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Microfinance as a Poverty Reduction Tool—A Critical Assessment

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  • Anis Chowdhury

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Anis Chowdhury, 2009. "Microfinance as a Poverty Reduction Tool—A Critical Assessment," Working Papers 89, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
  • Handle: RePEc:une:wpaper:89
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    File URL: http://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2009/wp89_2009.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2009. "Expanding Microenterprise Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts in Manila," Center Discussion Papers 52600, Yale University, Economic Growth Center.
    2. Shahidur R. Khandker, 2005. "Microfinance and Poverty: Evidence Using Panel Data from Bangladesh," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 19(2), pages 263-286.
    3. Morduch, Jonathan, 2000. "The Microfinance Schism," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 617-629, April.
    4. Rahman, Aminur, 1999. "Micro-credit initiatives for equitable and sustainable development: Who pays?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 67-82, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jesmin Akhter & Kun Cheng, 2020. "Sustainable Empowerment Initiatives among Rural Women through Microcredit Borrowings in Bangladesh," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(6), pages 1-19, March.
    2. Watts, Natasha & Scales, Ivan R., 2020. "Social impact investing, agriculture, and the financialisation of development: Insights from sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 130(C).
    3. Kent, Derin & Dacin, M. Tina, 2013. "Bankers at the gate: Microfinance and the high cost of borrowed logics," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 759-773.
    4. Eric Fosu Oteng-Abayie, 2017. "Technical efficiency and total factor productivity of rural banks in Ghana," Cogent Economics & Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 1366088-136, January.
    5. Tilman Altenburg & Wilfried Lütkenhorst, 2015. "Industrial Policy in Developing Countries," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14726.
    6. Md Aslam Mia & Lucia Dalla Pellegrina & Patrick Damme & Mahinda Wijesiri, 2019. "Financial Inclusion, Deepening and Efficiency in Microfinance Programs: Evidence from Bangladesh," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 31(4), pages 809-835, September.
    7. Islam, Khan & O’Gorman, Melanie, 2019. "Microcredit contract design: A macroeconomic evaluation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 1-1.
    8. Winkler, Adalbert & Wagner, Charlotte, 2013. "Growth patterns of microfinance clients - Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79945, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Son, Vien Nguyen & Schinckus, Christophe & Chong, Felicia, 2017. "A post-Marxist approach in development finance: PMF or production mutualisation fund model applied to agriculture," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 94-104.
    10. Donou-Adonsou, Ficawoyi & Sylwester, Kevin, 2017. "Growth effect of banks and microfinance: Evidence from developing countries," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 44-56.
    11. Félix, Elisabete Gomes Santana & Belo, Teresa Freitas, 2019. "The impact of microcredit on poverty reduction in eleven developing countries in south-east Asia," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 52.
    12. Marc J. Epstein & Kristi Yuthas, 2013. "Rural Microfinance And Client Retention: Evidence From Malawi," Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship (JDE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 18(01), pages 1-17.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    microfinance; poverty; employment; growth;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity

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