir ligado a educación, salud, gobiernos más prósperos y empresas responsablemente sociales. Sí porque la mujer adquiere el rol de la generadora de ingresos de la familia y la sociedad, lo que le da independencia, autosuficiencia, respeto y poder. Las microfinanzas deben tener un fin meramente social, sin embargo en la práctica es meramente mercantil, el gran desafío es lograr un equilibrio entre ambas cuestiones por cada MFI´s 54.500 borrowers $ 584.845.000 Emprendesarial, S.A. de C.V., SOFOM, E.N.R. José Alberto Aguilar López, Director Huatulco, Oaxaca 364 borrowers $ 3.042.488 Grupo Consultor para la Microempresa, S.A. de C.V., SOFOM, E.N.R. (FINCRECEMOS) Antonio Fonte Pons, Director General Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas 14.943 borrowers $ 28.971.878 Podría acelerar el crecimiento económico si la actividad no se limitase únicamente a prestar el capital de trabajo. Esta actividad debe ir unida a la educación financiera y a la elaboración, aplicación y seguimiento de Planes de Micro‐Negocios en co‐ responsabilidad y participación de las clientas. Simplemente lo que vemos en Huatulco (y sucede en el resto del país) es que competimos por el mismo nicho de mercado. Las empresas grandes, como nuestros competidores, no tienen la preocupación de este tema. Nosotros lo pretendemos llevar a cabo, sin embargo por nuestra estructura actual, recursos y atender el tema de la salud no nos ha sido posible aterrizar esta parte tan importante y de trascendencia social. N/A Definitivamente las microfinanzas pueden ser un factor que acelere el desarrollo económico, pero no solo basta el crédito, hacen falta una serie de factores como capacitación para sus negocios, cultura de crédito, facilidad para la apertura y una practica sana de incentivos fiscales. En cuanto a las actividades de los clientes, se mantiene un patrón de comportamiento en cuanto al tipo de actividades que desarrollan, en algunos casos pueden llegar a ser competencia pero si cuidan aspectos básicos de competencia. Las micro‐empresas que se N/A El mayor desafió que enfrentaremos será el sobre‐
endeudamiento de los clientes a consecuencia de una incipiente cultura financiera, por otro lado el numero de competidores en el mercado es cada día mayor ( a causa del efecto Compartamos) pero con escaso o nulo conocimiento de las metodologías. desarrollan en un pequeño porcentaje son financiadas por IMF`s de metodologías grupales. Credi‐Capital, S.A. de C.V., SOFOM, E.N.R. Diego Filiberto Duque Robledo, Director General Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche y Yucatán 22.745 borrowers $ 88.903.680 Solfi, S.A. de C.V. SOFOM E.N.R. Héctor Sepúlveda Rodríguez, Director de Desarrollo Estratégico Hidalgo, Estado de México, Veracruz, Tlaxcala, Morelos, Puebla, Oaxaca 25.095 borrowers $ 66.222.524 Nuestra experiencia en este sentido es que estamos convencidos que las microfinanzas abre una carretera de oportunidades a los empresarios rurales para que se desarrollen y encuenten una via de sustento de vida, para su alimentacion, educación, salud, hemos constatado cambios en la forma de vida de mucha gente, solo por el simple hecho que se emplee e un actividad productiva y no dependa de un empleo. Es muy gratificante ver como antes una queseria no se desarrollaba por no tener acceso y ahora que se le abre la oportunidad al acceso a generado fuentes de empleo, sin duda las microfinanzas no genera el desarrollo pero es un instrumento muy valioso para brindar oportunidad para el desarrollo, hay otros elementos que tambien han ayudado, las politicas publicas, aunque en los ultimos dias el no entendimiento del sector se ve amenazado por las politicas publicas. No tenemos datos medidos al respecto, porque quiza no hemos definido que es pobreza, o desde que angulo debemos mirarlo, porque hay personas que por sus condiciones es mas importante sacar adelante en el estudio a sus hijos mas que tener cosas materiales, o la salud como hemos visto que desvian mucho recurso para el tema de salud. No tenemos indicador que nos convenza como medir la frontera entre el pobre y el no pobre, si es por medio de indicadores de ingresos estimados si podriamos dar alguna cifra de lo que se ha mejorado sus economias Sí, acelera el crecimiento