Jun 01, 2021

e-MFP and CFI release a major new publication -

Weathering the Storm II: Tales of Survival from Microfinance Crises Past

Weathering the Storm II (WTS), a joint publication of European Microfinance Platform and the Center for Financial Inclusion, supported by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, brings together the experience of 16 different institutions that dealt with crisis and makes it available to all. These case studies come from 14 countries on four continents, including nearly every type of institution — from NGO to bank.

This is a continuation of the project that began in 2010, when Weathering the Storm I pulled together case studies of ten different MFIs that had weathered (or not) crises of various types. But a new crisis exploded last year, one unprecedented in its breadth and depth and which continues to pose critical challenges to financial institutions of all sizes and everywhere. And so, we spotted a need and opportunity to update Weathering the Storm: to look at the decade that followed the original paper, to see what became of the organizations profiled within it and use the opportunity to extend the project to five additional cases.

The combined cases span a period of over 15 years — with the earliest crisis dating back to 2004. The crises they faced were caused by both internal and external problems; sometimes both. Whether it was fraud or massive currency devaluations, unsustainable growth, or political interference, nearly every WTS institution went through a period where its survival was at stake. Most found a way forward, with some not only surviving the ordeal but even finding a path to true prosperity.

Yes, prospects for successful turnarounds are good. But they are also further away than many might imagine – for if there is one lesson from WTS that resonates most loudly today, it’s that deep crises have long tails. The crisis itself might last just two years or even less, but to achieve full recovery often requires another half decade.

Even if 2021 marks the beginning of the end of the fury of COVID-19, it’s crucial to learn from these 16 MFIs and not assume that post-crisis recovery of MFIs will simply follow the post-crisis recovery of battered economies. Instead, the sector needs to build on earlier experiences and focus on rebuilding both better and faster. And for those for whom the end of the pandemic is still months or years away, WTS and its accompanying case studies offer a wealth of lessons in surviving crises as they happen.

Read Weathering the Storm II

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