Aug 26, 2011

Large demand for micro-credit in Myanmar

Only about 10 per cent of the demand for small loans in Myanmar is being met, according to participants at a micro-finance workshop held recently in Yangon.

The vast majority of those who do borrow are women.

The Microfinance Working Group in Myanmar held a best-practice workshop on August 16 to work out ways to provide more small loans to people, particularly in rural areas, according to a press statement recently released by the group.

About 70 participants attended the workshop including senior government officials, donors, UN staff, international and local NGOs and representatives from the private sector.

“In Myanmar, only 10 per cent of the total demand for micro-credit is met and the UNDP Microfinance Project is presently providing about 80 per cent of this micro-credit through PACT Myanmar, a non-profit organization,” said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Akbar Usmani. “Given the huge demand, the Microfinance Working Group is well placed to help further expand microfinance support services in Myanmar.”

Usmani said he welcomed the government’s latest initiative for rural development and poverty reduction under which micro-finance is one of the major components.

Micro-finance practitioners in Myanmar including the former deputy governor of the Central Bank, Than Lwin, PACT Myanmar, Groupe de Recherche et d'Echanges Technologiques (GRET), Save the Children, World Vision and UNDP shared their experiences on improving livelihoods through the creation of sustainable micro-finance services for poor rural communities.

As participants at the workshop made clear, the need for credit in the rural economy is substantial. Currently, the demand for micro‐credit in the rural segment of the Myanmar economy is estimated at around US$ 470 million. Due to inadequate credit from the private and public banks, the rural poor rely on relatives or friends and money lenders as well as pawn shops for small loans, according to the press release.

Micro-finance loans and services provide a sustainable option for the poor by providing a diverse range of financial services, including savings, loans and some insurance products that support hundreds of thousands of micro-enterprises.

According to the Microfinance Working Group, offering loans with no collateral requirements and at interest rates well below those charged by informal moneylenders, affordable credit has been able to address the needs of more than 400,000 poor clients in a more economical manner.

From its infancy in July 1997, through the end of September 2010, the UNDP’s Microfinance Project has grown to become one of the 23 largest micro-finance projects in the world with more than 400,000 clients and with a loan portfolio of 36 billion kyat (approx. US$ 52 million). Its loan repayment rate has constantly attained a percentage of 98 per cent or higher. Women constitute 97 per cent of its clientele.

The Microfinance Working Group was formed in 2004, by local and international NGOs, in collaboration with the UNDP.

Source: Mizzima