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Micro Finance

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Abinet Gebrekidan



May, 2006




Poverty is not uncommon problem of almost all developing countries. Ethiopia is one the leading less developed countries (LDCs) that has been experiencing the bad consequences of poverty. As the result, the socioeconomic crises that occurred in different periods have been beyond what the country could resist. Above 85 % of the population is living on agriculture which is rain fed. The fate of the countryЎ¦s exports earnings and household consumption directly depend on the performance of agricultural sector. Even though this sector is the mainstay of the economy, it couldnЎ¦t fully support the massive dependents in a sustainable way. The natural catastrophes, declining size of land holdings, inadequate supply of farm technologies etc are the factors that limit the agricultural production in the country and farm level.

Due to the above fact, the countryЎ¦s main and immediate objective is to strive to break the vicious cycle of poverty and to alleviate and/ or reduce the magnitude and extent of poverty. In this struggle, as to all poor countries, the binding constraint is capital formation (i.e. investment from domestic saving and external injection) to alleviate poverty and encourage investment by poor. In this regard, the micro-finance institutions (MFIs) recently gain more and more acceptance.

In addition to banks and insurance companies, micro-financing institutions have continued to play an important role in giving credit and saving facilities to micro sectors of the economy. As of June 2002, 21 micro-financing institutions, with paid up capital of more than birr 38 million are operating in different regions of the country. They mobilized Birr 255 million deposits, from small holders and gave loans amounting to Birr 349 million by end of June 2002. Accordingly, over half a million people, particularly those living in rural areas are estimated to have become beneficiaries of the services of micro-financial institutions. (NBE, Annual Report).

1.1. Statement of the Problem

Micro finance institutions are increasing in number and area of coverage in our country. But the problem is dealing with the poor (especially with credit related issues) is not as easy as poverty alleviation so that this may challenge their contribution to development. That means the rural poor have less organized way of living, widespread illiteracy and the like which hinders from participating in credit and saving programs; and hence the effort of those programs may be challenged.

A recent annual report of NBE tell that the number of MFIs has reached 22 at the end of fiscal year 2002/03. Their total capital stood at Birr 299 million and mobilize deposits of Birr 302 million. Of the total MFIs, 10 were operating in Addis Ababa and 5 in Oromia. Three MFIs jointly accounted for 31 percent of the total capital, 12.1 percent of total savings mobilized, 21 percent of total credit allocation and 20.4 percent of total assets. The two biggest MFIS namely, Amhara and Dedebit Credit and Savings institutions alone accounted for 59 percent of the total capital, 80 percent of the savings, 71 percent of the credit and 71 percent of the total assets of MFIs.

1.2. Objectives of the study

The study has the following major objectives:

1. To assess the role and impact of micro-finance institutions on the livelihood of rural poor.

2. To assess factors that hinder the rural poor from participating in Micro finance Institutions

3. To draw conclusion and give some policy recommendations for the successful implementation and development of micro financing programs.

1.3 Methodology of the study

Secondary sources are used in this study. These sources are obtained from different organizations like Association of Ethiopian Micro-finance Institutions (AEMFI), the National Bank of Ethiopia, different journals, annual reports and books, etc.

1.4. Limitation of the study

The main limitations of this study are: shortage of time and the types of the data used i.e. the study solely depends on secondary data from different sources.



2.1. The Need For Micro-Financing

According to Khandker (1998), the alleviation of poverty requires diverse measures. The most important being those, which expand the income and employment opportunities of the poor, enabling them to enhance their living standards providing the poor with access to financial services is one of the many ways to increase their income and productivity.

Binswanger and Landell-Mills (1995) states that constraints in relation to suppliers.i.e. Private Banks excludes the poor because small transactions are unprofitable. Providing financial services to the poor and women is not easy. Many borrowers are not credit worthy and don't have profitable projectors. Thus, that the need for micro financing is an undeniable fact.

