Microfinance is a tool to address poverty and assist people to generate an income. In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of microfinance institutions and clients. However, microfinance services remain limited in rural areas which are often sparsely populated and poorly developed in terms of economic and physical infrastructure. Efforts are, therefore, needed to identify rural finance approaches – savings and lending systems – that respond to the needs and capacities of poorer clients and rural entrepreneurs.

Our guest publication  folder The Rural Finance Landscape  (69 pp. PDF) describes current savings, lending, and insurance practices, identifies the service providers working in the informal, semiformal and formal sector and discusses current approaches and methodologies. It targets those who want to know more about rural finance as well as development practitioners concerned with identifying the financial services most appropriate for their project or organisations. Available in English, French and Portuguese.

Inspired by the original idea of the Grameen Bank, the Grameen Foundation has created a global network of microfinance institution partners. With tiny loans, financial services and technology, they help the poor – mostly women – to start self-sustaining businesses. Not only to escape poverty, but to become 'Agents of Change'.

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a global partnership of  organisations, empowers stakeholders in advancing financial access for the world’s poor. Publications covering a wide range of financial inclusion topics are free to download, in a number of languages.

The Rural Finance & Investment Learning Centre aims to assist organisations in developing countries to build their capacity to deliver improved financial services – ones which meet the needs of rural households and businesses. They provide guidelines for trainers, online lessons, self-study guides, training tools (such as a 'marketing mix' board game) and videos.