Microfinance is of particular importance to many smallholders in the coffee industry. Most of the world’s coffee is produced by smallholders but they often lack access to (reasonably priced) credit, particularly women coffee growers. (NB: the definition of smallholder varies from country to country). Many institutions today provide microfinancing such as commercial banks, micro deposit taking institutions, NGO’s and ‘NGO-like microfinance institutions’ but these are generally slanted towards the more urban areas and the financing of commercial activities. Cooperatives and ‘village banks’ as well as self-help groups usually have a greater rural outreach but, often, their means and institutional capacities to finance the coffee sector are quite limited, not least also because of the remoteness of the areas many operate in. The object of this topic box is not to offer a detailed review of microfinance itself but rather to provide interested parties with an overview of on-line information sources, including downloadable training materials and links (not inclusive) to some of the better-known microfinance institutions (MFI’s). General industry information, also providing links to individual websites
The Consultative Group to Asist the Poor –CGAP is a policy and research centre dedicated to advancing financial access to the world’s poor. It is housed at the World Bank and supported by over 30 development agencies and private foundations.
The Microfinance Information Exchange – MIX, founded by CGAP, is the leading business information provider dedicated to strengthening the microfinance sector.
The Microfinance Gateway, also a product of CGAP, features research and publications, organization and consultant profiles and lists a very large number of microfinance institutions and their contact details.
MicroCapital publishes The MicroCapital Monitor and offers specialized news and information on international microfinance.
The Social Performance Task Force – SPTF provides links and overviews of social performance tools, including tools specific to MFI’s.
Planet Rating is a specialized microfinance ratings agency. It gives a comprehensive performance and risk analysis profile of MFI’s and also evaluates funds that invest in microfinance (microfinance investment vehicles or MIV’s).
MicroRate was the first agency to specialize in the evaluation of microfinance institutions that allows lenders and investors to measure the risk and the return on investment in microfinance.
MFTransparency presents information on credit products and their prices for a number of MFI’s and publishes country reports.
Training guides and best-practice resources
The Rural Finance Learning Center, managed by the FAO, offers downloadable training materials foor capacity building in the field of rural finance.
The Rural Finance Network hosts a virtual library of studies and training material in rural finance specific to eastern and southern Africa.
Women’s World Banking – WWB, a network of 40 microfinance institutions and banks in 28 countries worldwide, hosts a virtual library of publications and case studies.
CERISE, a network on best practices in microfinance, offers downloadable guides on rural microfinance for value chain development.
The Small Enterprise Education and Promotion (SEEP) Network offers downloadable microenterprise training materials also specifically for microfinance.
MicroLINKS (Microenterprise Learning Information and Kowledge Sharing), a service of the USAID microenterprise development programme, offers downloadable training materials for the development of financial services, including value-chain finance.
The Microfinance Management Institute – MFMI, a US-based NGO, offers downloadable training material for MFI’s capacity building.
The Global Development Research Center – GDRC hosts a virtual library on microfinance news and case studies.