económico. Sí, existe competencia entre los clientes pero en diversidad de negocios que demanda la misma localidad. Es una herramienta y una oportunidad de desarrollo que claro que contribuye. Las principales limitaciones se encuentran en los servicios complementarios que determinan la pobreza como cultura educación aislamiento salud etc. Sin duda este es un tema muy fascinante del gran cambio que se esta gestando en Mexico sobre el tema de equidad de genero y vemos como a pesar de sociedades patriacarles como le llamas la mujer es el corazon y cerebro del hombre por su misma condicion de madre, aunque el modelo social piense y diga otra cosa, en el corazon y mente de un hombre primero esta el de su madre por descendencia * Acceso a tecnologias para hacer instituciones eficientes y bajar tasas a los clientes * Que el estado entienda que no es su papel de generar creditos a tasas de interes cero, porque no va tener recursos para siempre y distorciona el mercado * Trabajar de la mano con los legisladores para abrir oportunidades de desarrollo de las microfinanzas y se conviertan en un verdadero instrumento de desarrollo, ya que hay grandes divergencias que puede poner en riesgo el avance sobre todo por el control de tasas de interes. * Creatividad para llegar a las comunidades rurales a bajos costos. Sí, pues contribuye a que la mujer tenga una mayor independencia económica que le permite elevar su autoestima y en algunos casos sostener económicamente a su familia. La incursión en mejores prácticas para obtener operaciones más eficientes y mayor productividad con la implementación de nuevos productos y maduración del sector.La disminución natural de las tasas de interés derivada de mayor competencia y una red de información crediticia para evitar el sobreendeudamiento de las familias. Vivir Soluciones Financieras, S.A. de C.V., SOFOM, E.R. BanRegio Grupo Financiero (BANREGIO) 319 borrowers Efectivamente desarrolla el crecimiento, desde que se haga en función a otorgar créditos productivos Y NO DE CONSUMO. Ese es el problema actual de nuestro país, donde los clientes se les otorgan productos de consumo y no productivos. Los microempresarios, les falta tecnología, por lo tanto solo compiten en productos de comercio $ 3.051.649 Sergio Arenas Díaz, Director General Nuevo León, Coahuila y Tamaulipas Banco Amigo, S.A., Institución de Banca Múltiple Pedro Manuel Guajardo Leal Nuevo León 2,560 borrowers $ 18.985.961 Efectivamente. La gran mayoría de nuestros clientes se dedican a la venta de productos por catalogo o bien fabrican bienes y servicio, solo unos cuantos (los menos) compiten entre si cuando sus negocios son del mismo giro y existe una gran cercanía física…en la medida de los posible tratamos de diversificar nuestro portafolio de créditos evitando la competencia entre los mismo clientes Considero que si se puede contribuir a combatir la pobreza, pero es un mercado muy distorsionado, por las compañías financieras de consumo, la cuales han ocasionado que los clientes tengan la cultura del no pago como una opción. Por otro lado, estamos muy concentrados en la Republica, es decir existen zonas que aún no llega la oferta de crédito. Aun no conocemos esta cifra, porque somos una institución muy joven (18 meses de operación) Efectivamente, hoy en día, de nuestra base de clientes el 48% son mujeres y como me imagino escuchas, México es un país bastante machista Por si sola la microfinanciación no terminará con la pobreza pero si ayudará en el alivio de esta, faltarían servicios de educación, servicios médicos, seguridad social, etc Si, cerca del 97% de nuestros clientes son mujeres y ellas cada ves tiene mayor peso en la generación de ingresos de la familia, esto es un claro ejemplo del cambio cultural que estamos viviendo sobre el “Macho Mexicano” Limitaciones: Los costos de originación y costos regulatorios, falta de cultura financiera por parte de los clientes Las centrales de riesgos cuentan con información limitada por parte de los clientes vs el caso Peruano Estimación: No El sobreendeudamiento y la falta de recurso humano especializado en la metodología individual * Creación una regulación acorde al sector de las micro finanzas * Crear una central de riesgo más completa y menos populista * Crear una cultura financiera – bancaria y empresarial en los clientes * Acceder a los clientes a través de otras redes para disminuir los costos y traducirlo en reducción de tasas de interés Te Creemos, S.A. de C.V., S.F.P. Oscar Pfeiffer Schlittler, Director of Administration and Finance Chiapas, Distrito Federal, Guana‐
