While the valuation of microfinance institutions (MFIs) may be more of an art than a science, the practice within the equity investment community remains opaque, inconsistent and overly complex. This paper summarizes the challenges impact investors face when valuing MFIs–from which methodologies to use and what assumptions to make, to how to factor in the social mission and fintechs. There is an urgent need for more shared, comparable and reliable data to effectively benchmark impact investments.

Why This Matters

With MFI valuations, the stakes are higha high valuation may signal an overheating market while a low valuation can represent a missed opportunity. As MFIs and other institutions evolve and mature, and as social investors look beyond the known pool of investors for exit options, reliable valuation data and practices will only gain in importance.

Barring more transparent, consistent and precise valuation data and more robust valuation methodologies, microfinance will remain a less mature asset class and social investors will be limited to a relatively small pool of known actors with whom to transact.

Looking Forward

Impact investors need more reliable valuation data and standard valuation methods to make sound investment decisions and to pursue their financial inclusion objectives. The Financial Inclusion Equity Council (FIEC) is working to address this need by developing a valuation database for its members to share valuation data confidentially and anonymously.

Danielle Piskadlo

Former Director, Investing in Inclusive Finance

Danielle Piskadlo worked with the Investing in Inclusive Finance team from 2011 to 2019. She was responsible for developing capacity of board members through peer learning and exchange. Danielle also worked closely with investors to make active, sustainable investments in financial institutions that serve the base of the pyramid. Danielle holds Master’s Degrees in International Business from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Vermont.

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