Loan Rescheduling After a Natural Disaster

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This brief discusses the potential interventions and actions that MFIs could undertake in the aftermath of a disaster, based on the experiences of MFIs from Hurricane Mitch and the Bangaldesh flood of 1998. Loan rescheduling in the wake of natural disasters has become a common practice among microfinance institutions (MFIs). MFIs are aware that clients hit by disasters are unable to repay loans according to a pre-disaster schedule. If the MFI insists on on-time repayment, the result for many otherwise outstanding clients may be default. Such actions would punish clients unduly, reduce long-term repayment rates, and force the MFI to remove otherwise good clients from its borrowing list. Moreover, it could mark the MFI as insensitive to its clientele and decrease long-term loyalty to the institution. Clearly, these outcomes are unacceptable to MFIs. This leaves two apparent options: loan forgiveness or loan rescheduling. Loan forgiveness cancels all remaining loan payments and removes the loan from the MFI’s books. But this is not a real option for an MFI: it undercuts long-term client commitment to repay and results in losses to the program. Therefore, in the wake of a disaster, MFIs have only one choice that both serves its clients and is true to institutional goals: loan rescheduling for affected clients.

The brief attempts to answer the following questions:

  • What is the financial impact of rescheduling on the MFI?
  • What is rescheduling?
  • How are missed payments collected?
  • Does loan rescheduling really protect the MFIs portfolio?
  • When and where should MFIs reschedule?
  • What should be the terms and conditions of rescheduling?
  • Does rescheduling work for all microfinance methodologies?

The conclusion notes that rescheduling is an important post-disaster tool, to be implemented quickly and strategically, based on a desire to avoid disaster-induced defaults while maintaining a flow of repayments into the MFI. Successful rescheduling systems are based on pre-disaster planning and loan officer training.

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