This paper aims to determine the influence of governance mechanisms on sustainability and outreach of microfinance institutions (MFIs). Corporate governance has been identified as a key bottleneck in strengthening MFIs’ sustainability (financial performance) and increasing their outreach (social impact).
First, a literature study to give insight in the microfinance sector is provided. Subsequently, the data research has been performed based on the statistics of one of the funds of a Dutch independent investment manager, which is focused on responsible investments in developing countries. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the association between governance mechanisms and the respective dependent variables.
The results show that boards of a MFI with insiders (for example, employees) are a significant predictor of sustainability. Regulation impacts sustainability significantly in a negative way. Overall, the study shows that only a limited number of variables influence the sustainability and outreach of an MFI.
The limitation of the studied investment fund is that it invests in expanding and mature MFI’s. So the results of this research can only be generalized to expanding and mature MFI’s.
The governance mechanisms that are recommended in the industry guidelines and which are studied here are often not relevant in respect to sustainability and outreach of MFIs. The approach to microfinance governance should be broadened by focusing more on stakeholders and the decision making process in an MFI.
Good governance is key for the microfinance institutions and even more complicated than for regular companies that do not have a double bottom line (sustainability and outreach). to be successful in the future, and for clients to reach the best end result, it is essential that the governance mechanisms that influence the bottom line are determined.
Not much research has been done with respect to the governance mechanisms, which have impact on the sustainability and outreach of MFIs.
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