MFIL

MFIL is a leading microfinance company in Myanmar, one of the few with a deposit taking licence.

Overview

  1. Myanmar Finance International Limited (“MFIL”) is one of Myanmar’s largest microfinance companies.
  2. Microfinance has been identified by the Government as a priority sector to achieve poverty reduction in Myanmar, as it brings financial services to individuals who may not have access to one.
  3. MFIL’s shareholder group combines decades of successful experience investing in the microfinance sector with deep local knowledge playing an active role in managing the company and in accelerating the company’s growth.
  4. MFIL has demonstrated tremendous growth since MIL’s investment.

 MYANMAR FINANCE INTERNATIONAL LIMITED

Invested: US$2 million
Date of investment: 1 September 2014
Effective interest held by MIL: 37.5%

Company Background

Myanmar Finance International Limited (“MFIL”) is MIL’s investment into the microfinance sector, which has been identified by the Government as a priority sector to achieve poverty reduction in Myanmar.

Microfinance, defined broadly, is the provision of financial services to individuals and small enterprises that lack access to more established types of financial services. Hence microfinance provides much-needed small loans to the rural, unbanked population of Myanmar to enable start-up or expansion of small businesses such as, for example, roadside stalls or fishing boats.

MFIL began operations in 2012 when Myanmar passed the Microfinance Law. It was founded by a group of Myanmar nationals, led by U Htet Nyi, a highly-regarded businessman who also serves as the Honorary-Consul of Norway and Finland. MIL completed its investment into MFIL in 2014, while the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (“Norfund”) completed an investment in 2015.

Investment Thesis

The sector is attractive as demand far outstrips supply – there is a large informal lending market to be tapped.  Additionally, the Myanmar government remains very supportive of the sector, and many international development financial institutions have expressed interest in working with the sector as well.

At the company level, the main lending product uses the Grameen model of group lending methodology, which has to date produced zero non-performing loans (“NPLs”) due to the strong community bonds within the areas which MFIL operates. MFIL also limits its exposure to weather/disease dependent sectors such as farming and livestock. As a result, MFIL is already profitable on an unleveraged basis, despite increased investment in systems and management upgrades, and will continue to grow its lending business through expansion into new products and expand its geographical coverage.

Experience from other countries shows that eventually the strongest and most well-funded microfinance institutions can transition to become banks with a full range of financial services, creating value for shareholders in the process. ACLEDA Bank from Cambodia and BRAC Bank from Bangladesh can be taken as examples of such transformations; while others such as SKS Microfinance of India have even obtained a public listing.

Transaction

MIL has invested a total of US$ 1.92 million. The current shareholding structure of MFIL is:

  • MIL: 37.5%
  • Myanmar Finance Co Ltd (“MFCL”): 37.5%
  • Norfund: 25.0%

MFCL is the local founding shareholder who saw the commercial opportunity microfinance could offer, whilst contributing to economic development and livelihood improvement for middle to lower income households.

Norfund is the Norwegian development finance institution, established and owned by the Norwegian government to combat poverty in selected countries through private sector development.  One of the areas that it specialised in is microfinance and as a result brings significant experience to MFIL.

Result

In line with the investment philosophy of being a value-added shareholder and partner to the investee companies, MIL has been actively engaged with MFIL both operationally and strategically.

MIL has assisted MFIL with the recruitment of a new CEO, initiated the upgrade of MFIL’s back office Management Information Systems (MIS), actively engaged in product development and spearheaded the efforts to secure external debt financing.  In MIL’s announcement dated 3 May 2017, MFIL has signed an additional US$1 million, local-currency denominated loan agreement with Malayan Banking Berhad (“Maybank”), the only Malaysian bank to be granted a banking license from the Central Bank of Myanmar.

MFIL has grown significantly with borrower numbers rising from 10,000 and a loan portfolio of US$ 0.8m prior to MIL’s investment to over 42,000 borrowers and a loan portfolio of about US$ 5.7 million (as of February 2017). In addition, MFIL currently has a total branch network of 8 (5 in Yangon and 3 in Bago), with plans to continue to expand in the coming months and years.