The for-profit, commercial microfinance institutions tend to only offer financial services. Sometimes an individual only needs a loan, but those who can properly manage and benefit from a high interest microloan are typically already living above the poverty line. The borrower utilizes their loan to invest in their small business. They purchase land and supplies needed to continue their already profitable business. Since it's a strictly profit based industry, the borrower's best interests are not necessarily a top priority. For example, countries, like Mexico and South Africa, that can legally authorize microloans with alarmingly high interest rates (think 60% to 100%) lead to more cases of default on loans. Investing with a commercial microfinancier, your money could go into such a market with high interest loans. As you can imagine, these loans with higher rates aren't as successful as those with lower rates.
As of 2005, the oldest of the non-profit microfinanciers, Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, had lent $4 billion in microloans to 7 million borrowers in just a decade. Microcredit organizations that are non-profits, owned by investors or customers, are more focused on the economic development of the underprivileged than they are with seeking profit. Not only do these microcredit non-profits offer their customers more than just microloans, they also provide healthcare, training, and education. When the MFIs are more concerned with providing their clients these financial services for economic and social development, the microloan model can prove to be more successful in lifting the poor out of poverty. However, they extend credit at lower rates than the commercial sector. These MFIs financing the poor's businesses or expenses with affordable rates experience low default. It's simple. These people are accustomed to being denied financing. So once they are given an opportunity to dig themselves out of a financial hole with a little bit of cash, they take deep pride in repaying their loan on time.
According to Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, microloans average a return of 5.8%. This includes small business loans, as well as consumer short term financing, and personal healthcare related financing such as access to loans for medical care or access to finance dental services.
According to World Bank, poverty in Bangladesh has reduced by 26% during 2000 to 2010. Is this decrease thanks to the microloan industry? A rise in labor income and poverty reducing programs for youth and women including early education, health, nutrition, and work skills have been the dominating factors Bangladesh's economic turnaround. Further, a decline in fertility rates over the past decade decreased the poor's dependency rates. An underdeveloped country that provides their citizens with access to jobs, education, and financial services prove to be more beneficial than those that only offer loans.
In the United States, we are seeing social investment play a role in several niche sectors such as medical financing and wedding loans. So, the social impact provided by microfinance has an effect in developed countries as well.