Myanmar’s MFI sector upended by PGMF exit
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Myanmar’s MFI sector upended by PGMF exit

Photo: Getty Images

The abrupt departure of the US NGO fund from military-run Myanmar leaves a vacuum for microfinanciers.

For more than 25 years, the American non-government organization Pact through its Global Microfinance Fund (PGMF) was a mainstay of village life in Myanmar, a trusted constant in a financially backward nation.

Originally spun out of the United Nations Development Programme’s microfinancing initiative in 1997, PGMF disbursed roughly $4.5 billion in micro loans to millions of people in Myanmar, mostly women. It helped to keep many rural households fed and small businesses afloat, with next to zero defaults.

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  • Indeed, for many in the country, PGMF was their entry point into the world of finance, their first experience of a financial system. With a share of the microfinance sectoras high as 35% by some measures, PGMF was the biggest microfinance operation in a country with a notoriously dysfunctional financial system.

    And then, on June 26, 2023, that all ended.

    The US-based umbrella fund of impact investors, development aid and philanthropic donors, which had started life in Myanmar while the country was under military rule, has now stopped operations under a military junta of much the same hue.


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