Can commercial banks do microfinance? Lessons from the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe and the Co-operative Bank of Kenya
During the last five years, two commercial banks in Zimbabwe and Kenya have made the decision to start microfinance operations, motivated in part by the increase in competition in the financial sector, which has encouraged them to seek new markets. This article outlines the institutional form their 'downscaling' has taken, the new loan and saving products they have introduced and their progress so far. In these cases, donor-funded technical assistance has been crucial in helping overcome considerable obstacles, including resistance to the new microfinance culture from the mainstream bank staff.