Latin American countries have filled five of the top ten places in the Economist Intelligence Unit's list of the best countries for microfinance initiatives.
The unit's Global Microscope survey has found that Peru offers the best microfinance business environment for the third year running. It's joined in the top ten by Bolivia (third), Ecuador and El Salvador (joint sixth) and Colombia (ninth).
The Philippines has overtaken Bolivia to take second place and Pakistan has jumped from 11th to fifth thanks to regulatory reforms and an increased range of microfinance services. The top ten is completed by Ghana (fourth), India (eighth) and new entrant Kenya (tenth).
GDP growth and political stability are not enough to secure a strong microfinance business environment, according to the researchers. Political backing, the regulatory capacity to support privately provided microfinance and a strong culture of entrepreneurship are the most important factors. The list is geographically, economically and politically diverse: the top five climbers are Madagascar, Pakistan, Nepal, Azerbaijan...