The experience of commercial bank downscalers in microfinance
The 1990s saw many commercial banks entering microfinance, either out of social concern or to reach new markets in an increasingly competitive environment. This article describes the findings of two surveys, carried out in 1996 and 2001, which investigated the experience of 53 bank 'downscalers'. It describes the types of organizations involved, what motivates them, what products and services they offer, how they have organized themselves to offer services, the challenges banks face and the role of donors. Average loan sizes were often higher than those of NGO MFIs, suggesting that they are not aiming at the poorest entrepreneurs, but among some groups, such as small commercial banks, most loans were under $1000.