Top 10 microfinance institutions: A primer

ACLEDA-ASEAN regional microfinance training center in Phnom Penh

Although the practice can be traced back centuries, microfinance as we know it is commonly credited to the movement started by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus in the 1970s. And that movement continues to grow, as donors and civil society alike emphasize the importance of financial inclusion — or providing affordable financial services to the poor and disadvantaged sections of society — in the developing world.

There are three sources of microfinance services: formal institutions like rural banks and cooperatives, semiformal ones such as nongovernmental organizations, and informal groups including money lenders. Women and small entrepreneurs benefit the most from microfinance.

The biggest microfinance institution is BRAC in Bangladesh. The country’s Asian neighbors have also widely adopted the practice and play host to some of the world’s largest MFIs.

Devex ranked the top 10 MFIs in terms of staff size. The below list also includes information on active borrowers and gross loan portfolio. Check out the Devex jobs board for career opportunities with these and other groups.

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.

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