MFI targets serving the “missing middle”


A new microfinance lender – set up to provide loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – is set to launch in December. Nisir Microfinance Institution S.C., has been set up to meet a growing need for financing among the middle economy.
Demand is very high in Ethiopia for financial services from banks, microfinance institutions (MFIs) and insurance companies.
Supply is limited and funds – provided through banks and MFIs – are not widely available to smaller businesses.
There are currently 19 banks, 31 MFIs and 15 insurers in the Ethiopian financial sector.
MFIs primarily target the lower end of the pyramid leaving a considerable amount of un-met demand for medium size loans in the middle.
Banks generally only lend to the high-end business sector and serve borrowers looking for large sums of money.
MFIs traditionally focus on lending to lower-level businesses.
“Banks mostly lend from 500,000 birr and more, while MFIs lend from 2,000 to 50, 000,” said Michael Addisu, General Manager and Founder of Nisir.
“People and businesses whose demands are to get money in between that have no room, in practice, for banks and the operating MFIs. That is why it is called the missing middle, unmet or un-served middle,” he said.
Nisir aims to serve SMEs that are unable to get credit from banks and MFIs and plans to work with organizations involved in import, trading, contractors, manufacturers to provide credit.
It will also offer a deposit service to businesses and individuals.
Michael said both banks and MFIs are not legally restricted to stick with those clients of them, though.
Nisir therefore aspires to provide need based and quick credit facility to businesses and non business community of the “missing-middle”.
It provides credit, saving and transfer services.
NMI has currently floated 15,000 shares each worth 1,000 birr.
According to Michael, part of the share floated has already been sold out for both individuals and institutions and the rest is open for the public.  The minimum number of shares for a single individual or institution is 25, while the maximum is 10 percent of the total shares.
“NMI will be operational in December this year with the subscribed capital of 15 million birr,” he told journalists at a press conference held on Thursday at Capital Hotel.