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Microfinance as a Poverty Reduction Tool—A Critical Assessment

  • Anis Chowdhury
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    This paper attempts to provide a critical appraisal of the debate on the effectiveness of microfinance as a universal poverty reduction tool. It argues that while microfinance has developed some innovative management and business strategies, its impact on poverty reduction remains in doubt. Microfinance, however, certainly plays an important role in providing safety-net and consumption smoothening. The borrowers of microfinance possibly also benefit from learning-by-doing and from self-esteem. However, for any significant dent on poverty, the focus of public policy should be on growth-oriented and equity-enhancing programs, such as broad-based productive employment creation.

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    File URL: http://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2009/wp89_2009.pdf
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    Paper provided by United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs in its series Working Papers with number 89.

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    Length: 15 pages
    Date of creation: Dec 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:une:wpaper:89
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/working-papers.html
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    1. Morduch, J., 1998. "The Microfinance Schism," Papers 626, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
    2. Jonathan Zinman & Dean Karlan, 2009. "Expanding Microenterprise Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts in Manila," Working Papers 976, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    3. Khandker, Shahidur R., 2003. "Microfinance and poverty - evidence using panel data from Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2945, The World Bank.
    4. Rahman, Aminur, 1999. "Micro-credit initiatives for equitable and sustainable development: Who pays?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 67-82, January.
    5. Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2009. "Expanding Microenterprise Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts in Manila," CEPR Discussion Papers 7396, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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