About Microfinance

Most formal financial institutions are unable to reach the world’s poorest people, who greatly need access to appropriate and affordable financial services. Catholic Relief Services’ microfinance programs in developing countries work through microfinance associations and their member institutions, as well as with informal or community-based savings groups.

Both approaches encourage clients to save and to borrow for investments in income-generating microenterprises. Both reach very poor households and communities, and help to create a sustainable financial base for local community development.

CRS microfinance programs in developing countries place a major focus on savings-led microfinance—helping community members to form groups, pool their savings, and make loans to each other.  This approach has created economic opportunities for more than 1.5 million people who live in the world’s most impoverished areas.

CRS provides training and capacity strengthening to new savings groups, using a highly sustainable fee-for-service, market-based, agent approach. Upon completing their first 12-month cycle, groups can operate on their own. The subsequent cycle begins immediately after the shareout meeting, making the end of the previous cycle. Some of these groups are now in their ninth cycle.

Learn more about our savings groups.

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