Performance measurement of South Asian microfinance institutions : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Banking at School of Economics and Finance, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
This thesis studies microfinance institutions (MFIs), which are a special type of financial institution that pursue the dual objectives of outreach and financial sustainability. The study evaluates the social and financial efficiency of a panel data set of 372 MFIs in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, covering the period 1998 to 2013, using performance ratios and other techniques.
The thesis introduces two new ways of measuring the social objectives of MFIs. The comparative results show that these new outreach indicators provide a better explanation of social performance of MFIs than those commonly used in the literature. We employ these new measures alongside financial sustainability to assess the performance of different types of MFIs in achieving their dual objectives. The results show that non-regulated and profit-oriented MFIs perform relatively well in terms of the dual objectives but face higher operating expenses, creating conflict between outreach and financial sustainability.
In addition, the social and financial efficiency of MFIs are evaluated using data envelopment analysis (DEA) and stochastic frontier analysis (SFA). For DEA, to obtain more robust results, a double bootstrap approach is used and we find that the financial efficiency of these institutions appears stronger than their social efficiency. Cost efficiency estimates show that, on average, South Asian MFIs are operating with the same financial and social efficiency scores, while institutional and country differences matter more for financial efficiency than for social efficiency. The results also suggest that, on average, MFIs exhibit increasing returns to scale in financial sustainability but not when
performance relative to the social objectives is measured. Similarly, improved technological progress is more evident for financial than social efficiency.
The impact of women in various roles and corporate governance on the efficiency of MFIs is investigated for the first time. The presence of female loan officers is found to have a positive effect while female board members and female borrowers show a significant negative impact on financial and social efficiency of MFIs. We find a strong positive association between the governance of an MFI and its financial and social efficiency. We find similar effects of governance and gender roles on efficiency using both the DEA and SFA approaches.