Our Firm

MicroVest is an asset manager that specializes in allocating private debt capital to responsible Microfinance and SME Finance Institutions that provide financial services to un- and underbanked microentrepreneurs and small businesses in emerging markets. As one of the first U.S.-based microfinance investors, we have built a track record since 2003 of investing in institutions whose interests are aligned with the borrowers and communities they serve. 

MicroVest is a registered investment adviser, Certified B Corporation, and wholly-owned subsidiary of MicroVest General Partner Holding LLC, a Delaware statutory PBLLC whose public benefit purpose is to create scalable investment opportunities that support enterprising ventures and projects in underserved or underfinanced sectors and communities worldwide.

Origins of Responsible Finance

The origins of modern responsible finance can be traced back to the mid-1960s, when a number of multilateral institutions, government agencies, and non-profit organizations began creating affordable microcredit programs as part of their greater economic development agendas to assist the world’s poor. Many of these programs grew into what we know today as Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), which operate in a niche largely untapped by traditional banks.

While most traditional banks have chosen not to enter this market due to the perception that low-income, underbanked populations are higher credit risks and incur a higher cost to serve, at MicroVest, we think otherwise.

We believe that investing in responsible, well-run Microfinance and SME Finance Institutions that lend to underbanked micro and small businesses in emerging markets can unlock productivity that enables broader segments of the population to earn a living wage and pull themselves out of poverty.

Today, an estimated 1.7 billion adults lack access to basic financial services worldwide, 56% of whom are women.1 At the same time there is a $4.8 trillion funding gap to small businesses in emerging economies.2 Unfortunately, a significant number of unbanked adults and small businesses are unable to access credit through the formal financial system, which hampers the ability of these households and businesses to grow and generate wealth. We believe that when the underbanked are financially included, they can more effectively manage day-to-day finances, build financial resilience, and knowledgeably use financial products and services to pursue their dreams.

Our Beginnings

MicroVest was founded in 2003 by CEO/CIO Gil Crawford, the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) and global nonprofit, CARE. At the time, CARE and MEDA were managing in-house microfinance portfolios but encountered roadblocks as the limits to scaling microfinance through a purely philanthropic model became apparent. At that time, virtually all responsible microfinance programs were carried out through non-profit or non-government entities, which were experienced at spending or donating money, not lending it. Due to early operational misalignment, many early microfinance institutions were unable to manage a financially sustainable business model.

MicroVest was founded as a solution to this problem. As an asset management firm, MicroVest could invest directly into Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) through commercial investment products that were safe and self-sustaining. The model would prove efficient at injecting capital flow into the space while also encouraging MFIs to work at building businesses that were client-oriented, sustainable, and scalable.

Founder & CEO Gil Crawford (second to left) visits a Yurt maker on a due diligence trip to Mongolia in 2004.

Illustrative Investments:
Making Home Ownership a Reality for Low-Income Populations (Banco La Hipotecaria)
Providing Affordable, Low-Cost Health Insurance to Low-Income Borrowers (Fundacion ESPOIR)
Financing Specialized Machinery to Expand a Businesses’ Product Offerings (Mega Leasing)

We invite you to learn more about what we do and explore the impact that we seek to generate across our portfolio. To learn more about our Impact, please see our 2020 Impact Report.

[1] World Bank Global Findex https://globalfindex.worldbank.org/

[2] IFC, MSME Finance Gap 2017, updated in 2018/19