Microfinance is an important tool for improving livelihoods at the base of the pyramid by increasing access to finance to underserved households and microentrepreneurs, especially women. Yet the sector still reaches less than 20 percent of its potential market among the world’s 3 billion poor people.
IFC is the World Bank Group’s lead investor in microfinance, and it is one of the leading multilateral investors in terms of outreach to microfinance institutions, working with 150 institutions in more than 60 countries. As of December 2010, IFC’s investee clients had an outstanding portfolio of nearly 8 million microloans, worth nearly $12.6 billion.
IFC’s goal for microfinance is to scale up access to a range of high-quality financial services for underserved populations, maximizing development impact and ensuring institutional sustainability. IFC achieves this goal by effectively combining investment and advisory services to a range of financial intermediaries.