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A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh

  • Mark Schreiner

    (Washington University in St. Louis)

In the next ten years, advocates of microfinance organizations (MFOs) will seek more than $20 billion to provide small loans to 100 million of the poorest families worldwide. In the United States, the newest federal budget proposes a 159-percent increase in the about $200 million spent per year on domestic microfinance. Most of the excitement for the promise of microfinance in the United States has been sparked by reports of the success of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. Was Grameen a good use of scarce funds earmarked to help the poor? For the time frame of 1983- 96, I find that the present worth of benefits of Grameen exceeded the present worth of costs ($16.4 million) as long as the average member got more than $8 worth of surplus per year of membership. This result is robust to assumptions about opportunity costs. Given the documented impacts of Grameen, my guess is that benefits did in fact exceed costs. Grameen seems to have been a good way to help the poor. Still, one good MFO does not a microfinance crusade make, and most MFOs in the United States and worldwide do not perform as well as Grameen. CEA is an inexpensive tool to help to inform the judgement of whether a given MFO is a good way to help the poor.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Development and Comp Systems with number 0109007.

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Date of creation: 05 Sep 2001
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Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0109007
Note: Type of Document - Adobe Acrobat 3.0; prepared on Windows 98; to print on Adobe Acrobat 3.0; pages: ; figures: Included in pdf file
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  1. Maitreesh Ghatak & Timothy W. Guinnane, 1998. "The Economics of Lending with Joint Liability: Theory and Practice," Discussion Papers 98-16, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  2. Conlin, Michael, 1999. "Peer group micro-lending programs in Canada and the United States," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 249-269, October.
  3. Conning, Jonathan, 1999. "Outreach, sustainability and leverage in monitored and peer-monitored lending," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 51-77, October.
  4. Hashemi, Syed M. & Schuler, Sidney Ruth & Riley, Ann P., 1996. "Rural credit programs and women's empowerment in Bangladesh," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 635-653, April.
  5. Bhatt, Nitin & Tang, Shui-Yan, 1998. "The problem of transaction costs in group-based microlending: An institutional perspective," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 623-637, April.
  6. Hossain, Mahabub, 1988. "Credit for alleviation of rural poverty: the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh," Research reports 65, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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