According to Yanor, Benjamin and Pipren (1997), the issue that should be raised in this context is the importance of the informal sector in LDCs economy and its constraint to develop by lack of credit. On top of that, Salad vine and checkering (1991) confirmed this fact by noting that, Ў§the informal sectorЎЁ which contributed about 35% to 65% and 20% to 40% to employment and GDP in most LDCs respectively, is constrained by lack of credit.

Micro financing programs are developed to fill this gap. The rural poor in LDCs are in desperate needs of credits, microfinance programs are supposed to make available this credit needs and keep the poor to increase their living standard. Lack of saving and capital make it difficult for many poor people who want jobs in the formal and informal sectors to become self employed and to undertake productive employment generating activities, providing credit seems to be a way to generate self-employment opportunities for the poor.

In this regard, MFIs in relation to other financial intermediaries has special role and distinguishing features which are given as follows:

„« The primary objective of MFIs is to address the credit needs of those who are willing and ready to reduce their chronic poverty by engaging in farming and small scale production and service activities (Getahun, 2001).

„« Besides provisions of credit facilities, MFIs render managerial, marketing technical and administrative advise to borrowers by reaching borrowers at there place of work.(ibid)

„« MFIs do not require collateral to extend credit in cash or kind to peasant farmers and small entrepreneurs. Instead peer group-leading scheme, character based loans and the promise of subsequent loans is main motivations for repayment (Marguerite, 2001).

„« Saving requirement is introduced as a compulsory feature of lending activity and this saving requirement seems to serve as a motivator for repayment of loan since borrowers choose to repay the loan than losing the amount they saved (Getahun, 2001)

2.2 Country Experiences on Micro-financing

2.2.1 Experience of Bangladesh

Why it is that micro-finance becomes a great concern for the whole world as an instrument for poverty reduction in rural areas? It seems because it has recorded success in countries where it has been implemented Abiy (2000). A brief look at this success stories is as follows.

One of the most successful countries often mentioned in the development of microfinance is Bangladesh. Micro finance organizations like Grameen Bank, Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), Proshika (PK), Association for Social Advancement (ASA), largest 20 credit NGOs (not including Grameen Bank), and Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB) are operating in the country mentioned

For instance, the Grameen Bank, which was established in 1983 as a challenge to existing collateral-based financial system, has had a promising result. It operates exclusively for the poor on the promise that rural people, who won too little land, support themselves as farmers, can never the less make productive use of small loans and repays them on time. The bank also promotes social development by making the poor accountable to individually and socially. Such intermediation improves productivity and income of the poor. This, in turn, also improves their loan payment rate and hence contributes to the Grameen BankЎ¦s financial Viability. As the result it is the most successful credit program for poor and this may be seen from the outreach status and loan recovery so that the bankЎ¦s loan recovery rate has consistently remained above 90 percent Pit and Khandker (1998).

2.2.2 Experience of some African Countries

Formalized micro finance institutionsЎ¦ in Africa is a more recent phenomenon. The 1950s and 1960s led to a proliferation of rural leading programs that focused on the provision of subsidized credit by government development banks. After this period in 1980s, the replication of BangladeshЎ¦s Grameen Bank began to be tested using primary donor funds to provide credit to a wide number of solidarity group members (Paxton and Fruman, 1998).

For our purpose, however, we will look only two countries Kenya and Burkina Faso- the former representing relatively densely populated region and the latter is less densely populated.

For example, in Kenya KREB (Kenya Rural Enterprise Bank) is a micro finance institution serving the poor in rural and urban areas of Kenya. It was established as an intermediary NGO to provide financial and technical assistance to NGOs in Kenya that are involved in developing or promoting the development of micro and small enterprises.

Since 1990, KREB has successfully transformed grants from its development partners into loan capital for nearly 30,000 businessmen and women. It has been able to do so at a positive return since 1994. KREB has distributed over Kenyan shilling 300 million each year since 1995 and has never run short of new customers.

