Microfinance Demand Survey
Palladium and USAID kick started the support the Livelihoods and Inclusive Finance Expansion (LIFE) project in Lebanon. The aim of the project is to economically empower the unbanked, low-income, and underserved micro clientele ad simultaneously link vulnerable entrepreneurs with micro-finance institutions who will provide them with customized business management training, technical know-how, mentoring, and basic business development skills. The aim of the project is to also to strengthen the capacity of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and the Lebanese Microfinance Association (LMA) so that they can increase their range of products and services and expand their reach of borrowers to include microenterprises with an emphasis on higher-risk, conflict affected areas, including new, unbanked, and existing microenterprises, and low-income women-headed households. In order to gain a better understanding of entrepreneurship in Lebanon and to assist the Central Bank, in understanding the microenterprise landscape, InfoPro was commissioned to conduct a National Market Demand Survey among the general population and micro-enterprises. The aim of the survey was to profile micro-entrepreneurs and potential micro-entrepreneurs, identify the financial services they currently utilize, their demand for additional financial services, and how they are distributed across the various Lebanese governorates / Mohafazat. The findings of the survey helped InfoPro forecast the potential market value for micro-finance institutions among both the general population and micro-enterprises. It also helped reveal the areas that should be concentrated on. In total, InfoPro interviewed 2,000 households and 1,200 micro-enterprises nationwide.
Outcomes of Micro-Credit Provision to Syrian Refugees
InfoPro was commissioned a study by SANAD. The project was a follow-up to a qualitative segment conducted by the client. The aim of the study was to examine whether there is a need for financial and non-financial services among Syrian refugees in Bekaa, Mount Lebanon, North Lebanon, and South Lebanon. InfoPro’s mission also entailed testing and verifying the data compiled through the qualitative segment, as well as quantify estimates that were provided. InfoPro interviewed a total of 639 refugees residing in the areas under study and specifically assessed their employment status, the sources of income that they rely on, whether they have received any form of business training, the financial services that they currently have or that are unavailable to them, in addition to their potential interest in taking a loan. The data gathered was assessed across age, gender, and mohafaza. InfoPro was also able to identify how many near creditworthy Syrian refugees there were in Lebanon, who with the support of non-financial services could become borrowers in the future. InfoPro was also able to utilize the data gathered to provide the client with a forecast of the market potential among the Syrian refugee population.
Indebtedness Level of Microfinance Clients in Lebanon
The Microfinance Center and CGAP commissioned InfoPro to conduct a study to measure the indebtedness level of microfinance clients in Lebanon. The goal of the study was to identify the scale of over-indebtedness among credit users according to the definitions of “over-indebtedness”. Additionally, the study contributed to the identification of the factors that lead to over-indebtedness of low-income credit users, to give recommendations on how to prevent over-indebting clients in the future and to offer advice to sector participants on how to deal with over-indebted clients or at risk of over-indebtedness. The survey was comprised of a qualitative segment to be followed at a later stage with a quantitative segment. The qualitative segment included a total of nine focus groups which were conducted in rural and urban areas. Respondents included borrowers from micro-finance institutions, non-borrowers, and bank clientele.
Situational Analysis of the ICT Business Sector in Rural Areas
InfoPro was commissioned the study by Relief International who was interested in assessing the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) business sector in rural areas. The study’s main objective was to explore the demand and supply for ICT techniques and services in rural areas and the role of microcredit in supporting and boosting this sector. The study was carried out through a combination of desk research, in-depth interviews and field surveys. The desk research helped identify the vocational training centers which have Information and Communication Technology as a specialization. It also helped identify small businesses and small ICT businesses in the areas under study. InfoPro then conducted a field survey with 352 graduates and senior students selected from 114 IT academies, vocational training centers, Cisco networking academies and Microsoft certification centers. The aim of these interviews was to identify the types of certifications that they have or are currently specializing in, their plans upon completing their educational, whether they are looking to open businesses, financing sources and budgets that they would require, and the types of collateral that they have and that would help them finance their ICT needs. InfoPro then conducted in-depth interviews with the owners of small businesses and small ICT businesses in order to identify their recruitment needs with regards to ICT personnel and skills that are currently lacking but that they require from ICT personnel. The above data helped InfoPro conduct phase II which was to provide RI with guidelines that will help develop microloan products targeting ICT businesses, small businesses and ICT graduates in rural areas.