How to Become a Microfinance Project Officer

How to Become a Microfinance Project Officer: Career Path Guide 

Although there are multiple paths you can take to become a microfinance project officer, a very effective route for entering this profession is to follow these general steps:


• Excel in Math, Economics, Social Studies and Second Language Studies in high school

• Determine if this profession is suited to your personality and professional interests

• Pursue a bachelor’s degree in Finance, Economics, International Development or a similar field

• Get work/internship experience in the area of development, accounting, finance and/or banking in emerging markets as a student 

• Advance into roles of increasing responsibility upon graduation

• Apply for microfinance project officer jobs when you meet the application criteria on internal or external job postings


Read on below to learn more about what these professionals do for a living, what it takes to get into this field, and other details of this occupation:



How can I prepare for this career in high school?

If you’re a high school student, do your best to excel in courses such as math, economics, social studies and second language courses (French and Spanish especially). Excelling in these areas will help set a good foundation for your university studies by helping you qualify for top degree programs, and by helping you gain crucial skills with numbers, a basic understanding of business, and a basic understanding of international development issues.



What college/university education will I need?

Although educational requirements can vary, employers will typically require that you have a master’s degree in an area such as Finance, Economics, International Affairs, International Development Studies, or a similar field.




What is a microfinance project officer?

Microfinance project officers are responsible for planning, designing, and implementing microfinance projects in specific regions. In doing so, they must operate in close contact with stakeholders such as microfinance providers, financial institutions, as well as business, community and local partners to ensure set targets and milestones are comprehensively achieved.


Their ultimate purpose is to help people and organizations in developing countries create and run their own education and business programs that achieve lasting progress in poverty reduction in their communities.



What does a microfinance project officer do?

Although their duties can vary, microfinance project officers are typically responsible for performing the following general duties:


• Performing tasks related to market research projects

• Conducting periodic visits to program countries 

• Assisting in the writing of proposals for grants

• Managing projects and budgets

• Designing, developing and implementing primary research projects

• Using interviews, focus groups and questionnaires to obtain data

• Recruiting, hiring and training regional field workers

• Overseeing assistant researchers in data analysis

• Managing relationships with partners, consultants and donors

• Communicating research findings in a compelling, informative and timely manner

• Making recommendations based on results of research

• Keeping abreast of microfinance industry standards and communicating them to colleagues and subordinates 

• Speaking and writing about projects for various stakeholders, including investors, industry groups, NGOs and the general public  



Will I need relevant work experience?

Employers generally prefer to hire candidates with relevant work experience. The specific work experience you’ll need will vary based on the requirements of the position. In general however, employers at least you require that you have work experience in areas of development/accounting/finance & banking. 


Success Tip: Direct working experience in the area of microfinance (microcredit projects) is a great advantage, as is experience in project management and business development in emerging markets.




Is this career right for me?

Becoming a successful microfinance project officer takes a certain set of personal and professional attributes; if you have the following, you may be well-suited for work in this field:


• A strong interest in development and poverty reduction issues

• A strong interest in the community in which they will be serving/focusing their efforts

• A keen interest in development finance and in working in a multicultural environment

• The ability to speak a second or third language is usually an asset

• The ability to work independently and most importantly as part of a small, multi-cultural team

• Tact and diplomacy when interacting with internal and external partners

• An interest in traveling internationally for work

• Strong client relationship management skills and the ability to establish credibility with clients

Willingness to keep abreast of best market practices and global trends in microfinance and/or mobile financial services



Who creates jobs for microfinance project officers?

Microfinance project officers can be hired by a variety of organizations, including:


• Banks and financial institutions

• International financial institutions, such as the World Bank

• Non-profit organizations including charities and foundations  

• Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) 

• Governmental agencies

• International affairs organizations, such as the United Nations (UN)

• Industry associations 



Microfinance project officer jobs

Our job board below has a listing of "Microfinance project officer" postings in your area of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia.

What career advancement opportunities are there?

If you display competence, initiative, drive and passion in your work, you will likely be introduced to several opportunities for career advancement, which would most commonly include advancing to senior or management positions, or becoming a private consultant.



What careers are similar to this one?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “Microfinance Project Officer”:


Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

• Economic Development Officer

• Economist 

• Fundraiser

• International Business Analyst 

• Loan Officer

• Venture Capitalist



What scholarships are there for aspiring microfinance project officers? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming a microfinance project officer. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Scholarships” page.


Success Tip: Apply for any and all scholarships that you even barely qualify for; there are millions of dollars worth of scholarship money that goes unused every year due to a lack of applicants in Canada and the United States!



Sources for this career guide

The following resources were used to gather information for this career path guide:


Library: “The Role of Credit Officers in the Performance of Microcredit Loans: Evidence from Vivacred in Brazil.” Agier, I. & Assuncao, J. (June, 2009). World Bank Group. Retrieved August 14, 2017.

Job Description: “Senior Microfinance Program Officer.” (January 23, 2013). The Hunger Project. Retrieved August 14, 2017

Occupations: “Economic Development Officer.” (March 26, 2015). Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved August 14’17, 2017.


Please Note: Much of the information used for this career guide was gathered from actual online job postings, which due to their brief period of publication, are not listed here as references.



Majors in our database relevant for this career

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a microfinance project officer. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


Top Banner Image: