Microfinance Institutions (MFIs)
Microfinance institutions, also known as MFIs offer financial services to underprivileged and impoverished communities.
Microfinance is the provision of financial services to low-income clients or solidarity lending groups including consumers and the self-employed, who traditionally lack access to banking and related services.
More broadly, it is a movement whose object is "a world in which as many poor and near-poor households as possible have permanent access to an appropriate range of high quality financial services, including not just credit but also savings, insurance, and fund transfers." Those who promote microfinance generally believe that such access will help poor people out of poverty.
Microfinance is a broad category of services, which includes microcredit. Microcredit is provision of credit services to poor clients. Although microcredit is one of the aspects of microfinance, conflation of the two terms is endemic in public discourse. Critics often attack microcredit while referring to it indiscriminately as either 'microcredit' or 'microfinance'. Due to the broad range of microfinance services, it is difficult to assess impact, and very few studies have tried to assess its full impact.