juato 7,742 borrowers $ 47.669.600 Financiera Independencia, S.A.B. de C.V. SOFOM, E.N.R. Definitivamente creemos que el microcrédito mejora la calidad de vida de nuestros acreditados, mejora y crece su negocio, todo esto lo tenemos documentado en los diferentes expedientes de crédito por cada acreditado, y definitivamente acelera el crecimiento económico sobre todo en poblaciones en las que hay muy poco o nulo crédito porque no hay todavía financieras que den créditos. Si con microempresarios te refieres a nosotros las microfinancieras, sí atendemos el mismo nicho de mercado que es la base de la pirámide poblacional, de personas que ganan menos de $16,000 pesos al mes o de micronegocios que venden menos de $2’000,000 de pesos anuales. No son clientes de pobreza extrema ni de pobreza alimentaria, habitacional o educacional. Sin embargo creo que hay microfinancieras para todos los segmentos de esta base poblacional, es decir, los que los atienden a través de banca comunal, los que los atienden a través de descuento en nómina (para los que tienen empleo), los que les damos créditos individuales, los que dan créditos al consumo, los que dan crédito para vivienda, los que dan hipotecarios, los que dan para lo que sea con garantía prendaria, etc. Creo que hay una buena variedad de microfinancieras que atienden de manera diferente según el nicho de mercado que han escogido dentro de este segmento. 829.172 borrowers En México es muy importante impulsar los micro‐negocios, y una forma de hacerlo es otorgando créditos a este sector, sin embargo y al igual que en muchos países, los créditos son escasos y a veces nulos. Otorgando créditos a este sector de la economía se generaría un empuje para el crecimiento económico del país. $ 3.156.163.000 Adeodato Carbajal Orozco, Subdirector of Finance All states except for one. Si creo que los microcréditos ayudan a combatir la pobreza en México y le dan elementos a las personas para emprender mejores acciones en sus pequeños negocios para crecerlos, así como para mejorar la calidad de vida de la familia. Las principales limitaciones están en las poblaciones rurales, alejadas de carreteras o caminos transitables y que son pequeñas comunidades. Definitivamente sí, porque el manejo del dinero por si mismo ya da poder, y al ser ellas las que lo manejan ya tienen más responsabilidad, poder y seguridad, ellas se vuelven la cabeza de la familia, y su familia depende de ellas, lo que genera respeto y por ende que le tienen que pedir a ellas dinero, favores, etc. Llegar a todas las localidades del país, empezar a generar beneficios sociales derivados de las microfinanzas, enseñar a las personas el beneficio que les trae el generar ahorro, que todas las MFI y las cajas entren a regularse para beneficio de sus socios y clientes, esto tomará varios años No tenemos una estimación de cuántos de nuestros clientes han salido de la pobreza, ni sé bien a que le llamas pobreza, pero si tenemos documentado la mejora de calidad de vida de nuestros clientes en por lo menos un 90% de los casos. No tengo esta información, pero considero que si muchas personas que tienen un negocio pequeño, tuvieran la oportunidad de contar con un crédito para comprar materia prima o capital de trabajo, seguramente ayudaría a crecerlo y formaría cada vez más un negocio fuerte que también generaría empleo para otras personas. Creo que las mujeres son una parte esencial tanto en el ámbito personal como en el ámbito profesional y de negocios. El 52% de nuestros clientes son mujeres, y por tendencia te podría decir que son muy cumplidas con sus compromisos. Actualmente la mujer ocupa un papel muy importante en el desarrollo económico del país. El mayor desafío es precisamente hacer llegar los recursos necesarios (créditos, préstamos, financiamiento) a todos esos clientes que se encuentran en los niveles de ingresos muy bajos y que no tienen acceso al financiamiento, por lo cual no se desarrollan o no pueden dar