The PPPCR (Le project de promotion du petit credit rural) has been particularly innovative in adopting the Grameen style of group lending to the conditions in Burkina Faso. Certainly the sahelian region represents one of the most challenging environment for micro finance due to the combinations of failed prevails efforts low population density, poverty and illiteracy. To overcome some of these obstacles, PPPCR has departed from a pure Grameen replication and has adapted its own financial services and organization.

Like the Grameen Bank, PPPCR has grown quickly, but cannot be compared in member of clients. By the end of 1994, PPPCR had served 10,000 clients, and two years later it had reached about 25,000 clients. Despite all of the careful modifications of the Grameen model to the Burkina Faso context, the provision of micro finance services has proved to be quite costly in the Sahel. The reasons for these high costs are more related to the environment (low population density, poor infrastructure, poverty, illiteracy etc.) than to the methodology of group lending itself. The PPPCR has experienced greater efficiency in the past couple of years as it continues to learn from its early experience & achieves economies of scale.

Generally, the results in this study have shown that none of the institutions have been able to cover the cost of subsidies despite in roads towards financial viability. Most of micro finance institutions limit their ability to achieve high volumes of loan advances and savings. In sum, the most important lesson is that a wide variety of market niches exist in the field of micro finance.


In Ethiopia, the origins of Micro-Finance Institutions (MFIs) is largely rooted in their non-governmental organizations (NGOs) past with a clearly defined mission of rural poverty eradication. Proclamation No. 40/1996 established the licensing and supervision of MFIs as 'share companies' in accordance with the Commercial Code of Ethiopia. In addition to banks and insurance companies, Micro- Finance Institutions (MFI's) have continued to play an important role in providing credit and saving facilities to the various micro-sectors of the economy. Over half a million people, particularly those living in rural areas have become the prime beneficiaries of the services of these institutions. The number of Micro-Finance Institutions (MFI's) that operate in the country has reached 22 at the end of fiscal year 2002-2003.

Microfinance has evolved as an economic development approach to benefit low-income women and men. Microfinance clients are typically self-employed, low-income entrepreneurs in both urban and rural areas. Clients are often traders, street vendors, small farmers, service providers and artisans and small producers, such as blacksmiths and seamstresses. Usually their activities provide a stable source of income (often from more than one activity). Although they are poor, they are generally not considered to be the "poorest of the poor".

Micro-financing institutions in Ethiopia are formed as share companies in line with the provisions of Commercial Code of Ethiopia. These institutions owned by regional governments, NGOЎ¦s, associations and individuals of Ethiopian origins. However, the coverage of financial services of micro-financing institutions in Ethiopia to day is not as their numbers. This is because of the face that the operation of micro-financing business is very challenging mainly because of prevalent limited financial and human resources in the country, lack of adequate infrastructure in the rural areas of the country, lack of business awareness by the borrowers particularly in the rural areas and frequently happening drought. The existing micro-financing institutions played important role in improving living standards of their clients. Because the small holders in the rural as well as the urban area do not have access to Commercial Banks due to lack of collateral to secure the loan to be granted. The small holders in Ethiopia are in fact living under the poverty line, which constituted not less than 45 per cent of the total population of the country. Hence, micro-financing institutions can play the greatest role in realization of the need for financial services for the poor society to promote their living standards.

Micro-financing institutions operating in Ethiopia are an infant industry. The history of Ethiopian micro-financing institutions is limited to only about seven years. The objectives of the establishment of the institutions are to support certain section of the population who are beyond the view of the commercial banks. The primary motive of these institutions is to achieve social objectives as well as to generate adequate profit so as to stay in business and reach poor segment of the society to a large extent as possible.

Functional Spread of MFI's:

Functional spread has two aspects. It encompasses mobilization of deposits and deployment of credit. MFI's are required to mobilize untapped savings of the economy in the form of deposits and channels such deposits for the purpose of delivering financial services to the urban and rural poor. Deposits are the basic raw materials for the MFI's. It helps the MFI's to channels credit for the betterment of the working poor. Higher is the deposit mobilization; larger is the scope for deployment of funds. The performance of MFI's in the field of deposit mobilization and deployment of credit is seen in table 1.


