The New Microfinance Handbook, published in February 2013 by The World Bank, has been hailed as the "best single source compendium" on the fast evolving microfinance industry. Available to the public for free, it was co-authored and co-edited by Julie Earne, specialist with IFC’s Access to Finance team in Africa.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia calls The New Microfinance Handbook “an excellent source for navigating a diverse and rapidly changing microfinance sector.” The book is a 500 pages long compilation of all aspects of the industry, drawing on expertise from around the world.
"We have tried to make it appeal to people who know what they are talking about as well as people who really need an introduction to microfinance. It brings everyone onto a level playing field,” said Earne, who co-authored and co-edited the book with Joanna Ledgerwood of the Aga Khan Foundation and writer Candace Nelson.
The difference between The New Microfinance Handbook and much of the previous literature in the field is that it sets the needs of potential customers at the centre of analysis.
Earne added, “Poor people need a whole package of financial services, just like you and I, and that is something that defines IFC’s microfinance program today, especially in Africa: this idea that just because you are poor does not mean that you should be relegated to a single-product unsustainable credit-provider. You should have access to a bank, but a bank that tailors its products and services to what you need.”
One of the main projects Earne is currently working on is the Partnership for Financial Inclusion, a joint program by IFC and The MasterCard Foundation, which also supported the publication of The New Microfinance Handbook. The Partnership for Financial Inclusion aims to increase access to financial services for an estimated 5.3 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa in five years, in order to demonstrate how microfinance and mobile financial services can be employed to broadly and rapidly bring the unbanked poor into the formal financial system.
The New Microfinance Handbook includes chapters on the roles of different stakeholders in the microfinance industry, product development and delivery channels, regulation and funding. It is available for free download on The World Bank Group's scribd channel.