Eastern Europe and Central Asia

The region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) consists of 23 countries with the total population of about 367 million people, of whom 19.6 percent live below the national poverty line.  Per the CGAP – MIX survey of 2011, there are over 8,300 microfinance service providers, the majority of which are financial cooperatives (over 6,000) and various forms of non-bank, credit-only institutions (over 2,000).  Other providers include NGOs, downscaling banks and specialized microfinance banks.  Collectively, they serve about 8.3 million borrowers and 10.8 million depositors.  The average loan balance is about USD 1,385, while the average deposit balance is USD 880.   

The regional microfinance is highly heterogeneous: the Balkans are characterized by a mature microcredit sector where historically microfinance has been developing through large, credit-only NGO MFIs (e.g. in Bosnia and Herzegovina).  The Central and Eastern European countries and Russia have large credit union movements (e.g. Poland, Ukraine, Russia); in recent times Russia has also seen growth in the number of credit-only MFIs.  Both credit unions and the new entrants in the Russian microfinance market primarily issue consumer microloans.  The markets in the Caucasus and Central Asia are younger and still growing; Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan have the largest microfinance-dedicated non-bank sectors, while in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Mongolia large banks have a significant market share.  Throughout the region, some iconic microcredit markets (such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan) have shown evidence of market saturation, with cross borrowing rising sharply, widespread delinquency challenges and concerns over client over-indebtedness.  These challenges have been exacerbated by the absence of comprehensive base-of-the-pyramid credit reporting throughout the region (except recently in Bosnia and Herzegovina). 

Financial Inclusion Data: Europe & Central Asia

CGAP’s work in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is primarily focused on deepening relationships with regulatory authorities, policymakers, and the funding community in the region in order to build policy environments that balance financial access, financial stability, and the protection of customers, as well as facilitate responsible investment.

We gather data and conduct analysis on cross-border funding flows going to microfinance in the region. We also collaborate with two key regional microfinance associations – the Microfinance Center for Central and Eastern Europe and the New Independent States (MFC) in Poland and the Russian Microfinance Center (RMC) in Russia. Together with MFC and RMC, we disseminate various CGAP publications to policymakers, donors, investors, and other stakeholders and we translate key publications into Russian.


19 December 2017
The 2017 CGAP Cross-Border Funder Survey sheds light on key trends and development in international funding for financial inclusion. It shows that funder commitments to financial inclusion reached a historic high of US$37 billion in 2016.
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English (4 pages)
31 January 2013
This Landscaping Report on the state of financial inclusion in Russia is based on CGAP’s research conducted during April – September 2012.
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English (66 pages) | Russian (66 pages)

From Our Blog

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14 January 2016
In the past 20 years, microfinance in Eastern Europe and Central Asia has become understood under the larger umbrella of inclusive finance. During this shift, several important changes have occurred.
Russian cash terminals
21 March 2013
The payments sector in Russia has over recent years been at the forefront of innovation. The hope is that new developments will lead to an easily accessible and interoperable payment system that combines the advantages of various channels.