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Micro finance and poverty reduction in Asia: what is the evidence?

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  • Weiss, John
  • Montgomery, Heather
  • Kurmanalieva, Elvira

Abstract

Despite the extensive spread of micro finance, studies on the actual impact of MFIs are often more ambivalent about its impact than is the aid community. Much has been written on the range of institutional arrangements pursued in different organizations and countries and in turn a vast number studies have attempted to assess the outreach and poverty impact of such schemes. However, amongst the academic development community there is a recognition that perhaps we know much less about the impact of these programs than might be expected given the enthusiasm for these activities in donor and policy-making circles. In recognition of this uncertainty this paper aims to bring together some of the recent evidence that has been accumulating on the impact of microfinance activities on poverty reduction. In particular we ask what is the evidence on three specific issues: (1) the extent to which microfinance initiatives have made a lasting difference in pulling households out of poverty on a permanent basis; (2) the extent to which microfinance programs reach only the better-off amongst the poor, leaving the ‘core poor’ unaffected; and (3) how far micro finance is a cost-effective means of transferring income to the poor. The evidence surveyed here suggests that the conclusion from the early literature, that whilst micro finance clearly may have had positive impacts on poverty it is unlikely to be a simple panacea for reaching the core poor, remains valid. Reaching the core poor is difficult and some of the reasons that made them difficult to reach with conventional financial instruments mean that they may also be high risk and therefore unattractive microfinance clients. Hence there is a need to continually improve design and outreach and to see MFIs as part of the package for targeting the poor, rather than the whole solution.

Suggested Citation

  • Weiss, John & Montgomery, Heather & Kurmanalieva, Elvira, 2003. "Micro finance and poverty reduction in Asia: what is the evidence?," MPRA Paper 33140, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:33140
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Sankharaj Roy, 2014. "Role of Microcredit in Economic Empowerment and Social Welfare of Women- An Empirical Study of SHG Members in West-Tripura District," Indian Journal of Commerce and Management Studies, Educational Research Multimedia & Publications,India, vol. 5(1(1)), pages 39-46, January.
    3. Rukhsana Kalim, 2011. "Micro Financing of NGOs and Government: Collaborative Impact on Poverty Eradication," Information Management and Business Review, AMH International, vol. 2(2), pages 81-91.
    4. Kelley Bergsma, 2011. "Does Offering Microsavings Make Sense for Microfinance Institutions?," The American Economist, Sage Publications, vol. 56(2), pages 15-27, November.
    5. Stylianou Tasos & Muhammad Ijaz Amjad & Masood Sarwar Awan & Muhammad Waqas, 2020. "Poverty Alleviation and Microfinance for the Economy of Pakistan: A Case Study of Khushhali Bank in Sargodha," Economies, MDPI, vol. 8(3), pages 1-18, August.
    6. Kamel Bel hadj Miled & Jalel-Eddine Ben Rejeb, 2018. "Can Microfinance Help to Reduce Poverty? A Review of Evidence for Developing Countries," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 9(2), pages 613-635, June.
    7. Muhammad Tariq & Abdur Rehman Aleemi & Dr.Athar Iqbal, 2015. "Investigating The Role Of Micro Finance On Economic And Social Development Of People: A Case Study Of Rural Areas Of Sind, Pakistan," IBT Journal of Business Studies (JBS), Ilma University, Faculty of Management Science, vol. 11(2), pages 182-199.
    8. Muhammad Tariq & Abdur Rehman Aleemi & Dr. Athar Iqbal, 2015. "Investigating The Role Of Micro Finance On Economic And Social Development Of People: A Case Study Of Rural Areas Of Sind, Pakistan," IBT Journal of Business Studies (JBS), Ilma University, Faculty of Management Science, vol. 11(2), pages 11-14.
    9. Heshmati, Almas & Kim, Jungsuk, 2014. "A Survey of the Role of Fiscal Policy in Addressing Income Inequality, Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 8119, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay & Sambit Rath, 2011. "Role of MFIs in Financial Inclusion," Review of Market Integration, India Development Foundation, vol. 3(3), pages 243-286, December.
    11. Soliman, Ibrahim & Mashhour, Ahmed, 2012. "National agro-food policies in Jordan," MPRA Paper 66782, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 May 2012.
    12. Flore Gubert & François Roubaud, 2005. "Analyser l’impact d’un projet de Micro-finance : l’exemple d’ADéFI à Madagascar," Working Papers DT/2005/14, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    13. Atul MEHTA & Joysankar BHATTACHARYA, 2018. "Financial sector development and the poor in developing countries: revisiting the access to finance channel," Theoretical and Applied Economics, Asociatia Generala a Economistilor din Romania - AGER, vol. 0(3(616), A), pages 153-168, Autumn.
    14. Koloma, Yaya, 2019. "Microfinance et réduction de la pauvreté selon le genre au Mali : un réexamen des données de 2007-2008 [Microfinance and Poverty Reduction by Gender in Mali: A Review of 2007-2008 data]," MPRA Paper 94745, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Emmanuel Ofori & Kenichi Kashiwagi, 2022. "Impact of Microfinance on the Social Performance of Local Households: Evidence from the Kassena Nankana East District of Ghana," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(10), pages 1-25, May.
    16. Katsushi Imai & Thankom Arun, 2008. "Does Microfinance Reduce Poverty in India?," Economics Discussion Paper Series 0814, Economics, The University of Manchester.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Asia; microfinance; poverty; impact;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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