Abstract

Purpose: The measurement of sustainability for microfinance institutions (MFIs) has been a serious problem for both practitioners and researchers over the last few decades. A multicriteria decision-making approach is used to develop an index that measures the sustainability of microfinance institutions based on the double bottom line.

Methodology: The sustainability score of MFIs operating in Pakistan for the year 2006-2015 is measured using the technique for order preference by similarity to ideal solution (TOPSIS). During the assessment, equal weights are assigned to all indicators of sustainability. Additionally, a hypothetical organization was assigned the industry threshold to generate composite scores using TOPSIS. Later, sustainability levels of individual MFIs were compared with this industry threshold.

Findings: Microfinance institutions that attain higher financial sustainability and positive outreach are ranked high. The result shows that the threshold sustainability level of the microfinance sector in Pakistan from 2006-2015 was 23.52, 26.31, 23.80, 45.83, 45.83, 66.67, 77.77, 91.60, and 88.88 percent respectively. Although the sustainability level in 2015 decreases with respect to 2014, still the overall growth of the sector is remarkable. Practical implications: The results obtained from TOPSIS for evaluating the sustainability of MFIs under the double bottom line highlight its practical applicability. MFIs are under immense pressure by regulatory bodies, investors, donors, and financial experts to achieve sustainability. This index would help MFIs to track progress and improve their sustainability.

Novelty/Originality: This study is the first of its kind to determine the sustainability of MFI by using all the four indicators of sustainability, including financial self-sufficiency, operational self-sufficiency, depth of outreach and breadth of outreach. Existing sustainability indicators does not provide the threshold level of sustainability. Instead, they provide a ranking of MFIs from top to bottom only. This study is novel to identify whether MFIs have met or failed to achieve sustainability by providing the threshold level.

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