Cover: The Future of Microfinance


The Future of Microfinance

Ira W. Lieberman, Paul DiLeo, Todd A. Watkins, Anna Kanze
Release Date: June 30, 2020

A major source of financing for the poor and no longer a niche industry

Over the past four decades, microfinance—the provision of loans, savings, and insurance to small businesses and entrepreneurs shut out of traditional capital markets—has grown from a niche service in Bangladesh and a few other countries to a significant global source of financing. Some 200 million people globally now receive support from microfinance institutions, with most of the recipients in the developing world. In the beginning, much of the microfinance industry was managed by non-governmental organizations, but today the majority of these institutions are commercial and regulated by governments, and they provide safe places for the poor to save, as well as offering much-needed capital and other financial services.

Now out of infancy, the microfinance industry faces major challenges, including its ability to deal with mobile banking and other technology and concerns that some markets are now over-saturated with microfinance. How the industry deals with these and other challenges will determine whether it will continue to grow or will be subsumed within the larger global financial sector.

This book is based on the results of a workshop at Lehigh University among thirty-four leaders in the industry. The editors, working with contributions from more than a dozen leading authorities in the field, tell the important story of how microfinance developed, how it has met the needs of hundreds of millions of people, and they address key questions about how it can continue to meet those needs in the future.

Praise for The Future of Microfinance

“When a reader spots a title such as this book’s, it is easy to assume that the editors, working with contributions from several authorities in the field, will dwell on the virtues of the sector and how the future looks rosy. While the book does point to a good job done, it also tells you unequivocally how the sector has not lived up to its original intent of alleviating poverty.”
—K. Bharat Kumar, The Hindu


Ira W. Lieberman was the founding director of the CGAP Secretariat, the de facto secretariat for the microfinance sector globally. He has continued to work on and write about microfinance over the past twenty-five years. He is also
author of In Good Times Prepare for Crisis: From the Great Depression to the Great Recession; Sovereign Debt Crises and Their Resolution (Brookings, 2018).

Paul DiLeo is a managing director of Grassroots Capital Management.

Todd A. Watkins is professor of economics and executive director of the Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise at Lehigh University. He is the author of Introduction to Microfinance and co-editor of the book Moving Beyond Storytelling: Emerging Research in Microfinance.

Anna Kanze is a managing director of Grassroots Capital Management.

Media Coverage

The Hindu 14/11/2020

‘The Future of Microfinance’ review: A challenge and an opportunity

FINDEV Blog 21/04/2020

Urgent: A Rescue Plan for the Microfinance Sector