Banking on the poor: Peru's small- and micro-enterprise sector

Sixty per cent of Peru's urban workforce is employed within the small and micro enterprises (SMEs) which account for 95 per cent of all business in the country's manufacturing, commercial, and service sectors. But in spite of credit needs of some US$ 1,250 million, in 1994 the combined input from the formal financial sector, international development agencies, and NGOs met only five per cent of this demand. The author examines the six principal mechanisms through which credit is available to SMEs, and describes the work of a Peruvian NGO network - IDESI - which specialises in providing credit and related services to small businesses, and in making strategic linkages between the popular sector and the conventional banking system.