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implicit subsidy

The microfinance business model: Enduring subsidy and modest profit

Bob Cull's picture

Microfinance institutions aim to serve customers ill-served by traditional commercial banks and thus the associated business model is challenging by definition. And yet the industry has achieved impressive scale reaching 211  million customers globally in 2013. Paradoxically, recent evidence suggests that the benefits of microcredit to borrowers may be modest. For example, six prominent randomized controlled trials found small impacts of access to microcredit on the incomes and consumption levels of marginal borrowers, though the studies found some “potentially important” (though modest) impacts on “occupational choice, business scale, consumption choice, female decision power, and improved risk management.” (Banerjee et al., 2015, p. 14).