CGAP Launches Global Microfinance Survey to Inform COVID-19 Response
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 1, 2020 | CGAP today launched a monthly survey of microfinance institutions (MFIs) around the world. The survey is intended to gather data that MFI management teams, funders and policy makers all need to help these institutions and their low-income clients weather the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis.
The formal microfinance sector provides at least 140 million low-income people worldwide with credit and savings services. As of 2018, the sector had a combined portfolio of $124 billion in outstanding loans and $80 billion in savings. Roughly 80 percent of the sector’s customers are women, and 65 percent live in rural areas.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for many of these borrowers to repay their loans, putting enormous strain on the sector. Funders are responding with urgency and resolve to support microfinance providers and their clients, but there is a need for better data on how the crisis is unfolding, which institutions are being hit the hardest, and what measures seem to be working. While many investors and microfinance networks are collecting data on the MFIs they work with, none capture the full picture at a global, regional and national levels.
CGAP aims to fill this gap by launching a short, monthly survey of microfinance institutions around the world. The survey covers key indicators of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on demand, liquidity and solvency; response measures taken by the institutions; and the effects of public policy response measures.
“There is a need for different funder constituencies that support microfinance – from investment vehicles and development finance institutions to donors, policy makers, and regulators – to align their responses based on a data-driven understanding of how this crisis is unfolding. And the MFIs themselves are operating in a cloud of uncertainty, which makes planning and running the business all the more difficult. Management teams need greater clarity on how the crisis is impacting the sector, and a global rapid response survey like this is the best way to build a more comprehensive picture of what is happening in the field across geographies and institutional types,” said CGAP CEO Greta Bull.
All survey data will be anonymized and made publicly available the week of June 8 on ATLAS, a leading host of data on MFIs, in the form of interactive charts, heatmaps and other tools at an aggregate level. Data on any individual provider will not be accessible to anyone other than the respondents themselves, who will be able to benchmark themselves against aggregate measures for other MFIs globally, regionally or nationally.
CGAP will share its analysis and conclusions through regular blog posts and convene discussions among stakeholders on the findings and what they imply for the response to support the sector.
“Though many microfinance institutions are already inundated with survey requests, they can get a lot out of participating in this survey: reliable benchmarking against various averages, a deeper understanding how the crisis is evolving to inform their strategic planning, and a chance to make support from funders and policy makers more effective,” said Bull.
The pulse survey has been designed to be as quick and easy as possible for microfinance institutions to complete. Wherever possible, efforts were also made to align with the indicators used by other stakeholders. Ultimately, the survey may substitute for some of the individual reporting taking place and reduce the burden on MFIs.
The survey is part of CGAP’s broader response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes supporting the microfinance sector, sharing best practices on digital government-to-person payments (G2P) and distribution networks, researching the impact of the crisis and responses on low-income customers, and facilitating knowledge exchange within the financial inclusion community.
View a summary of information at www.cgap.org/pulse
For further questions, contact CGAP directly at [email protected].
CGAP is an independent think tank that works to empower poor people, especially women, to capture opportunities and build resilience through financial services. We test, learn and develop innovative solutions through practical research and active engagement with our partners on building responsible and inclusive financial systems that help move people out of poverty, protect their gains and advance global development goals. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP is supported by over 30 leading development organizations committed to making financial services meet the needs of poor people.
Editor's note: This article was updated on July 30, 2020, to reflect the fact that the survey has shifted from a biweekly to a monthly schedule.