The Influence of Social Capital Dimensions on Household Participation in Micro-Credit Groups and Loan Repayment Performance in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya
Lack of access to credit is a key obstacle for economic development of transitional economies such as Kenya. The underlying problem is related to information asymmetry combined with the lack of collateral by low income households. Microfinance led group lending model offer a new way to deal with this problem without resorting to collateral requirements. The core issue in group lending is that it systematically exploits elements of social capital that inherently exist in groups into an incentive contract that substitutes collateral; a formal bank conventional requirement of lending that is virtually unavailable to the poor. This study sought to ascertain the influence of social capital dimensions on households’ participation and repayment performance in micro-credit groups in the study area. The study was conducted in Moiben Division, Uasin Gishu County, Kenya based on a sample of 174 households selected using a multi-stage sampling technique. The data was collected using a personally administered structured questionnaire. In the analysis descriptive statistics, Heckman two stage and a Tobit regression models were employed. The results show that individual and group borrowers had significant differences in gender, age, farm size, years of education, income and land tenure. It was established that household size, farm income and distance to the nearest financial institution positively influenced a household to join micro-credit group. On the other hand age, gender, years of education, farm size and interest rate were found to be significant and negatively influenced household decision to join micro-credit groups. The level of household participation in micro-credit groups measured by the number of loan borrowings was significantly and positively influenced by age, total income, years of experience in group borrowing and decision making index while farm size, heterogeneity index and density of membership had a negative affect on household number of loan borrowings. Lastly, the results on group loan repayment performance using the Tobit model revealed that experience in group borrowing, number of visits by loan officer, peer pressure, meeting attendance index and heterogeneity index positively and significantly influenced loan default rate while gender, household size, distance to the nearest financial institution and density of membership were significant but negatively influenced household loan repayment performance. The study therefore recommends that MFIs should increase awareness and encourage poor households to form micro-credit groups. These institutions are obliged to provide training to households on group dynamics in order to take advantage of social capital existing within well organized and managed groups.
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