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Lack of Access to Finance in Myanmar Highlights Need to Develop Microfinance Sector in Support of Economic Growth, IFC/CGAP Study Finds

Yangon, Myanmar, January 29, 2013 —Demand for microfinance in Myanmar exceeds supply four times as the country’s economy expands following decades of isolation, highlighting the need to build up sustainable microfinance institutions, a report released today by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and CGAP, a policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world's poor, finds.
The report’s authors estimate that the total of outstanding loans in Myanmar currently stands at around $283 million whereas demand for microcredit is estimated at $1 billion. Demand is particularly high among farmers in Myanmar’s rural areas where more than two-thirds of the population lives. The report, entitled “Microfinance in Myanmar – Sector Assessment,” refers to microfinance as financial services for low-income people, including credit, savings, transfers, and insurance.
“Myanmar’s microfinance law of November 2011 allowed the development of a nascent microfinance industry. Now there is an opportunity to support existing institutions and bring in new organizations to build a commercially sustainable microfinance network that improves access to finance for small and medium entrepreneurs and rural clients,” said Paul Luchtenburg, IFC’s Microfinance Program Manager in East Asia Pacific and one of the report’s co-authors.
The joint IFC/CGAP report is the first comprehensive publicly available assessment of the microfinance landscape in Myanmar since the enactment of country’s microfinance law in late 2011. It highlights that the financial sector is underdeveloped compared to the rest of the East Asia Pacific region. Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in the region and increased access to financial services would greatly benefit its population and help the nascent small and medium enterprises, which form the backbone of Myanmar’s economy, grow and create jobs.
The report finds that Myanmar’s banking sector so far has found it commercially challenging to extend financial access to the poor. As a result, fewer than 20 people out of 100 have access to formal financial services, with most people relying on family savings or costly alternatives such as informal money lenders. At the same time, the market among Myanmar’s total population of around 60 million is large enough to attract domestic and international banks that could significantly improve outreach and contribute to innovation in the sector.
“With Myanmar’s breathtaking speed of change, government authorities and regulators are faced with the challenge of quickly bringing policies and regulations in line with the growing economic activity in the country,” said Eric Duflos, CGAP’s Regional Representative for East Asia Pacific and one of the report’s co-authors. “The current microfinance law clearly signals government commitment to financial inclusion. We recommend that Myanmar’s financial regulators and supervisors adopt international good practices for microfinance as quickly as possible.”
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, mobilizing capital in international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments. In FY12, our investments reached an all-time high of more than $20 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs, spark innovation, and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit
About CGAP
CGAP (The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) is the world's leading resource for the advancement of microfinance. CGAP provides the financial industry, governments and investors with objective information, expert opinion, and innovative solutions to effectively expand access to finance for poor people around the world. More information:
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