The Mainstreaming of Microfinance: An Online Discussion with the founder of the first MFI Rating Agency

25 May 2021 | 01:00 pm - 02:00 pm

CFA Members – Click here for the full recording of this event.

After twenty-five years with the World Bank Group, Damian von Stauffenberg ventured into the emerging world of microcredit, founding the first rating agency to analyze microfinance institutions (MFIs). The Catholic Finance Association hosted this members-only online interview to discuss the history, rapid growth, and current challenges of microfinance loans, exploring the following questions:

  • It seems that analyzing a microfinance loan demands a lot of “on-the-ground” work and knowledge of local cultures and markets. How are the best MFIs going about this? What are some of the best practices?
  • Do microfinance loans work most of the time? When they don’t work, why?
  • Over the last twenty years, there have been many stories written about the downside of the group lending model. How much of that is being alleviated at this point?
  • You argue that the best rated MFIs are the ones who use a more “holistic approach,” going beyond the normal indicators and standards of traditional lending. Can you clarify this principle?

Damian von Stauffenberg is the founder of MicroRate, the world’s first rating agency specializing in microfinance. Since 1997, MicroRate has conducted well over 1000 ratings of microfinance institutions all over the world. Before dedicating himself to microfinance, Mr. von Stauffenberg worked for 25 years in the World Bank and its private sector affiliate, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

In addition to leading MicroRate, Mr. von Stauffenberg has been closely associated with other institutions that have played pioneering roles in connecting microfinance to capital markets, such as Seed microfinance equity fund, MicroVest, and the Latin American Challenge Investment Fund, LA-CIF.

He presently is Chairman of MicroRate’s board and head of its rating committee, which assigns rating grades to Microfinance Institutions (MFIs).