el siguiente paso para poderse mover a un nivel superior y coadyuvar con esto en el Fundación Laureles Germán Martínez Blanco Capacity building in the areas of health, education and economic development Puede acelerar el crecimiento, siempre que se siga implementando los cambios que vayan siendo necesarios y siempre que el esquema de financiamiento sea justo y permita al cliente ir ascendiendo de nivel para acceder a mejores recursos, con mejores condiciones de préstamo. Es decir, que se reconozca de manera justa a todo aquel microempresario que se muestre cumplido. desarrollo económico del país. Si lo creo. Como también creo que la principal limitación está en la alta carencia de educación básica y formal, ya no se diga financiera o económica. Al mismo tiempo veo una gran limitación en fenómenos psicosociales propios de las culturas latinas. El “patriarcado” es un tema muy complejo, paradójico y extenso. En países como México, se suele decir que se vive en un patriarcado, pero basta mirar las estadísticas de población para saber que son las mujeres las que “sostienen” esos “patriarcados”. Y los sostienen tanto económica, como física, emocional y socialmente. Es por ello que creo que las microfinanzas refuerzan un poder ya existente, pero silente. * La necesaria proliferación de centros o programas de Información / formación en temas de micro finanzas. * Continuar con los trabajos de regulación, el cual me parece tiene un ritmo menor al del crecimiento de la oferta o creación de IMF’s. * Continuar con la lucha contra uno de los mayores males: la corrupción. Source: Interview via email, February-May 2009
* N/A = Not Applicable or Not Asked or Not Answered
Table A 36.3 MFI Respondents from ProDesarrollo – The Code of Ethics
* MFI & Respondent * Locations * Number of Active Borrowers Considerado un gran logro, dentro de la red de miembros de ProDesarrollo se ha establecido un nuevo "código de éticas". ¿Cuáles son los beneficios para los IMF’s en caso de las mejoras en la colaboración entre IMF's dentro de la red? ¿y cuál es el beneficio para los clientes? * Loan Portfolio (MXN)29 (1 USD = 14,93214 MXN30) Apoyo Económico Familiar, S. de R.L. de C.V. Mauricio Galán, Director General Distrito Federal, Estado de México, Morelos y Guerrero Creo que el código de ética es un comienzo en la solidez de las MFI´s, la transparencia con los clientes respecto a las condiciones de los préstamos, no sobre endeudar a los clientes y mantener una competencia sana, permitirán beneficiar a los clientes para que ellos puedan comparar entre las MFI´s. El mantener buenas prácticas en esta industria permitirán a las MFI´s y clientes seguir creciendo. 23,347 borrowers $ 189.838.267 Créditos Pronegocio, S.A. de C.V. a) Mayor respeto y confianza, así como fortalecimiento del sector. SOFOL Grupo Financiero Banorte Jorge Alberto Cantú Morales, Gerente de Control de Gestión b) Un servicio con mayor nivel de confianza y calidad. ALL states EXCEPT for Baja California Sur, Colima, Oaxaca, Tabasco and Tlaxcala 54.500 borrowers $ 584.845.000 Emprendesarial, S.A. de C.V., SOFOM, E.N.R. Considero que el gran logro es que se de una colaboración efectiva entre las MFI´s a fin de desarrollar mecanismos que eviten sobre endeudar a los mercados que están siendo atendidos por diversas empresas. José Alberto Aguilar López, Director Huatulco, Oaxaca 364 borrowers $ 3.042.488 29
30
ProDesarrollo, Afiliadas a ProDesarrollo, http://www.prodesarrollo.org/Asociados-a-la-Red.29.0.html As of 27.02.2009 Grupo Consultor para la Microempresa, S.A. de C.V., SOFOM, E.N.R. (FINCRECEMOS) El “Código de Ética” desde mi muy particular punto de vista es una medida de autoproteccionismo que no dará resultados, no por ello digo que la red no funcione, todo lo contrario, FINCRECEMOS esta muy contento de pertenecer a una red como esta, solo que me parece más interesante el trabajo de ProDesarrollo en otros aspectos mas que en el “Código”. La colaboración para la realización de Benchmarks, el Antonio Fonte Pons, Director General cabildeo con instituciones gubernamentales, trabajos comparativos y la capacitación a las Instituciones. En cuanto al impacto con los clientes, de manera indirecta forzan al mejoramiento continuo de las instituciones lo que tendría que verse