FUNCTIONAL SPREAD OF MFI's (Amount in '000 of Birr)

Years Savings (Deposits) Loans Deposits to Loan Ratio (%)

2000 176,113 287,868 61

2001 252,723 352,721 72

2002 281,612 398,997 71

2003 327,509 593,927 55

2004 431,000 994,000 43

Source: Supervision Department, NBE.

It can be observed from the above table that the ratio of deposits to loans outstanding has shown a significant growth. This indicates that Micro-Finance Institutions are capable of mobilizing savings for financing the delivery of financial services to meet their businesses. However, it is not encouraging sign that the said ratio has been decreased from 71 per cent in 2002 to 43 per cent in 2004.

Components of Capital:

Total capital structure is composed of finance provided by the shareholders, donated capital, other capital account and earnings of the sector. The composition of capital of MFI's is seen in table 2.


CAPITAL STRUCTURE (Amount in '000 of Birr)

Composition of Capital 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

Paid Up Capital 17,690 38,323 50,803 58,219 128,000

Donated Capital 143,750 141,016 161,157 174,213 191,000

Other Capital Account 3,228 4,5280 5,2745 75,064 137,000

Retained Earnings -1,939 -6,732 -9,265 -1,979 9,000

Profit/Loss 11,748 10,018 12,779 30,568 55,000

Total Capital 174,477 227,905 268,219 336,085 521,000

Source: Supervision Department, NBE.

As it can be observed from the above table that the total capital of the sector has steadily been increased from birr 174,477 in 2000 to birr 521,000 in 2004. The increase over the period was 3.8 times. Profit has declined slightly in the year 2001owing to excess expenses over earnings.

A condensed comparative balance sheet of MFI's with vertical analysis is seen in table 3.


COMPARATIVE BALANCE SHEETS OF MFI's FROM DEC 2000TO DEC 2004. (Amount in ' 000 of Birr)

Items 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

Amount Percent Amount Percent Amount Percent Amount Percent Amount Percent


Current Assets











Long-Term Investments











Fixed Assets 14,892 2.8 19,683 3.0 17,761 2.5 16,608 1.9 21,000 1.5

Total Assets 539,413 100.0% 645,886 100.0% 716,341 100.0% 881,752 100.0% 1,406,000 100.0%


Current Liabilities











Long-Term Liabilities 12,888 2.4 18,101 2.8 18,006 2.5 132,236 15.0 151,000 10.8

Total Liabilities 364,937 67.6 417,982 64.7 448,121 62.6 545,667 61.9 885,000 63.0

Stockholders Equity

Paid-Up Capital











Donated Equity & Other Capital Account









338,000 24.0

Profit/Loss 11,747 2.2 10,017 1.6 12,780 1.8 30,568 3.5 55,000 3.9

Total Stockholders Equity











Total Liabilities & Stockholders Equity











Source: Supervision Department of NBE.

The major relative changes in MFI's assets were in the current assets and fixed assets. Current assets increased from 97.2 per cent of total assets at the end of 2000 to 98.3 percent at the end of 2004 with a corresponding decrease in the fixed assets of the MFI's. Stockholders' equity increased from 32.4 per cent of total liabilities and stockholders' equity at the end of 2000 to 37.0 percent at the end of 2004, with corresponding increases in the capital and profit/loss of the MFI's.



3.1 Informal, Semiformal, and Formal Micro Financing Institutions in Ethiopia

When we see micro financing, the idea and practice micro financing and institutionalizing it, credit together with saving, is not new among the urban and rural population of Ethiopia. But, the problem is of modernizing, reshaping, building and formalizing the prevalent practices and institutions. This is evident from the fact that the long lived institutions are still providing important services but the formal and informal ones are not only few in numbers but are also infant. Then, it is needed to be seen or categorized as informal, semiformal and formal institutions that are because the informal institution at local level latter developed to semi-formal. And it is the semi-formal that develops and matures to the formal microfinance. As the result micro financing i.e. formal microfinance in Ethiopia is an infant industry though it has grown faster for the last five years. But, it ought to be noted that the word institutions in this section refers not only to an organization but also to a long-lived habit or custom.

