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The contribution of the microfinance model to Bosnia's post-war reconstruction and development: How to destroy an economy and society without really trying

Listed author(s):
  • Bateman, Milford
  • Sinković, Dean
  • Škare, Marinko

Academic analyses and impact evaluation studies produced by the international development community almost all conclude that the microfinance model has made an important net contribution to the economic and social recovery of post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter Bosnia). However, as we now are finding is also the case in many other countries, these far-reaching claims are almost entirely based upon often deliberately flawed impact evaluation methodologies and inappropriate success criteria. This article provides an alternative assessment of the available evidence accumulated to date which, in our opinion, actually shows that the microfinance model has made a distinctly negative contribution to Bosnia's reconstruction and development effort. We argue, centrally, that the microfinance model has assisted the Bosnian economy to move to an unsustainable institutional development trajectory marked by the deindustrialisation, informalisation and infantilisation of the enterprise sector. More widely, we argue that the microfinance model in Bosnia has led to a sub-prime-style episode in Bosnia's post-war history, one that has materially benefitted a tiny elite working within and around the microfinance sector whilst simultaneously destroying many of the most important pillars of the Bosnian economy and society. We find that the best possible explanatory framework for what has transpired in postwar Bosnia is contained in the "control fraud" concept developed by William Black.

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Paper provided by Österreichische Forschungsstiftung für Internationale Entwicklung (ÖFSE) / Austrian Foundation for Development Research in its series Working Papers with number 36.

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Date of creation: 2012
Handle: RePEc:zbw:oefsew:36
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  1. Milford Bateman & Ha-Joon Chang, 2012. "Microfinance and the Illusion of Development: From Hubris to Nemesis in Thirty Years," World Economic Review, World Economics Association, vol. 2012(1), pages 1-13, September.
  2. Amsden, Alice H., 1994. "Why isn't the whole world experimenting with the East Asian model to develop?: Review of the East Asian miracle," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 627-633, April.
  3. De Haas, Ralph & Naaborg, Ilko, 2006. "Foreign banks in transition countries. To whom do they lend and how are they financed?," MPRA Paper 6320, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Hartarska, Valentina & Nadolnyak, Denis, 2008. "An Impact Analysis of Microfinance in Bosnia and Herzegovina," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2605-2619, December.
  5. Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker, 1998. "The Impact of Group-Based Credit Programs on Poor Households in Bangladesh: Does the Gender of Participants Matter?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 958-996, October.
  6. repec:wea:worler:v:2012:y:2012:i:1:p:2 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Alice H. Amsden, 2007. "Escape from Empire: The Developing World's Journey through Heaven and Hell," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262012340, December.
  8. Augsburg, Britta & de Haas, Ralph & Harmgart, Heike & Meghir, Costas, 2014. "Microfinance at the margin: Experimental evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2014-304, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  9. Gary A Dymski, 2009. "Racial Exclusion and the Political Economy of the Subprime Crisis," Discussion Papers 02, Research on Money and Finance.
  10. Ke Chen Chen & Mali Chivakul, 2008. "What Drives Household Borrowing and Credit Constraints? Evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina," IMF Working Papers 08/202, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Maren Duvendack & Richard Palmer-Jones, 2012. "High Noon for Microfinance Impact Evaluations: Re-investigating the Evidence from Bangladesh," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(12), pages 1864-1880, December.
  12. World Bank, 2008. "Finance for All? Policies and Pitfalls in Expanding Access," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6905.
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