Outreach and Sustainability of Rural Microfinance in Asia: Observations and Recommendations
We in the community of microfinance specialists want to help alleviate poverty. We think microfinance is a useful tool. Yet, by bringing these two concerns together, we might be mixing up two diverging ends: one is poverty reduction; the other one the development of a healthy microfinance industry. If poverty reduction is our objective, then microfinance is likely to be only one of several instruments; in fact it might turn out to be of minor importance. If viable microfinance institutions are our chief concern, they may benefit, and profit, from a variety of market segments, which may or may not include the poor. In this case, banking with only the poor might turn out to be poor banking, and the poor, and particularly the very poor, might even be left out. It might also be that in the long run only healthy microfinance institutions have a chance of effectively serving the poor.
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