Financial Inclusion 2015

01 October 2006

“How can the international community—public and private—contribute to the greatest possible increase in financial service access for underserved people?”

CGAP undertook a scenario-building exercise to help anticipate and prepare for the global demographic, political, and technological forces that will shape the future of microfinance. We and a wide range of outside experts grappled with the potential impact of these forces in order to craft positive and negative scenarios for the year 2015 that might instruct the microfinance actors today. This Focus Note examines these forces and applies them to four scenarios. The Note ends with broad recommendations for how the international community can prepare for and respond to these scenarios.

The last two decades have witnessed a powerful opening up of the world of microfinance. Beginning in the early 1990s, the development community came to realize that microcredit providers could recover loans to poor and low-income people and cover their costs, and thus reach large numbers of people. At that time, donors and microfinance providers alike focused primarily on a single product (credit) for a particular client group (microentrepreneurs). Microcredit was delivered mainly by specialized microfinance institutions (MFIs), most of which were nongovernmental organizations.