reflejado en mejoras de Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí, productos y costos para los clientes. Zacatecas 14.943 borrowers $ 28.971.878 Credi‐Capital, S.A. de C.V., SOFOM, E.N.R. Diego Filiberto Duque Robledo, Director General Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche y Yucatán 22.745 borrowers Uno de los principales beneficios es que ayuda a madurar y aprender mas rapidamente las practicas prudenciales con las que debe actuar y por lo tanto se vera reflejado en el desempeño de la institución. Tenemos herramienta y datos de comparacion sobre el desemepeño sobre todo el tema de transparencia. Se ha implementado un programa de migracion contable como parte del proceso de transparencia. Para los clientes es sin duda mas importante porque directamente se beneficia con mejores productos y servicios a menores costos por el grado de competencia y eficiencia que se genera $ 88.903.680 Solfi, S.A. de C.V. SOFOM E.N.R. Si hay un beneficio que consiste en establecer reglas para una sana competencia, lo cual impacta al cliente pues está siendo atendido por empresas que se rigen por principios y valores. Héctor Sepúlveda Rodríguez, Director de Desarrollo Estratégico Hidalgo, Estado de México, Veracruz, Tlaxcala, Morelos, Puebla, Oaxaca 25.095 borrowers $ 66.222.524 Vivir Soluciones Financieras, S.A. de C.V., SOFOM, E.R. BanRegio Grupo Financiero (BANREGIO) Aún falta mucho por avanzar en ese tema, porque el solo hecho que todos los miembros de ProDesarrollo no reporten al buró de crédito, no hace que sea transparente el proceso de crédito, lo anterior genera sobreendeudamiento a los clientes. Existen cosas interesantes como el hecho que no se puedan “robar” los empleados entre ellas, pero aun falta mucho por avanzar en otros beneficios. Sergio Arenas Díaz, Director General Nuevo León, Coahuila y Tamaulipas 319 borrowers $ 3.051.649 Banco Amigo, S.A., Institución de Banca Múltiple Pedro Manuel Guajardo Leal Nuevo León Como red estamos trabajando instituciones grandes, medianas y pequeñas para que el gobierno mexicano adapte las reglas y leyes necesarias para el crecimiento y fortalecimiento de las micro finanzas ya que bancos como el nuestro se ven en desventaja porque se nos aplican reglas bancarias tradicionales cuando nuestro principal objetivo son las micro finanzas y en muchas ocasiones esto presenta un conflicto entre acceder a dicho mercado y el cumplir las regulación en materia de elegibilidad de clientes para otorgarles un crédito Para los clientes: Poderse bancariza principalmente por vía crédito y obtener créditos que no represente una trampa eterna de pagos
2,560 borrowers $ 18.985.961 Chiapas, Distrito Federal, Guanajuato Consideramos que los esfuerzos que hemos realizado en Prodesarrollo han beneficiado al sector de las IMF´s en cuestión de información comparativa, benchmark, de todo tipo, desde número de clientes, Estados Fiancieros hasta comparativo de salarios. La comunicación a través de este código de ética ha transparentado la información y las quejas entre las IMF´s sobre todo en el área de recursos Humanos, y se ha logrado una mejor comunicación para mejores prácticas que al final benefician al cliente. Por ejemplo el pirateo de empleados junto con el robo de cartera de crédito, el robo de información, el comparativo de tasas de interés y condiciones de los créditos, los índices de mora, etc. 7,742 borrowers Te Creemos, S.A. de C.V., S.F.P. Oscar Pfeiffer Schlittler, Director of Administration and Finance $ 47.669.600 Financiera Independencia, S.A.B. de C.V. SOFOM, E.N.R. No tengo información de este asunto, pero creo que es bueno contar con un código de ética para asegurar que los clientes finales tengan un mejor servicio y los costos que paguen sean los justos de acuerdo al riesgo que se incurre. Adeodato Carbajal Orozco, Subdirector of Finance All states except for one 829.172 borrowers $ 3.156.163.000 Fundación Laureles Germán Martínez Blanco Capacity building in the areas of health, education and economic development El beneficio es la observancia interinstitucional que esta red genera. La posibilidad de acercarnos entre instituciones a ver cómo trabaja cada una y esto obliga a cada uno a una práctica ética y responsable, siempre que el ambiente no se vicie ni se corrompa. Crear redes rompe con la antigua práctica en la que eran agrupaciones casi que secretas a manera de cofradías las únicas con posibilidad de ofertar este tipo de servicios. Source: Interview via email, February-May 2009
