- Kiva Field Partner since: May 2007
- Loans through Kiva: $2,015,550
- Number of entrepreneurs assisted through Kiva: 3,237
- Focus: low-income individuals, groups, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with an emphasis on lending to poor, rural women
Formally known as Maxima Mikroheranhvatho Co. Ltd, or "MAXIMA for Household Economic Development", MAXIMA was founded in March 2000 with a vision to bring together people and businesses with the common goal of alleviating poverty by providing both economic and social opportunities to the rural poor. There are more than 20 microfinance institutions in Cambodia that offer similar services but MAXIMA is one of the few that offer door-to-door services for loan dispersal delivery and payment pickup. They also make an effort to hire local staff and open service offices in the areas they serve as well as offering lower interest rates for clients that are willing to make payments at these offices.
Benefiting Women and Families
MAXIMA believes that their loans can often benefit the women, and thus the family, more. When a family does not have suffiecient income, often their only option is to send the women of the family to the city to work in garment factories. This can be difficult because they then travel long distances, often in unsafe conditions, from the provinces daily or rent inadequate housing in Phnom Penh. Pay in the factories is very low, around $55-60 a month, which forces them to work overtime. Starting or expanding a small business closer to home can be a good alternative.
While MAXIMA lends to both men and women, in Cambodia women are seen as being more responsible with money and are the money managers in every family. Even when men run the business, women manage the finances. The joke is that come payday men must give their paycheck to their wives. This is referred to as “Thonikea Bropon” or “wife bank”, where, it is said, it is easy to make a deposit but difficult to make a withdrawal.
MAXIMA used to offer a fixed deposit savings program, where borrowers could deposit money into a savings account regularly and expect a certain amount of interest on their savings over time. In 2008 the Cambodian government passed a law that forced MFIs to get an additional license for savings deposits. To get this license, MFIs have to have a capital reserve of $2.5 million. MAXIMA is so small that they are not close to meeting this requirement, however a savings program remains part of their mission because they have a commitment to fulfilling the requirements to get the license and to offer this service to their customers again in the future. As such, they are currently looking for investors.
To lend to a MAXIMA borrower, browse their Kiva lender page.Photos by Lina Goldberg, Kiva Fellow KF12