The problem of market access for MSEs in transition and developing countries
MFIs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, after an initial rapid expansion, now face competition for their best customers from consumer credit companies. At the same time, their customers, who include disadvantaged producers, find increasing difficulty accessing local markets because of the growing dominance of supermarkets. This poses a serious threat to the viability of both the small enterprises and the MFIs who lend them money. This paper examines these issues, and presents some lessons from one experiment in gaining market access for poor producers, by creating dedicated retail outlets for their products, and creating a fair trade brand.