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November 2012

How can microfinance support inclusive growth in MENA?

Jill Richmond's picture

النسخة العربية من المقالة متوفرة على هذا الرابط.

Ranya Abdel-BakiRanya Abdel-Baki is the former Executive Director of Sanabel, The Microfinance Network of Arab countries. Ranya spoke with the World Bank Development Marketplace about the state of the Microfinance sector and Microfinance Institutions (MFI) in the region. Based on her several years leading Sanabel, she also explains why MFIs have been seen by many as the only sustainable and financially viable inclusive business or social enterprise1 model in the region.


Jill Richmond: Can you talk about the impacts of Arab Spring on MFI’s in the region, if any, and its direct impact (both sustaining and non-sustaining) on your clients?

Ranya Abdel-Baki: We ran a successful workshop last November where practitioners from Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Syria gathered and shared their experiences, lessons learned and future challenges. Naturally, the crisis impacts vary from country to country, and also within each country impacts sometimes varied amongst MFIs depending on their geographical locations (especially the case for Egypt).

While we have not yet completed the data collection for December 2011, we believe that total outreach for the region is going to stagnate or drop for 2011. From the workshop we made some interesting discoveries. You would think that MFIs would only be focused on institutional survival, but they have been putting their clients’ needs ahead of their own. We've seen Enda in Tunisia, for example, providing support - not only to its own clients but also to refugees from neighboring Libya. In Egypt, the First Microfinance Foundation (FMF) organized exhibitions for clients during the revolution to help them market and sell their products during these difficult times. Abyan Program, one of the hardest hit MFIs in Yemen, continued disbursements and collections even under circumstances that have forced most of the staff and clients to flee Abyan Governorate.

Jill Richmond: In many interviews you talk extensively about the importance of contingency plans. What other lessons can be taken from the experience of MFIs during the Arab Spring?

BBC: Social Minded Business trying to Grow in Egypt

Kirsten Spainhower's picture

Find out more about the social enterprise movement in Egypt. This timely piece from BBC that features some exciting social enterprises ranging from roof-top gardening to paper made from recycled agriculture waste.

Development Marketplace partners, Iman Bibars from Ashoka and Magdi Amin from the International Finance Corporation (a co-sponsor of the upcoming Egypt DM) highlight important barriers blocking the movement's growth and hindering its ability to keep pace with demand for improved goods and services to the poor.

Social minded business trying to grow in Egypt