The youngest global microfinance institutions are located in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA).  These institutions were not established until after the fall of Communism (in the early 1990’s).  MFIs in the region are predominately comprised of NGOs primarily offering loans for working capital and some limited savings opportunities.  However, the sector is advancing rapidly in the region with regulated commercial banks, microfinance products and services, and good returns and strong financial performance.  The region is comprised of 22 countries with a population of nearly 400 million. Countries with microfinance institutions range from Albania to Uzbekistan, showing microcredit assets of USD 10.6 billion (2009).  However, the region’s impressive growth has captured a number of MFIs ill-prepared with an over abundance of loans to clients and institutions with inadequate capacity to handle governance and transparency  issues.

Regional Overview

2012 Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Snapshot. The Mix Market review of the performance of microfinance institutions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, including data and analysis.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Predictions for 2012.  Issues included over-indebtedness and responsible finance.  ECA has to introduce branchless banking, financial inclusion and code of conduct.

Microfinance in ECA – post financial crisis (2012). According to a MIX and CGAP report ‘2011 Eastern Europe and Central Asia’,with the exceptions of Bosnian NGOs, overall MFIs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) improved slightly their profitability indicators in 2010.

Eastern Europe & Central Asia Microfinance Analysis & Benchmarking Report Published (2009)

Benchmarking Microfinance in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Analyzes how MFIs performed in 2008 (during the global financial crisis) and explores: Market structure; Credit risk; Currency risk; Funding risk; and Policy trends.

Microfinance in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) – Data as of 2008, with 72 active MFIs serving 8.0 million borrowers.

Main Characteristics of Microfinance in Europe

Microfinance in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Albania

Microfinance in Albania: Country Profile. Lists 6 MFIs with total loan outstandings of USD 366 million (2009).

Regulation and supervision of microfinance in Albania.  Examines the how and why to regulate microfinance in Albania and describes important regulations.

BESA Foundation of Albania.  A ratings report on this urban microfinance institution in Albania.

Microfinance in Albania. Provides macroeconomic data, and European initiatives in microfinance in Albania.

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan Country Profile.  There are 14 MFIs, covering 40 out of 70 regions in the country, with 25,000 active clients.

Azerbaijan 2009: Microfinance Analysis and Benchmarking Report. Remarkable growth in the microfinance sector in the country.  The number of active borrowers has increased 6 fold since 2004.

Microfinance in Azerbaijan: Country Profile.  Lists 27 MFIs with 323,649 clients (2009) and total loans outstanding of USD 846.1 million.

Bosnia

 EBRD Approved EUR 5 Million to Prizma, Microcredits to Support Small and Medium Businesses in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (2012).

Quarterly Update: Divergent Market Trends (Feb.2012).  Following years of negative growth, the Bosnian microfinance sector is starting to show signs of life.

Microfinance in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Country Profile. Lists 16 MFIs with 374,966 borrowers and total loans outstanding of USD 832.1 (2009).

A Review of the Bosnian Microfinance Sector: Move to Financial Self-Sufficiency. Focusing on data of 6 MFIs, this report includes the factors related to economic conditions after the war ended in 1995.

Creating Jobs Through Microfinance.  With the war’s end, the International Development Association in 1997 created microfinance project to create jobs in Bosnia and elevate incomes.

Assessing Microfinance: The Bosnia and Herzegovina Case. Discusses fighting poverty as a tool for post-conflict reconciliation.

LOK Microfinance Fund.  A Finnish program providing loans to micro and small enterprises in Bosnia.

Bulgaria

Microfinance in Bulgaria: Country Profile. Lists 24 MFIs with 59,661 active borrowers and total loans outstanding of  USD 640.1 million.

Microfinance in Bulgaria. The report notes that the Bulgarian microfinance sector is built on three main MFIs and banks started investing in microfinance in 2007, capturing 68% of the microloan market.

Czech Republic

Microfinance in Czech Republic.  A report by the European Microfinance Network, points out that unlike other Eastern European countries, the Czech Republic does not fall under specific legislation.

The micro-finance and self-employment environment for the socially excluded: Country Report Czech Republic. Includes policy for microenterprises and legal framework for microfinance providers.

Current Microfinance options in the Czech Republic and their further development by the czech Microfinance Foundation (NFMF). Credit cooperatives existed in the Czech region in the 19th century, but they have now been supplanted by joint-stock company Microfinance.

Kazakhstan

Microfinance in Kazakhstan: Country Profile. Lists 34 MFIs with 47,454 active clients and USD 146.4 million in loans (2009)

Kazakhstan: Microfinance and Financial Sector Diagnostic Study. While several commercial banks are active in the microfinance sector, only 1/2 of 1% of total loans are microcredit. And, many of the small MFIs are unsustainable.

Kazakhstan’s Microfinance Law Opportunities and Future Challenges.

IFC Microfinance Transformation Initiatives in Central Asia: Focus on Microfinance Legislation Environment in Kazakhstan. Highlights IFCs work in the microfinance sector in Kazakhstan to help improve the legal and institutional framework of the microfinance sector and improve corporate governance practices in microfinance institutions (MFIs).

Poland

Microfinance in Poland: Country Profile.  Lists three MFIs with 17,028 active borrowers and USD 53.5 million in loan outstandings (2009).

Microfinance in Poland. Provides economic and historical background to microfinance in Poland, and outlines the role of credit unions that are more active than MFIs.

Developing the Microcredit Market in Poland. A lack of capital for 40% of microentrepreneurs is most significant, and most entrepreneurs are afraid of taking out a loan.

Romania

Microfinance in Romania: Country Profile. Lists 7 MFIs with 49,060 active borrowers and total loans of USD 344.2 million.

Opportunity Microcredit Romania. Part of the Opportunity International Network, it provides microfinance services in the central part of the country, Transylvania.

Russia

Microfinance in Russia: Country Profile. With 97 MFIs, 37,137 borrowers, and USD 99.3 million in loans (2009).

Russian Microfinance Center. Established in 2002, serving as a resource for the Russian microfinance industry.

Microfinance: Is there really a crisis? Despite the massive poverty that followed the fall of Communism, microfinance institutions were slow to form. But they are now growing as a sector.