Microfinance Institution Tier Identification

Microfinance Institution Tier Definitions

To determine which tier an MFI belongs to, and therefore what degree of risk management is appropriate, the RMGM uses MicroRate’s globally accepted classification system as a starting point. The system is based on a three-tier structure that applies three simple, objective indicators that together act as proxies for an MFI’s level of maturity. The three indicators are sustainability (as determined by return on assets, ROA), size (total assets in USD), and transparency (level of regulation and reporting). The main advantages of MicroRate’s tier system are the following:

  • Simple to understand and easy
  • Uses conventional, universally accepted metrics that aren’t specific to microfinance
  • Based on publically available or easily attainable data
  • Global, without regional calculation differences or exceptions
  • Universal across all MFI types (e.g., regulated banks, NBFIs, NGOs, and coops)

In determining an MFI’s tier, factors others than those identified above should also be assessed, including institutional complexity, number of product offerings (especially whether the MFI mobilizes deposits), and strategic and institutional support from a regional or global network. It is recommended that an MFI should not consider adherence at a level lower than what the RMGM framework recommends under a strictly MicroRate-based tier classification.


Tier 3
Tier 2
Tier 1
Definitions
Start-up MFIs or small NGOs that are immature and unsustainable Small or medium sized, slightly less mature MFIs that are, or are approaching, profitability Mature, financially sustainable, and large MFIs that are highly transparent
Sustainability
MFI doesn’t meet any of the following criteria:
(i) Positive ROA for at least 2 of the last 3 years and no ROA < -5% in the last 3 years OR (ii) Positive ROA for at least 1 of the last 3 years and other years -5% OR (iii) Positive trend in ROA in last 2 years and > -5%
MFI meets one of the following criteria:
(i) Positive ROA for at least 1 of the last 3 years and other years > -5% OR
(ii) Positive trend in ROA in last 2 years and > -5%
MFI meets both of the following criteria:
(i) Positive ROA for at least 2 of the last 3 years AND
(ii) No ROA less than < -5% in the last 3 years
Size
Less than $5 million Between $5 – $50 million Over $50 million
Transparency
MFI doesn’t meet any of the following criteria:
(i) Regulated financial institution OR
(ii) Rated at least once in the last 2 years OR
(iii) Audited financial statements for at least the last 3 years
Audited financial statements for at least the last 3 years MFI meets one of the following criteria:
(i) Regulated financial institution OR
(ii) Rated at least once in the last 2 years
Click here for more information about MicroRate’s Microfinance Institution Tier Definitions.

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RIM’s Risk Management Graduation Model is continually being revised to reflect the consensus standards within the microfinance industry.

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Microfinance Institution Tier Definitions

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