Research and Seminars

Commercial Bank Downscaling


In May 2006, CALMEADOW coordinated and sponsored the Downscaling Symposium: The Promotion and Acceleration of the Incursion of Private Commercial Banking into the Microfinance Industry. As a part of their competitive strategy, many commercial banks in Latin America and the Caribbean have begun serving micro-entrepreneurs by downscaling operations into the microfinance sector. The downscaling model has seen much success in South America, while few Central American banks have ventured into the market. Due to this disparity, Calmeadow sought to increase awareness and share approaches toward downscaling, with the greater aim of accelerating the trend in providing credit to microenterprises.

The Downscaling Symposium, held at Harvard-affiliated INCAE Business School in Alajuela, Costa Rica, stimulated a dialogue among participants regarding the entry of private commercial banking into the Latin American and Caribbean microfinance industry by means of a downscaling model. Industry executives and experts from nineteen different countries shared their perspectives and experiences in downscaling, in an attempt to accelerate the trend toward downscaling in the region.

Along with Calmeadow, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), Interamerican Investment Corporation (IIC), Andean Development Corporation (CAF), and the Federation of Latin American Banks (FELABAN) also provided funding for the event.

Two similar Downscaling Seminars were held in Siwa, Egypt in November 2006 and in Manila, Philippines in September 2007. These seminars helped spur dialogue about this topic outside Latin America by uniting members of the microfinance and banking sectors. Additional support for these seminars was provided by CGAP, the Citi Foundation, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).