Microfinance Funds Continue to Grow Despite the Crisis
Washington D.C., United States, May, 14 2009 -
So far, microfinance funds have been relatively unscathed by the financial crisis that has wreaked havoc on most asset classes around the world. While emerging market funds have experienced a 20 percent sell-off (Anderson 2009), assets of the top 10 microfinance investment funds grew by 32 percent in 2008.
Microfinance is one of the few asset classes with a positive return in 2008. The average net return for Euro-denominated microfinance fixed-income funds reached 5.5 percent in 2008. This is the best performance since the creation of the Symbiotics Microfinance Index EUR (SMX EUR), in stark contrast to the 12 percent drop for fixed-income corporate indices in emerging markets (Emerging Markets Bond Index Plus [EMBI+]).
According to recent CGAP research, as of December 2008, there were 104 active microfinance investment funds with total estimated assets under management of US$6.5 billion. These investment vehicles encompass a broad range of institutions and instruments, including structured finance vehicles, private equity funds, holdings of microfinance banks, and fixed income funds. However, the industry is very concentrated: the top 10 funds (all European except for the Omidyar Tufts Fund) hold about 60 percent of the asset base.