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ARE FINANCIAL AND SOCIAL EFFICIENCY MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE? A CASE STUDY OF VIETNAMESE MICROFINANCE INSTITUTIONS

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A major debate in microfinance focuses on the existence of a trade‐off between the financial sustainability of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and their outreach to poor clients. This paper adds to this debate by analyzing whether financial and social efficiency are mutually exclusive in a context of implicit subsidies by the state and international donors. We use data from a sample of 28 Vietnamese MFIs and apply Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to identify the existence of a trade‐off. Our analysis shows that for Vietnamese MFIs financial and social efficiency are not related. We interpret this as evidence for the fact that there is no support to believe that there is such a trade‐off. Subsidies, based on which most Vietnamese MFIs currently operate, helps them to show high financial efficiency, while at the same time being able to attain their social goals. Nevertheless, this model may not be sustainable in the long‐term.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2016

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