Informal leading is by far the most important source of finance to the rural and urban population. In recent years, the informal sector has continued to assume increased prominence mainly due to restrictive rules and regulations of the formal financing sector. The operations of the informal sector derive their rules and regulations from the countryЎ¦s culture and customs. Informal lenders have easy access to local information (at reasonable cost) about their borrowers with whom they have social relations. This permits credit contacts to play a more direct role in enforcing repayment. Also, the fact that collateral is rarely used in the informal sector enables it to flexibly satisfy financial needs that cannot be met the formal financial a institutions despite its limitations (Worku, 2000). There are various types of informal organization in Ethiopia. Private sector saving, groups such as, 'iqquib' and ЎҐiddirsЎ¦ and the like are initiated and organized by the people themselves.

In Ethiopia, semi-formal finance is mainly made up of services rendered by saving and credit associations (SCAs) or credit unions and credit schemes conducted by NGOS (Befekadu & Berhanu, 1999/2000). SCA defined credit union as Ў§a cooperative financial organization owned and operated on a not-for-profit basis by its members according to democratic principlesЎЁ. Its purpose is to encourage savings, to use pooled funds to make loans and to provide other related services to members and their families. A minimum of 20 persons having common occupation, residence or profession may form a SCA.

When we see to dayЎ¦s formal micro finance in the last seven years, the micro finance industry in our country has shown a remarkable growth in terms of outreach and performance. 21 micro finance institutions have been registered under the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) and are delivering financial services to more than 500,000 clients. Ethiopia has a clear regulatory frame work were MFIs are allowed to mobilized saving starting from day one of registration, or after receiving their license from the national Bank of Ethiopia. All the microfinance institutions focus on poverty alleviation Wolday (2003).

Accordingly, ACSI, DECSI, OCSSO, OMFI and SFPI had the legal registration establishment in the year was 1997 and their head office found in BahirDar, Mekelle, Addis Ababa Awasa and Addis Ababa respectively. On the other hand Gash MFI, Wisdom MFI, Sidama MFI Asser Micro financing S.C., African village financial services S.C. their establishment year is 1998 and head offices found in Addis Ababa, except Sidama MFI its head office is in Awasa, and others have been established since 1999(ibid).Thus, the total number of formal microfinance in this new year (Jan 2004) is amounted to the tune of 23 in number.

The following table shows interest rate (deposit rate and Lending rate) together with average loan size &service charge of above micro financing institutions.

Table 3.1 Interest rate, average loan size and service charge of formal sectors

No MFIs Average loan Interest rate Service charge*

Deposit Rate Lending Rate

1 DECSI 1000.00 6 12.5 NA

2 ACSI 1000.00 6 12.5 NA

3 OCSSO 1000.00 8 12.5 3

4 OMFI 900.00 6 12.5 NA

5 SFPI 1000.00 7 13 3

6 SMFI Sidama MFI 2000.00 6 15 NA

7 African village MFI - 6 16 4

8 Gash MF (S.C) - 6 12 2

9 Asser Micro finace S.C - 7 12.5 NA

10 Wisdom MFI(S.C) 800.00 6 12.5 2

11 Bussa Gonofa Micro finance S.C - 8 24 NA

Source: AEMFI NA= Not Available *Percent of loan granted

As it can be seen from the above table, on one hand the average loan of those microfinance institutions ranges from 800 to 2000 Birr. On the other hand, interest rate for deposit and lending vary from 6 to 8 and 12.5 to 24, respectively.

3.2 Impacts of Micro finance

When we see the impact some micro finances in our country, Ethiopia, from the literature most of them had positive impacts or improvements on the beneficiaries. For instance, Weini (2001) in her study on Ў§impact and performance of Micro finance enterprise lending program in TigrayЎЁ showed the case of 27 sample respondents in Mekele. When we consider the impact of the service in improving income, food consumption, saving and employment, they accounted 78%, 33%, 56% and 70% of the respondents, respectively.

