World Vision, Microfinance Institutions in MEER reach 100,000 active clients

Feb 2008
United States, February, 20 2008 - Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in the Middle East and Eastern European Region (MEER) have ended fiscal year 2007 with 100,000 active clients - a fitting end to a year of accomplishments right across the region.

Some 154, 000 children were impacted and 131,000 jobs created by the MEER MFIs' investment in families across eight countries in the region, seven of which are now covering all their costs and thus providing a long term sustainable service to their clients.

Reaching increasingly poorer clients and growing to 100,000 clients and beyond, MEER MFIs are making a serious contribution to poverty reduction in the region where official unemployment ranges from 40 to 60 percent in the respectful countries.

The regional MFI portfolio grew to US$ 203 million, and with an 84 percent annual growth rate, it contributes to 72 percent of the global portfolio.

Growing trends will continue in fiscal year 2008 and the total number of active clients is projected to grow at 52 percent. As each loan helps to support several family members, around 400,000 people benefit, with many of them being children.

'Over the next five years this region will grow significantly in the three targeted areas: growth, quality and integration. Growth means growing in portfolio, quality is maintaining and building the overall performance, and integration means working more with the Area Development Programmes (ADPs) and other areas of ministry that World Vision has,' said Neil Cuthbert, Microenterprise Development regional director.

Even though some MFIs are going through a transformation process, Microenterprise Development (MED) is a fast growing part of the ministry of World Vision MEER. The 48.8 percent growth in number of clients resulted with fast growth of leading MFIs in the region – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Romania and slower but not less important growth of MFIs in Kosovo and Albania.

World Vision initiated the first MFI in 1995 in Azerbaijan to support economic growth among families and individuals. By 2001 seven more MFIs (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Georgia, Armenia, Kosovo, Romania, Albania) had been opened. Today all MFIs are registered as parallel entities according to local MFI law.

Much progress has been made, yet there is still much to do.

Source : Reuters

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