As of 2010, an estimated 100 million potential microentrepreneurs were identified in the Middle East. Of these, only 5 million had access to microfinance services.  Several microfinance initiatives have been introduced in the Middle East, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC).  As of 2010, the IFC provided over 3 million loans, valued at $1.7 billion.  While demand remains high, recent events in the region, have curtailed or reduced some of these activities.  Also, poor governance and weak risk management have contributed to a the gap between supply and demand.  Read more.

Overview

Islamic Banking and Microfinance – An Online Discussion organized by USAID-Microlinks.

Making Microfinance Work in the Middle East and North Africa

Microfinance in the Middle East and North Africa: State of Affairs

2009 Arab Microfinance Analysis and Benchmarking Report

Rising Portfolio Risk for Microfinance Institutions Caught In Arab Spring.  According to the findings of a survey done by the Arab Microfinance Network – Sanabel, microfinance institutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen have experienced serious challenges in operations as a result of the Arab revolution.

Microfinance and the Arab Spring: Threat or Opportunity? Notes that the highest repayment rates from microentrepreneurs are in the Middle East

Egypt

Microfinance in Egypt: Country Profile.  Lists 16 microfinance institutions with 1.1 million active borrowers and USD 217.9 million in outstanding loans (2009).

The Legal and Regulatory Environment for Microfinance in Egypt. Focuses on NGO and microfinance institutions’ transformation issues.  Microfinance in Egypt is still nascent, banks and NGOs are the only providers of microfinance in Egypt.

Microfinance in Egypt.  Provides historical background for microfinance in Egypt, starting in 2005.

Egypt Finalizes Microfinance Law. (2009)Establishes minimal capital requirement and prohibition against deposits and transferring or exchanging money.

Iraq

State of Iraq’s Microfinance Industry. Established in 2003, there are now 12 microfinance institutions in Iraq with 75,182 active clients and a loan portfolio of USD 10.4 million (2010).

Microfinance in Iraq: Country Profile.  Lists 12 microfinance institutions with 55,590 active clients and USD 77.8 million in loans outstanding (2009).

Iraq: Microfinance in Uniform.Despite the active military zone, MFIs continue to receive both donor and military funding and microfinance is viewed from economic development perspective.

Israel

Microfinance in Israel – SAWA Way. Describes Kiva newest partner in Israel — Koret Israel Economic Development Funds (KIEDF), a non-profit organization that was established in 1994 by the Koret Foundation.

Israeli Jews and Arabs find hope in microfinance fund.Borrowing models from the laws in both religions – including prohibitions to accept interest-based loans, with a special focus on environment.

Kiva.org and KIEDF Partner to Bring Online Microfinance to Israel.The partnership allows small loans to be made to  Bedouin women of the Negev, Arab Israelis in northern Israel, and other low-income populations throughout Israel.

Jordan

Microfinance in Jordan: Country Profile. Lists eight microfinance institutions with 151,459 active borrowers and USD 137 million in loans (2009).

Lending a hand to microfinance lenders in Jordan. A leading microfinance institution in Jordan is making the transition from dependence on donor funding to commercial borrowing, with help from a Chemonics International project (funded by USAID).

Jordan 4th largest microfinance market in Arab world.  Jordan saw a 39% increase annually in microfinance between 2005 and 2008, but only represents an 18% penetration rate, according to Sanabel, the Microfinance Network of Arab Countries.

National Impact and Market Study of Microfinance in Jordan.Results indicate that microfinance provides the only external source of finance for the economically active poor in Jordan, and 55% of those sampled state that their MFI is their primary source of finance. The only other main source of finance for microentrepreneurs is self-financing through savings.

Morocco

The Microcredit Sector in Morocco: Pre and Post Crisis.  Grameen-Jameel’s paper analyses the risk assessment of the microfinance sector in Morocco; its causes, how the microfinance sector reacted and lessons learned.

Morocco to spearhead Islamic private equity in the MENA region with a US$ 1 billion investment fund. Through a creation of the country’s first Sharia compliant financial institutions.

Microfinance in Morocco: Country Profile. List 10 microfinance institutions with 919,025 active borrowers and USD 611.7 million in outstanding loans. (2009)

Morocco’s Microfinance Story. Points out unsustainable growth despite the strong and vibrant microfinance sector in  Morocco. A recognized microfinance champion with 40% of client outreach in the Arab world, Morocco hosts some of the best performing MFIs in the world. But since 2007, Morocco’s microfinance sector has confronted a crisis: exuberant growth at the cost of asset quality, spurring write-offs, and falling returns.

The Rise, Fall, and Recovery of the Microfinance Sector in Morocco. Morocco  has been considered a jewel in the crown of microfinance in the Arab world, but since 2007, the microcredit sector has been confronting a crisis. Of 12 licensed MFIs, the four largest account for 90% of client outreach.

Syria

Microfinance in Syria: Country Profile. Lists 3 microfinance institutions with 21,327 active borrowers and USD 18.2 million in outstanding loans (2009).

Microfinance in Syria.  The first microfinance program started in 2003 and is still nascent. However,it is estimated that over 1.3 million households would benefit from microfinance.

Syria:   Microfinance to Combat Draught (for farmers and herders).

Tunisia

Microfinance in Tunisia: Country Profile.  Lists one microfinance institution in Tunisia with 123,041 active borrowers and USD 41.4 million (2009).

Unrest in Tunisia: Can Microfinance Make a Difference? Political reform and new opportunities may make it possible for microfinance to contribute to a new Tunisia offering greater freedom and economic opportunity.

Tunisia. The partnership of Grameen-Jameel for microfinance. With a population of 10.5 million, it is estimated that 12.8% of the population in Tunisia live on less than US$ 2 day. While more than 240 institutions practice microfinance, most maintain a client base of less than 2,500 clients.