In addition to this according to Yemisrach (2001), out of her 50 sample respondents of Wisdom Micro financing Institution beneficiaries on her title Ў§Micro finance and poverty alleviation in EthiopiaЎЁ, the income of those below 100 birr and from 100 to 199 birr before the loan was 75% and 20% respectively. But the percents were reduced from 75% to 32% and increased from 20% to 36% respectively. As can be seen from her study, those respondents whose income was above 200 birr before the loan were 5% but this figure rose to 32% after the loan. Thus, according to the result of the study there is generally positive growth of income of the beneficiaries.

According to the result (ibid), when we see the medical facility before and after the loan is as follows: The respondents report showed that 54% of them had poor medical facility before the loan but this figure was reduced to 8% after the loan .On the other hand, 23% of them had good medical facility before the loan but after the loan usage 92% of them had good medical facility. So, in general those results show not only better improvement on the livelihood of the beneficiaries but also it is a good chapter in the poverty reduction endeavor and investment area for the welfare maximization to the society.



4.1 Conclusions

Ethiopia is one of the countries that its population is subject to extreme poverty. Among other population categories the rural and urban poor, who do not have access to capital, encompass the largest proportion of the population. And for then the only productive resource is their labor. Their petty operation is constrained by loan of credit, as a result they resort to alternative resources of credit. In this context getting out of poverty trap requires outside intervention. Therefore, microfinance can be viewed in terms of ability to help the breakaway from the poverty trap, justifying the need for micro financing.

The financial service sector in Ethiopia is not well developed. Some of the major problems in the Ethiopian financial service sectors are low level of human resources in banking, insurance and micro finance sector that makes things slow and inefficient, the supervision and regulation by the authorized body is below international level, entry to financial sector is relatively slow resulting in gradualism, high geographical concentration of the banks in Addis Ababa, small number of financial houses, leasing companies, venture capital funds, stock and corporate bond market, mutual funds, unit trusts, lack of micro finance on the sustainable basis, supervisory capacity of national bank of Ethiopia is still inadequate, inefficiency and competition in the banking system is low. This shows that there is a long way for the finance system to provide financial services for the poor.

Informal financial intermediation has been varying important in fulfilling the needs of the poor, and the volume of the transactions undertaken succeeds that of the formal financial institutions. Those financial services of the informal sector have a potential to channel micro credit to lower social; strata of the population is very high.

By creating employment opportunities for many program participants, the credit scheme has contributed positively to arise in household income. In addition, the credit scheme has led to the positive outcome in the area of improving the nutritional status of households in kind and in monetary term. Especially rural respondents there is improvement nutritional status in kind i.e. when cows are brought they use milk and milk products. On top of that, if oxen are brought they farm with the oxen and crops are harvested so that the nutritional status is improved. In addition to this, the rise in household consumption expenditure in most of urban beneficiaries and same of the rural beneficiaries after the program participation and associated charge a composition of consumable items towards more nitrous diets, as rooted by the clients themselves as well as the reported improvement in household nutritional status is the basis for such argument.

4.2 Recommendations

The following are recommendations for improving micro finance intervention towards poverty reduction in Ethiopia. They are distilled primarily from the findings of this study.

1. When designing a micro finance intervention, attention should be given to the financial institutions, and the likelihood that needed. Economic and financial sector reforms would be implemented in order to assure adequate institutional framework.

2. As formal sector operators constitute the largest share of the Ethiopian economy and contribute to the household welfare and poverty reduction, their problem is relation to access to credit facilities should be minimized.

3. Finally, it should be noted that, extending credit alone is not sufficient condition to reduce poverty and improve productivity and income. Therefore, additional intervention that goes hand in hand with micro financing should be implemented, i.e. securing work place for informal operators, markets for their products, health and educational services, training and skill development, how to develop effective and efficient business etc are needed.


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