In 2015, international investment firm Meridian Capital Limited launched an ambitious project: a microfinance institution that had at its heart the ability to create a meaningful impact in the Southeast Nation of Myanmar. The following year, MC Easy Microfinance Company Limited received its microfinance license and began to follow through on its stated ethos of expanding the accessibility of affordable financial services to Myanmar’s unbanked.
Historically isolated, Myanmar only opened its doors to foreign investment in 2014. The Meridian Capital investment team were quick to identify the country’s financial sector as a great investment opportunity to add to an already diversified global portfolio spanning consumer goods, real estate, hospitality, infrastructure and natural resources.
Meridian Capital’s desire to empower the Myanmar people by providing access to capital is transparent. Easy Microfinance focuses on enhancing the lives of entrepreneurs, many of whom are women, and finances many SMEs, mostly small businesses and traders who own a small shop or a stall at their local market.
Easy Microfinance has been careful to practice responsible lending with policies ensuring that every borrower has the financial capacity to repay their loans. Loans are designed to be easy and quick to obtain and easy to repay; loan amounts are adapted to business needs and repayment capacity. This client centric ‘hassle-free approach’, which uses modern technology for efficient delivery and follow-up, has paid off. The finance institution now has 100,000 borrowers, 16 branches in six regions of the country and 450 employees.
Commenting on the early success of Easy Microfinance, Meridian Capital’s founding partner Askar Alshinbayev said:“Meridian Capital Limited is committed to investing into initiatives that create a fundamental change in the environment in which they operate. By creating a meaningful and sustainable micro-finance business that provides access to capital for entrepreneurs and those who require micro-loans, we have opened up a world of opportunity for small businesses and traders to start or grow their businesses.”
As well as improving livelihoods and making a positive impact in the community, Easy Microfinance has demonstrated enormous potential for growth and is already a financial success. After 2 and a half years of operations, its NPL ratio stands below 1% and the business is profitable and sustainable. In fact, only 6 months after operations began in 2016, the company enjoyed its first profitable month.
The Easy Microfinance Institution has grown steadily and avoided the struggles with profitability, sustainability and asset quality encountered by some faster growing competitors. Meridian Capital’s investment in Easy Microfinance will ensure a sustained, positive impact on economic development and financial inclusion in Myanmar for years to come.