Leading Growth in MFIs: Key Attributes and Characteristics

At Unitus, we select high-potential microfinance institutions (MFIs) that we think have the capacity for rapid growth using the Unitus Acceleration Model. We then form a 5-7 year partnership with them to help reach their maximum growth potential. Unitus currently has 10 partner MFIs in 4 countries: India, Kenya, Mexico, and Argentina. Our partners were reaching 233,000 clients when they partnered with Unitus and are now reaching over 750,000 clients, representing 95% annualized growth. In 2005 alone, Unitus partners as a group grew at eight times the industry average in terms of client numbers. In addition to client growth, our partners are growing their assets at 118% per year. Potential partners are put through a stringent selection process to ensure that selected MFI partners can grow at such an accelerated rate. In developing this selection process, we used our experience to identify several criteria for selecting MFI partners. We have found “visionary leadership” to be one of the most important of these criteria. We describe this as leadership with a vision for growth and poverty alleviation, in which the management is skilled, committed and capable of overseeing growth. Over the past 5 years the Unitus team has learned a great deal about how to find “visionary leadership”, through identifying the characteristics, attributes and skills that are necessary to lead an MFI to sustainable growth. We want to share what we have learned to improve understanding of the vital role of leadership for growth as well Copyright 2006 Unitus, Inc. NonCommercial-Sharealike 2.5 4 as to provide a framework for assessing leaders and making necessary changes to leadership.

Download Full PDF