person creating facial masks for protection from covid-19 Photo for CGAP by Tony Karumba via Communication for Development Ltd.

The twin global crises of a health pandemic and economic lockdowns are severely harming livelihoods of the poor and risk throwing 150 million people back into extreme poverty by the end of 2021, mainly in Africa and South Asia, according to World Bank estimates. While advances in financial services delivery over the last 10 years have given governments and individuals new tools for getting aid to those in need, the crisis is putting other parts of the financial inclusion ecosystem at risk. Microfinance institutions and other credit-issuing organizations face rising non-performing loans, endangering their portfolios and hampering their ability to extend the credit that will be badly needed to help poor people recover from the storm.

In face of these challenges, CGAP has focused its COVID-19 work on the following areas that play a vital role in furthering financial inclusion: the MFI sector; distribution and government-to-person payments; understanding the impact on customers; and guidance for funders and investors.


Microfinance Sector
Digital Cash Transfers
Customer Insights

Latest News and Research


Debt Relief in the Pandemic: Lessons from India, Peru, and Uganda

This COVID-19 Briefing looks specifically at how to address the solvency risks facing medium and small microfinance providers, which often reach into communities and geographic areas that are not served by larger lenders.


Crisis Roadmap for Microfinance Institutions: COVID-19 and Beyond

This practical guide describes steps that microfinance institutions can take to navigate the COVID-19 health pandemic and prepare for future crises.


Debt Relief in the Pandemic: Lessons from India, Peru, and Uganda

The widespread use of debt moratoria in response to the COVID-19 health and economic emergencies has succeeded in stabilizing financial systems and given borrowers all over the world immediate, if temporary, relief. This Briefing examines how the debt moratoria unfolded in India, Peru and Uganda.


CGAP, Symbiotics Partner to Monitor COVID-19’s Impact on Microfinance

To help fill the void of publicly available data on how this crisis is playing out, CGAP and Symbiotics – a leading microfinance investment vehicle – will be analyzing data on the performance of the more than 300 MFIs in Symbiotics global portfolio. 


Consumer Protection and COVID-19: Borrower Risks as Economies Reopen

Lockdowns have put consumers in financial need and providers under stress, setting the stage for consumer protection challenges to emerge around the provision of credit. In this Briefing, we offer preliminary recommendations for policy makers, regulators, and FSPs on how to keep borrower financial needs front and center without putting excessive stress on FSPs.


Social Assistance Payments in Response to COVID-19: The Role of Donors

Countries worldwide are using social assistance payments as a component of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This briefing addresses how donors and their partners can design and implement social assistance payments that are efficient and secure while providing recipients with reliable, convenient, and safe access to their payments.

View all COVID-19 Briefings >>

Additional Resources

A vendor receives money from a customer from a safe distance in Nairobi, Kenya.
A vendor receives money from a customer from a safe distance in Nairobi, Kenya.
Photo credit: Tony Karumba, CGAP Phota via Communication for Development Ltd.

COVID-19: Financial Services in the Global Response

The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is first and foremost a public health crisis, but it is also threatening many people’s financial security. This is especially true for low-income families in developing countries. As reports of distress pour in from individuals, small business and the financial institutions that serve them, it is clear that the financial inclusion community has a vital role to play in supporting financial services ecosystems as part of the global response to the pandemic. CGAP shares information about the pandemic’s impact on financial services providers, their agents and their customers to inform responses within the financial inclusion community.


The Best Laid Plans...CGAP's Response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)


What’s a Donor to Do? The Financial Impact of COVID-19 on the Poor


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