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      Microfinance investor demand rises in spite of financial crisis and decreased demands for funding

      Microfinance investor demand rises in spite of financial crisis and decreased demands for funding

      Virginia based microfinance rating company, MicroRate, has just published its 5th annual survey of microfinance investment vehicles.  The “State of Microfinance Investment: the 2010 MicroRate MIV Survey” highlights that interest in microfinance funds remains strong despite the recession. However, MIVs are faced with higher liquidity levels due to a decrease in the need for funding.

      Microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs) are a relatively new category of funds that mobilise investments in rich countries and channel them to microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the developing world. “The flow of funding through MIVs is one of the little noticed triumphs of development,” says Sebastian von Stauffenberg, CEO of MicroRate.

      While assets in MIVs continued to grow at a commendable 22% (2009) reaching over $6 billion, prior to the financial crisis, the annual rate of growth was 97% (2007). “Pre-crisis growth rates were not sustainable. MIVs now have an opportunity to strengthen their organisations and lending criteria, focusing on the needs of MFIs,” reflects Sebastian von Stauffenberg.

      “While demand from microfinance investors remains, it is being met by weaker demand for funding from MFIs,” says Sebastian von Stauffenberg. “We’ve observed that MFIs tend to borrow from local funding sources first and MIV funding is used during peaks of growth. When MFI growth slows as it has in 2008 and 2009, demand for MIV funding decreases disproportionally. MIVs are now faced with notably higher levels of liquidity than previously observed due to this decrease in MFI’s need for funding.”

      The significant increase in liquidity was exacerbated by lending to MFIs by public development finance institutions (DFIs). A liquidity-providing facility was announced by DFIs at the end of 2008, but by the time the funds were disbursed in mid-2009, there was no credit shortage to relieve and instead these funds displaced private funding. Damian von Stauffenberg, founder of MicroRate, comments “One would wish that DFIs were less intent on meeting their lending targets and more attuned to the needs of the institutions they are trying to help.”