Journal of Microfinance / ESR Review


The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh is known worldwide for its success in providing credit to the poor. However, subsequent replications of its methodology in other parts of the world have been less successful. Is there really an infallible solution that works everywhere, and is outreach to the poor compatible with sustainability? A Grameen replicator in the Philippines, the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), has recently set itself firmly on the path to sustainability by becoming a formal sector, rural bank—the first credit NGO in the country to do so. During the period, from 1993 to June 1999, CARD's all-female outreach soared from 1,711 to 26,369. Its operational self-sufficiency ratio increased from 0.46 to 1.09. At the end of June 1999, CARD's loan portfolio stood at US$2.7 million, its repayment rate was 99.9%, and its financial self-sufficiency ratio was 0.85. The principal lesson to be learned from the CARD's success is that Grameen-type microfinance institutions (MFIs) can be sustainable and can substantially increase their outreach. CARD's social capital comprises (a) a core of good Grameen practices, such as high moral commitment on the part of the leaders, based on values instilled through training, peer control, to preclude adverse selection and moral hazard, and a strict credit discipline, (b) innovative adaptations to suit the Philippine context, such as the adoption of rural bank status under central bank supervision, vigorous mobilization of voluntary savings, the provision of differentiated, profit-making loan and insurance products; and a broadening of the clientele to include poor and nonpoor depositors, while adhering to its mission of lending to poor women only.



Journal Title

Journal of Microfinance

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