What is Microfinance?

Microfinance refers to the financial services provided to low-income individuals or groups who are typically excluded from traditional banking. Most microfinance institutions focus on offering credit in the form of small working capital loans, sometimes called microloans or microcredit. However, many also provide insurance and money transfers, and regulated microfinance banks provide savings accounts.

Microfinance aims to improve financial services access for marginalized groups, especially women and the rural poor, to promote self-sufficiency.

Microfinance and Financial Inclusion

Low-income people are neglected by their financial systems because they are considered uneconomical to serve or too difficult to reach. According to the World Bank’s Global Findex, 1.7 billion adults globally are financially excluded, living without formal credit or savings.

Microfinance seeks to address the needs of the unbanked by fostering economic justice and financial inclusion for all.

Benefits of Microfinance

Access to essential financial services can empower individuals economically and socially by creating self-reliance and economic sustainability in impoverished communities where salaried jobs are scarce. The benefits of microfinance include:

  • Small loans enable entrepreneurs to start or expand micro, small and medium enterprises.
  • Savings help families build assets to finance school fees, improve homes (e.g., install power or running water) and achieve goals.
  • Insurance products can offset the cost of medical care.
  • Money transfers and remittances allow families to easily send and receive money across borders.

Hundreds of millions of low-income people have benefited from microfinance since its inception, with about 140 million borrowers served by the industry worldwide annually.

A client of FINCA's microfinance institution in Haiti holds her daughter.
Noula Noel used microloans from FINCA to run a small business selling snacks from a market stand. The income from Noula’s enterprise is used to educate her children and meet her family’s basic needs.

FINCA and Microfinance

FINCA’s founders were among the first to understand that poor people could receive and pay back small loans, and that these loans could be transformative. Some four decades later, their vision of microfinance has helped tens of millions of hardworking people on five continents to build businesses, increase their incomes and improve their lives.

Today, FINCA uses the latest innovations and technology to empower entrepreneurs and small businesses, making banking more accessible and affordable.

Through industry efforts like the Partnership for Responsible Financial Inclusion, the Smart Campaign and the Social Performance Task Force, FINCA continues to be a leader in client protection.

If you’d like to support microfinance, you can get started by learning more about FINCA and donating to FINCA today.