Balancing impact and efficiency in microfinance administration : the importance of attention to program design Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_projects/ff365688q

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  • Microfinance, or the technique of lending small amounts of money to the world’s poor for productive activities, has become a popular strategy for poverty-alleviation, achieving legislative status as a development strategy in the U.S. in 2000 with the Microenterprise for Self-Sufficiency Act. However, microfinance has increasingly failed to achieve the results it seemed to promise when replicated in new settings. The microfinance industry is faced with a dilemma as to whether development impact or administrative efficiency should be prioritized, a debate which has been called ‘microfinance schism.’ In this essay, I argue that practitioners should seek a middle ground, designing programs which take account of the diversity of factors which determine poverty in each context but achieve efficiency by capitalizing on the potentials offered in different settings. I present the findings of a qualitative study of an innovative program which combines credit with education, concluding that, rather than measuring compliance in meeting mandates on inputs, future policy measures should incentivize innovation and reward microfinance organizations which demonstrate success in reaching the poorest.
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