Banco Compartamos, the largest microfinance institution in Mexico, is the acknowledged poster child for commercial microfinance institutions (MFIs). From its inception in 1990 until 2000, Compartamos operated as a not-for-profit nongovernmental organization (NGO), receiving $4.3 million from international development agencies and private Mexican donors. In 2000, the organization was reaching 60,000 borrowers— mainly poor women in rural areas. To tap commercial funds for even faster growth, the...

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