In the past, microfinance was known as non-profit business where the UN and NGOs provided small loans to the poor people in rural areas. After the introduction of microfinance to Myanmar by UNDP’s Microfinance Program in 1997, Pact Global Microfinance Fund (PGMF), World Vision, Save the Children (Dawn Microfinance), and Gret became major microfinance NGOs providing microfinance services mainly in rural areas. Microfinance sector is the smallest contributor to the financial sector in Myanmar in terms of total assets (6.5 billion MMK ) while the banking sector stands at the highest (30147.7 billion MMK) in 2016. (GIZ, 2016). By September 2015, the Government has already issued micro finance licenses to 251 microfinance institutions, 41 85% of which are private companies, and the rest are NGOs and Cooperatives. They all have reached to 1,541,198 clients.
Opportunities and Barriers
Consumer finance and especially microfinance is the most demanded and growing sector due to the finance needs of SMEs and booming consumerism. The other consumer finance services are ecommerce payment service and hire purchase service. This sector is also one of the sectors, which is heavily invested by international development and financial institutions and private investment firms due to its growth and returns.
Legal & Regulatory Framework
In November 2011, the Microfinance Law was enacted for the first time in Myanmar, allowing people with low incomes to access microfinance services. Since then, microfinance companies have entered into the market. The Ministry of Finance regulates and supervises the microfinance institutions. However, the approval from the Central Bank Myanmar (CBM) is required for the loan to micro finance institutions. For the international loan, the CBM limits the interest rate to 10% per annum for local currency and 8% per annum for foreign currency. Myanmar Microfinance Law aimed for poverty reduction for the people at grass-root level, social development, and improvement of education and health. In the law, micro- credit is de fined as: small amount of credit provided without requirement of collateral to the low-income people for poverty reduction and improvement of their socio-economic status. (GIZ, 2016)
- Collection of Papers on Myanmar’s Financial Sector, A joint publication of GIZ-Myanmar and Thura Swiss, January 2016
- Microfinance in Myanmar Sector Assessment, Eric Duflos, Paul Luchtenburg, Li Ren, and Li Yan Chen, January 2013