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Last updated January 31, 2023
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Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-08) Sanchez, Susana M. ; Sirtaine, Sophie ; Valente, RitaAmong policymakers and economists, there is a widely held perception that microenterprises1 face severe financing shortages that limit their growth opportunities. Resolving the problems of access to finance as well as the high cost of financing has become the main objective of many government programs. With a view to increasing access to credit for microenterprises in the Northeast Region of Brazil, the World Bank has supported Banco do Nordeste's CrediAmigo microfinance program since 1997. This note describes how Banco do Nordeste initiated CrediAmigo as part of its restructuring strategy and how the program has expanded to become the largest microfinance provider in Brazil. To date, many lessons have emerged, both from CrediAmigo and the World Bank project that supports the program. Brazilian private banks and non-bank financial institutions offer a variety of credit products targeted to micro and small enterprises. These products typically carry very high interest rates and require collateral. Banking networks also leave many areas, particularly poor and remote regions in the Northeast and North of Brazil, underserved. About 57 percent of all municipalities in these regions have no access to a bank branch, compared to a national average of around 30 percent. Although in many other Latin American countries, microfinance institutions have been able to partially fill the gap left by larger institutions, in Brazil, only a small fraction of the potential demand for microfinance appears to be satisfied by the current supply.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-12) de la Plaza, Luis ; Sirtaine, SophieThe authors review the series of events that led to the 2002 Uruguayan banking crisis, assess the current status of the Uruguayan banking sector, and analyze the policy responses undertaken by the Uruguayan authorities to counteract the crisis. The main conclusion from their analysis is that although the immediate trigger for the crisis was caused by contagion resulting from Argentina's financial crisis, the spread and magnification of the crisis that engulfed the Uruguayan economy was amplified by certain weaknesses of the Uruguayan economy in general, and the domestic banking sector in particular. The authors also believe that the policy responses adopted by the Uruguayan authorities were mostly adequate, allowing Uruguay to successfully counteract simultaneous banking and public debt crises. Most important, the Uruguayan authorities were able to overcome a severe crisis while preserving the necessary trust in banking contracts, achieving a high level of social stability and political cohesion, and maintaining a fluid dialogue with multilateral financial institutions and all affected parties. The cooperative and consensual approach taken by the authorities created the necessary conditions to overcome some of the important obstacles to the recovery of the domestic banking sector.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-02) Sirtaine, SophieThe author assesses the extent to which Chilean firms have access to sufficient and adequate sources of funds. Access to finance has become an important issue for policymakers in Latin America. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in particular, complain that their lack of access to adequate sources of financing is an obstacle to their growth. Chile represents an interesting case study since it has one of the most developed financial markets in the continent, and thus great potential for using products suited to the needs and risk characteristics of SMEs. The author concludes that the largest firms have access to the whole range of financial instruments available in Chile. All smaller firms face financing constraints. She then analyzes the obstacles to downsizing access to the capital market and further increasing the penetration of banks in smaller segments.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-07) Sirtaine, Sophie ; Skamnelos, IliasHigh credit growth in Emerging Europe, generally considered a sign of catching-up with the "old" Europe, has begun receiving considerable attention among investors and policymakers alike. Given heightened global risks and the demands under the European Union accession process, the need to better understand this high credit growth's drivers, riskiness, and the possible macroeconomic and financial stability consequences is strong. The authors adopt a holistic approach in reviewing the rapid credit growth experienced in the region, examining macroeconomic, financial sector, corporate sector, and asset market consequences and possible vulnerabilities. They consider three possible scenarios-a catching-up with older European countries, a soft landing as experienced by Portugal in the early 2000s, and a hard landing as experienced by Asia in 1997.