Lifeline for millions is a valuable asset class

Author: Richard Lapper & Amy Yee, Financial Times, Published on: 15 November 2007

[M]icrofinance has become an attractive proposition for conventional banks and investors…Private investment was initially channelled into specialist funds, often managed by banks, insurance companies and others as part of corporate social responsibility commitments. Deutsche Bank, for example, manages three. More recently, however, institutional investors are also beginning to provide backing directly to microfinance operators…Banks are moving into the sector, either by forming their own microfinance subsidiaries or by lending to microfinance organisations. ABN Amro, Standard Chartered, Citigroup and ICICI, India's largest private-sector bank, are among those most active…However, many parts of the industry are deeply suspicious of private sector motives. "There is a fear that if you go commercial you lose your sense of mission," says Ms Werrett [a board member of microfinance network Pro Mujer] [also refers to Progesar Foundation, Grameen Bank, Compartamos, SKS, Sequoia, Legatum, Morgan Stanley, Blue Orchard]

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Related companies: ABN Amro Citigroup Deutsche Bank Grameen Bank ICICI SKS (Swayam Krishi Sangam) Standard Chartered