Jordan might still be coasting on it’s rebirth of economic prosperity brought on by its liberal economic policies – it is now classified as a “lower middle income” country by the World Bank – and it remains a nation that is determined not to leave anyone behind. In a report issued by Sanabel, the Microfinance Network of Arab Countries, just last year, Jordan was ranked as the 4th largest microfinance in the world, boasting an 39% jump in borrowers from 2005 to 2008.
For a small country with limited natural resources and surrounded by somewhat more problematic Middle East neighbors, Jordan appears to have its nose to the grindstone. When the country began to feel the ripple of wealth after a series of new trade agreements in the early 2000′s (Jordan has more free trade agreements than any other Middle Eastern country), regulations were immediately put into to place to make sure the extra cash flow was put to good use.
The government released the National Microfinance Strategy in 2005 to combat bulky banks and to ensure micro-lenders were fair and in abundance and since then, Jordan’s micro-lending has increased from $18 million to $127 million. It has achieved a 63% increase in compound annual growth rate. With the help of Citibank’s philanthropic branch – the Citi Foundation, Jordan has established nine commercial banks – of which four are multi-nationals, that act as active wholesale lenders to microfinance institutions.
Over the last decade, the Citi Foundation has granted more than $60 million in support of 250 microfinance programs and organizations across 55 countries. As the recipient of some of this funding, Jordan has now blossomed into one of the youngest, but fastest growing microfinance sectors in the world. Jordan has traditionally been a fairly stable country and a cautious friend to the United States, but their definitely savvy in their own right. They are situated in a hotbed of violent conflict, yet somehow manage to keep their heads above it. Some credit must be given to diplomacy, but the results are obvious here as well. If you want to combat terrorism and unrest, providing viable financial opportunities such as micro-lending is one way to go about it.