The challenge is to design financial products that meet the needs of low-income populations while ensuring the sustainability of financial providers. Government loans for the poor often meet with high default rates, while insurance products encounter very low take-up. Despite the promise and popularity of microfinance, recent studies have shown that the standard microloan fails to significantly reduce poverty and the most recent numbers show a first-ever decline in the number of microfinance borrowers globally. After decades of invention and investment in the sector, half the world’s adult population – and 77% of those living on less than $2 a day – still are without a single account with a formal financial institution.
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