THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) registered 19 microfinance institutions in the first six months of the year, to take the overall number of MFIs in the country to 194.
Of the 19 MFIs registered, one is a deposit-taking institution while 13 are money lenders, with five of them being credit-only financial institutions.
Some of the MFIs registered between January and June this year include EmpowerBank Limited (a deposit taking MFI); Mula Microfinance (Private) Limited (credit-only) and Raysun Capital (Private) Limited (money lending institution).
EmpowerBank was launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on July 5.
The bank is designed to extend loans to youths who have been struggling to obtain loans from mainstream banks due to lack of collateral.
In a statement yesterday, the RBZ said: “Please take note that during the period January 2018 to 30 June 2018, the Registrar of Microfinanciers registered . . . additional institutions.
“This brings the number of institutions authorised to conduct business of providing loans in terms of the Microfinance Act (Chapter 24: 29) to 194 as at 30 June 2018.”
MFIs have become key economic players in the country, with credit only institutions extending $115,6 million in the first quarter ended March 2018.
This represents a 17,1 percent increase from the outreach figures reported in December 2017 of $98,7 million.
However, despite the rise in loans extended by MFIs, the number of active borrowers decreased in the first quarter to 165 450 from 173 348 clients.
A first quarter MFIs performance report says the rise in loans vis a vis the number of borrowers, indicates that the financial institutions have increased their average loans per person.
Average loans per person shot up to $682 from $572 recorded as at December 2017.
The credit-only microfinance sector registered a net profit of $2,7 million for the three months period to March 31, 2018, compared to $5,5 million recorded in the same period last year.
However, about 17 MFIs reported losses during the first quarter due to depressed economic environment.
MFIs have been challenged to cut costs, adopt cutting-edge technology, re-model business delivery channels and products, among others, to remain profitable.
From May 17 to 19, the Zimbabwe Association of Microfinance Institutions (ZAMFI) held a Winter School in Nyanga where participants came up with several recommendations including increasing productive lending by supporting growth sectors such as agribusiness and energy; considering mergers and acquisitions as a growth strategy for their institutions and to think about offering training in business and technical skills to youths before granting them loans.
Globally, the MFI loan outreach is reported to be around $102 billion, with Africa alone accounting for $8,7 billion.
The local loan figures of $115,6 million represent 1,32 percent of the global loan outreach.