* N/A = Not Applicable or Not Asked or Not Answered
Appendix 37:
Interview with Germán Martínez Blanco of Fundación Laureles (Foundation)
February 2009 JESSICA HAEUSSLER: La Fundación Laureles ofrece soporte en las áreas de salud, educación y desarrollo económico. ¿Tienen ustedes alianzas estratégicas o asociaciones con las IMF’s para proveer sus servicios a sus clientes? GERMÁN MARTÍNEZ BLANCO: En esta etapa del proyecto, vinculamos a los microempresarios que capacitamos con IMF’s a través de la Red creada por ProDesarrollo, A.C. Estamos en proceso de realizar los vínculos directos con las IMF’s presenten en las comunidades en las que se encuentran nuestros Centros de Integración Familiar. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: La educación financiera y la protección del consumidor continúan siendo los temas claves para muchos sectores de microfinanzas alrededor del mundo. La educación financiera y la transparencia también representan un desafío en México. Aunque parece que existe un interés creciente en estos temas en las esferas política y económica, la población meta de las microfinanzas ha sido, hasta ahora, excluída de la mayoría de iniciativas de protección al consumidor. ¿Quién piensa usted debería ser el responsable de la provisión de educación financiera a la población meta de las micro finanzas? GERMÁN MARTÍNEZ BLANCO: Pensamos que es el Gobierno quien debe dar el primer paso para proveer de educación financiera a la población, con el objeto de fortalecer la cultura financiera no sólo a nivel macro, sino también micro económico. Sin embargo estamos consientes de que el Estado no lo puede todo y es por eso que las ONG’s a través de los recursos donados por las empresas con responsabilidad social tenemos la corresponsabilidad de realizar acciones ante las limitaciones que todo Estado tiene. Entre otros temas, debemos apoyar en la creación de una cultura financiera. través de los cursos de información y capacitación que impartimos a la “población meta de las micro finanzas”, como les nombra Usted, concientizándolos en temas como lo es el del camino que falta por recorrer y de la responsabilidad que ellos como población meta tienen en exigir y participar de los cambios necesarios que todavía hacen falta en estos temas. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Su organización trata temas como educación financiero en su área "educación" o "desarrollo económico? GERMÁN MARTÍNEZ BLANCO: En el área de Desarrollo Económico, principalmente. Pero podríamos decir que se vincula directamente con los talleres de Plan de Vida que impartimos a la población estudiantil inscrita en nuestro colegio, el cuál conforma nuestra área de Educación. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muchas nuevas IMF’s fueron establecidas en los últimos años y la competencia se ha incrementado. ¿Cómo evalúa la situación de México con respecto a la competencia? ¿Cuáles han sido las mejoras y qué ha cambiado con la intensificación de la competencia? GERMÁN MARTÍNEZ BLANCO: Lo que ha cambiado es que hay más “personas del dinero” que han puesto los ojos en las micro finanzas y esto ha obligado al Estado a tomar cartas en el asunto en tanto la regulación y vigilancia de este mercado que antes era captado únicamente por los usureros sin regulación alguna. Creemos que para que los beneficios de una creciente “oferta” realmente sean sentidos por la población, deben también crecer la información y la regulación; de lo contrario se corre el riesgo de que simplemente haya más gente ofreciendo servicios de usura. JESSICA HAEUSSLER: Muchas gracias.31 JESSICA HAEUSSLER: ¿Espera usted que haya cambios con respecto a las mejoras en transparencia y educación financiera en el sector de las microfinanzas en México en el futuro cercano? GERMÁN MARTÍNEZ BLANCO: Sí lo esperamos en tanto que luchamos porque esto suceda. En principio, a 31
Some of the interview questions ask are included in the above tables, appendix 36 

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