Syria had strong economic growth between 2007-2010, with average real GDP growth at 5%, yet 12% of the population live in poverty and the social inequality is increasing with a poverty highly concentrated in the rural Northeastern regions and increasing disparity between the population. Since March 2011, the political instability and subsequent international sanctions have severely affected the Syrian economic situation.
The microfinance sector in Syria is small and nascent, with only a few players and limited coverage. The microfinance market potential is estimated around 1.8 million and the microfinance penetration is estimated at just 6%.
The Syrian regulatory framework for microfinance is among the most favorable in the region due to the passage of the General Microfinance Decree (Syrian Legislative Decree no. 15) in 2007, the first of its kind in the region. The decree allows the central bank to license Social Financial Banking Institutions (SFBIs) with the ability to provide lending and deposit services, as well as insurance.
Grameen-Jameel works in partnership with the First Microfinance Institution – Syria (FMFI-S) in Syria.