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FEATURE STORY September 5, 2017

Women in Rural Mexico Benefit from Loan to Expand Financial Services


Making it easier for small farmers and business owners in rural Mexico to get credit has been the keystone of a successful World Bank project to expand access to finance.

While Mexico’s cities are better served by the financial sector, access to credit in rural areas is underdeveloped, leaving farmers and rural businesses with a few financing options and hindering local growth.

To spur rural development, Mexico’s government and its Rural Financial Development Finance Institution (FND, Financiera Nacional de Desarrollo) approached the World Bank Group to help expand credit into the rural economy.

FND works to strengthen local rural financial institutions to expand financial access to farmers and businesses and to encourage private investment in rural areas.

Financial institutions in rural areas are often small and with limited scope, but they are key in reaching clients in less populated, remote areas.

Over the past year, 101 rural financial institutions have registered to participate in the Bank’s Expanding Rural Finance project, which has just completed its first year. They have disbursed US$92 million by extending 45,000 credit lines to 40,000 farmers and small rural businesses, with the average loan totaling US$2,000, according to the latest data from June 2017.

The project is also making significant inroads in extending access to finance among women and traditionally marginalized groups.

In fact, women agricultural producers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) account for 78% of recipients, and 6% of them are first time borrowers. Also, 14% of them come from highly marginalized communities, a classification that the Mexican government (CONAPO) uses to measure poverty.

As part of its counterpart finance, FND has provided 235 technical assistance sessions – known as apoyos -- to 177 rural financial institutions. FND is also working toward modernizing its core banking system and reengineering its credit processing to strengthen institutional capacity for sustainable rural finance.

"Strengthening local rural financial institutions and extending access to credit to farmers and rural businesses has the potential to yield great benefits for Mexico’s growth and development."
Ceyla Pazarbasioglu
Senior Director, Finance and Markets

“The project has had a great start. It has helped extend access to credit to 40,000 small agricultural producers and businesses, the vast majority of whom are women. So far, we have been surpassing our annual targets,” said Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, Finance and Markets Senior Director, World Bank Group. “Strengthening local rural financial institutions and extending access to credit to farmers and rural businesses has the potential to yield great benefits for Mexico’s growth and development.”

Overall, the project has disbursed $140 million since July 2016, which is more than one-third of the entire sum.

This project is one of several initiatives the World Bank Group has underway to support Mexico in reaching its national financial inclusion goals.  Other projects include technical assistance to strengthen financial sector oversight and financial inclusion policies.

In 2016, Mexico launched its National Financial Inclusion Strategy to accelerate access to financial services for more than half of the population currently left out of the formal and regulated financial system.

Mexico is among the 25 countries the World Bank Group and partners are prioritizing as part of the global effort to reach Universal Financial Access by 2020, whose goal is to enable access to a transaction account or electronic instrument to store money and send and receive payments to adults locked out of the formal financial system.

Mexico is also one of the three countries participating in a new Financial Inclusion Global Initiative to advance research in digital finance and accelerate digital financial inclusion in developing countries. With the strong commitment to financial inclusion and efforts to establish an enabling legal framework for fintech, Mexico could become a model for digital financial inclusion.